The Housewife’s Weekly Schedule

It’s been a tradition among housewives to keep a general work schedule for the home. Chances are good that you’ve read about the classic housekeeping schedule that went like this:

Monday-washing (laundry)

Tuesday-ironing

Wednesday-mending

Thursday-marketing/churning/brewing

Friday-cleaning

Saturday-baking

Sunday-rest

It’s incredible to think of how many women used that same basic housework schedule for centuries, even into the last few decades.  Rumor has it the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on a Monday and after consulting Ye Olde Housework Charte, the women did the laundry. What a relief they didn’t arrive on a Tuesday. They’d have had to spend the day ironing their stinky clothes before grocery shopping on Thursday. It wouldn’t have made a good impression on the new neighbors.

As much as I enjoy history and incorporating long-ago traditions into my modern life, even I don’t hesitate to admit that this schedule is woefully out of date. I can wash a week’s worth of family laundry, hang it all on the outdoor clothesline, fold, and put it away, all within half a day. And I’d be hard-pressed (haha!) to spend more than 30 minutes a month ironing, much less one day a week.

Like any system, a housework schedule has to work for the individual housewife to be useful at all. No system works for everybody. So, inspired by 400+ years of well-scheduled housewives, I came up with my own weekly plan. Of course I have to do some cooking and cleaning every day, but I try to give extra emphasis to one category per day. These are my 5 weekly categories:

Kitchen-batch cooking, baking, and occasional jobs like yogurt, kombucha, etc.

Cleaning-re-organizing, deep-cleaning, decluttering

Office/Errand-paperwork, bills, filing, grocery shopping, library, post office, etc.

Soap-making inventory, packaging, managing online stuff (my tiny business, which gives me my “pin money”)

Free/Flex-visits, outings, home projects, overflow work

I originally assigned one category every day, like the traditional schedule. I gave that up by the second week, when I was invited to go on a shopping “date” with someone the same day I’d scheduled for cleaning. Having a variable schedule works well for me: it gives structure to my week without forcing me to be rigid about it. At the beginning of each week I have a basic idea of how I plan to schedule my week, but I can change it on short notice. On days when I have an appointment scheduled, I try to pile on the rest of my errands for the week while I’m out, or I may reschedule my cleaning day if I learn company will be visiting.

And there will always be those times, like every September (ahem), when I abandon my schedule entirely because every day is either a kitchen day as I finish harvesting my garden or a flex day as we finish up projects and fit in fun stuff during the last few summer-ish weeks. It’s easy to resume the schedule when things slow down a bit, even mid-week. By that time, I’m always glad to be back on a steadier rhythm.

Do you have a weekly housekeeping plan? How do you manage your schedule?

 

I can see the world- 1907

From my farm I can see most of the world; and if I wait here long enough all people pass this way. -1907

This is one of my most favorite quotes. While it wasn’t specifically written from a housewife’s perspective, I think it’s especially fitting.

I haven’t always been a housewife. I spent many years working different jobs and going to school before I got married and settled into a career running our home. Back before my life was centered around the home, I always felt a restlessness on the rare day that I spent at home. even when I had a lot to do. I felt like I could go stir-crazy looking at the same four walls. I know I haven’t been the only one. I’ve heard it from mothers on maternity leave….”What do you DO all day?  I’d go crazy staying at home; I have to be out and around.”

However, in seasons where my outside commitments have been minimal I find myself liking to be home to the point that I’m not anxious to leave. I’m not a recluse or a hermit, but I’m definitely a homebody. From what I’ve noticed, it takes everyone a while to break from the “on-the-go” mentality and to slow down enough to enjoy being at home. But now if someone offered to do all my errands I would be perfectly content to stay in my home and yard and leave just on the weekends to go to church and visit family. It seems that the more I’m gone from home, the more unorganized our home life becomes. You’d think the house would stay cleaner the fewer people were home making messes and eating and changing clothes, but it’s not the case. And instead of getting bored, I have the opposite experience. The more I’m at home the more I find to do.

From my home I can’t see most of the world but I can see most of my world. That’s enough for me. (I’m sure that was the author’s point.) I think sometimes we make our sphere too big. It gets overwhelming and becomes too much for us to manage. I don’t believe we miss as much as we may think we do at times, which is why it’s called the fear of missing out and not simply “missing out.” The stuff that’s important and the people that matter will find us.

The Frugal Garden

I recently watched a YouTube video on frugal living. In the video, someone asked if gardening and canning was a good money-saving option. The woman recommended that people have a garden only if they enjoyed maintaining one as a hobby, because it wouldn’t necessarily save any money.

I was surprised. Isn’t having a garden classic frugal advice? Isn’t that why gardens were so common during the Great Depression? This woman went on to say that if you factor in the cost of canning jars, lids, seeds, fertilizer, tiller, plus your time, you might as well buy a few cans of vegetables and save yourself a lot of hassle and hours and hours of work.

The more I think about her advice, the more I disagree. Sure, if you calculate the worth of something by cost alone, you could argue that gardening and canning doesn’t always save money. We’ve all observed the people who’ve bought a flat of strawberries, ingredients, and all the canning gear, only to make 6 jars of jam, at a cost of about $10 a jar and complain that canning is expensive. I believe that if it’s done well, however, gardening and preserving your harvest WILL save money, and quite a bit, too.

Here are several ways to maximize your savings if you have a garden and want to put up the harvest:

  1. Grow the produce yourself instead of buying it, unless by chance you get a fabulous price or make a beneficial barter. Beyond growing produce, start seedlings instead of buying expensive starter plants. Seed packets hold fewer seeds every year and cost a little more, so harvest and save your own seeds for the next season.

  1. Grow the produce that saves you the most money, especially if space is an issue. Potatoes and carrots are relatively cheap in the store and don’t always yield the best return for the space.  For me, I couldn’t afford to buy all the raspberries that we’re able to eat by growing our own.

3. Use your produce in ways that maximize your savings. A can of store-bought generic whole tomatoes is pretty cheap. A can of tomatoes with added jalapenos increases the cost significantly. Tomato sauce with herbs added becomes spaghetti sauce, which is also more expensive. If I didn’t have the space to grow many tomatoes, I would focus on canning things like spaghetti sauce and salsa. As a bonus, every jar of spaghetti sauce represents a meal during the winter. It’s an efficient way to meal prep! A few cups of berries might makes one small jar of jam worth a couple of dollars, but those same berries infused in a jar of balsamic vinegar is a bargain compared to that ridiculously expensive specialty store product.

4. Canning jars and lids are an unavoidable cost. However, you can often find jars used so they are cheap and sometimes free. Reusable lids are more expensive, but if you use them regularly, you decrease their cost. Occasionally, you can find lids at garage sales, too.

5. Produce doesn’t have to be canned! You can eat out of your garden from spring through fall. A single packet of lettuce seeds will provide you days, or perhaps weeks worth of summer salads. Canning is great for long-term storage, but it does take more time. Freezing is much less laborious.

One lemongrass plant, started from seed

Freezer bags are super cheap, and like canning jars, the cost of a large freezer (if needed) will decrease with every year of consistent use. And don’t overlook drying. Dehydrators are relatively cheap and easy to find in thrift store and at garage sales. You may not even need a dehydrator for everything. The mint plant I got as a cutting from my neighbor years ago provides me with more than enough mint tea for the winter. I just cut the stems, tie them and hang them upside down until they dry and crumble.

These are a few ways that gardening saves me money–can you think of more?

I also think there are more benefits of a garden than simply saving money. But that’s a whole other post. 🙂

 

A Garden–A Declaration of Independence, 1870

…the garden does begin to yield…It is kind of a declaration of independence. I have never read of any Roman supper that seemed to me equal to a dinner of my own vegetables, when everything on the table is the product of my own labor. -1870

I agree and know the feeling of that same independence when I raise, harvest, and store my own food.

It’s a game I play often. When we sit down to eat a meal, I often point out the ingredients and where they came from. Of course, I do this most often when a majority of the meal’s components are homegrown, but it’s fun when I’m able to identify even minor ingredients that come from our own hands and property.

I had my own little “declaration of independence” day this week. Every morning in the summer I do a daily tour through the garden. I assess the progress of the produce to determine how much time I’ll be spending in the kitchen in the afternoon. If I’ve brought a container with me, I’ll gather any produce that’s ready, which inevitably includes Our Daily Okra.

I’d been planning on making Butter Chicken for dinner that day–one of my favorites. But when I looked at what I’d picked, I knew I needed to re-think my menu. It only made sense to eat what I’d just harvested, instead of processing it all for the winter before pulling dinner ingredients out of the cupboard.

So, Butter Chicken became Pesto Chicken, grilled okra, pickles, and bowls of raspberries with whipped cream, using our own basil, okra, cucumbers, and raspberries.

Dinner, in a theme of green

From backyard to grill to table in a matter of hours. And it tastes even better when I’ve done “all by myself.”