A Real 1950’s Daily Cleaning Routine

A Real 1950s Cleaning Routine

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In the 1950s, it was common for the wife to keep her house exceedingly tidy and well-managed. If you run a search on the internet for how they did it, you will find a list that outlines a typical 1950s housewife cleaning schedule. It shows up on several sites, but I’m not sure where it originated. It appears to be an almost-impossible to achieve list, and after interviewing several women who actually lived as 1950s housewives, I am happy to report that it is indeed not an accurate portrayal of how things typically were. Thank goodness.



So what was a typical day in the life of a 1950s housewife? I am told that it looked more like this:

Morning/Breakfast:

  1. (1) Mom would wake up and just like we do today her first chore was often to start the coffee. She had to do this first because it took ten to fifteen minutes to percolate.
  2. While the coffee percolated, she would often prepare her husband’s and children’s lunches.
  3. Next was breakfast prep, and despite what we’ve been lead to believe, every day was not a big breakfast day. Oatmeal, cold cereal, or toast were all typical weekday breakfast fare. Big breakfasts  with pancakes and eggs, and home fries were saved for weekend days. In some homes dad would eat and leave before the children woke up. And in other homes, everyone ate together. In any event, the entire morning breakfast routine doesn’t seem to be much longer than our modern-day counterpart.
  4. After eating, dad left for work and children were sent to make their beds, brush teeth and get dressed for school.  Clothing was usually planned and laid out the night before so there was no debate.  They knew what to put on and any resistance to getting these morning chores completed in a timely manner would be met with a promise to answer to dad later that day, so resistance was rare. Mom would often be tending to younger children at this time as well as possibly making her own bed and tidying her own bedroom.
  5. Where a 1950s mom’s morning really hit the time crunch that we don’t feel today is when it came time for the kids to actually get to school. Back then, a car or second car was almost unheard of. Mom had to walk the kids to school.  I think if I could change one thing from our modern-day morning routine back to the 50s version, the walk to school would be it. It was great exercise for everyone involved, and is probably one of the reasons obesity was less of an issue than it is now.

 

A Real 1950s cleaning routineThe time spent walking to and from school was also quality time spent together. Lots of good talks and bonding happened then. I remember walking to school even when I was a kid in the 70s. We lived three miles from my school, and I don’t recall hating the twice daily trek at all. I even remember loving the days when it rained because I got to wear my raincoat and my rain boots and use my umbrella. Stomping in puddles was great fun!  In the fall, I’d enjoy swishing through the leaves. In the winter, I remember catching snowflakes on my tongue while we walked. All fond memories.

Late Morning/Early Afternoon

Once mom returned from delivering the children to school, she’d often settle any younger children then she’d take a small break for tea and maybe listen to a morning radio show (usually heavily slanted toward wives and mothers because career women were less common).

“Ajax powdered soap, with borax or baking soda for the laundry.  Bleach was only used to soak diapers.   Vinegar for rinsing in laundry.  Spic n Span once a week on the floors.  (Everyday floor wiping was just vinegar in water.)  And my one and only luxury was paper towels in bathroom.  With so many kids constantly washing and wiping dirty faces and hands, these saved my laundry pile.” — Jan Meyette

Then the busy work of cleaning would begin.   The entire cleaning routine involved about three hours each day.   The beds were made and bedrooms tidied even before leaving for school, so now it was on to bathrooms, kitchen, living room, laundry, and floors.   Most cleaning was done with simple cleaning products such as baking soda, vinegar, ammonia, lemon, castile soap, and borax.   There were also some commercial cleaning products like Simoniz floor cleaner, Spick N Span, Brillo pads, and Windex, but most women used the basics and a lot of elbow grease.

A Real 1950s cleaning routine

Bathrooms were cleaned daily so it was a fast chore–no scrubbing required.   A few swishes with the brush in the toilet, a wipe down of all surfaces and mirror, empty trash, shake out carpets, sweep, then a quick mopping.   There was usually only one bathroom, so with just ten minutes, the bathroom duties were done.

This 1955 washer/dryer commercial shows that by the mid 1950s doing the laundry was significantly easier than in the days when it took an entire day to wash by hand, so the habit of washing and drying at least one load of laundry per day was born.

Cleaning the kitchen was also done daily, with a thorough cleaning of the refrigerator at least weekly, and a wipe down of all cupboards–inside and out–at least every few weeks.  Some things were more complicated back then, like the coffee maker, for example.   It needed to be dumped and cleaned by hand every day.   Other items didn’t exist at all, like the microwave.  So cleaning time between then and now should still balance out.

Next, mom would move on to tidying the living room, dusting all furnishings, and controlling paper and other clutter.  Again, this was done daily, so this entire process didn’t take very long.

Lastly, there would be a quick shake out the area rugs, sweeping and damp mopping the floors, and that would complete the morning cleaning rituals.   Houses were much smaller, and wall-to-wall carpeting was still a luxury most homes did not yet enjoy, so even the task of floor care was not overwhelming.

Viola.  Cleaning complete.

 

A Real 1950s cleaning routine

For the 1950s woman, the rest of the day was filled with things like feeding lunch to the husband and children if they still came home for lunch (some did).  She might also have to walk to do some shopping and this could involve visiting several places since most items were provided by specialty shops like butchers, bakeries, and the like.  She might have mending and sewing or gardening and canning to do.  She might bake breads or pies.

Later in the afternoon she’d need to walk back to the school for a second (or third!) time at the end of the school day.  Then she had to come home and begin to plan and start dinner.

Evenings and nights were filled with bathing the kids, laying out the clothes for tomorrow, cleaning up the kitchen one last time, and then settling down to listen to your favorite radio program.  In those days almost nobody owned a t.v. and if they did it still wasn’t as popular as a good radio show.  By the time the evening programs came on, mom was ready to put her feet up and take a well-deserved break.

All in all the daily cleaning routine back then was not bad.  It was, and still is, however, monotonous.  We talked about ways to combat the boredom in an earlier post.

The only real difference between then and now is that our standards have slipped a bit these days.   Our children have more toys.  We all have more possessions.  We have more clutter and we have more distractions like television and internet.  We seldom dedicate three hours every day to getting the house tidy.   And when we do, we don’t do it as thoroughly.  Doing things like wiping out the oven weekly and cleaning out the refrigerator weekly does not usually happen in every home anymore.   It should.   If we kept up with these tasks weekly, they would be much quicker and easier and less daunting.

 

A Real 1950s cleaning routine

Two months ago I decided to dedicate my days before noon to a routine very similar to the one outlined above.  I must confess that my home is sparkling clean and peaceful.  My husband compliments me on my efforts all the time, and here’s the kicker.  I have actually achieved more outside of my cleaning routine.  Dedicating the time to cleaning didn’t hurt my schedule.  It helped it.   I spend far less time searching for lost items, feeling frantic, and feeling overwhelmed.  In fact, I feel so organized that I was able to finally start this blog, something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.

If you need to revamp your home cleaning efforts, why not make it a pact with yourself to try this 1950s schedule for 30 days?   The first week might not go as quickly as this suggests because you have some catching up to do, but after that, it’s a breeze.   Try it.   Let me know how it works for you.

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141 Comments

  1. I want to deeply thank you for your blog. I’m a 26 year old stay at home mom who had her first baby at 15. I have been extremely lucky to have his dad stick by my side and we’ve now been together for 12 years. My mom worked a lot and my step dad didn’t do much more than sleep and yell at us. As a result at 16 when my husband and I moved out on our own to raise our family I literally had no idea what I was doing. We have 3 kids together now and I’ve stayed home since my oldest was 2. I got sick shortly after my youngest was born 6 years ago. Its a degenerative collegan defect and our home has since suffered even more. My husband has been incredibly supportive and says he doesn’t mind. But *I* mind, I don’t like being embarrassed of having people over and seeing my failures. I wouldn’t say our house is dirty but cluttered and unorganized. I know we’ll ALL be happier for it if these changes could be made. I’ve just never known where to start and have often felt hopeless and very alone. People tend to have very conflicting opinions of how I should be living my life especially my mother who doesn’t agree with stay at home moms and more especially with our recent decision to home school our kids. I nearly cried with joy when I stumbled across your blog. I have felt the intense need for change in my life but just didn’t know where to even start. I read some things on your blog to my husband and we talked for a very long time last night about my need for this change and what I need from him to accomplish this. I explained your blog on tasking and him being the CEO and me the house manager and this whole lifestyle seems like something we needed desperately in our lives but didnt know how to explain until now. Thank you so much and I look forward to reading more of your posts. We’ve decided to start all these changes on Monday with a new week ahead of us to wipe the slate clean and begin again with a clear purpose in mind. I’m excited to see where all these changes take us and to begin loving myself and my life again. I’ve been very unhappy with myself for a long time and I finally have the hope I can make these changes and be someone my husband, kids, and what’s more someone *I* can be proud of!

    • Oh Tessa! You are very welcome. My whole point of doing this blog is to support others like me that choose an old-fashioned (or maybe it could be considered new-fashioned) way of living. It’s your life. You go live it however feels right in your heart. Don’t let anyone discourage you! You come here for support any time you need it. I’ve got your back.

    • Tessa, bless your heart! I DID squeal with joy when I found this blog. Like your mother, mine worked a lot, but my step dad is a sweet and quite man. Momma was, and still is at times, a loud, obnoxious and belligerent woman with an incredible temper. I married and had my first baby at 17. I divorced after 8 years, though. My husband now is a wonderful man and we just had our son, Mason, January 9th.
      This blog is an answer to my prayers! People have always joked about how it seems that I ‘fell out of the fifties! The only thing I DON’T do is dress before my husband gets home. It is YOUR life and you need to live it the way you think is best for your family.

      • It sure sounds like Ehler-Danlos. Two of my daughters and several grandchildren have this syndrome . Mine makes its presence known because a number of surgeries have failed. The stitches won’t hold. My grandkids have stripes on their backs. In our case, it is accompanied by aching joints, headache and fatigue. It can really hurt your quality of life. Having others, especially your husband understand, is so important. Because it is not easily seen like a broken leg for example, I’ve been told it’s all in my head.
        Take good care of your body . If you try to lift heavy things, even vacuum for long periods of time, you can damage vertebrae and damage joints. So glad you have been diagnosed. Is difficult to diagnose it. Having a bad back, collapsed bladder are some of the first clues. It is hereditary and there is a gene DNA test, but it doesn’t fix the problem so it’s rarely done. You can have a fairly normal life if you understand your limits and hopefully don’t have surgeries to fix things. I have had 11 surgeries. My bladder, despite being “tied up ” twice has completely collapsed and I have to catheterize to get rid of urine. You won’t have many of the problems I did because you have been diagnosed and are aware of the limitations. Good luck–just do what’s absolutely necessary in house cleaning. And the most Important thing you’ve got going for you is an understanding spouse. Makes a world of difference.

        • I was misdiagnosed as having Cerebral Palsy until my nine year old daughter was diagnosed with EDS too. Assumed that since I was premature that I had CP. Needless to say the surgeries I had to improve what they thought were symptoms of CP has made my EDS symptoms so much worse.

    • They had strict nap times and babies and toddlers went in playpens when mom was busy. I’m not saying that’s what you should do. That was just the norm back then.

    • Oh my Tammy! I’m sorry. I never received a notification of your comment. Thank you, Jen, for answering. Poor Tammy must have felt neglected! Well… Yes. Babies were put on schedules and allowed to cry but also there were other things. MANY siblings, quite often. Lots of family around. Lots of other women around–not so many worked. There was just a much better sense of community back then. Wouldn’t it be nice if our little housewife revolution spread and we could get back to that??

      • I am a former corporate America working mom turned work at home mom. Actually, I think society IS starting to revert back to the 50s a bit! Cyclical maybe? 😀❤

    • play pens! They used to be bigger and kept babies and toddlers corraled. now they are smaller and primarily meant for sleeping, but back then littles spent a lot of time in play pens.

      • I got around the playpen issue by turning my living room into a large playpen, blocking off the stairs, hall and kitchen so he has limited space, everything baby proofed and he’s always in sight.

  2. Hi, thank you for this fascinating blog post! I’m a 28 year old stay at home mum of a 10 month old baby girl, I struggle with a daily routine and feel I’m constantly swimming against a tide of mess, clutter and dirty washing! I could definitely take a few lessons from 50s housewife. I do agree that cleaning standards have slipped, though I wonder whether this is all bad, as I cant imagine 50s housewife had as much quality time with her children after all that cleaning every day! I think that the focus of being a modern stay at home mum has shifted. In addition to caring for my baby’s daily needs, I spend time playing with my daughter, reading her stories, taking her to the park, going on playdates so she has the opportunity to socialise with other babies (as children in daycare do)…..and sometimes doing a bit of cleaning/ cooking! I would rather do a few jobs in the evening when she is in bed, so I can spend quality time with her during the day. Just some thoughts. I do really admire the 50s work ethic though and think its easier to be more lazy these days.

    • I find that to be my biggest issue also, not that I don’t try, but that it is me against three kids and a husband who are all a bunch of hoarders, Lol. What to do about all the stuff? I’ve purged and eventually it all comes back.

  3. I thought I would be a nightmare 50’s housewife…and I still think that to be true for almost anything a woman was expected to do or say during the 1950’s. But here’s the thing. I work full time and I already have a chore list like this. Because I do it every day, only takes me about an hour or two. Three hours if it’s an extra chore for the day. But shopping and school…vroom vroom. I also do a lot of frozen meal prepping once every two weeks and a meal planner…so there is nothing new to prepare. Easy Peasy.

    • I’ve been talking to a bunch of older ladies who talk about how they never came downstairs in the morning without their hair brushed and lipstick on. I, however, trudge to the kitchen in my pajamas. I guess that’s the “modern day” in me. 🙂

      • I wondered the same thing. My grandmother was a fifties working/housewife and so were my aunts. So I wondered about their self care. I am starting with the cleaning and aspiring to never leaving the house unkempt. Thank you thank you.

        • In the 1950s my mom came down dressed to her petticoat with a duster or lightweight robe over it. She put on the tea kettle, put the eggs to boil, sliced the bread and put it into the toaster. The table had been set the night before and the tea pot was on the side with the tea canister next to it.. After breakfast the dishes were rinsed and put into the sink, everyone dressed and left for work – including my mom. My aunt and uncle next door and or neighbors on the other side followed about the same routine.

  4. This is exactly what I have been looking for! My Great-Grandmothers where 1950s house wives and I remember as a kid thinking that they kept their homes so perfectly! I have struggled to maintain a neat and tidy home, its clean but messy (last night I spent my New Years Eve playing catch up again! I finally fell into bed at 3am after 5 house of cleaning and still the house wasn’t done!)
    With 2 little boys I knew I needed to change how I have been doing things (cuz clearly it wasn’t working!) and felt like I should “go back to the basics” and do things how my Great-Grandmothers did. Thank you so much for your blog! It is going to help me get my house back to order this New Year!

  5. Hello there, I was so excited to find your blog. I myself am a mid 30s stay at home mom of three under 6. I home school my oldest and the younger two attend British school. We’re military. Any who, I was so thrilled to find you here. The information is priceless and will be carried out and on with my daughters and son. I do not want my children growing into today youth. We just started strict manners and chore charts as they all understand and are capable of helping and showing go off manners. I just want to thank you for your time and work put in on this blog. You’re a real pleasure to read and a comfort to know such women still exist and are appreciated…

  6. Love this! I am a 26 year old stay at home mom to.year old twin girls and I struggle everyday to keep the house clean and I often feel overwhelmed. I think I may try being a 50s housewife starting tomorrow. I consider myself an old soul as does everyone who knows me, and I just like and respect the ways of the past. This world is so out of control nowadays, I find myself wishing that it was more like the 50’s. Thanks for your blog!

  7. This article is so inspiring! I am a mother of 3, and while I dress like a 1950s housewife, I have been failing to clean like one…until now! I don’t know why it never occurred to me that doing these simple things daily would eliminate so much stress and burdensome work. I am looking forward to the positive changes this routine will produce for my family.

  8. What a delightful post. Thank you for writing it! I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years and still have never been able to nail down a good routine! I yearn for the simplicity of the 1950’s, like having only one car, school within walking distance, smaller homes, fewer possessions and most of all, no crazy schedules that keep us running all over town constantly. You’ve inspired me, and it starts with a dedicated cleaning schedule every morning. Thank you, thank you!

  9. I just found your blog last night and read every post in one sitting! I’m 29 and a stay at home mom of an almost 3 year old, a one year old, and have another on the way. I have traditional beliefs when it comes to gender roles (I don’t think it’s a coincidence the divorce rate is way higher than it used to be!) and I love the 50’s lifestyle and everything that comes with being a traditional, old fashioned lady who takes care of her husband and kids. It’s hard to keep the house clean and organized with a toddler, a crawler, a puppy, and the exhaustion of pregnancy but I made up a cleaning schedual last night and am going to try it out as soon as I get done with my coffee! Thanks so much for helping keep traditional women alive!

  10. Found your blog a couple weeks ago and had become fed up with seeming like I always lived in a mess. My husband works evenings and I work part time whilst children are at school so have had to adjust it a bit. I do the bathroom before school run and rest in afternoon before picking little ones over. Having schedule and very clean home gives me more time to spend with little ones

  11. Thank you so much for taking the time to interview these ladies and write this post for us. I tried out this routine yesterday in order and ended up working from 10 am-5:45 pm at that point I had just finished the kitchen! Hand’t even touched living areas, paper, or floors (my bedroom was pretty messy!). I have been working outside the home for all 11 years of our marriage but always wanted to stay home. Then in January I was able to quit my job and stay home full time with my preschool-aged son! I’m very excited to get the house in shape and hoping to be on a maintenance schedule starting next week.

    Hoping to find a way to get this all done early so my son can spend more time outdoors before his nap. I really like the idea of women today ascribing to higher standards of cleanliness at home, most women my age seem to take it for granted that the microwave will be a mess and there will be crunchy crumbs in the corners until “cleaning day”, and that there will always be dishes in the sink. Also I hear a lot about spending quality time with their children, but I try to include my son where I can as I cook and clean. He loves to help and he learns so much, I think it’s a very high quality time together, to work with his mother and learn discipline and cleanliness by example. Also It can be fun, making up silly cleaning songs and things like that!

    Not sure how adaptable this routine will be when our homeschooling schedule expands for kindergarten and then first grade, etc.

    Anyway, thank you again for your inspiring post!

  12. Suzanne you are so right, having your little one there with you while you are working is WONDERFUL for both of you! That quality and quantity of time together, just doing daily life, talking, singing, even if he is just playing alongside with some playdough while you cook, or playing with cars on the kitchen floor while you clean the microwave is so very valuable and precious! I remember my mom giving me a shoelace and a Tupperware colander to play with while she ironed… I would lace that shoelace in and out of all those holes and thought it was super-fun! (Also great for small motor development… but I just thought I was “sewing” 😉 My own daughter was entertained “washing” her little tea set plates and cups at the sink while I cooked dinner, or painting or coloring at the table while I did dishes. Those moments of relaxed chatter and just BEING together, doing daily work is such sweetness, and will be some of his best memories. Great job, keep up the good work mama! 😉

  13. This is fantastic! I had to leave my job as a lieutenant of a men’s medium security prison over a year ago due to having a total hip replacement and rheumatoid as well as osteoarthritis. My husband and I were not supposed to be able to have children, but the Lord had other plans for us and we had our daughter one week before my 44th birthday. I have worked outside of the home since I was 14 years old, so it has been a great big adjustment to be a stay at home mother. I have to say that it has been a wonderful blessing to be home with our daughter in spite of the daily pain. It has been difficult though, falling into a routine. I often wonder how I kept the house and spent time with Iris and my husband and worked 12 hour days. I have been working to clean out the clutter because as you said, folks didn’t have as much back then, but they appreciated what they did have more. This I believe is the first step. Then, when that task is accomplished, I will certainly follow this routine. Please don’t take it off before I can hook up the printer and print it out tomorrow! Thank you so very much for this!

  14. I am happy I found this post too! Usually I am a very clean person, people used to comment on it all the time. But then I met my retired US Marine husband and ironic as it may be, everything fell apart. I blame two children in three years.

    My second is three weeks old and our schedule is still a mess, but I have been watching old 1950’s shows and they are inspiring. Cheesey, but I have been trying to emulate them. I want my old clean house cleaning back, I am tired of hearing how horrible my house is from my mom and sister, the two most chaotic housekeepers I know, ha!

    This list is helpful!! Especially the walking part. And I don’t know what people are talking about this taking away time with my kids. My two year old and I do more together cleaning than in awkward playdates. Rock on 1950’s housewife!

  15. Ahhh… I love this <3 I am a 20s,30s,40s,and 50s housewife in training and so this helps. Been doing this for a few months now and I'm so into it, I even go vintage shopping for my home to look more like the eras

  16. I had a question. What about ironing her husband’s and her own clothes? I try to put that chore off as long as I can because it takes up so much time out of my day. But then I end up spending two to three hours on all of it when I finally get to it. I KNOW they ironed not only clothes, but many ironed sheets and pillow cases as well as cup towels. Just wondering. Thank you for your post! I shared it on my fb.

      • You have to remember that fabric was different back then too. There was no such thing as permanent press! Sheets, towels etc don’t NEED to be ironed anymore, unlike in the 50’s. Neither do most men’s dress shirts (well, maybe a quick touch-up) if you remove them from the dryer as soon as the cycle is done and give them a good shake, then hang them up immediately (or fold). Linen towels, cotton sheets (with no modern fibre treatment) etc wrinkled terribly, whereas our modern fabrics do not, as a rule.

      • My mother, a 50’s housewife followed this routine and so did my other female family members. It only took them two hours to iron. Every Tuesday she would do one hour of ironing from eleven to noon, take a rest and have lunch, then at one she would be back at it. She ironed her flat items by placing two surplus army blankets on her kitchen table (one of those steel tables with a formica top), then on went a sheet, then other flat items followed by another sheet. The flat items were the “ironing board” for clothing. When the clothing was ironed, so were the flats. This method is faster than using an ironing board.

  17. Thank you for your wonderful post! I am actually a full-time working mum of one so a little different from some of the other ladies who have commented. However I find I struggle to keep on top of certain areas of housework – I am going to try implementing a routine similar to the above (albeit a little different to fit around work and our 10 month old daughter)and I’m hopeful it will improve my current feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. Thank you again for your lovely writing – a pleasure to read.

      • For me – work keeps me sane – but the housework I find overwhelming and time consuming. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I do like having a clean and ordered house but once I’ve picked up my daughter from childcare, cooked and eaten tea, then done bath and bedtime I tend to start getting tired. Then when I see the mountain of chores still left to do I get stressed! I’m hoping having a stricter routine will help a little. 🙂

  18. Oh about time I found this post! I’ve been looking for this exact thing!
    I’m stay home too with 3 kids (6, 3, 16m) and find it very hard to stay clean and organized. I have learned to get myself ready first thing in the morning or I never get out of my pj’s, I had read that ladies in the ’50s did this and do it also. I always wondered how they did it all but your post puts it into perspective. I pretty much do what you have posted but seeing it more in detail, I will give the 30 day schedule a try! One perk, I love to wear an apron when cleaning, you should add that to your blog, its helpful to keep your clothes clean and carry veggies in from the garden.
    Between the house, kids, schooling, garden, husband, and the farm; I’ve learned I can’t do it all but getting a schedule figured out really helps my sanity.
    Thanks!

  19. I’m excited to come across this blog (thanks to Pinterest). I am a stay at home mom of a 5 and 2 year old. I have a tendency be idle and have been convicted over it. I desire to be more like the Proverbs 31 wife, noble and excellent. I already get up at 4:30 every morning and cook 3 meals a day. Then clean the kitchen. I do the basic pick up and tidy but the house feels cluttered and I rarely feel accomplished at the end of the day. Knowing where to start and what to do on a day to day basis will be very helpful. I’m looking forward to starting this tomorrow. Thanks so much and I will be a frequent visitor

  20. I really enjoy your Blog! It’s nice to connect with other ladies that are keeping traditional roles. I am a housewife and mother my only child who is now 8. I love the natural flow of life with my husband as head of household and me the head of the home. It’s worked for a long time now. I can’t imagine being any where else but here homemaking!❤️

  21. Thanks for this. I have seen the “impossible looking” 1950s schedules out there and it did seem daunting. This puts it in perspective and seems doable. I think I am going to try this! Thanks again for the post.

  22. I am starting this tomorrow. I homeschool my kids but a good walk before starting school might be a good idea. Thank you for this blog.

  23. I’m a practicing vintage housewife and I LOVE it. Thank you ❤ it truly motivates me to be even a BETTER 50s mom and wife!!

  24. Thank you for this blog. I’ve been looking for housewife related advice, and sadly most of the places I’ve found mock the traditional role of what a housewife is. The authors tend feel it’s belittling, anti woman , and in some cases self harming to take on such a role. I’m a 31 year old stay at home mother of 5 children and I must admit lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. Nobody I know shares my views on serving your husband and making his desires a priority (out of love, not force), taking pride in a clean home (as opposed to justifying idleness) and training children in obedience and accountability (and how to cook, sew, and other things schools now deem obsolete). It’s so encouraging to me to have found this blog, and reading all these comments lets me know I’m not alone!

    • You are absolutely not alone. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. So glad you found us! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest. We do lots of sharing in those places as well and you can get to know some of the others!

    • I’m a dyed in the wool old time feminist. When I read, hear or see people stating the comments you receive, I get riled. What we wanted was the right to do what we wanted like men did. That’s what choice was all about. We wanted to enter professions other than the traditional ones assigned to women by society. I am presuming all your children are young, it makes sense that you stay home. Even if you never work outside the home, it’s your choice! You and your husband have made this decision as a couple. Others opinions are extremely unimportant.

      • Hi Judith. Thanks for writing in. I love hearing from feminists! My daughters, who are in their 30s are feminists, actually. And yes. That was the point of feminism. Somewhere along the line it just got out of control. Having said that, I did come to a truce with feminism. I’m grateful for the progress. I’m grateful for my choices. I’m grateful for you.

  25. When it comes to laundry, I hang and smooth most things the minute the dryer stops while they are still hot. If you get to them quickly like that and there isn’t much wrinkling. The only thing I ever iron are my hubby’s dress shirts. Saves me a lot of work.

  26. That’s exactly how I remember it growing up! Life was not as complicated as today. We have so many distractions with all the technology now. Thank you for bringing me back to when I was a kid growing up! I tried commenting on MOGUL but couldn’t!

  27. I just wanted to thank you for this article and your website. Im a very old fashioned 34 year old Italian wife and mother. We homeschool and make meals from scratch. I have been struggling trying out all those “simple” cleaning routines. They just aernt enough (in my opinion). I feel good knowing that other woman feel the same as I do about a clean home and the joys it brings. I dont like the idea of letting the housework go while my children grow up. I was curious in doing a 50’s routine, how often would you wash hard wood floors in the bedrooms? How often would you wash parquet wood flooring in the living room? ( all my wood gets dusted or vacuumed daily). How often would you clean an extra bedroom thats just used as storage? and how often would you sweep the basement down and wash the basement stairs? Thank You:)

  28. Thank you for the terrific routine ideas! Im wondering though with older hardwood flooring, how often should those be damp mopped. I dont think they should be getting wet weekly? If im dust mopping daily how often would you damp mop or polish those floors, and what would you use? Thank You Patricia

  29. I am a believer of asking my husband for help. But I’m quickly learning that the help comes and goes. This leaves me with asking more than once which leads to “nagging” voice and thenMe fussing and frustrated. I’ve been praying for another solution. I’m in the process of decluttering my house and getting it back to normal. I started with the bedroom and I have to say every week I tackle it and it’s easier to keep clean. So reading your post was confirmation. I just need to find my rhythm and make things happen. I will still let my husband know he needs to help. But I won’t let it become a battle.

  30. Hi, I love your blog, but I have a question. I pretty much have this kind of a routine down but it pretty much fills my day. What I am wondering is when did they find the time for, hair and makeup, exercise, grocery shopping. Etc.

  31. Challenge accepted! 🙂 I’m going to try this for 30 days. My house is a HOT mess. I need some organization. I homeschool but I can see how this would help even that go more smoothly.

  32. I just have to say this is so reassuring that I’m not the only one out there haha I have taken upon myself to have at least 1 (this week I had 2!!) No driving days, my son is only 1 so there is no back and forth to school yet, although I love the idea of walking.

    In regards to this post! I had my husband’s aunt stay with us for the past 2 years over the holidays. Every morning she got up at 7 and did my dishes (I am/was horrible with dishes) she told me if nothing else try to do the dishes before bed or before 9am. Her logic was you couldn’t adequately make breakfast with dirty dishes, but it’s an amazing feeling to have no dishes in the sink right away. 🙂

    P.s. totally adding cleaning the refrigerator once a week to my list (magic erase markers work AMAZING in the fridge)

  33. Hi, I just stopped to say I loved your post. Some of the other 1950’s housewife blogs are a bit daunting to say the least. I like how you provided a reasonable timeline rather than making it seem so daunting and unattainable. I’m not naive enough to think that some things haven’t improved since the 50’s, but I’m also not naive enough to thing that some things were better then either. 🙂 I think we all need to find a balance between the old and the new, and that this will help get me started on my way.
    As for the whole getting dressed thing…I know I need to, but even when I get dressed to take my kids to school when I get home I put on ‘comfy’ clothes until I’m ready to leave again.

  34. We used to live in an old house and I damp mopped at least once a week, but we had a lot of pets (my in-laws 2 dogs (one large and one small), their 3 cats, plus our 2 cats which equals a lot of pet dander/dirt/etc), then there was my in-laws, myself, my husband, and our two kids all living together so they needed that weekly cleaning. As long as if you make sure your mop is thoroughly rung out as well as making sure that the cleaner you use is safe for wood floors it should be just fine.

  35. Wow! This blog made me nostalgic for my elementary days. We lived in the city with one major street to cross. There were no Cross Walkers back then. Mama walked me to school and back from kindergarten till 1st grade at which time I made friends with classmates and we would walk to school together with their older siblings. As we grew older we would be the ones to make sure the little ones got to school and back.

  36. I’m a stay at home mum of an almost 5 year old girl living in switzerland. In switzerland walking your children to school is still a common and huge thing, it even is recommended in the leaflet they send you for registering your child for school. I agree with you, it’s such a good thing. My daugter and I will habe a little chat about her morning and often she makes arrangements with her friends for the afternoon before we even come home for lunch, this is such a sweet thing I wouldn’t want to miss it. While she is at school I try to tidy and clean the house so I will be free in the afternoon. Of course I’m not able to do it every day and my house certainly does not look like a 50ies home but it is definitely werth it. I’m able to spend my afternoons and weekends(!!!) without cleaning or living in a messy house. Thank you very much for this post, I’m new to your blog and looking forward to going through all of your other posts.

  37. I highly doubt it was the norm for mothers to walk their children to and from school. My parents were both children in the 50s and they were most certainly not walked to and from school by their parents; nor were their friends. I was a child in the 80s and I clearly remember, the second day of kindergarten, asking my mother to not walk me to school. Kids haven’t changed that much; nobody wants their mother to walk them to school, that’s just embarrassing. I’m pretty sure even the ancient Egyptians wrote about that on their papyrus. The Babylonians wrote about it in cunieform. It was probably the foundation of the Rosetta stone, because some things are just universal.

    Not to mention, in the 1950s, the things parents worry about now – kidnapping, child molestation, etc. – were just not talked about. Which isn’t to say they didn’t happen; but they were certainly not on the radar for most 1950s parents. They were much, much more slack when it came to child safety.

  38. Wow! Love this article, i will be reading more for sure. Anything I say would be a repeat of other comments before me. But I know I need to be a ’50s housewife!! Thank you.

  39. I am LOVING this! It is very similar to how my mother would clean however she worked outside the home so we all were expected to pick up after ourselves well and we helped her clean Saturday, that was her big cleaning day. Every single thing got cleaned that day, every week, without fail. So it was never very dirty or hard and one day a week was plenty.
    I have been cleaning for 3 hours a day and loving it!!! I even homeschool and I still wash dishes by hand which is my preferred method (so yes I am washing three times a day cuz I cook a meal three times a day!). I still have time to read in the evening or watch TV, play with the kids, take them to dance and acro classes, and get their schooling done with them every day.
    And since we homeschool and I work from home, I added a walk with them in the mornings! We aren’t going anywhere no, but the walk is really nice and they love it!!! We have park days yes, and we are an active family already, but the walk is so good, and more physical activity is always good and it is just enough to break up the morning for us. This is working out so nicely.
    I love being more active all day with the cleaning routine, and it just makes me feel good. And it is REALLY cool to….wake up to a clean house…go to sleep in a clean house…..cook in a sparkling kitchen….bathe in a sparkling clean bathroom….I am just SO relaxed with this daily routine it is AWESOME. And I think the whole family is really loving it, relaxed mommy, clean house, and it hasn’t taken away from any of our time together as a family, if anything it has added to it! <3 THANK YOU!

  40. My mom told me that when she had my 3 older sisters (in the early 60s) every Friday night she would stay up until 3am and clean the house until it was spottless…then it was done for the week. I still haven’t done this yet since I have a nursing baby at night, but someday I will get into it! Thanks for this blog post. It was very encouraging and something to think about. I read another person’s blog that commented on the “one touch rule”. Maybe you have heard of it. The idea is that when you touch something, it goes back into its place…not moved over, not placed on another surface, but if you touch it once, then it gets put away. I have tried to do this and succeed at it most days now. It is just being mindful of what your doing. Having little ones to occupy so much time, it is hard to be mindful sometimes…especially with internet and iphones, etc. They take up so much time and you get sucked in!! How did 1950s moms get so much done if they had a couple toddlers at home? My little ones want so much of my attention that I reluctantly turn on a show when I really NEED to get some chores done or make dinner! What did 1950s moms do??? Thanks again!

  41. Hi! Love the great article. I was just wondering if we could have the checklist on your website, because I don’t have Facebook. Thanks!

  42. Well the real good old fashioned women years ago were certainly the Best of all compared to the women of today, that is for sure.

  43. Hi, I was born in 1942. One thing you don’t mention is the laundry. Most women hung their laundry outside. In addition, they did a lot of ironing. I would come home to my mother ironing the sheets, T-shirts, handkerchiefs in addition to the slacks, shirts, blouses and dresses. Wrinkle free fabrics have helped a lot to cut down on the hours of housework. I still do more ironing than some people, because I am used to the crisp feel of ironed tablecloths and clothing. Thanks for a fun article.

  44. Hi this might sound weird because I am only 17 but I was so drawn to your blog I was raised to be educated but eventually be a housewife. It seems so normal to me but other people don’t seem to understand that I love to cook and clean. I guess I just wanted to say I appreciate your blog and knowing there are other people like me who feel like they live in the 40’s/50’s.

  45. The women in the 50’s and 60’s which Most of them made a very Excellent wife compared to the ones that are out there today that are so very Horrible and such Losers as well which is the Real Reason why many of us Good men are still Single today. Now that many women have their Careers which they’re very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, narcissists, picky, and so very power money hungry which certainly tells the whole story since these women will Only want the Best and will Never settle for Less at all. And then these women have the Nerve to wonder why so many of us men are Single. Are you kidding me? Of course many of us are since these Type of women will Never go with a man that makes much Less Money than they do since it does Take Two To Tangle which the women of today are Certainly To Blame. It was just too bad for many of us men being Born at such a very Bad Time when if we had been Born back then since many of us Really Would Have been all settled down by now with our own Good Wife And Family that many of us still Don’t Have today. Most women these days are Very Pathetic Unfortunately.

  46. I am going to take some of these things to heart. having two young children and we plan to homeschool; I will not be sticking to this schedule. It’s easier when the kids are away for school, on mom that is. Baking bread, cleaning, tidying, keeping myself tidy, laying out the girls clothing, daily dusting and a quick vacuum are all things that can be done. As my girls get older, they are more prepared to use their imaginations and each other for playmates vs me. We an attachment parenting type of family; so ditching kids to playpens and/or letting them cry is not an option. Not even.

    We’ll be dining out a lot less too. My husband is building me garden beds when we move and canning and gardening is also something I’ll be doing… along with bee and chicken keeping. 1950s meets little house on the prairie is my goal.

  47. I realize this is an old post, but I wanted to thank you. My mom was a working mom, so this sahm thing is completely foreign to me. My husband is incredibly understanding of my shortcomings, but I needed some ideas and inspiration to keep me going. Oldest is five, and I still feel as if I fail most days at homemaking. I’ll be referring back to your page often. Thanks!

  48. I am so glad I found this. I was looking into a 50’s wardrobe and stumbled on this schedule. It is so perfect! I cannot even begin to express my gratitude! Being a stay-at-home mother, I am in need of some direction and focus and this schedule gives me just that! Thanks so much!

  49. I love your post!!! I am looking forward to reading more of your writings!! I am an old school girl in a very modern world and sometimes there is a rub between the two…. lol. My husband and I are currently working on a full clean out of our small apartment so that we (me) can focus more on smaller daily cleaning tasks vs. large all day one projects of cleaning. As someone with a permanent neck injury this would make my life easier and less painful!

  50. I’m not a stay at home mom (in fact, I’m a 16 year old boy that goes to school every day), but I found this post very helpful. Both of my parents work, so the cooking and cleaning are left for me after I get home. This post just helped me to clear my head and realise everything is just fine. Plus we just got a really good vaccum, so no more lint rolling the carpet!

  51. I need some advice. First of all I love your post!! I have been looking for something like this for a while! I used to be a stay at home mom but we found that we can no longer afford that life style. I miss it but I love my job and I usually get off of work when my oldest gets done with school at 130. How can I make this fit my lifestyle? I have 3 children and 6 children and 4 adults living in my home right now. It’s a lot but I feel a clean and declutterized house would help my stress level a lot!

  52. I so glad I found your blog. I started using the routine today and have to say it really helps. I have a lot of catching up to do but I cannot wait to have a more organized, decluttered and clean home.

  53. I love your article. I was born in 1960 and I can’t remember ever visiting a friend’s house where the house wasn’t clean. It would be a source of a lot of gossip if it wasn’t that way. Mom’s were always home too. I do see the difference now in young moms and how they keep their houses but that’s good too – and here is where my warning and “elder tale” comes in:

    Women didn’t have any other options for their lives so keeping the house clean was their job. That meant they would face shame and scrutiny from their husbands, extended family, and other women if they didn’t keep it clean. Yet, it wasn’t celebrated – except casually – by men because it was expected. It was demeaned as “women’s work” so it really wasn’t relevant. Men didn’t help. They would not change diapers or do dishes or anything else that was “women’s work” unless they were feeling particularly generous.

    Consequently, there were a lot of unhappy, frustrated women back then and I remember them well. Anyone who says it was better or idyllic is lying because Women’s Lib would not have surfaced if everything was perfect.

    “Mother’s Little Helper” was a mix of martinis and “downers” and it helped a lot of women hide the frustration they felt at having so few options in life, spending all their time in the company of young children, and cleaning the house. There was also a lot of frustration and a lot of sadness. But there was good stuff too. However, through the next 20 years – many of my mom’s friends rebelled
    and divorced their husbands when Women’s Lib started. My mom stayed, but boy, did things change around our house!

    Please remember not to feel guilty if your house isn’t perfect while you are raising kids. The women of the past would have loved to have the ability to be imperfect. They didn’t have a voice back then and couldn’t choose. Keep your house as clean as you can manage it. I think these tips are great for efficiency. I’m going to use them! But remember that you AREN’T a 50’s housewife. The world is far more busy and complex than it was when I was a child. Be easy on yourselves and clean up according to your standards. A lot of women worked hard in the past 40 years for you to not feel persecuted for having a perfect house. Have your house as perfect as you can manage and what makes you and your family functional and content – and let it go.

    • Thanks Ellen. You are correct. We are modern day wives with many more options thanks to the strong women of the past. Thankfully, we now get to be content with our choice to be what we want to be, including stay at home moms.

    • I scrolled through all of the comments in hopes that I would find someone from closer to that generation who would REALLY tell us how they felt. Yes, my husband claims his grandparents lived this way, but they had no other choice, and I sincerely doubt his grandmothers were truly happy with their lives. It seems to me like husbands truly never helped their wives, at all.

  54. Your comment about there only being one bathroom, no microwaves, etc.in the 1950s got my attention. Checking some old snaps of my parents’ kitchen I realized there were four full cupboards, two drawers, and under the sink (cleaning products and paper bags); I realized that I now have over twenty cupboards and a dozen drawers. Also, we have 2 1/2 bathrooms. There is just more to clean. My mom didn’t walk us to school as there were about thirteen kids in my neighborhood walking to the same school about two miles. It seems as though I remember a lot of time helping mom with cooking and baking. As she worked outside the home much of the time, lunches were made the night before and stuck in the fridge or freezer.

    • I’m looking for some information on maintaining Hardwood Floors. I know they were dust mopped daily. I would like to know the vintage routine for how often they were damp mopped, and what products were used. (I know today we have microfiber and hardwood floor cleaner), but I would like to know the older routines.

  55. This was a really fun read! I work from home (and with my own business, make my own hours), so it is easy for me to be a 1950s mom! I do clean my kitchen daily, not the entire house though! I have 4 bathrooms, so a bit much! My home is always clean-I think of it like someone will be coming over and I need to be ready!!

  56. It is real fact that most of the women back then really did make a great wife since they were very old fashioned too and did all the house cleaning as well as all the cooking while their husbands went out to work. Too bad those days are all gone.

  57. Gotta agree with my gal above, this is a very refreshing perspective on 1950’s housewives, but it is not the full story.

    I am happy people are living their lives the way they want to these days, but this article does not represent 1950’s housewives in a realistic light. There WAS lots of depression, suppression (this was only 30 years after women could even vote!) and even domestic violence towards wives, which was not against the law until 1970. And divorce was not allowed/taboo.

    While that may not have had to do with “chores,” and keeping anything clean is certainly admirable, partners were NOT required/expected to help with cleaning or child rearing – and say what you will about the dishes, but child rearing is a job that is certainly easier with 2!

    I’m sure women enjoyed the routine you described back then and both men and women may still enjoy it, today. However, to claim the position of the average housewife was “not THAT bad” in the 1950’s or insinuate that their position in society was, at its worst “monotonous,” is probably a bit of a stretch.

  58. Question. .. on alot of old tv shows you see women ironing sheets. Is this accurate for the time? And furthermore if women actually did this… WHY?

  59. It is very sad how the women of today have really changed for the worst of all unfortunately which in the old days when most of them were the very best of all. And this is a very excellent reason why many of us men can’t meet a decent normal woman anymore today, especially when they did the cooking and cleaning very well. They were real ladies back then as well since they had very good manners and a lot of respect for the men in those days that they don’t have today. What in the world happened to these women today?

  60. This site is fascinating! I was a very little girl in the 50’s, but remember playing outside without being afraid and knowing all of our neighbors. I’m an author and am writing a book about the 1950’s in America. May I have your permission to use some of the information you posted? I will give you credit for it in my end notes of course. I would really appreciate it. Thank you. Ann Hunt

  61. I really enjoyed this article. I decided about a month ago to keep up the daily routine not unlike the one of the 50’s housewife and I’m amazed at how much easier my life has become!!! We wasted so much time and money hunting for things and re-buying things we knew we owned but couldn’t find. Now, my house is clean all day and my stress level has been so much lower. I highly recommend the morning routine! It does require being self disciplined and keeping the whole family in line (regarding putting away their things immediately) but it’s worth it!! Plus it is good training for your kids so they will have a happy peaceful home in the future.

  62. I just came across your blog I have been looking for something to explain how I am or more of how I like things. I can’t wait to share this with my friends and family.

  63. Hello there,
    As a vintage/retro enthusiast, I fully enjoyed reading this article about the day-to-day routine of a mid-century wife/mom. I myself am a single mother working full-time. How would you suggest someone like myself put these tips to use? I tend to need more motivation in the cleaning department, and it would be great if I could accommodate this list to my lifestyle.
    Thanks a bunch!
    Rachel

    • Ohhhhhh bless you, my dear. Talk about the hardest possible possible job on earth! I will give you the same answer I give to all single moms. DO NOT FOCUS ON HOUSEWORK. You have enough going on. Do what you have to then spend the rest of your time enjoying anything you can. Time with the kids. Time to read. Take a bath.

      If you have a single spare moment, and I doubt you ever do, use it to do anything other than clean!

  64. This is a fantastic article! I can’t wait to read more. At 35 I am on the cusp of being a …..millennial. So many of my friends don’t see eye to eye with me on my more old fashioned views and attitudes. I don’t think the 1950s was the awful time feminists and other progressives make it to be. Yes, there was segregation and I’m very pleased that our country has changed its positions on equality. Of course, we have plenty of new garbage to make up for our progress (school shootings, high suicide rate, ridiculous divorce rate, record drug use). When I do get married, i want to be a stay at home wife, and my late grandmother is a lot of my inspiration for that. She was a devoted and loving wife and mother. When she passed away, she may not have had a senior title in the corporate world, but she had something much more valuable. The title of dedicated loving wife and mother.

    Anyways not to ramble but I will absolutely be bookmarking this and using it as a guide and for inspiration when I feel lazy, complacent, etc.

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