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 see if I could gain some 1950s cleaning tips!
The 1950’s housework schedule is written for a 50’s housewife whose children are of school age.
I’m not suggesting we all give up work and chain ourselves to the kitchen sink. I wondered if there were anything homemakers of the fifties did then that we don’t do so well today.
In this 50s housewife daily schedule experiment, I will spend a day in the life of a 1950s housewife with school-age kids. Wish me luck!
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My Usual Daily Schedule
Before we can compare a 1950s housewife routine to one of today, we need to have something to compare it with, so 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 sometimes pans out :
6.30 / 7.30 Get up, feed the cats, and make kids’ breakfast.
7.30 / 7.45 Check calendar/schedule.
7.45 / 8.00 Wash the breakfast dishes.
8.00 / 8.15 Do one load of laundry and defrost meat for the evening meal.
8.15 / 8.25 Shower and get dressed
8.25 / 9.30 Take kids to school.
9.30 / 9.45 Eat breakfast.
10.45 / 11.45 Prepare and cook the tea.
11.45 / 12.00 Dry and put away the laundry.
12.00 / 1.00 Clean one room from my weekly cleaning schedule.
1.00 / 1.30 Eat lunch.
1.30 / 2.00 Do some ironing.
2.00 / 2.15 Meal plan for tomorrow’s meals.
2.15 / 2.30 Check blog stats.
2.30 / 3.30 Pick up kids from school.
3.30 / 5.00 See to kids & serve tea.
5.00 / 7.00 Go to after-school sports.
7.00 / 8.00 Start night time routine for the youngest child.
8.00 / 8.30 Wash and dry the dinner dishes.
8.30 / 9.00 Lay clothes out for tomorrow for kids, check book bags, and action letters.
9.00/ 9.30 Catch up and chat with daughter and spouse, wash and dry spouse’s dinner dishes (he works very late therefore, he gets home and eats late! )
9.30 / 10.50 Relax, watch tv, read or write a blog post.
10.50 / 11.00 Put one load of laundry on a timer for an early morning wash. Straighten up the living room.
Of course, if I’m working, my daily housework schedule looks nothing like this, and I do whatever I can with the time I’ve got left!
This routine is not my daily housework schedule when I’m at work. However, most evenings, we are out at kid’s activities. Some nights we get home at 8.45 pm, so the evenings can look a little different from the daily routine of a housewife from the 50s!
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.
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 1950s housewife schedule
Light the fire, clean out the old ash from last night, and relight the fire for the family to come down to.
- 7.30 / 8.45
Get breakfast ready, get the kids ready for school. Take the kids to school.
- 9.00 / 9.45
Wash breakfast dishes.
- 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.
Coffee break (read the newspaper)
- 10.45 / 11.30
Do a job from the weekly cleaning list.
- 11.30 /12.00
Get the lunch ready for children coming home from school
- 12.00 /1.00
Have lunch, take children back to school, wash lunch dishes and clear up.
- 1.00 / 2.15
Do some home baking, then wash up the dishes.
- 2.15 /2.30
Free time (spent doing gardening or dressmaking)
- 3.15 /4.00
Go shopping for food for the meals for the next day. Collect children from school.
- 4.00/ 4.30
See to the needs of the children, put shopping away.
- 4.30 / 5.00
Prepare the evening meal.
- 5.00 / 6.00
Eat evening meal, clear the dining room table and wash the dishes.
- 6.00 /6.15
Listen to the news
- 6.15 /7.30
See to the children, play games, read, bath time, bedtime.
Free time, maybe spent reading, knitting, listening to the radio.
- 9.45/ 10.15
Prepare supper. Wash and dry dishes, and lay the dining room table for breakfast.
Go to bed
Characteristics of a 1950s housewife
Being homemakers of the 50s was dramatically different from how things are today. Daily life in the 50s differed from the daily housework schedule of working women today.
Kids came home from school at lunchtime. Homemakers 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 fewer 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. Shopping for food was part of the 1950’s housewife routine every day.
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 considerable 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. Her housewife’s daily routine was often the only thing she had to focus on during the day. She took pride in 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 1950s housewife routine any more manageable. Often carpets had to be swept, or they beat rugs 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
Kids had a lot more free time as there were not so many after school and weekend activities. Therefore, they spent more evenings and weekends 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.
Fires had to be prepared before anyone got up. The 1950s housewife routine didn’t start until the embers from last night’s fire were cleaned out and carefully lighted a new fire. This was an essential and time-consuming task in the 50’s housewives daily schedule.
Everyone ate together at the table at the same time every night. Therefore there was only one dinner to cook and many dishes to wash.
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. I struggle with this in our house because my son is such a light sleeper, and as soon as a floorboard creaks 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 in my shoes with my hair and makeup done, rather than hurriedly trying to get prepared 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 and start procrastinating, and I realized that this could be the start of my time-wasting. So, I decided to get up earlier than the family and have breakfast with the kids.
This was quite frankly the least relaxing breakfast I’d ever had, but I gained 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 one thing from the 1950s housewife routine that I will continue to do!
Housewife’s extra time
The next thing that struck me was that 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 substitutes.
It’s easier for me to prepare the evening meal at 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 I work, I defrost a meal that I’ve previously batch cooked and frozen. The average 1950s 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. Read this post to learn how to batch cook all your meals for a week!
Afternoons in the 50’s housewife daily schedule
I also noticed from the 1950’s housework schedule 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 afterward, it’s 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 get behind. I’ll leave the baking to the 1950’s housewife!
Free time for the 1950s 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 50s 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 for the 1950s housewife
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 for tomorrow’s tea. This part of the 1950s housewife routine will not work for me as I like to buy meat in bulk and freeze it for convenience during the week, and I also 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.
Evenings for the 1950s housewife
In the evenings that we had no after-school sports to go to, I did follow the 1950s housework schedule. I had already prepared the evening meal, so it gave me more time to spend with the kids, clear away the dinner dishes and get the school stuff ready for tomorrow.
I didn’t listen to the news, but I did sit down for a nice 15-minute coffee break. 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 this was virtually impossible with one child still up until 9.00.
9 pm was eventually time to relax, and I spent this listening to the Archers podcast.
I didn’t make a snack at 9.45 because my spouse had just eaten, so I cleared up the dishes and laid 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 meant that I spent less time with my husband in the evening, he was happy to have control of the remote and watch the golf in peace so that I may schedule a few early nights into my new weekly routine!
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 daily schedule to make my life slightly more manageable and run more smoothly. Already I see some benefits from the changes I’ve implemented from the 1950s housewife daily schedule. However, it’s only practical to implement the other changes on my days off with after-school activities and working. I have enjoyed and benefited from more structure and less procrastination in my day! I also appreciated not having any technology or TV, as this helped me do less procrastinating!
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This is one of those questions that will have a different answer for everyone. I have worked full-time and part-time as a mum, and I can tell you it’s challenging 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!
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.
From the 1950s housewife schedule, you’ll notice that there are always plenty of jobs to do around the home.
To begin organizing housework and following my daily routines, you can start here. I have created a list of jobs you do each day to keep your house clean and organized and then a list of weekly chores done once a week. Or you could always try the 1950s housewife schedule if you are at home all day!
Now you’ve read all about a 1950s housewife routine, why not read all about what grandma used to keep in her cleaning kit!
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