Alright, now that I've covered several things people don't talk about or think of very often, I will cover what everyone talks about but few actually really do.
Truthfully, I am quite saddened that a post like this is necessary. This should be entirely automatic... We all should've known how to cook and clean and keep a house and many other chores by the time we were ten. :P But, alas, times have changed. So here I am, writing it.
Here is an idea I had a long time ago, which I strongly suggest you girls (and you guys might even want to do one... just with different sections) implement as well. I am not married yet, but I use this book a lot already. Honestly, if there was a fire or a hurricane and I could only get one thing, this book would be it.
Gaining Practical Skills for Marriage
You really are going to need to eat when you are married. (In fact, it will probably be one of the first things you do during your marriage.) Love alone is not going to satisfy your stomach, sorry. Not to mention guys get grumpy when they are hungry. So!
Things to learn regarding food
Oh, before we get started, put on an apron. Okay fine, you don't have to right now. But before you do something in the kitchen, put one on. You'd be amazed what an apron can do!
1. How to prepare a wide variety of simple, tasty, healthy, and economical meals.
2. How to plan a menu well (so that you can do food prep for more than one meal at the same time)
3. Shopping... how to stick to your budget, how to make a list, how to get the best deals and healthiest foods... and how to go fast enough that your husband won't get irritated if he goes with you.
4. GMOs. What are they? How do they affect the body? How do they affect the environment?
5.Gardening/edible landscaping. One of my friends said (in a rant) "why would you want to grow grass when you could grow an entire yard full of food?? You're going to water and weed it anyways!" What grows where? What kinds of plants hinder each other? What kinds help each other? What are cold weather crops? How do you get rid of/deter pests organically? What kinds of plants produce the most per acre? What nutrients are necessary for the soil? What is soil PH?
6. Food preservation. What if you had no fridge? No freezer? What if it was necessary to stockpile enough food from your harvest to last an entire winter? Do you know how to can? Pickle? Dry? What other methods of food preservation are there?
7. What if you couldn't buy cheese or yogurt or sour cream? Do you have any idea of how to make those things? Read about it! Find someone who knows how and learn from them. (I found someone who knows how to make cheese last night!! :D)
8. Do you know how to cook a turkey? What about a ham? Learn how to cook different types of meat.
9. Is the food pyramid accurate? Or do you just accept it because it's from the USDA and so it must be right? What happens when you combine certain foods?
10. Different cooking methods: can you cook on a grill? A gas stove? What about over an open fire? Or even just a normal electric oven?
11. What kinds of foods should you feed babies? How soon? Do you know how to make your own baby food?
12. What edible plants grow wild near you? Do you know how to prepare them?
13. Do you know how to raise animals? What about butchering them? Those two could become very important skills.
Okay, you get the idea. There's lots to talk about with food. ;)
Alright, so now you and your husband won't die. This is good--we're making progress! However, now that you've made all that food, you have a mess in your kitchen. Oh no! And the rest of your house isn't looking too great either...
Things to learn regarding keeping house
1. This all starts with keeping your areas/room clean and tidy. They are a brilliant place to begin your training. So! Figure out ways you can decorate and organize your spaces. And then make an effort to daily return them to order and beauty.
2. Cleaning supplies: if you buy normal brands from the store, what do they have in them? What effect do those chemicals have on the environment? On you and your family? How can you make your own?
3. Cleaning various rooms: Bathrooms. Do you know how to clean a mirror properly? No streaks? What about the tile in the shower? The grout? Surely you know how to clean the sink and toilet... Kitchen: have you ever tried to organize your kitchen? If you are allowed to, I suggest you give it a try. It's super fun, plus great experience for when you have an entire kitchen to set up by yourself.
4. Like I started saying, organization. This is a very important skill... learn it now and you will be very glad you did.
5. Painting, washing windows, minor home repairs (fixing little holes in the walls and leaks and such), things like that.
6. Decorating! Okay, so now your home is clean, and it's not falling apart. But it's boring. Brainstorm ways you can decorate your home with as little money possible! (and record them in your "decorating" section in the notebook you are going to make.)
So now you and your husband are still alive, and your home is inviting. Awesome! So what happens next? Well, children. Lord willing. :D And before you have children, you're going to be pregnant. (Yes, I know, shocking. But you really do need to think about that fact.)
Things to learn regarding pregnancy
1. Nutritional needs of an expecting mom
2. Exercises you should do
3. Effects of ultrasounds, etc. on the baby
4. What to expect during different stages
5. Childbirth... what options are available? What are their benefits? Downfalls? How can you naturally shorten and improve labor?
6. Nursing... I suppose there isn't a whole lot you can learn about this besides what to eat and what not to eat. But, do read enough about it to completely convince yourself that you must do it at all costs. Because it is really hard at times. I haven't even done it and I know. :P
So, now you had your healthy baby in your clean, pretty house and you are all still alive because you made a bunch of freezer meals! Great job! Aw, he/she is so cute! :D Now what??
Things to learn regarding children
1. Care of newborns. There is actually a lot to this. I am blessed enough to remember the care of Emily, Cheryl, William and Matthew, but most of you haven't had that. For example, did you know that a part of the umbilical cord is still attached? And that you have to put hydrogen peroxide or something similar on it until it dries up and falls off? Do you know what to do if your baby has jaundice? What if your baby has trouble breathing because of phlegm?
2. Basic baby/toddler care... dressing, feeding, diaper changing, bathing, etc.
3. Childtraining... read books on this. (hehe, my sister Hannah says she wants to read books about it so she can have something to say when she and her future husband discuss it. :D) And, if possible, apply some of the things you learned to your younger siblings.
4. Homeschooling. Again, read about it. Practice teaching your siblings or other little friends. If your mom homeschools, help her with correcting school work. Learn about different styles of homeschooling and different curriculums.
5. How to introduce newborns to math (Mrs. Pearl says you can do this, and I really want to learn how!!) and music.
6. Baby signs-- we did this with Matthew, and it was awesome! If you know and teach them just a few signs (more, out, please, thank you, cereal, eat, milk, etc.) you can communicate so much earlier and better. And it helps them develop language skills!
7. "Special needs": care, prevention, cure, etc.
8. Diapers: cloth or disposable? What are the benefits and downfalls of each? *Knows them far too well.* :P Do you know how to properly pin and fold a cloth diaper?
Alrighty!! Now you are eating, have a lovely house, had a baby, and are able to take good care of that baby and any future ones. What's next? Well. Lots of things, actually, but they all kind of tie into the first few sections... So we'll just call it...
1. Sewing!! I've been doing this a lot lately (*is wearing a skirt and apron she made herself*), and it's super fun. Not to mention very very useful. It's hard to find modest clothes, so if you can add to your findings with homemade things, it's awesome. Plus it is one of those skills that in slightly different times would be essential.
2. Knitting, crocheting, etc. Good for blankets, slippers, socks, mittens, hats, scarves, purses, sweaters, and... the list goes on. Fun (once you learn it) and also quite practical.
3. Soap making. Remolding, yes... but it would be awesome to also learn how to make it. Like, from lard and lye and all that.
4. Weaving. I vaguely know how to do this, but only because I tried it nearly every time we've gone to one of those pioneer/frontier days things. haha. I'd like to actually learn it someday, though.
5. Candle making... again, remodling and dipping is fun. But it would be great to learn how to actually make them all by yourself!
6. Gardening. I kind of mentioned this before... but I'll say it again, since it could become super important.
7. Natural healing. Oh boy, I love this one. I don't know why, but I do. Get yourself some good books on this topic (ask me if you want suggestions) and read, read, read. Apply it wherever you can!
8. Frugality: how to make the most of whatever money you have. This can be really fun... I love being creative. :D Also, I wanted to mention something I learned about guys that I found interesting (and very important). See, when they bring you back money, it represents an awful lot of work and time. And if you just spend it heedlessly, wastefully-- it hurts and can anger them. So, learn to use it wisely.
9. First aid. It is entirely likely that you may have to deal with a broken arm, a really bad cut, and loads of other things that come from having active children. Do you know how to splint a broken arm? Do you know what to do if (ugh, this is nasty) someone got a finger cut off? Do you know what to do if (oh this is even worse) someone got something stuck in their eye (like a pencil)? Do you know CPR? These things could be life and death!
10. Editing. Yeah, I just had to put that on... but seriously. You're going to marry a guy, see? And he is going to want you to edit. Just trust me. I've talked to enough moms to know it's true.
11. Bookkeeping. Okay, so I lied. These aren't all exactly fun. :P Hehe. But this is a really good skill, and one I'm working on...
12. Add your own skills here. ;)
To quote an older married woman:
"Don't take for granted that life will continue its status quo, for life will surprise you. It is your responsibility to be ready. Knowledge is worth more than anything when bad times hit. Almost all families have bad times of some kind. A little information can guide you through bad times with far less pain, so it is part of preparing to be a helpmeet." -Debi Pearl, Preparing to be a Help Meet
Whew!! I need to get busy! :D I don't even have all those questions answered myself, nor do I have all those skills. :P And that isn't anything close to an exhaustive list, either.
So, farewell for now and let me know what you are learning about!