Housewives of the days gone by had very specific roles in terms of their place in the household. Many old-fashioned housewives spent their days cooking, cleaning and attending to every need of their husbands and children. In the 1950s, for instance, there were a variety of methods women used to keep a house and be the ultimate homemaker.
Have Dinner Ready on Time
Planning ahead for the weekly dinners and making sure the meal was on the table and warm was one of the most important duties of an old-fashioned housewife. In the 1950s, for example, having dinner ready on time was considered a way of letting the husband know that his wife was thinking of him, supports him and concerned about his needs. The prepared meal, and possibly a stiff drink, were part of the warm welcome that many men of that time wanted when they got home from work. During this time, many women chose to serve the children dinner prior to the man getting home so he wasn't bothered by children after a long day at work.
Keep Up Appearances
Women, once they are married, were expected to go to great lengths keeping up their appearances. This meant keeping hair nicely fixed, wearing fashionable clothing and having painted nails; a woman was taught to always look her best for her husband. Each night, before the husband came home, many housewives of the 1950s would .take 15 minutes to rest and a few minutes to touch up makeup, fix hair and look fresh before the man of the house arrived home. Women were told to be in a good mood and find a way to be more interesting because after a long day at work, the man might need a lift.
Keep A Clean House
Probably the most important part of being an old-fashioned housewife was the housekeeping duties. It was essential to clean the house daily from top to bottom and doing deep cleaning weekly, monthly and seasonally. Many women used essential oils mixed with vinegar to clean everything from wood to glass. Others used old-fashioned methods, such as soaking newspaper in soap and water to clean windows and mirrors for a streak-free clean. An old-fashioned housewife from the pioneer days usually had a weekly routine that might have included washing clothes on Monday, ironing clothes on Tuesday, baking and cooking was done on Wednesday and Saturday, Thursday and Friday were general housekeeping days and Sunday was a day of rest.
Listen First and Talk Later
Many old-fashioned housewives had a role that included making sure that the home life was happy. This meant that her job was to listen to any problems and encourage her husband to do his best. Many old-fashioned housewives had limited decision-making options and often kept their mouths closed during any sort of punishing of children or financial matters. Children also were encouraged to speak as little as possible, or to "speak only when spoken to." It was important for many women to keep peace in the household.
- Photo Credit George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
- The Times: 10 Old-Fashoned Sentiments for Housewives
- "Practical Suggestions for Mother and Housewife"; Marion Mills Miller; 1910
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