I have always been fascinated by the Amish and Mennonites. When I think of the way they keep their land, houses, families, and communities, it always makes me wonder what has gone so horribly wrong with modern life that millennials are taking college courses on “adulting” and most women these days learn to keep house from Pinterest.
Obviously, the way the Amish and Mennonites work the land is awesome, using old-school, pre-industrial methods to be totally self-reliant and self-sustainable. A lot of this has to do with their strong, tight-knit communities and iron-clad social orders, which there is certainly something to be said for.
But even if you don’t have a vast homestead with 35 family members to support you, there are simple things you can do around the house to have a more well-functioning home. You know the expression “a house doesn’t make a home”, and this is so true. You can have a beautiful, well-built house with all the latest gadgets and perfectly coordinated decor, but if you’re not keeping your house properly, it won’t be a home. Here are some tips from one of my favorite homesteading/plain living blog, Just Plain Marie, on how to keep your house like a Mennonite. She explains that even while stereotypes about how the Mennonite live “perfect” lives and always have immaculate homes, that while this is certainly not true of every Mennonite, but that many do have impeccably kept homes that any housekeeper can learn from. These are some of her tips, as well as what I’ve learned:
Clean the kitchen after every meal
“The meal isn’t done until the kitchen is clean” she explains. Doing all the dishes for the day in the evening or waking up to a dirty kitchen can be dealbreakers when it comes to the function and order of your home. The kitchen is the heartbeat of your home, and making sure to clean up after each and every meal will make the next mealtime go quicker. Also keeping your refrigerator, pantry, and larder, etc., regularly stocked, cleaned, and keeping an updated inventory will ensure you are using the food you have, hence saving money and time.
Have a schedule
You don’t have to have a perfect timetable of every daily task, but as any homesteader knows, routine rules the day. Organize your housekeeping tasks into daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, seasonal, etc, and keep up with what has to happen each day and when. Make to-do lists, and establish order to the way you do things (starting a load of laundry or emptying the compost pail each morning, cleaning the kitchen fully each night, moping every Monday, whatever works). The more you establish routine and daily habits, the more you’ll notice the difference and soon it will become something you do without even thinking about it.
Put your kids to work
Have a job for everyone, spouse, children, etc. Anything your kids can do on their own, make sure they’re doing it regularly, and be consistent. Most small children can put their toys away, help with laundry, be trained to always put dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher, etc.
Put your animals to work
One of the great things about homesteading is having animals that will help you with those kitchen scraps! Pigs and dogs can be fed all kinds of leftovers and kitchen scraps that otherwise might take up space in your fridge or fill up your trash can quickly. Chickens can also help quite a bit to polish off odd amounts of rice or sprouted beans.
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