Professional development

When I was a violin teacher, I obtained teacher training, joined the SAA and ASTA, and read their journals regularly. When I was a technical writer, I joined an online forum of technical writers and spent time learning about the best ways to get the job done.

So what about homemaking? We don't have professional resources and associations, and most of us didn't study cooking, cleaning, and parenting in college.

But we do have mothers. I learned so much from mine: I never realized it growing up, but she managed to teach my siblings and me all the basics of running a home, along with basic cooking and child care. Where we showed more interest, she took more time. My mom taught me how to make bread and pie crust when I started asking her about it; she taught my youngest sister to knit when she showed interest. Especially at the beginning of our married life, but still occasionally now, my husband asks me how I know things, and I just reply, "My mom."

After I was married, I started inhaling books about cooking and housekeeping. I read a Queen of Clean book that my high school English teacher gave me for my wedding, and every Sunday afternoon I sat down with The New Best Recipe and read about the whys and hows behind the ways recipes work. I read about FlyLady and devoured cookbooks that I checked out from the library.

When I found out I was expecting Red Chief, I went a bit overboard reading parenting websites and magazines. Talk about too much information! I was much happier once I decided to stick to The Nursing Mother's Companion, What To Expect the First Year, and my doctor's advice.

More recently, I've enjoyed reading vintage cookbooks and homekeeping guides. For a more modern, scientific approach, I absolutely love Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. This book will tell you how and why soap works, the best way to make a bed, and how to iron your tablecloths. It's also balanced enough to tell you that you don't have to iron your tablecloths if you don't want to (I don't).

Blogs have offered me endless inspiration and ideas. I never knew how many talented, ambitious homemakers there are out there! This is where I need to add my grain of salt, though--ladies with perfect homes don't usually have two-year-olds, and so forth. We're all different, and we all have different talents. I love reading about people with different talents than I have, and I enjoy the inspiration I obtain from them. Here are some of my favorites:

Where do you get your homemaking inspiration and ideas? Where do you turn with questions? What do you do (or want to do) to keep up your "professional development"?


  1. A very thought provoking post! I turn to my younger sister and friends. Blogs have been great too but the greatest source for me has been our church and it's teachings.

  2. My mom was VERY young when she had me, and never really was a "mom". So, I've learned from her mistakes. I was the professional mom up until 2 years ago and didn't do any of it right.... in fact, I'm shocked my son turned out the way he did. Luckily, I'm now at home, reading Flylady, millions of blogs, going back to church and listening to the still small voice.

    I'm doing this on my own. For my crafty side I turn to my grandma. Some of my dishes do come from my mom, but I haven't had anyone to teach me how to make homemade bread, or pie crusts... that will be something I learn from blogs.

    And for my children, they'll learn it all from me.

  3. I love this post!

    I learned a lot from my mom, and my dad too, actually. Most of my love of learning new things come from them, and from my Grandparents. I learned a ton about cooking by watching Food Network shows when I was in college and first married.

    Blogs and the internet have been an increcible resource for me, and I'm so grateful to have found so many like minded homemakers who take their skills seriously, and really want to learn to get better at all the things we do!

    Recently, I've been pretty inspired by Cook's Illustrated magazine in the kitchen, and by the Little House on the Prarie books for general industry and assurance that homemaking can be very valuable. For sewing inspiration, I love to read the Wardrobe Refashion blog. http://nikkishell.typepad.com/wardroberefashion/

    It seems that is so much more encouragement for homemaking out there than I ever thought when I was first married! And I'm so glad that there is, because it could get lonely sometimes, since I didn't know anyone then that valued what I'd chosen to do. My family accepted it, but didn't really see homemaking as something full of skills that could be learned and honed. It was so good to learn that it is!

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment, and thank you so much for the kind mention in your post! I appreciate the food for thought, and the new resources!

  4. I get a lot of mine from you. But I also have a good mom and a couple of great friends that have helped me a lot a long the way.


  5. What a really lovely inspirational post - and I so enjoyed visiting the sites you linked to. This is all so much a day-by-day learning for me I find, that coming onto sites like yours to read your tips and ideas, and feel grounded again is just what I need sometimes to remind me that this is valuable - an investment in my child, that not only develops her, but also has proven to be an investment in my marriage and myself - which I truly didn't expect.

    Blessings to you for the coming weekend!

  6. Actually, I didn't take much from my mom. My mom didn't want me to learn how to cook. I started learning from reading the sides of boxes, and then by trial and error.
    With housekeeping, I taught myself by giving myself a system- first, the dishes, then the trash, then the laundry, then the floors. Everything else fell into place once all that was done. Childcare, I mean, I worked with kids for years before having my own, so I learned all kinds of stuff (Everything except breastfeeding, lol).

    My grandmother died when I was 13 years old. When she was still alive, I didn't care enough to ask her about the way things were when she was growing up, but now, I wish I could ask her. She lived on this island called Zakynthos until she was about 21. Recently, I found a great book called "From the Palate to the Spirit" by Calliopi Toufidou. Calliopi is from Zakynthos, and wrote this book about all the recipes, customs, traditions, celebrations, dances, etc, etc. It's priceless, and it feels like a gift from my grandmother.

  7. Great post. I have been in a contemplative mood today, thinking over the past years anyway, then I read your post.
    When I was first married I moved far away from my own family. I was the 2nd to oldest child, oldest girl with a bunch of younger brothers and sisters. I knew how to wash out, fold, hang and put on cloth diapers like a pro!
    My own mom taught me how to sew, how to clean, how to save money , how to sing, and the magic of holiday traditions.
    My dad taught me how to cook, and how to plant a garden.
    My wonderful mother in law taught me so many things. How to bottle, how to remove spots, how to mend clothes, and have patience.
    Both of these dear mothers and my dad were indeed my greatest teachers! My daughters are also great teachers. They have talents that I don't, and I'm always looking to them for help:-)
    My husband thinks I can do anything, he believes it so much that it gives me the courage to try! :-) ♥ Lewaina

  8. Thanks for all those awesome resources! Yes, I think I really learned so much from my mom...I have read some parenting books, but other than that, my homemaking skills are just learned from others! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Thank you! I'm sincerely flattered that someone who is an inspiration for me thinks the same towards myself.

    I've done most of my learning from books and various blogs and websites. Some female family members have shared what advice they can offer. My largest source of inspiration comes from my next door neighbor during my elementary years. She was (still is) a full-time homemaker and firmly believes in the one-income family and doing things a little more simply and I still love to ask for her advice.

  10. I have learned a lot about being a homemaker just by reading books. I love Sandra Felton's books on conquering the Messie lifestyle; Gladys Taber's essays on simple home/country pleasures; Beverly Nye's practical homemaking ideas. Many of my favorites wrote about homemaking decades ago -- Peg Bracken, Phyllis McGinley. And my husband's grandma is the one who taught me to can fruits and jams, for which I am forever grateful :)

  11. We grew up on a farm so I learned from both my parents. I have a great mother in law also.

  12. Great post! I like the use of the term "Professional Development." It gives you a new way of looking at books and blogs.

  13. Oh I love your post. Isn't it funny how as we move through seasons our reading material changes. I am so thankful too for our blog friends. They do inspire and give encouragement.
    It is a blessing to visit everyone. BTW nice to find you again.
    Many Blessings,