Dream of being a domestic queen, but in your family, dusting hasn't been a habit for as long as you can remember? Have aspirations to become the family chef, but can't boil an egg? Would love to make your own clothes, but can't fix a loose button?
I've been there and done that. Now, my mother is actually quite good at everything that has to do with cleaning, cooking, gardening and even sewing and crafts – but lacked the time to teach me all those things properly. For as long as I remember, she has worked full time to support our family due to the absence of my father – unfortunately, not an uncommon situation. And so I reached the age of twenty without having a clue about household management. I couldn't cook, let alone bake; my cleaning was pitiful and if you asked me to compose a shopping list, you'd get a good laugh.
In the area of cooking and baking, I was lucky – since I was studying nutrition at that time, we had cooking classes on our study program, and I gladly took advantage of them. We were taught a variety of valuable cooking techniques, as well as baking and canning and – something that I think is very important – experimenting with recipes and tweaking ingredients in order to make healthier food, or to use up what you have on hand rather than what you would need to buy. Experimenting led me to my share of kitchen disasters, true – but also resulted in some great improvements!
The ideal situation, of course, would be to find a patient, skilled and experienced older woman who would be willing to take you under her wing and teach you. I understand this isn't always possible, though. Even if you've never been near a mop or held a needle in your life, it doesn't mean you can't become, eventually, a great homemaker. In fact, I know you can – I got the hang of it, and it's not like I had any special skills. All you need is a little determination, creativity and willingness to take the plunge. There's a variety of online resources where you can find step-by-step instructions for anything you can possibly think of.
In the area of household organization, home-management binders are wonderfully helpful – especially if you, like me, are a terribly unorganized person who needs lots and lots of assistance to get on the right track when it comes to home management. Here's a brief description of the sections in my simple yet very practical home-management binder:
1) Home. This one holds my weekly shopping list, to-do lists, and of course, coupons. I compiled two master to-do lists for myself. One for basic daily chores (wash dishes, make sure laundry is caught up, take out garbage etc...) and one with reminders for shopping/cleaning days. I also compiled a master shopping list, which I can check if I'm confused about the weekly shopping list. This section also contains a few FlyLady tips and inspirational homemaking quotes. That's a section that helps me 'stay tuned' in the more basic things.
2) Long-term projects. Here I keep a list of all my projects that take a longer time to complete, and are less crucial to basic household management. For example: re-organizing the kitchen cabinets, polishing silverware, mending clothes; and also, little packages of seeds I'm going to plant, my crafts list and blog post/other writing projects ideas. This is a section I check out if I'm left with some idle time on my hands; it usually turns out I have numerous planned projects I just forgot about.
3) Food. Here are my menu ideas and new recipes that are waiting to be tried. After I tried them, they will be copied to my recipes notebook - much better than having them sticking out from every corner and then getting lost eventually.
4) Expenses. Here I keep our budget, a list of things we are paying for, grocery bills and other bills, and a summary of each month's expenses which I can later compare and see if we are improving or struggling in certain areas.
Here, again, I will keep saying: do not despair! Don't lose hope! I understand it can be very frustrating to compare yourself with some talented fourteen-year-old girls who sew their own clothes and plan and cook meals for a family of nine; so let's not do that! Rather, let's take baby steps towards our goal, and be realistic. I doubt anyone ever learned all the arts of homemaking on a perfect level, so no need to rip your hair out if your windows aren't always squeaky clean and your fancy cake didn't come out just the way it looked in the cookbook. This will inevitably happen; but yes, it's entirely possible to be a successful and efficient manager of the home even if you start out a tad late, without a proper background or anyone to teach you personally.