I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having a gloriously productive January. Spring fever is starting to set in, so I thought I would take advantage and participate in Apartment Therapy’s The January cure. I can’t begin to describe how much I love it… but I’m going to anyway.
I very much loathe a household out of order. I can’t think straight surrounded by clutter. I’m not so much a clean freak as I am a person who feels put off by disarray. Spring cleaning, while therapeutic, can also be overwhelming! Where do I start? What needs doing? What am I missing? The January cure has been enormously helpful in guiding me through the process. Without it, I’d probably be scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush while the rest of my house fell to pieces! But today’s post really isn’t about the January Cure. Today I’d like to share with you my daily tasks as a real life (modern) vintage housewife. But first we need to address the history of the “1950’s housewife” archetype.
The 1950’s Housewife: Symbol of Misogyny… or was she?
Anytime someone brings up “my look” as it relates to misogyny in the before times, my eyes roll (not really, that would be terribly rude). The fact is, popular culture, media, and entertainment have given us this idea that women of the 1950’s were enslaved in their homes, forced to cater to their husband’s every whim, completely devoid of pleasure or enjoyment. She is a lovely and sad creature. She is The Stepford Wives, Mad Men, and Mona Lisa Smile. Or was she?The truth is, the 1950’s housewife wasn’t at all unlike women today. My grandmothers, for instance, had jobs. They were divorced and remarried. They lived lives, day to day, like other women. Then, and now, women make choices. We choose the paths we want to walk. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Some women marry honorable men, some marry real jerks, some don’t get married at all. Some go to school, some work outside the home, some choose to be homemakers. And while, yes, the role of most women in the before times was that of homemaker, not every woman followed this path. The point is, we should be wary of falling for stereotypes as they are rarely ever true.
How to be the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife
Alright, this title is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at our vision of the Donna Reed homemaker. Truth is, pigeons, there is no such thing as “perfect”. It doesn’t exist. Striving for an unattainable goal will only make you feel like a failure, so STOP IT! Instead, I like to think of “perfect” more as improved. What am I doing daily to make my home better?
I will be the first to tell you I am extremely privileged to be a full-time homemaker. While technically self-employed, I consider myself, first and foremost, a homemaker. I had a wonderful career in animal and behavioral sciences spanning 20 years, and when my Mr got his promotion and subsequent transfer, it was the perfect time for me to retire. I tell you this so when you see my daily task list, you don’t freak out. My job is to care for my home. If I worked outside of the home, I wouldn’t get half of these things done! My daily tasks, on paper, look never ending! It looks like I do nothing but scrub and clean, but that isn’t entirely true either. Because I keep up on these tasks every day, I have all kinds of time to indulge in a hobby, take a nap, binge watch a season of whatever on Netflix, and some days skip cleaning entirely. Because I don’t let my house fall apart, taking care of it isn’t too much work at all. I also enlist help. My son has chores. My Mr, even after working a twelve hour day, will pitch in. Nothing in our home is ever viewed as “mom’s job”. When something needs doing, someone does it. Simple as that.
I’ve compiled my daily task list on not only the things related to my home specifically, but also on the myriad of housekeeping and etiquette books I’ve amassed though the years. Keep in mind, my list is tailored to my home and my family. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own task list. Remember, perfection doesn’t exist. The “perfect” housewife is merely one who cares for her home and the people (and pets) in it.
Dolly Marlowe’s Guide for the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife (pdf)