I’m Spending a Week Cleaning like a 1950’s Housewife

March 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life

One of my favorite topics to lecture on when I was teaching Psychology classes was that of gender roles. Last year I read an incredible book on the evolution of women’s roles. When Everything Changed really struck a cord with me, and I’ve thought about it a lot since finishing it.

The 1950’s have always been such a fascinating time period to me. My grandparents were my age in that decade! It feel so close, yet it’s a completely different world. Women were mostly isolated to their homes. Families had one car, that the Father took to work, so Mom stayed home with the kids and spent an average of two hours a day cleaning. Add in cooking three meals a day, and walking the kids an average of 2-3 miles to school five days a week, and I can only imagine how exhausted they were!

Despite it’s challenges there is something about that lifestyle is so appealing to me. Things seemed more simple then. Parents weren’t scared to let their kids play outside, the family sat down to a home-cooked meal every night, and video games and cell phones were non-existent. People actually visited one another in their homes. Moms knew how to make a dollar last. There was less of an emphasis on material goods and more on creating family memories.

A few weeks ago I googled “life as a 1950’s housewife” and was immediately sucked into reading essays on the role of women in that time. I started to come across frequent mentions on how much time they spent cleaning and thought it would be fun to spend a week keeping my house as clean as a 1950’s house wife would.

Cleaning Schedule

I love cleaning. It makes me feel so accomplished to have a clean and orderly house. I don’t spend more than 30 minutes cleaning most days of the week. Every day I make the bed, do any laundry that needs to be done, wash all dishes, sweep (most of our floors are hard wood so I don’t vacuum regularly), clean the counter tops and put away anything that has been left out. Once or twice a week I’ll do more intensive cleaning; vacuum, deep clean the bathroom, purge and organize a closet.

Starting today and going through until Tuesday I will follow this cleaning schedule.

Cleaning Schedule LWSLI’ll follow the schedule six days a week (gotta rest on Sunday!) and I’ll do one of the ‘every week’ blocks each day, and I’ll try to add the monthly tasks in as well! Clearly, I have a lot of free time on my hands (Ha.)

As a modern day woman I have a lot of items at my disposal that will make accomplishing these cleaning chores much more manageable. In the 1950’s most women cleaned with basic ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, ammonia, lemon, castile soap, and borax. I would like to start making more of my cleaning products myself. My Mom’s been making her own all purpose cleaner and glass cleaner for years and they work just as well as store bought.

I couldn’t fathom cooking three meals a day on top of this, and taking care of a baby, and working! I think I’ll be able to get most of the chores done in an hour if I’m really focused, so it shouldn’t be too much extra work this week. We’ll see. I may regret this!

Am I crazy? 
Do you think it would be fun to life in a different decade? 

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16 Responses

  • Amanda says:

    As a historian, and self-proclaimed neat freak, I am intrigued! Check out Consumer’s Republic, which focuses on the role of women and their role in consumerism in the 1950s. It’s really interesting!

  • Ohh excited to hear how this goes! I wish I liked and/or prioritized cleaning. We actually just hired a cleaning lady because it wasn’t getting done.

    • Erica House says:

      As I’m starting to spend more time working on the blog, online training, and grading I’ve started to outsource some work. I considered a cleaning lady but I just love it too much to give up!

  • Kim says:

    I don’t think I’d fare too well living in the 50’s with the mouth I have on me & how much I believe in equality, haha. When I worked out of the house full time, chores & cooking meals were divided evenly which I loved. Tyler actually probably did more of the cooking them because it was whoever who got off the earliest job to start dinner! Obviously when he’s in the field or deployed it all lands on me, but I’m neat by nature so cleaning was easy (will be interesting to see how much different separation is after the baby. In the 3.5 years we lived in TX, he was gone for over a year & a half of it total!). Now that I’ve been staying at home & will be until we PCS this Fall, I do most of the cleaning but that’s fine by me! I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to work from home, but I like being somewhere too much & PTO & stuff are really helpful. Do you ever find it overwhelming? I like the cleaning itinerary though- that could be helpful & may have to print it out!

    • Erica House says:

      Oh man Travis and I both are trying to stop using foul language as much now that the baby is starting to get older!
      Working from home can be VERY overwhelming. When we first moved to Alaska I had a DREAM job offer but couldn’t get daycare, and didn’t want to leave the baby that early. Ideally I’d work outside the home 10-20 hours a week. I’m getting to the point now where I’m so busy between the blog, online boot camp, and grading that I need to start working out of the house just so I can focus more so I may look into having someone come watch him a few hours a week.

  • giannanicole22 says:

    Ohhh I love this and love cleaning. I am a career woman, and independent but I love some of the simplicity of this era and at times think I belong in the 50’s or before. I think we could all learn a little going back and looking at some of the ideals, especially of family. Obviously from personal education/working and such I am happy that gender constraints aren’t what they were then but still something to be said. And also the way people dressed, I wish we still lived in a time when people cared about how they presented themselves!

    • Erica House says:

      I love how people dressed back then! It was just so classy. Women didn’t let it all hang out, men didn’t dress like they just rolled out of bed, people took pride in their appearances. So far I’ve only been cleaning an extra 30-45 minutes a day and love how much more clean my house feels!

  • I always say I think I belonged in the 50’s just because of the simplicity of it all. I love to clean, too!

    • Erica House says:

      You should try following this cleaning schedule! I’ll be on day 3 tomorrow. Just deep cleaned my kitchen today. It’s been fun having a list tell me what to do instead of sometimes struggling to think of what I can clean/organize.

  • Sara says:

    Lol, I just wrote a post which mentioned how I’m never going to be a 1950s housewife. Cleaning is just not something I like doing. I am finding that I like cooking more then I thought I would though.

    • Erica House says:

      I know many more women who hate cleaning, then love it! I’ve fallen out of loving cooking, but hope that changes as little man gets older.

  • Christina says:

    I’m such a clean freak! But I do get tired of it after a while though. I just love looking around and knowing that everything’s clean, it always puts me in a good mood. I saw something a while ago that said “10 minutes a day keeps the clutter monster away.” I don’t think that could be any more true!

  • I love cleaning and it soothes me. Must be my Type-A personality! I don’t have nearly as much time to clean daily like I used to but we do a deep clean every weekend and spot clean throughout the week. We got an electronic vacuum for Christmas that keeps our wood floors clean all week. My mom knows me well haha.



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