Catherine Beecher, Lover of Christ, Defender of Home Making and Encourager of Womanhood
Treatise on Domestic Economy
Some parents pay their children for such services; but this is hazardous, as tending to make them feel they are not bound to be helpful without pay, and also as tending to produce a hoarding, money-making spirit. But where children have no hoarding propensities, and need to acquire a sense of the value of property, it may be well to let them earn money for some extra services, rather as a favor. When this is done, they should be taught to spend it for others, as well as themselves; and this way, a generous and liberal spirit will be cultivated.
There are some mothers, who take pains to teach their boys of domestic arts which their sisters learn. The Writer has seen boys mending their own garments, and aiding their mother or sister in the kitchen, with great skill and adroitness; and at an early age they usually very much relish joining in such occupations. The sons of such mothers, in their college life, or in roaming about the world, or in nursing a sick wife or infant, find occasion to bless the forethought and kindness which prepared them for such emergencies.
The Writer has known one mode of systematizing the aid of the older children in a family, which, in some cases of very large families, it may be well to imitate. In the case referred to, when the oldest daughter was eight or nine years old, an infant sister was given as her special charge. She tended it, made and mended its clothes, taught it to read, and was its nurse and guardian through all its childhood. Another infant was given to the next daughter, and thus the children were paired in this interesting relation. In addition to the relief thus afforded to the mother, the elder children were thus qualified for their future domestic relations, and both older and younger bound to each other by peculiar ties of tenderness and gratitude.
In offering these examples of various modes of systematizing, one suggestion may be worthy of attention. It is not unfrequently the case, that ladies, who find themselves cumbered with oppressive cares, after reading remarks on the benefits of system, immediately commence the task of arranging their pursuits, with great vigor and hope. They divide the day into regular periods, and give each hour its duty; they systematize their work, and endeavor to bring every thing into a regular routine. But in a short time, they find themselves baffled, discouraged, and disheartened, and finally relapse into their former desultory ways, with a sort of resigned despair. The difficulty, in such cases, is that they attempt too much at a time. There is nothing which so much depends upon habit, as a systematic mode of performing duty; and where no such habit has been formed, it is impossible for a novice to start at once into a universal mode of systematizing, which none but an adept could carry through. The only way for such person, is, to begin with a little at a time. Let them select some three or four things, and resolutely attempt to conquer at these points. In time, a habit will be formed of doing a few things at regular periods, and in a systematic way. Then it will be easy to add a few more; and thus, by which it would be vain to attempt by more summary course.
Early rising is almost a sine qua mon to success, in such an effort; but where a woman lacks either the health or the energy to secure a period for devotional duties before breakfast, let her select that hour of the day in which she will be least liable to interruption, and let her seek then strength and wisdom from the only true Source. At this time, let her take a pen and make a list of all the things which she considers as duties. Then let calculations be made, weather there is time enough in the day or week for all these duties. If there is not, let the least important be stricken from the list, as what are not duties and must be omitted. In doing this, let a woman remember, that though “what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed,” are matters requiring due attention, they are very apt to take a wrong relative importance, while social, intellectual, and moral, interests, receive too little regard.
to be continued…
Domestic Economy pt 1, Domestic Economy pt 2, Domestic Economy pt 3, Domestic Economy pt 4, Domestic Economy pt 5, Domestic Economy pt 6, Domestic Economy pt 7, Domestic Economy pt 8, Domestic Economy pt 9, Domestic Economy pt 10