Thumbnail image for HappyHousewife.jpgThe very first entry in "101 Things for the Housewife To Do, 1949," a British book written by Lillie B. and Arthur C. Horth, is on "Planning Household Duties." They write:

The order and sequence of the daily work is a matter of individual planning, but any time-table should allow of one day, unalloted to any special work in order to allow for emergencies. First arrange the most important daily tasks, those which must be done. Next the weekly jobs, such as turning out rooms, laundering, leaving some time available for occasional jobs such as checking the household linen and anything else leading to orderly arrangement.

"America's Housekeeping Book" is more specific, with an entire chapter devoted to budgeting your time and a skeleton schedule for the studious housewife to follow:

As per the schedule, keeping a house is a full-time job. This is clear in the text as well, with the first words in the chapter being: "Housekeeping is a real job--a job that needs to be planned carefully if one would avoid becoming a slave to housework or have free time for social activities and outside interests." In 1941, when the book was published, this assumption was totally reasonable. But it's not 1941 anymore. I have a full-time job, as well as a part-time side job. Because I work from home right now, my time is a bit more flexible than it used to be, but it's still going to be necessary to make serious adjustments to this, or any, schedule in order to put it into practice in my life.

Luckily, though they may not have forseen a time where most women work outside the home as well as inside it, the clever authors of both the "America's Housekeeping Book" and "101 Things for the Housewife To Do, 1949" suggest a simple method for creating your own schedule that can be adapted to my life: arrange daily, weekly, and periodical jobs in the time frame I do have. "America's Housekeeping Book" even has a list of jobs you should include in your schedule, as follows:

NECESSARY DAILY ACTIVITIES
A. Food planning, table setting and food preparation.
Cooking and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Washing dishes
Kitchen clean-up (see page 253)

B. Child care.
Bathing and dressing
Feeding.
Exercise and fresh air
Special training
Recreation and companionship

C. Light cleaning and straightening of rooms.

D. Special.
Correspondence
Sewing and mending
Personal laundry
Personal care (better schedule exercise too, if you need it)
Gardening
Keeping accounts (page 71)
Care of pets
Chauffeuring of family

E. Rest, recreation and reading.

NECESSARY WEEKLY ACTIVITIES
A. Thorough cleaning of rooms (page 227).

B. Meal planning and marketing (frequency depends on storage space and food-buying habits).

C. Laundering.
Washing
Ironing
(Or sending to professional laundry and checking when returned)

D. Special child care.
Medical or dental
Shampooing
Shopping
Special lessons
School affairs

E. Special
Silver cleaning (page 213)
Closet cleaning
Care of clothing
Sewing and mending
Pressing
Sending to dry cleaner
Special baking
Shopping
Personal care

F. Rest and recreation
Club work
Sports
Exercise
Theater, concerts, movies, etc.
Reading

G. Entertaining

With the exception of the sections on child care, these things all, to a greater or a lesser degree, have to be done at my house just as they did in the households of the '40s. However, I'm not going to tackle all of them under the auspices of this project. For example, though I may take on some discreet cooking projects, I have no plans to start making dinner every night (and certainly none to start preparing breakfast and lunch). It's also unlikely that I'll be gardening--that's Mark's realm. There's nobody that needs to be chauffeured, so that's out. Finally, I don't think I'm going to need to do any silver cleaning, because we don't have silver. Oh, and no club work.

Still leaves the bulk of it. My list:

NECESSARY DAILY ACTIVITIES
A. Washing dishes
Kitchen clean-up (see page 253)

C. Light cleaning and straightening of rooms.

D. Special.
Correspondence
Sewing and mending (though mine will be hired out)
Personal laundry
Personal care (better schedule exercise too, if you need it--I certainly do)
Keeping accounts (page 71)
Care of pets

E. Rest, recreation and reading.

NECESSARY WEEKLY ACTIVITIES
A. Thorough cleaning of rooms (page 227).

C. Laundering.
Washing
Ironing
(Or sending to professional laundry and checking when returned)

E. Special
Closet cleaning
Care of clothing
Sewing and mending
Pressing
Sending to dry cleaner
Special baking
Shopping
Personal care

F. Rest and recreation
Exercise
Theater, concerts, movies, etc.
Reading

G. Entertaining

So how does my list fit into the hours before 9am and after 5pm? I'm thinking something like this:

Looking at that does not fill me with hope or thrill for the next 100 days. It looks like a lot of work, frankly. I'll let you know how it goes.

5 Comments

Eeep.

A lot of the books I've read follow the "days" thing, do any of yours? This seems to be standard:

Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

Since you don't really have an "ironing day," I'm guessing, could you sort of stack things around a bit? What amounts to a two-hour cleaning stretch every evening seems a bit onerous!

I'm really interested in watching this, btw...

Wow, that does look like a lot of work. This is an awesome project though, thanks for sharing.

Oh man. That is terrifying. Maybe you'll find you don't have to spend quite that much time on each of those things?

I like the bit that mentions "special training" for the children. Surely you can adapt this for the cats?

heh - I'll have to show the schedule to SAH Mr. Stang next time he's complaining about not having enough time to get the laundry done. Though to his credit, he does like to iron our linen napkins.

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