5 Life Lessons Our Grandmothers Knew (And We Should Learn Too)

5 Life Lessons Our Grandmothers Knew (And We Should Learn Too)

A lot has changed since our grandmothers were young mothers. We're sharing 5 life lessons our grandmothers knew, and that we should too.

Updated September 14, 2023
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A lot has changed since the time our grandmothers were young mothers. There is a lot more noise, a lot more hustle and bustle, and a lot less time, it seems, to get things done. Modern moms enjoy many conveniences our grandmothers would never have dreamed of, such as curbside grocery shopping and online banking. But along with all of these modern conveniences, we seem to have lost some of the core lessons our grandmothers learned. Lessons that really should never have been lost. Here are some of the life lessons our grandmothers knew that we should know (and teach to our children) before they become lost for good.

1. Gardening

The home garden seems a lost art form, but it doesn’t have to be. Starting a small garden doesn’t take much, even if you have an apartment patio. Container gardens can be set up just about anywhere; even the smallest yards can fit a raised bed garden.

The benefits of learning how to grow a garden not only include getting to enjoy the fresh fruits (and vegetables) of your labor, but you can also use it as an opportunity to teach your kids where food comes from, how it grows, and what kind of work goes into making it happen. These days, kids have little to no understanding of where food comes from. It’s scary for me to think that my kids believe food just magically appears on the shelves of the stores! Get your kiddos involved in helping you tend your garden by weeding, planting, and watering. It will teach them a lot about real food and get them outside!

2. Fix It, Don’t Toss It

We live in a world of plenty, which is a far cry from the world our grandparents lived in. In our grandparent’s time, most of them lived through at least one World War, and some survived the Great Depression. When something in their households broke or needed mending, they fixed it. These days, when something breaks, we toss it and buy a new one. Thinking about all the money I’ve spent “just buying a new one” makes my stomach churn. We have no excuses not to repair or mend things that go haywire in our homes; I guarantee you there’s a YouTube video that will take you step by step in fixing whatever is broken. Whether it’s sewing a button back on your kid’s favorite skirt or replacing a worn-out electrical plug on a pretty lamp, try to fix it before you toss it.

3. Cooking & Baking

There’s nothing like walking into a house where someone is baking a loaf of bread. Do you remember that smell? It’s like heaven. Like gardening, cooking and baking from scratch has become a lost art. I know that our lives as moms of little ones are very hectic, and preparing a meal from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. And I agree it can take a lot of time and effort, but it doesn’t always have to. Search the web, and you’ll find many recipes that take half the time to make something amazing.

4. Saving Money

Did you know that the average American household has $170,182 in debt today?1 In our grandparents’ day, the average American had less than $2,000 in personal debt.2 Our grandparents knew how important it was to save and pay for things in cash, but we have lost that lesson somewhere.

While I’d love to say that I’m an exception to the rule and carry no debt, I can’t say that. Not even close. Since before we even became a family, my family has juggled debt between student loans, a mortgage, car payments, and credit cards, and it’s not fun. I don’t want my children growing up in a family where debt is the norm. So, saving money has become one of my family’s priorities, but it can be a tough life lesson to learn. Luckily, there’s an app for that.

It sounds silly, but let’s face it: most of us do a lot of our personal banking or coupon clipping on our phones these days. Our grandparents didn’t have the luxuries we have when finding new and easier ways to save or manage our budgets, so we don’t have much of an excuse not to start saving now. There are so many apps you can download, most cheap or free, that will help you start saving money and managing your budget. Give one or a few of them a try and get your finances in check!

5. Manners

When our grandmothers were growing up, most reading material geared toward girls included manners and etiquette. There were books, magazines, and guides from tips on teenage popularity to courtship and how to set the table and woo a husband. By the time they were mothers, good manners were second nature to our grandmas, and they also did their best to breed it into their children.

I’m not exactly sure where things went wrong, but I do know that good manners have gone the way of the dodo in many children today. Even women my age (ahem: late 30s) know little about “proper” etiquette. Of course, I’m not saying we (or our kids) are all a bunch of obnoxious hoodlums, but I think there are some essential manners that our grandmothers knew that we should start practicing (and teaching our children).

For instance, the basics: saying please and thank you, showing respect to our elders or those in authority (respect is not the same thing as submission, mind you), and not interrupting are some good ones to start with. Also, learning table manners from a young age will go a long way. And learning how to write a thank you note (not an email, not a text, a NOTE . . . with a stamp . . . in the actual mail) will teach your kids not only to show gratefulness for gifts, but how to write politely, meaningfully, and succinctly. Another important thing I remember my parents teaching me was phone manners, which has served me well over the years.

It may seem old-fashioned, but there’s a lot to be said for old-fashioned in a world of thoughtless and downright rude people. Teaching our kids to act politely, respectfully, and thoughtfully will not only teach them valuable lessons but will go a long way in earning praise and respect from those who come in contact with them.

Even though so much has changed since our grandparents raised their young families, these five life lessons should not be part of those changes. If you’re lucky enough to have your grandmother in your life still, take her for coffee and chat. Ask her about these lessons and the others she learned as a young wife and mother. I promise you’ll be surprised at how much wisdom you’ll find tucked away in her heart and I bet she will be more than happy to share it with you!

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Cheyenne is a former lawyer turned writer, editor, and work-from-home mom living in San Marcos, Texas, with her daughter, Aislin, and son, Hawkins. She and her kids moved to the… Read more

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