The Skills I Learned from my Parents That I Still Use Today

How Old-Fashioned Skills are Helping Me Now

In my previous post, I explained that I am investigating self-sufficiency as a prospect for a sustainable future. We plan to supply most of our own basic needs, including growing our own food. My parents taught me some important skills as I was growing up, most of which I took for granted and have not used in my adult life. As I am heading into my later years, I am realising that those old-fashioned skills are relevant now.

If we are to supply our own food, we will need to be able to preserve food that we have grown ourselves, so that we have a steady supply during the months that our garden isn’t producing. Plants grown in season are more easily grown – you don’t need to provide an artificial environment (such as a green-house or water sprinkling system) to keep them alive. This means you harvest a large quantity at one time. Learning how to preserve some of the crop is essential.

My sister and I in 1977 with our mum – holding a 9 lb trout. Our love of fishing and the outdoors stems from our parents. We always had a boat for fishing on the many lakes around Rotorua, New Zealand

My mother was a down-to-earth, practical and savvy woman. She was a stay-at-home mum of four kids under 5. The skills I learned from her were:

  • Budgeting – she took full advantage of using discount coupons, bought in bulk, never racked up a debt, and seemed to be able to stretch her money so that we never went without;
  • Sewing – mum made all her own clothes. She taught my sister and I to sew and knit. Mum also had a spinning wheel and made her own wool out of sheeps’ fleece;
  • Gardening – my parents were avid gardeners and grew most of our vegetables. They researched alternative growing methods and put them to use through having a greenhouse and hydroponic set-up which could produce out-of-season food in a cold climate. We also learned composting from them. Their green thumb has passed on to the rest of the family and we all enjoy growing our own produce;
  • Cooking – we rarely ate out, and mum cooked all our food. She baked cakes and biscuits, made icecream and other desserts. My dad cooked every Sunday for a house full of guests – he loved to experiment with food and entertain our guests. We all love cooking, and especially love to experiment with new flavours and techniques.
  • Preserving food – My mum used to make chutneys, jam, and preserved fruit. Dad made brawn – preserved meat. These skills are ones I now want to learn as a skill that will be needed for self-sufficiency. I have made pickles and chutneys, but only in small quantities. I am going to learn about bottling food so that it can be stored safely for future use;
  • Smoking food – we have a smoker so we can make smoked fish and meat. I know this has been used successfully to preserve food so we will learn how to do this as well;
  • Fishing – my husband and I both grew up in families that loved fishing. My parents owned a boat and we used to go trout fishing on one of the many fresh water lakes around our city. My husband’s father took him sea fishing and they still enjoy that now on their boat.
  • Health promotion- my mum was into natural therapies throughout her life. She knew every natural remedy known to man! She preferred to promote health by having a healthy diet and supplements. She practiced yoga and meditation as part of her philosophy of self-care.
  • Housekeeping and house maintenance – my parents did all their own cleaning, yard work and maintenance. I learned many skills from them and still struggle to hand those tasks over to anyone else. I prefer to do all my own cleaning, and my husband does everything he can in the garden and around the house. We are only able to hire someone else when we acknowledge that the skill required is outside our limits, or would take us too long to finish. As we get older we are realising our bodies aren’t up to doing hard work and sometimes it’s better to hire someone to do it;
  • Researching – my parents passed on their love of reading. They used to research all different things, and that love has passed on to me. My other hobby was genealogy which I learned from my mother – I was able to use her research as a basis for my own. I have another blog, This Is Who We Are about our family history
My father and his tomatoes – grown in New Zealand during the winter in a greenhouse.

I guess I was like any other teenager and did not really appreciate my parents until I left home and had my own family. My mum passed away when I was 24. I really missed her presence in my life – it was very hard bringing up my sons without my mother to advise and help me. I was lucky that she was such a wonderful parent and I learned so many skills from her as I was growing up. I was able to draw on that knowledge throughout my life. I certainly don’t take it for granted – I really appreciate everything my parents taught me.

My sister working in the hydroponic greenhouse my father set up in the mid-80s. It was the first hydroponic garden in New Zealand and used to attract tourists from all over the world

Many of the skills I learned like preserving food will be necessary as we aim towards self-sufficiency. In the next few years I will be researching different skills in order to be able to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.

10 Skills my Parents Taught Me that I Still Use Today
10 Skills I Learned from my Parents that I still use Today

27 thoughts on “The Skills I Learned from my Parents That I Still Use Today

  1. This was such a great read. I was actually looking at photos of my mother when she was a child and photos of my grandmother when she was in her 20’s from back in the 50’s and 60’s era and for some reason this blog post reminded me of that. My mother and grandmother both love canning. My grandmother has since passed away. She loved crocheting, knitting, etc. When I was 8 years old, I learned how to make coffee and would make it for her almost every time I would visit her. Great blog post.

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    1. Hi Sarah, thanks so much for your feedback, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I don’t think we realise how much we learnt off our parents and grandparents until we sit down and really think about it. Technology has taken us so far but there’s still a place for old-fashioned skills. Regards, Christina

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  2. You’re so fortunate to have had such a great example set for you. My parents were certainly not the best examples of self-sufficiency and I’ve had to pick up a lot of skills along the way. I’d love to have come from a gardening, sewing, cooking, crafting background because (hopefully) I would have picked up so many skills by osmosis and been able to feel a lot more useful over the years! I’m enjoying seeing you prepare for this next stage of life – it’s going to be an interesting and fulfilling journey for you.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

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    1. Hi Leanne, yes indeed, coming from parents who were so practical was a good grounding in a lot of skills. When I was young I didn’t appreciate all these skills, I was always reading, but now that I’m older I’m drawing more on that background. My brothers and sister had green thumbs like my parents, I’ve had to learn that. Cooking is something we all love. Thank you for your feedback, it means a lot and thanks again for welcoming me into the MLSTL group. I’ve had such support from the group, its humbling. Regards, Christina

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    1. Thank you Sula. It is worth reflecting on your parents and what you learnt from them. As adults we see them in a different light and often appreciate them more. Thanks for your feedback

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    1. Thanks Natalie, I must admit I’m no expert in all 10! Some of them I’m just learning myself. It’s great to know we can draw on our background and use some of the gifts and abilities our parents gave us. Thankyou so much for your feedback, regards Christina

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  3. HI Christina I think it fills our soul remembering childhood and what skills our parents had. My Mum was a milliner but unfortunately her skill of sewing did not pass down to me. What I did learn from her was to be kind, compassionate and loving to others and that is what I try to do. She died at 63 back in 1986 but is still with me every day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us at #MLSTL and have a beautiful week. xx

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    1. Yes definitely Sue – I did get warm and fuzzy thinking about my parents and my childhood. Your mother has given you gifts that can’t be taught – we learn from their example how to be kind, compassionate and loving. My mum was the same. It’s nice to know we received so much from our parents, not in material possessions, but an abundance of love. Take care, regards, Christina

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  4. Hi Christina, I really enjoyed reading your post and all your lovely memories of your soreness and what they taught you. I think we are all heading back to some of these ways of doing things and you will be ready for whatever comes because you have learnt these skills already. Visiting from #mlstl.

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  5. Hi Christina, I enjoyed reading your post and the detail you shared about your parents. They taught you well, and I’m sure you were influenced in a positive way because of them. Many times we don’t appreciate all they do for us until we’re older. I’m so fortunate to still have my mom with me at 93 yrs old. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Sarah, thank you for your feedback. Once you start thinking of ways your parents impacted your life, you remember more and more and suddenly you have a list! It was nice reminding myself of them. Regards, Christina

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  6. Hi Christina,
    Fascinating post…all of those skills are so important, and especially now as more folks are beginning to become aware of the deficits in our modern life people are returning to them You were fortunate indeed to have parents that valued them and passed them on to you. Being in control of our food supply, sustainable practices, thriftiness, and self-sufficiency are important now more than ever. Glad I found you at #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Nancy, yes I agree, I think society is turning more to these concepts at the moment. We need to think more in terms of cutting our waste and using sustainable forms of energy, building etc. It will be a cheaper way to live that’s for sure. Thankyou so much for your feedback, I really appreciate it, regards, Christina

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  7. This made me very nostalgic. My family on both sides were farmers and believed in using their hands to provide for their family from the earth, so I had a similar upbringing. I hate that I cannot implement as many of the things I learned as I’d like because of where we live, but I am trying to create a herb garden and use more natural options for remedies.

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    1. Hi Kimberlie, It’s definitely been a trip down memory lane for me. My mum came from an Irish and English background, and dad was from a Polish and English background. Their parents grew most of their own food, taking up all the spare land with crops. That’s why my parents were so practical.
      I’m glad you’re able to grow a herb garden. You can grow a lot in containers. My brother lives on a houseboat and all his vegetables and herbs are grown in pots. I’m glad you enjoyed my post, thank you for your feedback, regards Christina

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