Advice, housewifery, schedule

A Practical Routine From “The Queen of Her Home” (1907)

First, for the day’s routine:

1. Before leaving your room in the morning open the bed and the windows.

2. Light the kitchen fire; put the breakfast to cook, fill teakettle with water, and place on kitchen table the things needed to prepare breakfast.

3. Sweep the sitting room.

4. Set breakfast table, make coffee and finish and serve breakfast.

5. Clear away breakfast, sweep dining room and kitchen and wash dishes.

6. Dust sitting room and dining room.

7. Make the beds and put sleeping rooms in order.

8. Do any special work, baking, ironing, washing or cleaning.

9. Prepare the noon meal.

When washing is to be done the boiler should be put over the fire before sitting down to breakfast, and the dusting and sleeping rooms may be left until after the washing is finished. Do not try to make wash day cleaning day also, which is liable to greatly overtax the strength of the average housekeeper; wipe up the floor on wash day with as little labor as possible, and give it a thorough cleaning on some other less trying day.

The routine, which can be easily followed by the average housekeeper, will result in a well kept, orderly home, and leave the afternoons free for sewing, mending, shopping, visiting, reading and resting. The care of little children will, however, often overturn all plans, and the housewife must then just do the best she can. At our house the regular days for special work are: Monday, putting house to rights after the Sunday rest, getting the washing together and putting the most soiled articles to soak; Tuesday, washing; Wednesday, baking; Thursday, ironing; Friday, cleaning; Saturday, baking.

 As children grow old enough, teach them to open the beds and windows before leaving their room, and assign each such share of the household tasks as they are capable of assisting with or doing alone.

Very little tots, of two and three years, may learn to pick up and put away their playthings, to assist in clearing away the table, doing the dishes, and may sweep up with their own little brooms any litter they make in their play.

The mother should be queen of the home, but if she has no system her sovereignty will be unhappy and troubled, and her subjects will be restless and quarrelsome if she does not learn to rule them wisely and firmly, though lovingly.

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2 Comments

  1. That first picture looks so soothing! So calm and peaceful… 🙂
    Reading this, reminds me of how previledge we are these days, to have so many “servants” like the Proverbs 31 woman had. Dishwashers, washing machines, clothes dryers, ovens and stoves, etc.
    But nevertheless, sometimes it seems that with all these things making our cleaning and keeping the house tidy more easy, we have less and less time. Do you feel the same?
    I read this on Laine’s Letters yesterday and she was writing about the scrapbook that her great grandmother had since she was young. This his a letter from 1935 to a feminine magazine, where a young housewife complains about her mother-in-law.
    I loved it and everything that Miss Dix (the counselor from the magazine) says, is so true. I know it’s a bit long, but I hope you like it!
    **********************************************************************************
    Dear Miss Dix,

    Three years ago I left a good home and position to marry an only son. My husband’s mother lives with us. She is 75 and crippled. She is sweet and easy to get along with, but she makes me very unhappy because she never lets us have a minute alone together.

    In the morning she comes down to breakfast just to be with him and then she goes back to bed. When friends drop in in the evenings mother holds the floor for half an hour at a time, telling the same old stories over and over again. My friends have made remarks about this and when I told my husband about it he said, “Oh, let her stay up. She enjoys it and she only has a few more years to live.”

    I am so unhappy that I think I will take my baby and leave.

    Signed: SAD MOTHER AND WIFE

    Answer

    Well, if that is all you have to be sad about, you should be down on your knees thanking God for your happiness instead of cluttering up this column with your wails.

    If your mother-in-law was mean and bossy and hateful to get along with, and if she was trying to separate you from your husband, you would have just reason for complaint. But she is none of these things. She is a sweet, gentle, crippled old lady who only wants a little of the society of the son she adores and a little of the companionship of you and your husband and your friends.

    Aren’t you a big enough woman to look at the situation from her point of view and see how pitiful a thing it is for the old to have to warm themselves at another person’s fire, and borrow their happiness from others? Just consider how poor she is, crippled and old and feeble, the sands in her glass running low, her hands empty and idle, nothing to do, nothing to look forward to, nothing more to hope or plan for, no interest except in her son.

    And you are so rich. You have the son, whose love for you is so much greater than his affection for his mother. You have your child. You have your home. You have youth and friends and a million interests that keep your mind and your heart and your hands busy, and a long and rosy future stretching before you. Can you not out of your wealth spare a little understanding, a little patience to this forlorn?

    What if she does bore your friends by being garrulous and telling the same old stories? Her happiness is far more to be considered than their being entertained. Besides, they need a lesson in human sympathy and forbearance just as much as you do. And they might all remember that some day they also will be old and tedious and need to call upon the patience of the young.

    I cannot believe that you are a poor enough sport seriously to consider leaving a good husband, breaking up your home and orphaning your child for no better reason than that his old mother had got upon your nerves. If you do this, you are a quitter and a coward and your husband will have a right to be glad to be rid of a wife who was made of such poor material that she couldn’t take it.

    My advice to you is to brace up and snap out of the maudlin state of mind you have got into. Quit being sorry for yourself. Dry your eyes and smile and cherish your poor old mother-in-law as if she were your own mother. There is nothing that cheers us up like doing the right thing.

    Dorothy Dix (1935)

    1. Amalia says:

      I agree! All these “time-saving devices” we have but I think I have less time than women way back when. Maybe we have too much to keep up? Or maybe too many distractions?
      Thanks so much for sharing this! Dorothy Dix doesn’t pull any punches, does she? (And rightly so!!)

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