What would your mother do? Make do!

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

This is a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best.

One thing my mom did was to make things last. She reused everything! Did you know you can iron wax paper lightly and make it all smooth and reusable again? She did. She saved bows and wrapping paper, for reuse, along with empty cardboard tubes, which she gave to us for hitting each other. We were never allowed to hit each other any other time, so when an empty cardboard tube became available, it was one of our prized possessions. We played they were swords. It was great fun.

sock darning

My mom saved holey socks, weaving a patch over the hole (darning) and even saved a burned-out light bulb for the darning form, slipping it into the sock for a work surface, to give it the form it would need to fit right, later.

When our ironing board cover wore a hole, she did not replace it. She carefully laid an old bath towel over the worn area and pinned it tightly in place underneath. It was a great cover. Other old bath towels became bedding for our ill puppy, extra door mats during sloppy weather, and tied to a mop stick, a pretty good wet mop.

I could think of so many more examples, because we were poor yet we always had something. My mom made it happen. I know she learned it from her mom, because I often saw my grandmother sort and store things inside empty cereal boxes. It was just their way, and although I have all I need and more, it is also my way. See if you can find an example in this story.

And share with us how your mom has made do! Thanks!



Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

16 thoughts on “What would your mother do? Make do!

      1. I’m going to be doing some posts on my “up-cycling” thingies, after the sewing room posts are finished. I will detail there how I get everything out of a sheet! 🙂

  1. Mama could make one chicken stretch to two meals for a family of four…and sometimes stretch it to three. She boiled the backs, wings, and thighs for chicken and rice, then she fried the other pieces…that’s two meals. If any chicken and rice was left over, she added chicken stock, vegetables and we had chicken soup. Oh, and she never bought cut up chicken…always whole. One of the most horrible experiences of my life came when I had to learn to cut up that danged bird. Yuck.


    1. Oh, DiAne!

      I know, it’s horrible when we buy whole birds, due to the shredded parts still remaining inside! Much easier and somehow nicer to start with a live bird. 🙂
      But our mothers made do with whatever was needed, didn’t they! 🙂

  2. Being the oldest of three girls, my mom made the best use of hand-me-downs. Our shorts were nearly always just our holey jeans from winter, cut off and hemmed. She was also the master of the “Leftover All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.”

    1. Oh, how often I have served that very buffet to kids wearing those very shorts! It’s how we stretched food, clothing, and especially a single income! 🙂
      But with five children, my mom seldom had leftovers to serve later, and almost always mended those holey jeans to pass down to the next child.
      And we girls did not wear jeans…;-)

      1. I remember getting upset when Mom wouldn’t let me wear one of my two dresses to school. Ever. Except on picture day. She wanted to save the dresses for church, and I didn’t understand that until I became a mother myself. Save the nice things so they last.

      2. Oh! I almost forgot! We had our own special tupperware, too! Cool Whip, cottage cheese, and even yogurt containers were all saved and used for the leftover buffet. For YEARS. The only “real” tupperware Mom had was a set of three mixing bowls she got for her wedding.

        1. Yeah! I love it.
          We once gave some food to some poor people in Cool Whip containers. It was intended that the containers did not matter but they carefully washed and made sure to return every container.

  3. My mother grew up extremely poor so she hated making do as an adult; she never got over it. As a teenager I once brought home some fancy clothes from a jumble sale, and she threw them all in the bin.

    She did allow us to make Christmas crackers from cardboard tubes one year – but she still bought new for the day.

    Not to worry – my family was named ‘Stockport’s Greenest Family’, so I make up for her 🙂

    1. My mom never gave up on “we might need that someday”. I tried to make a happy medium by realizing I should give some things to others who DO need them TODAY. That helped me not to hoard. 🙂

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