Monday, March 23, 2009

A Woman's Work is Never Done -

at least, it wasn't in 1935!

According to a brilliant book I've found from the early 1930's, this is the 'Daily Work' that every woman should be doing:

1. Open bedroom windows top and bottom, strip the beds and leave them open to air
2. Light the fire in the the dining room, brush the grate, clean th hearth, sweep and dust the room
3. Clean shoes if they have not be done overnight (how? presumably by the servants ...)
4. Sweep and dust porch, wash steps if necessary
5. Clean the brass, if there is any, on the front door
6. Lay breakfast and prepare it (so 1-5 are presumably done BEFORE breakfast; what is everyone else doing afater you've stripped their beds?? Were they in them? )
7. After the meal is finished, clear the breakfast things
8. Tidy the living room
9. Wash up the breakfast things (why do 8 BEFORE 9?)
10. Make the (by now cold and possibly wet) beds. Take up the rugs and shake in the garden. Take them upstairs again together with the carpet sweeper and mop, short broom and dustpan, and 3 dusters, one dark for the hearths and two for the furniture (HOW many hands did they have in the '30's?)
11. Sweep up the fluff from under the beds ahnd all the pieces from the floors.
12. Every other day wipe round with a damp cloth
13. Dust the room and the fireplace and lay down the rugs again (I don't know where they have been in the meantime, on the beds perhaps?)
Do this in all the bedrooms being sure to shut the doors afterwards to keep out the dust
14. Sweep down the stairs, the dust from each step being swept straight into the dustpan
15.Dust the handrail, wainscot and sides of the stairs
16. Tidy and dust the drawing or sitting room and the 'special work for the day is done'
oh yeah, except for:
Preparation for the dinner (I think they mean luncheon) must now be attended to and laying the table
After dinner do the washing up, tidy the scullery, make up the fire, sweep the hearth.
Then it says 'the principal part of the day's work being done, the housewife will be able to change her dress before tea and when the tea things are cleared away there will be shopping to be done for the next day unless you have managed to do this in the morning' (WHEN~??~)
But it's not over yet....
At dusk the beds must be turned down, windows partly closed (rooms are now FREEZING) blinds drawn, children bathed and put to bed (so EARLY? guess there's nothing else for them to do ....), supper prepared, cleared away and some preparation made for the morning.
I'm intrigued to know that if you didn't have servants (and presumably not if you're doing all this yourself) who got the kids up , dressed and off to school, in between steps 6 and 9, or if they're not at school yet, how on earth did you manage to entertain them all day? And when did you get time to go and pick them up from school again? What has happened to your husband who makes no appearance at all in this scenario?

OK. Finally the article says that 'the great thing in homemaking is to consider the comfort and welfare of the inmates (what a lovely term) and do one's very best to promote their happiness and well being' (at the total subjugation of your own life)
Well, how lucky we are today is all I can say. I am the world's worst housekeeper at the best of times, so I can't imagine a life spent in this way .... let alone when it gets to the spring cleaning which I'll tell you about another time. No wonder women didn't go out to work, they didn't have time!

1 comment:

Jewellery By Shalini said...

Nice article Lorna.

Well done on reviving your blog. Look forward to reading more.