Getting homemaking help is always welcome … especially when it comes from the Bible. Surprisingly, you can learn many lessons about homemaking from Proverbs 31.
By Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writer
I know the Bible is God’s Word and it’s true – but sometimes I forget that it includes so much practical advice.
As I study it, I learn a lot about relationships, work ethic, character traits, and what’s most important in life. But I never really thought it offered much practical homemaking advice until I studied Proverbs 31.
Homemaking today seems like it would be so different than homemaking thousands of years ago. Yet basic principles remain the same.
And Proverbs 31 details them in the example of the Proverbs 31 woman.
An important clarification
Before I share the homemaking lessons I’ve learned, I want to clarify that Proverbs 31 shows a picture of a woman’s entire life – her greatest hits, if you will. She didn’t do everything described every single day or in a single season of her life.
It showcases her highlights and gives us a glimpse, even today, into what a woman can accomplish throughout her lifetime.
Aside from very clear marriage, business and charitable advice (I’ve detailed these in my eBook, Becoming a Modern-Day Proverbs 31 Woman) I’ve taken away 7 lessons about homemaking from Proverbs 31.
7 Lessons I’ve Learned About Homemaking from Proverbs 31
Lesson #1: She enjoyed her work.
The Proverbs 31 Woman may not have enjoyed all of her work, but she did enjoy her pastime-turned-business. As Proverbs 31:13 shares, “She looks for wool and flax, and works with her hands in delight.”
Did you catch that? She works with her hands in delight. Not drudgery. Working with her hands was enjoyable for her – and she pursued that work with delight.
You and I may not always enjoy all of our work, every single day. (Some days, it feels like a real chore to take care of dishes, laundry and cleaning.) But we will enjoy some jobs. We should do those – with joy.
I think it’s important to pursue what brings us delight – it’s more likely we’ll be productive. We can get our chores done quicker and better than others we don’t enjoy as much.
Lesson #2: She shopped around for what she wanted to buy.
I can’t imagine finding food and household goods was very easy in ancient history. At least it wasn’t as convenient as today’s shopping options.
Yet the Proverbs 31 woman knew what she wanted – and she shopped around for it. As Proverbs 31:14 describes, “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.”
If she could do that, we certainly can. It’s worth it to look into what we want – whether it’s food that will nourish our families, or safe products for our homes and bodies.
As homemakers, we should know exactly what we want to use in our homes and feed our families – and then get it. Shop around for reasonable prices, whether it’s by using online shopping or driving around to new stores. Find what you want, even if it means bringing it from afar. (I’m not saying you have to necessarily be the one to bring it from afar – the FedEx man could!)
Lesson #3: She got a lot of work done early in the morning.
By nature, I’m not an early riser. But I know when I do get up before my children, I can get so much done around my house.
The Proverbs 31 woman knew that productivity secret, too. Proverbs 31:15 says, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.”
If you’re in a season of life where you can start developing a habit of waking before your family, try to do it. (Are you still waking through the night with your babies? Now is NOT the right season.) Use those early morning hours to do the things you want to get done in your day.
Lesson #4: She had help around her home.
A lot of time, we tend to think of the Proverbs 31 woman as some sort of Superwoman who could do everything – all at once, with perfection. There’s no way to compare to that.
Yet she was a woman like the rest of us. And she didn’t care for her entire home and family all by herself. As Proverbs 31:15 reveals, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.”
Her maidens weren’t her daughters. They were her servants. Her helpers. As Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas so rightly quipped, the Proverbs 31 woman was a lot like Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey. She had a staff to help her while she directed business.
You may not always be able to afford extra help. If you’re trying to do it all on your own, though, remember that we’re not expected to do it all. Running a home and caring for a family is hard work – and it involves a lot of work.
If you can get help – from your husband, from your children, from a mother’s helper, or from other hired help – by all means, get it. (And don’t be afraid to start teaching your children how they can help out around the house.) Let others pitch in and help around your home.
Lesson #5: She planned ahead and prepared.
Homemaking systems are all the rage right now. But believe it or not, years ago homemakers didn’t use homemaking binders to stay organized – they just knew how to care for their homes after years of shadowing their mothers and grandmothers.
Whether you rely on a homemaking system or not, it’s important to plan ahead as a homemaker.
It should come as no surprise that you’ll face certain things each year. You’ll always need to prepare for Christmas. You can count on delicious, fresh produce in the summer. Seasonally, you’ll want to plan ahead for cold and hot weather and clothing choices.
The Proverbs 31 woman was a good example for this. As Proverbs 31: 21-22 details, “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.”
She knew winter was coming – and she had warm clothing for her family and blankets for their beds. Similarly, we shouldn’t let the obvious catch us off guard – plan and prepare for what we can.
Lesson #6: Clothing and home interiors were some of her priorities.
While I happen to like searching for good deals when it comes to clothing and home furnishings, sometimes I wonder if it’s frivolous. Should I really take the time to be concerned with what my family’s wearing? Or what I’m wearing? Does it matter what’s in my home?
The Proverbs 31 woman cared about it, though. In fact, she and her family were dressed very well. Proverbs 31:21-22 describes, “All her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.”
When the Proverbs 31 woman lived, scarlet and purple clothing signified respect. And her fine linen clothing was … well, fine. She and her family didn’t scrounge around in ratty old clothes. They looked nice, and their appearances were a priority for her.
Similarly, the bed coverings she made show that she cared about her home’s furnishings. (Especially since those were some of the things she made with delight.)
While we shouldn’t completely focus on what we’re wearing or what our house looks like, it’s good to make some sort of an effort.
Lesson #7: She stayed busy at home.
Proverbs 31:27 tells, “She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness.”
As we try to look well to the ways of our own households, be encouraged that it’s OK to be busy. That’s just part of caring for our home. Expect that we “eat not the bread of idleness” – if we’re sitting around, watching TV and eating bon bons when our home is in shambles around us, it’s time to get off the couch and get busy.
Don’t get me wrong – rest is a very good thing. Avoiding burnout is a very good thing. But the idea that homemaking should be easy and effortless is ridiculous. Keeping a home is work. But it’s work that can bring many blessings and benefits to us – and our families.
Some things never change
Even though our homes today may be radically different than the Proverbs 31 woman’s home, I like learning from the basic homemaking principles that have remained the same.
Apply more Proverbs 31 principles to your own life after reading Hilary’s eBook, Becoming a Modern-Day Proverbs 31 Woman.