How to Learn Homemaking Skills

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How to Learn Homemaking Skills

Definition of Skill:

  1. the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc. to do something well.
  2. competent excellence in performance; expertness; dexterity
  3. understanding, discernment.
  4. the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance.
  5. to make a difference

Many of you who have been following our site may start to get overwhelmed at this point. It happens to almost everyone when they are trying to improve themselves in any area. At times when reading a self improvement book, taking a course, or hearing a speaker I become excited and inspired. Then I run the whole gamut, which looks something like this:

First and second day jump up and put it into practice

Third day run into an obstacle

Fourth day decide it is way too hard

Fifth day give up.

Has anyone else been there and done that? Now that I am beginning to get ancient (to quote my children– I have news for them!), I have finally figured something out.

  • Everything is difficult and awkward when you first try it.
  • Everything has obstacles that need to be overcome in order to succeed (That’s the secret to success: overcoming obstacles).
  • You will obtain more knowledge, skill and strength if you don’t give up.
  • You learn to enjoy the things you do more. There is a certain joy that comes in doing things when you know how to do them well. It actually gives you pleasure. Look at your own life. Don’t the things you do really well give you the most pleasure? Tawra gardens and she is really good at it. Guess what she enjoys doing the most – gardening. You will be surprised how many things you once hated doing that you will enjoy when you start doing them well.
  • You gain confidence. With each new skill you develop, your confidence starts soaring. That is why it is so important to teach children useful skills. The more they know and are good at accomplishing, the more confidence they gain. You won’t have to read them a book on how to be confident or remind them hourly that they are special and spend hours being their cheerleader. Encouraging your kids with words is fine but there is a flip side to that too.


I wrote the definition of skills down so you could make note of a few key words:

Practice – That means to train at something by repeated exercises or to form a correct habit by repetition. In other words you need to do something over and over to get good at doing it.

I always say if you want to learn to bake a pie make one every day for 14 days and at the end of that time you will know how to bake a pie. Why? Because you will have made every mistake there is in making a pie and hopefully you will have learned not to do the same thing wrong the next time. You need to do this with anything you want to learn.

There is an order to things. If you keep practicing you will become competent. You can’t become competent until you have practiced. You then gain an understanding and discernment about what you are doing so that you can effectively and readily (quickly) perform the job at hand. That is how you learn a skill. Not by sitting and hoping someone will wave a magic wand over you or deciding, “That just isn’t my thing.”

People always want me to tell them how to quickly clean their kitchens or bathrooms and give them a magic formula. I can give steps, which will help, but you will only start performing them quickly and competently after you have practiced them for a bit.

It’s just like with any job. The first week I start, I want to quit. Nothing makes sense. I am always all thumbs and constantly one step behind everyone else. But because I have incentive (I need the money), I keep at it. By week two I’m feeling more comfortable. At the end of the month I think I have figured it out. In two months I consider myself an expert and very knowledgeable in what I have to do and I do it quickly and efficiently.

I like definition #5: to make a difference. Will you have made a difference by persevering; a difference for you and your family and their lives? So many of us look at the world and think, “Oh I wish I could make a difference for those people in a far off country or change the environment,” but we don’t often have the wherewithal to make a difference in our own home and family. How could we expect to do anything on a greater scale?

The secret is to do what is right even if it is hard. You can’t gain skills in anything by taking the easy way out. You need to follow the definition: practice to become competent. You will then gain understanding and discernment so you can effectively and readily do the job and make a difference in yourself, your home and the world.


photo by: criminalintent



  1. says

    It actually took me a year to master pie crust and I never even started on trying to make home made filling. My husband announced he was on a diet at that point and only wanted salads, no more pie.

  2. HockeyMomof2boys says

    Amen – I really needed to hear this today! My 6 year old is really good at chickening out of doing things because he hasn’t tried them before. Once he actually tries things though, he becomes really good them! Same goes for new foods at home – just this past week, we finally got him eating cheeseburgers. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? I had him help make the patties and can attest that kids will eat the things they help make! I am going to try to use this positive approach on him for other parts of his life. Thanks again, I love your newsletters!!

    • says

      Hockey mom that doesn’t sound weird at all. Tawra’s kids would not touch hot dogs, hamburgers, spaghetti or pizza for years. Her middle son won’t eat cake, ice cream or chocolate of any kind. I keep questioning if he is my grandson or not HA!HA! I love, love chocolate.

      I tried having them cook the stuff too but it didn’t work (although I do know it works a lot of the time for others). When they cooked and we would go to eat it they would ever so politely say “Say no thank you. I fixed it for you Nan.” and would still refuse it.

      All is not lost. They eventually, after much hair pulling, have now widen their eating horizons thank goodness. So don’t panic too much moms and dads of picky eaters. They really won’t starve.

  3. Lucy says

    I know so many younger people who think just because they make a mistake they have failed and they give up. I tell them mistakes are just part of experience, and with experience comes proficiency.

  4. Candace says

    Thank you for your newsletter. You really hit the nail on the head, and said it so wonderfully. Thank you for all you do, you are helping me to become the kind of person I want to be, with your practical solutions and words of wisdom. I have reccomended you to many of my friends and my Grandma loves you guys too!!!

  5. Michael LeFors says

    100% right on. I believe obtaining skills and knowledge are paramount. I have always suggested when you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.

  6. rose says

    my daughter, when growing up, wouldnt eat pizza or spaghetti either .. now that she’s older she loves pizza .. as far as spaghetti is concerned, if its baked spaghetti (or ziti) she will eat it bc of all the cheese ..
    my son? he eats anything .. he says food is food … he wont eat chicken gizzards and livers (but she will) ..

    • says

      Oh yum. I am often accused of being a picky eater because I don’t eat onions or beans but other wise I eat most anything else. I love gizzards and liver. Yum yum. Had some chicken livers just this week. If someone makes fun of me for being picky I just ask if they eat liver and usually they make a face. HA! HA!

  7. Erynn says

    I love it! Thanks very much. I really needed to hear this. I think I’ll print it out to read when discouraged. Thank you for all your diligent work.

    • says

      You are welcome Erynn. I have been taking care of a home for decades now and I still need to read something to encourage me on every once in awhile too. You would think I wouldn’t after all these years. :) :)

  8. says

    Jill didn’t you know that liver is served with onions and bacon which you fry it in.
    I love liver kidney and gizzards and heart both chicken heart and beef heart. Used to love tongue but haven’t cooked it but moms was so good especially in sandwiches the next day.
    Chicken liver is a no go. Not even my cats will touch it.
    Mom used to cook sweet breads on low money weeks. It was good and the butcher always gave it away since nobody would pay for it. I don’t remember if it is from around the brain or the stomach didn’t want to know while we were eating it but it was good.

    • says

      Yes I know it is suppose to be cooked with onions and bacon.HA! HA! But where there is a will there is a way. I cook mine with bacon (or if I’m out of bacon bacon grease) and with onion salt.If I go some place and they serve it with onions I just scrape them all to one side. :) :)
      I like all the “gut” stuff too. At Thanksgiving we have regular gravy and “gut” gravy – giblet. :)

  9. tuxgirl says

    I needed this. I’ve been trying to get myself in the habit of keeping the house up, and I’ve been hitting a slump. (Been going at it since new years, and it’s in better shape than it’s ever been in, though!)

    As for the food issue, my parents always had the rule that if you won’t eat what’s served, then you’re not hungry, and you can leave the table. If you come back later saying you’re hungry, well, your leftovers are all that’s available.

    I guess it worked for me. I generally eat just about anything. Actually, some chinese friends were always surprised that I’d eat whatever they ordered at Dim Sum (including chicken feet).

    • Betty from Philly says

      There must be something good about chicken feet! My grandmother (a very European lady) used to scrub the chicken feet and put them in the chicken soup she was making. My mother made great chicken soup but did not put the feet in! Thank goodness because I don’t think I would have eaten it. I also grew up with the rule that you ate what my mother made for supper or you left the table. There was a hungarian dish my mother made that consisted of chicken hearts that were cooked and then sauteed in butter with onions. They were delicious.

      • says

        You are right Betty. My grandfather came from Greece and he raised chickens here. He ate chicken feet too and every part of the chicken. I was laughing at a dog food commercial the other night because it said it didn’t have any by products of the chicken in it and I thought how much we have changed. Things like the bone marrow, chicken feet, hearts, livers from the chicken that I have eaten and my forefathers ate isn’t good enough for our dogs now. By the way we fight over who gets the “guts” from the chicken in our family. I know that grosses most people out. : )

  10. says

    The best way to improve your home making skills is to teach someone what you already know.
    You can do it with your eyes closed and sometimes that is what it looks like when you are done.
    But teach a child to do the same thing you learn new ways to perform the same task.
    You make it easier for them, you make it quicker so they don’t lose interest and you try to make it a game so they are willing to continue.
    So as you tackle a task, imagine you are 4′ tall and look at it from that size and see what you can do to make it easier. What can you do to save those short legs from having to run back and forth.
    When dusting a room. always dust from the top down.
    Sweep all the floors that are the sweeping type.
    Vacume last as that will get all the last bits that didn’t get caught in the dust pan.
    Plan the things that need doing and when you finish the first job move to the next but have a treat at the next work station. A cup of iced tea, a book to read for 10 min. just anything to get you into that area and then relax while you enjoy your treat and think one down and get the next job done. If you know you have a reward waiting the jobs will get done quicker.

  11. Jan says

    Fabulous! This is probably one of the best definitions, and explanations I’e ever read. I CAN follow these steps, and make it so I LIVE & THRIVE rather that struggle to survive. Thank you!

  12. Sandra says

    I´ve learn this when I first start in Mary Kay business but, because I can´t even clean my home, I´ve quit the business.
    Thank God for you! I think I have to ear that from someone else outside the business.
    I just have to persist on trying: clean my home and sell my stuff.

  13. Sophia says

    Like Erynn, I will print it out to remind myself of these things, both for myself and my children. Excellent piece. Congrats on making such a difference, inspiring all of us.

  14. Carol says

    You mentioned that Tawra loves gardening and is very good at it. I would like to start gardening this year but I have no idea where to start. I think this would help our budget and our health. Any tips you might have for your readers like me who have no clue where to even start?


    • says

      Carol we have the past year been transferring almost 3,000 tips and articles from our old website. To say it is time consuming is an understatement so what we have been doing is trying to get things out seasonally like Christmas, Valentines etc.

      We have a lot of tips and ideas on gardening we will be trying to get posted over the next few weeks including things like composting, pesticides etc. For right now though you might start thinking about what kinds of things your family eats and what you would like to have in your garden and make a list.

      Closer to the spring I will let Tawra take over with tips. She has a degree in horticulture, has worked at the Botanical gardens here in Wichita and has been a master gardener in a couple of states. Those are the people you call at the county extension and ask questions to. I guess I tell you this to let you know she really knows what she is talking about when it comes to gardening.

    • says

      Carol, I would start with reading Square Foot Gardening. It’s the method I use and is the easiest. Start there. Then I might do a Q&A in a month or so to give you more specific help.

  15. Kelly says

    There are so many things to read these days it makes the mind all a blur if we don’t pick & choose the most important or valuable things. I keep coming back to your newsletter, as I do with Dave Ramsey, because I like the values within what you say. Keep it up!

  16. susan says

    Hello Jill and Tawra! I was a little late reading your last newsletter because I am training with a service dog! I love it! It is tiring and I have to go to bed at the end of each two hour training sessions but it is worth it!
    and jill,its a girl named Bella! She is really going to be a blessing to me. To comment on homemaking skills, my grandmother taught me how to tat when I was little and before I got sick I was able to teach this art to my daughter, although I can no longer work the shuttle to tat it is a joy to see her do it.
    I sometimes think the simple pleasures like tatting or knitting is being a lost art in this high pace society we live in. God bless all of you and I really enjoy the news letters

    • says

      Susan so glad Bella is working out for you even if it is tiring. I love dogs anyway and think they are special but a service dog ranks right up there with something beyond special. :) For you cat lovers I love cats too.

      Tatting, crocheting, knitting, embroidering etc. are all great things to know. I find them soothing and relaxing but what I like best is it really helps me at those times when I have to wait for something. For example I can sit in a doctors waiting room or hospital for ages without becoming impatient because I don’t feel like am wasting my time.

  17. Lazycakes says

    “Do what is right even though it is hard”, that was the God Breeze I needed to hear today and its relevance for me has nothing to do with cleaning on this occasion! WOW!

    • says

      This is true Lazycakes. Doing what is right even though it is hard can apply in so many areas of our lives. I have always said that too about dealing with our money. So often we don’t want to “do what’s hard” when it comes to giving up things in order to get out of debt.

  18. Michelle says

    I really believe God lead me to read this. I really needed it today. I am often so overcome by wanting to eliminate debt and cook healthy for my family (my dh has diabetes and I high blood pressure), but I lack the organizational, planning, coordinating skills to pull it all off effectively, and we end up eating out. I couldn’t stand it today when the lunch was done at the restaurant….what we are doing is so against what we want to be doing, but I confessed to my husband and kids that I have no idea what I am doing or how to do it…I am just overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. However, your post has me willing to shake off the dust and try again until I get it right. Thank you.

  19. says

    I think some of the old skills are coming back into popularity.
    It might be the economy or it might be health issues.
    But for a while I was in on a chat and knit group and there were more teens and young mothers than us old folks.
    One girl was a single mom and wanted to knit cute hats and socks and sweaters for her daughter. She was learning the knitting skills but also the chats went to food preparation.
    One girl’s boyfriend was from Africa and she was talking about dishes he was teaching her to cook so he could have something of his old home to make him feel more comfortable.
    Some of us would tell her changes she could make to dishes we have cooked for years to incorporate some of the ingredients he enjoyed.
    They have also come out with so many gadgets to improve or invent new crafts. Two of the women there were weave knitting I think it was called. It looks like big rectangle corking spools and they were making scarves and other things and it was going so quickly it looked like a lot of fun.
    I am doing barbie things and that is out of necessity and thrift. I refuse to pay $5. for a piece of material held together with a tiny strip of velcro when I can knit for an hour or two and have a dress that looks great uses up scrap wool and gives me something to do when I can’t move off the couch. It costs me nothing and it gives little ones a lot of fun for years.
    The Internet also has brought these skills back. No more excuse that I don’t know how. Look on youtube and get tutorials for just about anything. Sew on a button, fix a hole in a shirt or cook a 6 course meal all from scratch.
    The world is getting smaller and you can go so many places without leaving home.
    So of course you want to see what is out there and even try something you see.
    What is old is new again is so true.

  20. Rachel says

    Jill, I find that as far as housework goes, if I don’t do it before noon, it doesnt’t get done. I can still manage dinner and some laundry, but those harder projects, vaccuming, cleaning bathrooms, mopping are morning projects. Would blame it on FM, but I have pretty much always been that way.

    I was a picky eater myself growing up. But I find it intesting that people have shared that they encourage their kids to eat cheeseburgers, pizza, hot dogs. Why? these are not good foods for anyone. Having a hamburger once in a while is not a bad thing, but if my kids would not eat these foods, I would not encourage them to start. my 4 year old grandson will not eat meat at all, other than chicken nuggets. It’s so sad to say, but the only time my grandkids and my niece get a balanced meal is when they come to my house for dinner. their parents buy frozen, processed food full of fat and sodium. I’m not saying I lay out a perfectly balanced meal every night, and we do order pizza occasionally. I just really think people are making a lot of mistakes in the way they are allowing their children to eat. We need more fruits and veggies in our diets.

    Grandma, I tried sewing Barbie clothes by hand a few years ago. Too tedious for me, and I imagine that even using a sewing machine would have the same effect. I never could learn to knit either. But I would love to start making my grandaughter some clothes for her “bobbies”.

  21. says

    Rachel years ago a friend and I were having a conversation about hamburgers and junk food for family meals. Her ideas ran along the lines of your comment.
    Since we ate all meals at home but I did serve pizza and hamburgers and hot dogs quite often since my husband was not home every other week and those were things my sons liked she thought I was not giving them a balanced diet.
    She also did not like a lot of the things I did about discipline and rules I usually just let her talk.
    The diet thing got to me because it was not true.
    I asked her what she was having for supper that night.
    meatloaf, vegetables, buns and potatoes and pie for dessert.
    we were having hamburgers, fresh vegetables, and fresh peaches for dessert.
    I asked her what the difference was. She said meatloaf was less greasy, I bbq the burgers. Hot vegetables well fresh are more nutritious during the summer. Rolls why are they better than hamburger buns.
    She said it was the point that with a meal like hers it was a sit at the table meal and family time.
    We sat at the table and talked the entire time then got up and did the dishes together.
    I do agree with you that lots of fast food meals are just that but if they are balanced with nutrition they are ok.
    I have people say my son won’t eat anything but what ever. My advice is to stop buying the what ever. If it isn’t there they will eat what is available.
    It works on adults as well.
    My husband wanted beef at almost every meal for our entire married life 33 years. If it wasn’t there he felt deprived.
    Last year he had his upper teeth pulled and now has dentures. Well that kind of put steaks and roasts on the back burner and we switched to fish and chicken. His teeth are now better after almost a year and he can eat roasts now but he has lost is craving for it. Now I cook a roast twice a month and that is for grinding up for sandwich spreads in his lunch. Just hope he wants steaks in the summer when bbq season comes around.
    My son hated fish. He would catch them clean them even help cook them but would only eat the company size I said he had to eat. He moved to China and beef is very expensive so he started eating pork and more chicken. When invited out he was always offered fish. He called one day and said he is now enjoying fish a lot more.
    It only took almost 30 years to come to this realization that his mother was not trying to poison him by serving lots of fish.
    I know a lot of parents say they don’t have time to cook a proper meal. Well I can have a fish dinner complete with potatoes and salad in 20 min. from start to the table. So I never buy that statement.
    Planning is what is missing.

    For wanting to learn to knit go to youtube. they have videos which are very good. also you can do it on your own time and nobody tells you that you are never going to learn. play the videos as much as you like until you have mastered it. Or get a good beginning to knit book.
    I have been knitting so much that I am planning on selling some of the outfits I have at craft fairs and then using the money for material to start sewing things. I want to give them away at christmas to toy drives. I never enjoyed sewing in home ec but I like children to enjoy things I make so this is a good project for me.
    I also have patterns for making those bandana dolls and other simple toys for children so I will be having fun with them.
    The internet is a great place for free lessons patterns and advice. Just start small and build as you learn.
    If you want help get my email from Jill and I will do my best.

    I do my main cleaning from 4am to 7am and then I sit and do the puttering stuff until it is time for supper. With a husband who sleeps during the day for one week I do little noisy cleaning at all. So that is when I do my knitting and book work and computer business. There is no right time of day to work it is all how it fits into your life style.

  22. rose says

    i think ur right susan .. there is a lost art of knitting and crocheting in this fast paced world (and all the electronics too) but i do think its slowly becoming popular again .. (well kinda) ..
    they have those “knitting machines” and now they sell looms that u can basically knit by wrapping the yarn around these pegs .. its the neatest thing! ..
    i could never get used to crocheting .. and i wish when i was little i could master it .. now as an adult i want to make a yarn afghan/spread to put on my bed ..
    and its really nice when i go into the craft section and see young girls (and some in their 20’s too) pick these things up and want to learn this type of craft ..
    i dont know if its bc of the economy or what, but its a nice new trend to see other than watching kids talk about the latest (and according to them) the greatest newest game that has ever came out since b4 time (well i think i am exaggerating a bit here but i think u get the idea) ..
    oh i am not knocking video games .. my son loves them but he also has other interests too .. so does my daughter . she loves them too but has other interests too ..
    some of the newest electronic things they have out now is amazing …
    but its also nice to see the other crafts being done too ..

  23. judy says

    My daughters and I have cleaned houses for others for years and have a routine that we like to use.

    1. Start at the farthest point in the house and clean that area.. then work towards the exit door.
    2. Always clean the room from left to right and from top to bottom.
    3. Clean the wet rooms then the dry rooms. I would usually start in the upper baths. Then do the bedrooms and hall.

  24. Michel says

    I find that there are two kinds of people…lifelong learners, and then there are the rest. I am shocked by how many people I have met over the years who say they can’t cook…well then learn is my answer. My mom taught me the basics when I was 10…but for whatever reason (I normally would gauge it as laziness) they refuse to learn. I was not born organized, but I like a clean and organized home…I keep learning. A trick here, skipping a purchase, whatever today my house is normally pretty good. This is a great sight for learning.

  25. says

    This post is amazingly timely and spoke to me deeply. I am a new “home builder”, and as I build my home with my husband and daughter, I need encouragement like your post.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • says

      You’re welcome Angie. You may not have read my story yet about being a new mom and homemaker and sobbing and crying to my husband about how about what a mess my house always was and how great grandma’s house was always so spotless. He very sweetly reminded me she didn’t have any kids at home and a number of other things to deal with that is why it was easy for her house to stay so clean.

      I remember too always being amazed at what good cooks my mom and grandma was no realizing they had many years of experience and much more practice. I chuckle because my grand daughters think I am such a great cook now and I remember being their age and not even knowing how to cook an egg. It all takes time and practice.


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