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Bonjour!  I'm Christen!  Been all over the U.S., and just moved from Utah down to Texas for my husband's new job!  After having been in the Navy, I am now a student of Anthropology, a stay at home mom to my new baby, a half arsed writer, belly dance instructor/student and performer, and just general, all around "Jack of all trades, master of nothing." 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Study In Housewifery: A Typical 1950's Housewife Schedule

In my last "A Study in Housewifery" post, I quickly outlined my plan to follow what a typical 1950's housewife's schedule might be.  I found the post here on the Stepford Sisters blog.  As I was copying down each thing that needed to be done, I found myself growing more and more exhuasted with each bullet point.  Not only did I have to get all these things done, but I also had the kid and the animals to take care of, plus my little part time job Tuesday - Thursday in the evenings.  What the hell did I get myself into?  How would this impact my interaction with my kid?  How would I fit everything in?  Surely there just weren't enough hours in the day to do all this stuff!

Well, let's take a little walk, dear blog reader and see how quickly I did or didn't lose my flipping mind.

A typical day would go something a little like this:

  Ok, so we're out the gate running. The kid was being fairly agreeable and not entirely clingy which made it easier to get chores done while he ate his breakfast.  It helped that I had some leftover Paleo English Muffins which you can find on my The Paleo Toddler Board.  He could eat those at will with his hands, no need for mom to spoon anything into his mouth.  I had an interview for a nanny gig, but still managed to get ready for the day and most of the apartment picked up.  After the interview, we happened to be near our supermarket anyway so got the shopping out of the way.  Went home, fed the kid, put away groceries, tidied while he played a little bit then it was time to put him down for a nap.  While he was napping I started getting things ready for dinner, got a drink tray ready for hubs, got laundry started, swept and mopped all the floors, cleaned the bathrooms, ran the vacuum, put away dishes.  Then the kid woke up so while keeping him entertained, I changed into a dress, put on some makeup, swept the entryway, picked up the living room and checked on dinner.

This was all before my husband even got home.

THEN it was fixing dinner, sitting down to eat (which means he eats and I feed the kid and get a few bites here and there), cleaning up, taking out the trash, taking out the dog, bathing the kid, getting him ready for bed, cleaning the kitchen while he played, then putting him down.  FINALLY after all that...... I got to make hub's lunch for the next day, get breakfast together for the kid, switch over the laundry, and convince myself to take a shower.

It was exhausting. I was literally on the go from the moment I woke up until I went to bed, absolutely no down time whatsoever.  I really did like it that D had lunch for the next day, and it was nice to have dinner made and a clean house.

The rest of the week was pretty much the same except that I had work from Tuesday through Thursday in the evening.  That really cut down on my cleaning time since I have to get ready for work while B is napping in the afternoon, and used that time to start getting dinner ready for my guys as well.  Plus, I was starting to get really sick and it took all my energy just to get through the day.  Each day I got a little less and a little less done, and had to take more and more time to sit and get through the day.

A few lessons and realizations from the week:

  • I really didn't like not playing very much with Baby B.  We usually take walks every day, hang out on the patio and look at the world, play some games or even just chase each other around the house pointing at things, or read books.  I felt like I was just neglecting him for the most part.  Not that I give him attention 24/7, but it pissed me off when the husband was playing with B after dinner and I was stuck cleaning up after I'd spent all day doing that very thing. 

  •  I also didn't like how each day my husband became more expectant that the house would be sparkling, and his wife would be perfectly coifed and greeting him with a drink.  I made sure his drink tray and dinner was ready each day, and the house was in a reasonably clean state, that should have been more than sufficient! 

  • If I didn't have other responsibilities outside the home, this schedule would work out better and be much more pleasant to bear.  

  • I actually enjoyed the first day of the schedule when I could focus on everything inside the house. 

  • My kid is priority.  It doesn't matter how clean my house is, if I have a screaming toddler who's ready to eat but I'm still busy doing chores and it's not "time" for lunch, I'm not going to enjoy my clean house.  I also didn't like that during work days I had to clean instead of spending time with him since afternoon nap was when I got ready for work.

  • Baby B is (thankfully) becoming more independent so luckily it wasn't too much of an issue, and  I could actually get some things done while he played.  I can't imagine trying to do this with a newborn, especially one that was as sick as mine.  This schedule would work much better for school age children, or toddlers who go to preschool part time/full time.

  • Whoever works outside the home doesn't know how easy they have it sometimes.  The sheer amount of time and effort that goes into just the upkeep of the house is a full time job.  This does not include any extra chores that need to be done such as organizing, or the care of babies, or another part time job.  It is pretty much the equivalent of 2 full time jobs rolled into one.  No, I'm not saying  the bread winner is less important; I'm saying they have the opportunity to leave work at work, and come home and relax.  The schedule called for "indulging in a hobby", but for me that roughly translated to: play with B or do an activity with him (colors/shapes/visual recognition/practicing words by reading books etc)

  • The differences in expectations of housewives are far greater (in my opinion) than they used to be.  Yes, they always had to look pretty, and no they didn't have modern convineniences such as we do.  However, kids were allowed to play on the street, weren't always being shuttled from one activity to another, and visiting was almost a daily ritual.  Nowadays, unless there are scheduled play dates, most moms and housewives spend much of their time locked away in their houses.  No neighbor to chat with over the fence while you both hang out your laundry. No book clubs or bridge clubs during the day where the children played together in the large backyard.

    Ok, so maybe it's not that the expectations are greater, it's just that we have so much more we are attempting to fit into our day, and we are doing it all alone, with absolutely no support system in place.  Work is always more bearable when it's done with someone else. 

  • I learned that I can be more productive during the day.  It's all about balance.  I love playing and teaching with Baby B, but I also like having a clean house and dinner made.  My house will never be Pinterest clean, and I'm ok with that.  But now that my baby is older, he doesn't need to be in the sling every second of the day and I can take time for a few things for myself and keeping the house in relative order.  Sometimes it all feels all so overwhelming, but with my trusty list, and a cuppa coffee, and taking it one step at a time I feel I can bridge the two worlds without compromising my instincts as a parent or my responsibilities around the house.