What Happened When I Tried A 1950s Housewife Schedule

I decided to write a light-hearted post about how different our lives are today from our grandmothers and great grandmothers of the 1950s. I chose to do a little research into the 1950s housewife schedule to see exactly how different things are today and to see if I could gain some 1950’s cleaning tips!

The 1950’s housework schedule is written for a 50’s housewife who’s children are of school age.

I’m not suggesting we all give up work and chain ourselves to the kitchen sink. I was just wondering if there was anything homemakers of the fifties did then, that we don’t do so well today.
In this 50s housewife experiment, I’m going to spend a day in the life of a 1950s housewife with school-age kids, wish me luck!

1950s housewife schedule , 1950s housewife washing the dishes

First, let’s start with my typical housework routine on my days off, when the kids are at school. This is a very rough guide as to how my day pans out :

  1. 6.30 / 7.30 Get up, feed the cats, make kid’s breakfast.
  2. 7.30 / 7.45 Check calendar/schedule.
  3. 7.45 / 8.00 Wash the breakfast dishes.
  4. 8.00 / 8.15 Do one load of laundry and defrost meat for the evening meal.
  5. 8.15 / 8.25 Shower and get dressed
  6. 8.25 / 9.30 Take kids to school.
  7. 9.30 / 9.45 Eat breakfast.
  8. 9.45 / 10.45 Do daily jobs from my daily cleaning list, make beds, sweep the high traffic area floors, do one load of laundry, do a bathroom swipe, tidy up, do a light dusting of high traffic areas.
  9. 10.45 / 11.45 Prepare and cook the tea.
  10. 11.45 / 12.00 Dry and put away the laundry.
  11. 12.00 / 1.00 Clean one room from my weekly cleaning schedule.
  12. 1.00 / 1.30 Eat lunch.
  13. 1.30 / 2.00 Do some ironing.
  14. 2.00 / 2.15 Meal plan for tomorrows meals.
  15. 2.15 / 2.30 Check blog stats.
  16. 2.30 / 3.30 Pick up kids from school.
  17. 3.30 / 5.00 See to kids & serve tea.
  18. 5.00 / 7.00 Go to after-school sports.
  19. 7.00 / 8.00 Start night time routine for the youngest child.
  20. 8.00 / 8.30 Wash and dry the dinner dishes.
  21. 8.30 / 9.00 Lay clothes out for tomorrow for kids, check book-bags and action letters.
  22. 9.00/ 9.30 Catch up and chat with daughter and spouse, wash and dry spouses dinner dishes (he works very late, therefore he gets home and eats late! )
  23. 9.30 / 10.50 Relax, watch tv, read or write a blog post.
  24. 10.50 / 11.00 Put one load of laundry on a timer for an early morning wash. Straighten up the living room.
  25. 11.00 Bed.

Of course, if I’m working, my daily housework schedule looks nothing like this, and I just do whatever I can with the time I’ve got left!

This routine is not my daily housework schedule on the days I’m at work. However, most evenings we are out at kids activities. Some nights we get home at 8.45pm, so the evenings can look a little different from the daily routine of a housewife from the 50s!

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My weekends are spent with the family. If I keep on top of housework and laundry on my days off, it enables me to spend the weekends doing the things I love with my kids and family.

Characteristics of a 1950s housewife.

1950s housewife schedule , ironing

Being housewives of the 50s was dramatically different from how things are today. Daily life in the 50s differed in many ways from the daily housework schedule of working women today.

Kids came home from school at lunchtime. Housewives in the 1950s would have to return to school, bring their kids home, feed them, take them back to school and clear up, all within an hour at lunchtime. This also ensured that they had to be at home during the day for the kids.

There were no supermarkets. A 50’s housewife would have to shop more frequently at the local shops. There were no supermarkets to wander around, and spend hundreds of pounds on food.

Food was scarce, therefore kitchen cupboards and fridges were not overstuffed and cluttered with food.

Men worked, and most women stayed at home. Women in the 50s spent a considerable amount of time within the house, so much more time than women do today. Men and women work more extended hours now than ever before and both spend fewer hours in the home.

Housekeeping was the 50’s housewife’s job. Often her housewife daily routine was the only thing she had to focus on during the day. She took pride in her role of keeping the house clean and looking after her family.

1950 housewives had very few mod cons such as washing machines or tumble driers to make their life easier. Often carpets had to be swept or rugs beaten outside. Laundry had to be hand-washed, ran through the mangle and dried outside or inside if the weather was miserable.

A fifties housewife had no free childcare support, children started school at 5 or 6 years old, therefore it was difficult for women in the ’50s to go back to work once they became parents, often working wasn’t an option they could consider.

Kids had a lot more free time as there were not so many after school and weekend activities. Therefore, more evenings and weekends were spent at home.

There was no social media or daytime tv to distract from chores. The radio was often the only form of entertainment for the 1950 housewife.

Everyone ate together at the table at the same time every night. Therefore there was only one dinner to cook and one lot of dishes to wash.

1950s housewife schedule

1950s housewife schedule

  1. 8.30 / 8.45

    Get breakfast ready, get the kids ready for school. Take the kids to school.

  2. 9.00 / 9.45

    Wash breakfast dishes.

  3. 9.15 / 10.30

    Do the daily cleaning of all rooms. Tidy up, make the beds, hang up any clothes, pick stuff up off the floors, wipe over the sink, toilet and bath. wipe down kitchen surfaces.

    1950s cleaning tips housewife schedule.

  4. 10.30/10.45

    Coffee break (read the newspaper)

  5. 10.45 / 11.30

    Do a job from the weekly cleaning list.

  6. 11.30 /12.00

    Get the lunch ready for children coming home from school

  7. 12.00 /1.00

    Have lunch , take children back to school, wash lunch dishes and clear up .

  8. 1.00 / 2.15

    Do some home baking, then wash up the dishes.

  9. 2.15 /2.30

    Free time (spent doing gardening or dressmaking)

  10. 3.15 /4.00

    Go shopping for food for the meals for the next day. Collect children from school.

  11. 4.00/ 4.30

    See to the needs of the children , put shopping away.

  12. 4.30 / 5.00

    Prepare the evening meal.

    1950s cleaning tips

  13. 5.00 / 6.00

    Eat evening meal, clear the dining room table and wash the dishes.

  14. 6.00 /6.15

    Watch the news

  15. 6.15 /7.30

    See to the children, play games, read, bath time, bed time.

  16. 7.30/9.45

    Free time, may be spent reading, knitting, watching tv.

  17. 9.45/ 10.15

    Prepare supper. Wash and dry dishes, lay the dining room table for breakfast.

  18. 10.15

    Go to bed

As I studied the 1950s housewife schedule I noticed that it didn’t vary too much from my daily routine, so I thought I’d give it a go on my next day off work.

The early bird catches the worm.

The first thing I noticed from the 1950’s housewife schedule, was that she got up before everybody else, got dressed, washed and got herself ready. This is something I struggle with in our house because my son is such a light sleeper and as soon as a floorboard creeks in our house he is up! However, on the odd occasion I have managed to get up before him, it made a huge difference to be ready and dressed to my shoes with my hair and makeup done, rather than hurriedly trying to get ready when the kids are already up.

Eating breakfast like a 50’s housewife

The second thing I noticed, was that in the 1950s housewife schedule she ate breakfast with her kids. Now, I am always rushing in the mornings and never have breakfast with my kids, so I end up eating mid-morning with a coffee, but often this prompts me to check my emails etc. and start procrastinating and I’ve realised that this can be the start of my time wasting. So, I decided to try getting up earlier than the family and having breakfast with the kids.

This was quite frankly the least most relaxing breakfast I’ve ever had, but I did gain extra time during my morning as I didn’t linger over a mid-morning breakfast! So eating breakfast with my kids turned out to be a time saver and it is something I will continue to do!

Housewife’s extra time

The next thing that struck me, was that both my kids have school dinners, so, I have a whole hour mid-day that the 50’s housewife didn’t get! Sometimes I fill this time by making the evening meals. I say meals because we have two meat eaters and two vegetarians in our house so this often involves making two separate meals as my spouse will not eat meat substitute.

It’s easier for me to prepare the evening meal midday because most of my evenings are taken up running the kids to sports or playdates and I prefer to give my kids a healthy homecooked meal whenever time allows. For the days that I am working, I defrost a meal which I’ve previously batch cooked and frozen. The average 50s housewife did not have the luxury of having a freezer, so I feel grateful that I have one stocked full of convenient food to eat in a hurry. To learn how to batch cook all your meals for a week read this post!

Afternoons in the 50’s housework schedule

What I also noticed from the 1950’s housework schedule is that there was some afternoon baking involved. Count me out; I hate baking! I’m no good at it, and generally, find it a great big faff for minimal reward, and as for the cleaning up afterwards its all too much. So I cheated and stuck to ironing a big pile of my spouse’s shirts for work, and all the kids clobber so I didn’t end up getting behind.

1950s cleaning tips , 1950s housewife schedule

Free Time for the 50’s housewife

So now, we get to the 1950s housewife’s free time, which she was expected to use to do the gardening or sewing. I couldn’t work out whether this housewife enjoyed doing the gardening or sewing as a hobby. However, I gritted my teeth and went out to tidy up the garden. It was January, and it was freezing. However, it was worth it because we are selling the house, so it was good to straighten things up, put the kid’s toys away and sweep the paths, so possibly I may choose to do this a few times a week.

Food shopping in the 1950’s

I usually leave the house at approximately 2.30 to pick up the kids from school, and I decided to call in at the shops to get the ingredients tomorrow’s tea. This routine is not going to work for me as I like to buy meat in bulk and freeze it for convenience during the week, and also I find I spend less money this way. I will continue to do as I usually do in my daily schedule and use this time to do chores such as nip to the post office etc.

Evenings for the 50’s housewife

On the evenings that we had no after-school sports to go to, I followed the 1950s housework schedule.  My evening meal was prepared, so it gave me more time to spend with the kids, and clear away the dinner dishes and get the school stuff ready for tomorrow.

I didn’t sit down to watch the news, but I did sit down for a 15-minute coffee break which was nice. However I probably won’t be doing that every night because it rendered me almost impossible to get back up again!

After getting one child to bed, I tried to get some free time at 7.30 but with one child still up until 9.00, this was virtually impossible.

9pm was eventually time to relax, and this was spent watching tv.

I didn’t make a snack at 9.45 because my spouse had just eaten, so I cleared up the dishes and lay the table for breakfast.

Bedtime on the 50’s housewife schedule

I went to bed at 10.15 and enjoyed going to bed nearly an hour earlier than usual. Although this did mean that I spent less time with my husband in the evening however, he was happy to have control of the remote and watch the golf in peace, so I may schedule a few early nights into my weekly routine!

1950s housewife schedule , laundry

Overview of the 1950s housewife schedule

This is not the perfect housewife cleaning schedule for today but there are some ways I could tweak my own daily schedule to make my life slightly easier and to run more smoothly. Already I’m seeing some benefits from the changes I’ve implemented from the 1950s housewife daily schedule, however with after-school activities and working, its only practical to implement the other changes on my days off. I have enjoyed and benefited from more structure and less procrastination to my day!

FAQ

What is better, to be a housewife or a working woman?

This is one of those questions that will have a different answer from each person. I have worked full time, and part-time as a mum and I can tell you it’s tough and very stressful trying to keep everything running efficiently when you’re a working mum. Staying on top of a daily housework schedule becomes even more of a struggle if you have a partner who works long hours and weekends or if you are a single mum. I love being at home, it’s the best place in the world for me and I enjoy every second of being in the house. However, I also love my job, so I’m not going to be giving it up anytime soon!

What do housewives do all day?

This depends on the housewife and how motivated she is! When you are a mother with small children at home virtually all of your time is consumed by the demand of your child /children and it’s challenging to get stuff done around the house unless your kids are sleeping. Parents today are much more hands-on with their children and spend much more quality time entertaining their children than they ever did years ago. As children get older and go to school, there is more time to spend at work. You’ll notice from the 1950s housewife schedule that there is always plenty of jobs to do around the home.

What is an ideal daily routine?

To start organising housework and to follow my daily routines you can start here, I have created a list of jobs which you do each day to keep your house clean and organised and then a list of weekly chores which are done once a week. Or you could always try the 1950s housewife schedule if you are at home all day!

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1950s housewife schedule

4 Comments

  1. Sheila Spencer July 15, 2019 at 10:40 am

    I sometimes think that children today don’t learn how to amuse themselves because Mother’s feel so guilty about working that they have to fill every possible moment available finding activities and classes for their children to do. There’s nothing wrong with just sitting and colouring in a book, or reading or be outside just messing about in the garden.

  2. Candace July 18, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Not sure if this is USA. We had 1 car and I walked home for lunch. No one came and got me. My mom hung the laundry out to dry. We did have a grocery store.

  3. Kim Ferrie July 18, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    I would like to share my approach to modern living – – cut most of the activities. 8:45 p.m. ?!? We are all in our jammies by then! LOL Just try it! No one says you HAVE to have your children in anything. Family time when they are young is much more important then what they are in or how many activities they are in.

  4. CJ July 20, 2019 at 3:19 am

    I am a single working Mom with 3 kids aged 10, 9, and 7. One thing that wasn’t mentioned is the amount of homework the three of them bring home every day, sometimes requiring at least an hour each per evening for them to get through. When science projects time comes, there is a near melt-down season that causes me to run for the therapist couch. I do not remember my mother ever having to devote all of her evenings to mandatory parent/student projects. The fact that homework management was not mentioned in the 1950’s schedule leads me to believe it probably wasn’t an issue. Any ideas for where to fit in an extra 3 hours of one on one homework time with my kids?

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