While I definitely consider myself a modern homemaker, I absolutely love learning about history and the way people did things in the past. I think there is a lot to learn from people who have been there and done that, especially women who have been keeping the home for centuries. In today’s post, I’m sharing three different old fashioned homemaking routines. Maybe they’ll inspire us to mix up our homemaking!
Little House on the Prairie Homemaking Routine
If we look at the Little House books, we can learn a lot about homemaking from Laura’s family. The housework was always a priority. Chores and housework were done at the beginning of the day.
In the mornings after the chores and the housework was done, Laura and Mary studied their books. In the afternoons Ma heard their lessons. Then they might play or sew their seams, till time to meet the herd and bring Spot and her calf home. Then came chores again and supper and the supper dishes and bedtime. – On the Banks of Plum Creek p. 270
Ma Ingalls devoted one day a week to major chores. Here was her routine:
- Monday – Wash Day
- Tuesday – Gardening
- Wednesday – Mending/Sewing
- Thursday – Wash Linens
- Friday – Clean
- Saturday – Bake
- Sunday – Rest
Victorian Homemaking Routine
The first old fashioned housework routine I want to share with you is a Victorian homemaking routine. I am particularly drawn to the Victorian era. Of course, things were much different then than now, but it’s still fascinating to learn how the people of the Victorian era kept their homes.
I am taking my Victorian homemaking routine from the book, The Making of a Housewife ,by Isabel Gordon Curtis. This book was published in 1906, which is just a few years after the end of the Victorian period. It’s safe to say that Ms. Curtis’ ideas about homemaking come from the Victorian period.
This particular housework routine comes from the chapter, “Planning a Week’s Work and Wash-Day.”
Monday – After the breakfast dishes are washed, tidy the house, sweep and mop where needed, dust, throw away withered flowers, change bed linens and gather soiled clothes. Do the baking for Tuesday and Wednesday.
After lunch, do any sewing or patching that needs to be done, take care of any stains on the soiled clothes, and then prepare clothes for soaking. Put the clothes into a tub one by one, dirtier pieces on bottom and cleaner pieces on top.
Tuesday – It’s wash day! Wring the soaked clothes, put them in a tub of hot water and soap and rub the stains, wring and wash through another tub of hot water, drop in cold water with soap, rinse and wring again in cold water. Hang out to dry properly.
Wednesday – Time to iron the washing. Almost everything was ironed. Sheets, tablecloths, dish towels, etc.
Thursday – Regular chores are done, dusting, bed-making, dish-washing, and then socks are darned and the silver is polished.
Friday – Sweeping day! The whole house is dusted, swept, and tidied.
Saturday – On Saturdays baking is done, the porches are mopped, windows washed, refrigerator cleaned, cellar tidied, and kitchen scrubbed.
Whew. Can you imagine spending two entire days on washing and ironing? Just reading that made me exhausted.
1950s Homemaking Routine
When I think of the 1950s, I think of the perfectly put together woman who makes homemade meals, keeps her house clean, and is ready for her husband when he comes home with a drink while wearing a dress and high heels.
There’s a lot of hype to live up to the 1950s, and this 1950s homemaking routine looks exhausting! I’ve seen this 1950s homemaking routine around the internet and on YouTube, so I’d thought I’d share it here, too!
- Throw back the covers
- Open up the blinds and windows
- Freshen up
- Make and serve breakfast
- Clean up breakfast
- Complete a 10-minute exercise regime
- Shower, do hair and makeup, get dressed
- Gather a basket for tidying. As the rooms of the home are tackled, pick up items that aren’t where they belong and place them in a basket. Redistribute them where they should be as you enter a new room
- Straighten up the living and dining room, including picking up potential clutter, light dusting, fluffing/straightening pillows, and watering plants or flowers
- Make the beds
- Tidy the bedroom, including light dusting
- Hang up any clothes that may be about or ensure dirty ones are in the hamper
- Do a light tidy of the bathroom including removing and replacing used towels, refilling toilet paper and soap (if needed) and cleaning the sink and basin area including soap dishes
- Review the menu for the current day and the next and compare it to what’s currently available in the home. Make note of anything that needs to be prepared ahead of time or marketing (shopping) that needs to get done
- Begin long-advance preparations for dinner (such as making dessert)
- Wipe down kitchen work surfaces and inside the fridge
- Dispose of garbage
- Rinse dish cloths and hang to dry
- Sweep or mop the kitchen floor
- Handle errands that might take you out of the home (such as marketing, volunteering, going to the post office, getting an item fixed, etc), bookkeeping, correspondence, or indulge in a hobby
- If returning from the grocery store, wash vegetables, wrap them and put them away. Place rest of groceries or purchases in their proper place
- Have a quick lunch
- Start advance food conditioning like crisping vegetables or thawing frozen foods
- Handle weekly chore for the day (more on that below)
- Set the table for dinner
- Arrange the living room for evening enjoyment (such as “the Mister’s” newspaper, book, and cigarettes)
- Do a quick sweep of the floors and ensure entrance ways are clear
- Prepare a special dish for dinner
- Freshen up before the husband returns from work. Consider changing into something more festive if the day dress is plain
- Set out a tray with equipment for making cocktails, should “the Mister” want to serve drinks before dinner
- Greet husband “gayly”
- Serve dinner
- Clear table and wash dishes
- Pour boiling water down the sink to ensure pipes are flushed
- If necessary, pack the husband’s lunch for the next day. Set aside a lunch tray in the refrigerator for yourself if having leftovers
- Set table for breakfast
- Ensure breakfast foods are available and do any make-ahead preparations for it
- Enjoy an evening of relaxation
Also, each day there is a once-a-week chore to tackle, such as:
- Use metal polish on bathroom fixtures
- Clean and disinfect all kitchen appliances
- Scald and disinfect bread boxes and garbage pails and bins
- Replace flowers with fresh bouquets
And there you have it, three old fashioned homemaking routines that might wear you out. It’s so interesting to see how things were done in the past!