In a world full of technology and lots of electricity, it is only natural that those who are most engrossed in what is new and current can get a little curious about how others live without it. The Amish as they are known today, are actually a group of traditionalist people with origins from Germany and Switzerland. Today, the bulk of Amish people live in North America in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Their culture keeps their community extremely close, while their traditionalist ways make it difficult at times for outsiders to connect. When Amish women become mothers, there is an entirely new set of rules they must follow. And as curious as those with huge technological influence may be about those on the other side of the horse and buggy, and as much as one thought they knew about the Amish, when it comes down to it, there is actually so much more to discover.
Curious about how mothers do it without the scans, the televisions, the sleep sacks and the musical mobiles? Want to know more about Moms who function in a much simpler life? Read on for 20 facts about things that all Amish moms do differently.
20 No Money, Honey
In addition to being the main caretakers of the home and for the family, Amish women and mothers are also never expected to contribute financially to the home. Many Amish women work on the farm, and at times many of them can even own their own businesses.
But when it comes to paying bills, rent, or helping to manage family expenses, women of the Amish communities are encouraged to keep their money for themselves and focus on the work that is inspired by traditional gender roles. Many Amish mothers make their day by cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children.
19 Covering One's Head
Like in many other cultures bound by religion, the Amish culture also enforces a rule by which women must wear bonnets after they are married and certainly after they become mothers. Covering a woman's hair is a symbol of modesty. Since Amish women must be seen as pure symbols of the home and family, they need to in no way attract or allure, their bonnet comes only after marriage as a symbol of them covering up and being sacred for their husbands, just as in other religions.
Amish women in general are also never to cut their hair, so one can only imagine how much hair they have to tie up under that bonnet.
18 Remain Expressionless
Amish mothers have rules even when it comes to gift giving. Did you know that Amish mothers can only give faceless dolls to their children? Having faceless dolls and puppets appeals to their critical perspectives on pride and vanity, according to National Geographic. Being prideful and vain is a sin, two things that according to their culture they would be if they allowed their children to play with toys that reflect stereotypical images of beauty.
According to Amish America, the Amish mother's role is to protect their children from some of the outside influences that will tarnish their beliefs, by gifting and making expressionless, faceless dolls, they are fulfilling that purpose.
17 Mom's Milk For Everything
Since it is against Amish beliefs to practice birth control, Amish women use breastfeeding as a natural way to space out their children. Midwife Kathi, a midwife who worked closely with Amish women, shared her story, "It was, early on in our journey caring for the Amish, not uncommon to see a young baby propped in the rocking chair with a bottle, or being fed by an older child. Now, women have spread the word that breastfeeding is not only best for their babies and less expensive but that it might keep the babies from coming a little less frequently. Some of them nurse their babies for well over a year!" she said.
16 Hang To Dry
Want to go to the mall to pick up some clothes and just throw them in the wash really quickly before your son or daughter picture day? Not a chance if you are Amish. Amish mothers must hand-make and sew all of their children's clothing, including their own, then hand wash and line dry all of the clothes in the home. There is nothing "quick" about that process. Normally the family clothes are made out of cotton or of animal wool for their children to wear during the cold months.
It is true, Amish mothers have a bit more household chores cut out for them than the average mom.
15 One Room Schools
Amish mothers send their children to one room school houses with Amish teachers. The Amish practice homeschooling in the most literal sense. By one room school houses we mean that school is conducted in the main room of one of the neighborhood homes and children change homes or "classrooms" once a week, according to Amish America.
Amish children are not expected to pursue higher education, actually, it is against their traditions and customs to continue schooling after 8the grade so one can imagine that the classrooms do not get too crowded, no matter how many children the average Amish family has.
14 Respect Gender Roles
Gender is a very important part of Amish culture; the roles that each gender plays is very defined and should be respected since each role plays a very important part of the family. Amish mothers are expected to raise their children to do the same. National Geographic reports that the standard for Amish women is to make family, church, and community needs a priority, even before their own needs.
Amish women are responsible for managing the home, cooking, making clothing, and helping neighbors in need. Men are the breadwinners, head of households, and decision makers.
13 Meals Together
One of the most beautiful things about Amish culture that families with technology respect less and less nowadays is eating together. Amish mothers prepare meals for their families and each night they eat dinner together. As part of their household duties, Amish mothers must also cook dinner. This allows the family to spend a few moments talking about their day, Amish America reveals. While we are too occupied running around or getting takeout, Amish families are cherishing their time together.
Amish mothers hold a very important role that functions like the pillar of the family, she is the center holding everyone up.
12 No Buttons, No Zippers
As per traditional Amish culture, Amish women must wear traditional clothing, which for them, means long cotton plainly colored dresses, with no buttons and no zippers. Imagine how difficult that must be to get over one's head. The objective of these dresses is to also not show off their figure. Many women purchase their fabric in bulk and make clothes for themselves and their children and sometimes, even their neighbors, by hand.
Most of the colors used for the clothing are cool and neutral tones like beige and lavender.
11 No Kiss And Tell
Amish mothers keep their pregnancy a secret for as long as possible. This plays into the modest role of women that we mentioned before. Though children are very welcomed and some Amish families have as many as twenty children, how children are made, where they come from, or the process of having children is almost never discussed amongst families.
For many women, midwife Sarah Banks explains, their first time discussing labor and having a baby is when they are going through it. This is perhaps one of the downfalls of not having so much technology or education after 8th grade. Though they are bound to be less worried this way.
10 All Nat-ur-al
Writhing in labor pain? Thinking about an epidural? Not if you are Amish. Amish women do not believe in pain relievers during birth. All children brought into the Amish home were birthed naturally (unless by some extreme complication), says the website Amish America. Most Amish women also have home births. They say this allows nature to take its course the natural way instead of worrying about trying to save babies who could endure any complications. The thing is, for many midwives who have witnessed an Amish birth, despite going about it naturally, many women do not even express feeling any pain.
9 The Right To Remain Silent
During those natural births we just talked about, Amish women must do it silently. You read that correctly. Amish mothers, well in this case, mothers-to-be, must give birth naturally and in silence, so they can reflect on what a gift life truly is. In the birthing room most moms-to-be have their husbands and an older woman from the church who is called a "catcher," this woman is responsible for catching the baby, so to speak.
It is very common for the Amish to hide the pregnancy and delivery from their other children until the baby is born, according to Midwife Sarah Banks.
8 Life On The Farm
As available land becomes less and less easy to find, Amish families now live and work on small plots of land called farmettes. Since farmland is not what it used to be, the men who once tended to the farm, now go off to work at factories and mothers are there to supervise work on the farm and even do a lot of the work until the children are old enough to do so, according to National Geographic.
Amish mothers hold a role and responsibility that mothers who live in cities never do. They child rear, work the land, and act as supervisors for the land.
7 Underdressed For The Occasion
We mentioned before that one of the most important aspects of the Amish family is having children, but we never discussed what that means for the Amish mother's maternity wardrobe. According to Amish America, Amish mothers must wear special birth clothes while in labor.
One midwife who works with Amish women near the Canada-border shared her experience, "They stay clothed the entire time, but the women have special dresses that they wear at birth where the belly can be exposed so that the baby can be immediately placed on the mother’s belly after birth," said Sarah Banks. Personally, a full dress with a hole where the belly is isn't as bad as a hospital gown that lets everyone see your behind...
6 Moms From Birth
Amish girls are groomed from a very young age and taught what the work of a mother is. Throughout childhood and adolescence, they are taught to become mothers. In Amish culture, children are the most essential part of the family, and family is the most important aspect of life, next to faith. Many Amish women have several children; the average is about 5 per household, much more than the average woman (US) who depends on technology. So instead of going to the mall or going out and taking selfies, Amish girls are hanging out with Amish moms to learn how to be one, so they won't be up standing over the baby at 3 am saying to themselves, 'okay how do I swaddle again?'
5 So Much Support
Perhaps one of the biggest things Amish mothers do differently, that surely mothers with lightning fast internet speed can appreciate, or maybe even envy is that after having a baby, ALL Amish mothers get a lot of help and support. According to Kathi, a midwife of the Amish community, "There’s always someone around to assist in the care. Women who have had several babies before will have a 'hired girl' come to work for them for about four to six weeks, tending to the children and doing the cooking and cleaning, so that they can recover and gradually return to their housework and farm chores."
A lot of other things on this list may leave you scratching your head, but not this.
4 All In The Family
If you are growing up Amish, everyone is likely to know who your family is just by your name. Why, you ask? Because Amish mothers and fathers name their children after other family members and of course, they all have the same last names.
According to Kathi, a midwife who works closely with Amish families, "in less conservative (Amish) families, the names are more varied, and more similar to English names, but our conservative settlement contains many women called Ella, Emma and Mary and men called Eli, Jacob, Ammon, and John. Naming is something that is taken very seriously, and usually takes at least a day to settle upon."
3 First And Last, Only
Amish mothers have the pretty hard job of choosing a name for their children, but as we mentioned before, at least there are only a handful of names that the community deems appropriate, but did you know that it is very uncommon in the Amish community for children to have middle names? Because the Amish community is very tight-knit, many families will share the same first and last names, when this is the case, an initial is often used to distinguish families, National Geographic reports.
Since flair and standing out isn't really what the Amish are known for, picking out one of this season's coolest monosyllabic middle names is probably not the first on an Amish mom's to-do list.
2 Girls Are Later
In the Amish community girls and boys typically get baptized at around 18 years old, but for girls, the baptism happens a bit later. Getting baptized as a woman in the Amish community (like males) happens when you are old enough to choose. If girls choose not to be baptized they are shunned from the community because the Amish believe this is a direct face against religion. The same happens with refusing to go to church and so on and so forth.
1 Every Single Sunday
Can you imagine wearing the same outfit out of your home every single week from the time you get married until the end of time? When you are Amish, that is pretty much the case. Amish mothers must wear their same marital gown every single Sunday to church after their wedding. And this gown is not the fluffy-white-sparkly-sequence-lacy-pillow-top dress you have in mind, no, when you are an Amish mom, or mom-to-be, you wear a large blue smock-like dress on your wedding day.
On the one hand, it really does help you feel less guilty about never wearing the dress ever again. Silver linings?
References: Amish America.com, Crosswalk, Midwife to Amish Mothers, National Geographic