A Necessary Accomplishment

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A cottage with grass and flowers.

One of my favorite sets of books is written by Louisa May Alcott. Eight Cousins and its sequel, Rose in Bloom, are sweeter and more romantic, I think, than the Little Women trilogy.

In Eight Cousins, a young heiress named Rose is cared for by her bachelor uncle after the death of her father, his brother. Theirs is a tender friendship as he guides her lovingly to wisdom. I was convicted by one of his addresses to her. And a little shocked that even in 1874, this was an issue. Rose asks what “trade” she should pursue and this is how Uncle Alec responds:

Well, now, there is one very excellent, necessary, and womanly accomplishment that no girl should be without, for it is a help to rich and poor, and the comfort of families depend upon it. This fine talent is neglected nowadays, and considered old-fashioned, which is a sad mistake, and one that I don’t mean to make in bringing up my girl. It should be a part of every girl’s education….

[Housekeeping] is one of the most beautiful as well as useful of all the arts a woman can learn. Not so romantic, perhaps, as singing, painting, writing, or teaching, even; but one that makes many happy and comfortable, and home the sweetest place in the world. Yes, you may open your big eyes; but it is a fact that I had rather see you a good housekeeper than the greatest belle in the city. It need not interfere with any talent you may possess, but it is a necessary part of your training….

Imagine, even 130 years ago, homekeeping was considered “old fashioned.” It doesn’t have to interfere with our other callings and talents, but keeping our homes (read: tidy and organized as fits our families’ needs and personalities) is a comfort to those around us.

What is an area of home management that you would like to grow in? Share it in the comments section.

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  1. I agree with your post and those two books are, also, my favorite Alcott books. I always imagined that I was Rose when I was a little girl and surrounded by rowdy boy cousins all the time!

    My downfall and area that needs much improvement is my weekly meal planning. I resort to already prepared and processed foods too often. I’m trying to improve by utilizing the OAMC technique.

  2. Great post! I have not read that Alcott. But yes, in that time, people were grappling with what they saw as the rise of the “New Woman,” who rode around on bicycles (scandalous!) and wanted to do things outside of the house. Jo March is definitely a New Woman, as is Mina Harker in Dracula. So this was a debate that was definitely raging then.

    Thanks for the book rec!

  3. I agree with previous poster. Homeschooling means your house won’t be nearly as nice as it could be if you didn’t. I recently heard someone say she thought she could keep her house clean if she didn’t live in it all day. Being home means you LIVE in your home and it will show!!! Of coarse, women that work outside the home have their own challenges. So,like many, I struggle with balancing caring/teaching/training my children, helping my husband, and managing my home. I find satisfaction in a clean home, which can subtly drift into idolizing a clean home while neglecting my children. Or getting so caught up with the children, I have let the home get out of control. And I forgot all about my husband!! And dinner!!! To answer your question: I am striving for balance. And a less cluttered home never hurt either.

  4. What area do I NOT need growth in? Sigh. After deciding to homeschool our two boys this month, housekeeping has taken a rather dusty backseat to basic survival…lol! I am trying to find my rhythm right now. I think my biggest area of failure is laundry.