I have stepped back in time to try a 1950s housewife schedule! In this post you will find the daily, weekly, and monthly 1950s housewife routines and my experience trying it. Plus you will also learn how they got it all done with little ones, what their hobbies were, and a sample of their beauty routine!
My Experience trying a 1950s Housewife Schedule
I tried the 1950s housewife schedule for one week and I loved doing it almost as much as I loved researching it. While researching the 1950s housewife schedule I realized my personal homemaking routine was quite similar, but A LOT less work thanks to the modern inventions of the dishwasher and washing machine! I remember hearing stories from my grandmas about the wringer washer. Even my in-laws grew up with them! Could you imagine not having a washing machine?!
Since our home is already in maintenance mode the most difficult part about implementing this schedule was remembering all additional daily todos like ironing. Which is something that I do not do at all. In fact our last iron broke a year ago and I have yet to replace it. Thankfully I didn’t end up having any clothes to iron during this challenge. But it is a chore I do enjoy doing and it is on our to buy list once it is in the budget.
Three things that I will be implementing full time in my schedule are:
- Airing out the bed before making it and opening up the windows in the morning.
- Ironing more often. I would like to iron our curtains monthly and I need to iron my husbands work shirts more frequently.
- Empty the waste baskets daily. It is something we do weekly on garbage day, but it is so nice to have empty waste baskets!
To conclude there is also a lot of wisdom we can learn from the housewives of the past. These women were hardworking, passionate, resourceful and took pride in their roles as homemaker.
Here is the schedule that I tried below! I formed it off of my grandmothers stories and excerpts of home economic textbooks. So this routine reflects the typical middle class suburban housewife. Let me know in the comments if you try this schedule!
What did a 1950s housewife do all day?
- Open up the curtains, pull back the sheets to air them out, and open the windows.
- Get ready for the day with simple makeup and a housedress. *Some women would wait to get ready for the day until after breakfast
- Make beds. Children who are old enough make their own.
- Make and serve breakfast for the family.
- Clean up breakfast and wash the dishes.
- If there are school age children take the children to school or if they are old enough they will walk to school.
- Tidy up the house from the morning. Tip carry around a basket to place things that need to be put away.
- Iron clothing that needs ironing.
- If there are still children in diapers in the morning the cloth diapers would be boiled and washed. Then hung to dry. Some women could go two days without doing this. It all depended on how many cloth diapers the family had and that the baby went through.
- Sweep the floors, clean carpets and mop any floors that need a deeper clean.
- Empty the waste baskets.
- Wash the laundry that needs washing. Then hang to dry.
- Prepare lunch for the family. School children would often walk or bike home from school to have lunch and then would return. If they were younger mothers would pick them up and walk them back.
- Do an afternoon tidy of the house.
- Use free time for hobbies, read below for a list of examples, OR have friends over for a cup of tea. It was not unusual at this time for people to drop by for a visit as the majority of women were also home. This is also why the majority of the cleaning is done in the morning.
- Begin preparing dinner: cook + set the table.
- Serve dinner for the family.
- Clean up the dining table and wash the dishes.
- Enjoy evening with family. During this time it was common to mend clothes that needed mending while the family all listened to the radio.
- Read to the children and tuck them into bed.
- Run a bath and then go to bed at a sensible time. My Nana has always had a quick bath before bed to wind down and freshen up.
The weekends were for family time. This often included activities outdoors, going on family drives, and visiting with family and friends. On Sundays many families went to Church and then there was usually a Sunday roast in the evening.
Weekly Housewife Routine
- Do the weekly grocery shop. Some women went more than once a week.
- Replace flowers with fresh ones. In the summer months these were often cut from the garden to save money.
- Wash bedding.
- Wash the walls and doors. This is what many housekeeping books of that time recommend, but after reading through personal accounts many women only did this when it needed to or did it monthly.
- Polish the sinks and faucets.
- Deep clean the bathtub and shower.
- Go through old magazines and flyers then get rid of them.
- Get hair done at the salon. This was a very important thing to my grandma who always had her hair done.
Monthly Housewife Routine
The monthly routine varied based on the seasons. In the spring there was deep cleaning of the whole house. In the summer months there was canning and preserving. Fall there was a lot of preparing for the larger holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the winter months there was more time for sewing the children’s clothing, something my Nana did until her children were in middle school.
How did the 1950’s housewife do it all with babies and toddlers?
Toddlers, babies, and this schedule? How did the housewife do it all you may be asking! They did it all with the toddlers and babies right there! Children were a part of the work. Babies were in the basinets, strollers, and play pens. Toddlers were playing while mom was getting work done. The only additions to the schedule above would be:
- Feeding them snacks and bottles throughout the day.
- Playing with them.
- Going for walks with them to get fresh air.
When I tried the 1950s housewife schedule I was in my 2nd trimester and caring for my 1 1/2 year old and I can personally say it is possible!
- Knitting and Crocheting
- Canning and Perserving
Housewife Beauty Routine
This is the simplest maintenance routine that I picked up on from both my grandmas.
- Hair was done weekly at a salon.
- Makeup was very simple, usually just a touch of lipstick, blush and possibly some mascara. Of course there were women who wanted to wear more makeup and others who wore less. Budget also played a huge roll in what makeup women could afford.
- Daily do quick stretches and simple workout routines to stay fit.
Read more about Homemaking on the blog:
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