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Recently becoming a wife and mother, I have been pondering the role of a homemaker. I love my family more than anyone in the world and I desire to make our home a safe haven for them. As a child, my parents did a wonderful job making our home a place we wanted to be. It was cozy, happy, and beautiful. They made it look effortless. Now that I have my own home, I realize it is not effortless to make a house a beautiful place of rest. I have a lot to learn.
As a nursing mother, I am always looking for a good book to read in the middle of the night. Although there are many educational and philosophical books I’d love to read, a fun and light book fulfills something inside at the dismal hours of the night.
The classic book Little Women is a romantic novel about four young women. This captivating story follows the four girls as they come of age and learn many important life lessons.
I’ve compiled the following list of what Little Woman can teach us in the art of homemaking.
Involve the Entire Family
Many times throughout the book Alcott demonstrates the power of involving your family in the homemaking. Below are just two examples of this.
Mrs. March, the mother of the four daughters, believes that experience is the best teacher. Two of the daughters, Jo and Meg, get a break from work and want to take full advantage of their vacation. The mother lets all of the daughters drop their responsibilities and takes them upon herself. The girls soon find out that all play and no work leads to a lot less satisfaction than having a hand in the work.
The mother then continues the lesson by going on her own vacation and leaving the girls to tend to all of the tasks. Mrs. March’s absence reinforces to her daughters how valuable it is when everyone contributes. They learn to appreciate and love each other more.
Both of these lessons can teach us that we are built to serve our neighbors. It can be easy to coddle your children and just do the work yourself, as often times you have to redo many of the tasks the child does. Yet, insisting that everyone in the family be involved in the homemaking helps create satisfaction, an appreciation, and a sense of pride for all.
Less is More
On several occasions the girls tried to be extravagant in their affairs. Both Jo and Amy attempt to throw big, beautiful parties. Neither party was a success. All of Jo’s food is a disaster and only one guest shows up at Amy’s attempt. Simpler parties would have been more satisfying.
In addition, excessive amounts of money is not necessary to be an accomplished homemaker. Mrs. March shows her daughters the wealth that family provides daily. Meg originally dreams of being rich and having the finer things in life. Yet she married a modest man with a modest income. She does have her struggles with it, but eventually comes to terms and is ashamed of her greed as she learns she can do without.
Although we often want the finest and best, it is not necessary for a fulfilling life. Simple is often better.
Giving Provides More Joy than Receiving
At the beginning of the book, the girls are dismal because they feel their Christmas is ruined. They don’t have the money they use to have. Therefore, they feel as though they are not getting what they ought for Christmas. Instead of getting items Mrs. March asks them to give instead. Though hungry themselves, they gave Christmas breakfast to a family in need. When it is all said and done, the girls are much more content.
Be a Ray of Sunshine
As a mother, especially with small children who keep you up all night, it can be difficult to not dwell on your own challenges. However, as a homemaker you create a lot of light in the family. Everyone needs a little sunshine in his day and you can be that sunshine. We often don’t realize how much we rely on others or others rely on us. As Mrs. March tells Meg, “You are the sunshine-maker of the family, and if you get dismal there is no fair weather.” What a precious role it is to bring sunshine into the house.
Let No One be an Outsider
The March family embraces their neighbors Laurie and his grandfather with loving arms. They become family and help each other constantly. The March family embraces others. Everyone is welcomed around the dinner table.
If you go on to read Louisa Alcott’s book, Little Men, you will see the importance of welcoming arms as Jo welcomes lost and lonely boys into her home and completely changes their lives.
The March family shows us the value of hospitality.
It is an art to be a great homemaker and create a haven for your family and all others who enter. Louisa Alcott just provides a glimpse into the life of an admirable homemaker.
I’d love to hear any additional ways you create a safe haven for your family day to day.