A Housewife Writes focuses on several recurring themes common to women everywhere. One of them is managing time. It’s interesting to read about different approaches, because what works for one doesn’t help another one. So from time to time, we’ll present different women’s strategies.
You’d never think that women a hundred years ago would have a problem fitting everything into their day. Really, how hard could it have been? They didn’t have to find time to update social media, manage digital coupons, schlep children to sporting practices, or watch a single tv show. But they did struggle, which shows that even without modern distractions, this housewifery thing isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows.
One woman in 1928 wrote about her struggle to establish a well-rounded routine. As a new housewife, she tried to be a perfect housekeeper, cleaning all day, every day, obsessed with mopping her floors and polishing the stove. “Clean corners are the earmarks of a good housekeeper” was her favorite motto. But she could never “do it all” and eventually, after the birth of her third child, found herself worn out and discouraged. “Somehow I woke to the realization that one woman can’t do everything there is to be done in her home.”
This is when Mrs. 1928 hired a maid and nanny and all was once again well in her world, right? I’m afraid not. She decided to prioritize what was most important to her. “Clean babies must come before clean windows” she wrote and chose to focus on people instead of things, and essential things over optional things. Because we can’t fit in everything, we have to narrow down our list of essentials until they reach a point that they are manageable. This isn’t always easy and sometimes it takes a strong mind to move something from the essential list to the optional one, but as she put it, “there’s always a way out.”
Incidentally, every profession includes prioritizing. It’s just that when our work is our home, it’s always there. We can’t close the shop, pull the shades, and walk away without a thought after a long day. Our work is in the same rooms where we sleep, eat, and relax. And sometimes our work seeks us out at odd hours, toddling into our bedrooms and waking us up in the middle of the night.
Her Simple Schedule
Mrs. 1928 came up with a way to simplify and improve her schedule:
- She scheduled one big task daily, like washing or baking. Focusing on one goal meant that she could be more efficient by not constantly changing directions.
- She scheduled daily rest periods.
- She maintained three lists, one of daily work involving the children, one of daily housework, and one for weekly tasks.
She noted that by planning out her week, she was able to accomplish all the different jobs she needed to do within the week. Not only did she find time for all the essentials, but also for rest, and extras, like reading and letter-writing.
“And best of all–it worked!”