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How a 2010s Housewife Is Different From A 1950s Housewife

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First of all, I don’t like being called “Housewife.” I’ve always found it quaint and a bit demeaning. Of course, I was never “Just a housewife.” When we were first married, I was a full-time teacher. I considered both of us equally responsible for cleaning the house, and I think he was MOSTLY on board with that. (For some reason I always did the laundry. I think it’s more that I’m possessive and don’t want anyone else to muck up the clothes.)

Once I had Sean and stopped working (I finished out the school year and then didn’t go back the following year.), I was a “Stay-At-Home-Mom” (SAHM) Truth be told, I wasn’t that familiar with the title until I found message boards on the internet (and subsequently, arguments over what’s better – staying at home or working out of the home. Sigh.). But that’s what I was. My job was to take care of the baby, and do some housework when I could squeeze it in.

Once the kids went back to school, I still considered myself a SAHM. I did stuff around the house, but I also volunteered in the classroom and after a few years, started working on my first book. So, technically, I was morphing into a Work-from-home Mom (WFHM for the purposes of this blog). This year, everything changed when Mom went back to work. [See THIS post and THIS post.] Suddenly my morning got a whole lot busier, and I not only had to make breakfast and lunch for everyone, but I had to do it for myself AND get ready for work. (Usually I didn’t eat til after dropping off the kids, and I didn’t “get ready” – I just threw on some clothes.) Thankfully, my husband helped with the lunches. Of course I didn’t have the daytime to do chores or laundry anymore, so I often ended up staying up late folding clothes so everyone could have clean underwear.

Now that I’m home for the summer, I’m trying to get in a routine, and get everything organized so come August, it’s easier for everyone (but mostly me).

So, if you read yesterday’s post, you know I’m trying to embrace some ideas from 1950s housewives.

Here’s a list I found on Ultimate Housewife of things a 1950s housewife had to do. Next to it is my response of how it will (or won’t) work in my household:

1. Have Dinner Ready – This is a great ideal, honestly. I would love to have dinner ready and on the table when my husband walks in. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes he walks in the door and it’s “almost” ready. Sometimes I have to put it all away before he gets home so he can at least warm it up when he gets home, an hour after we’ve eaten already.

June Cleaver, making dinner before Ward comes home.

June Cleaver, making dinner before Ward comes home.

2. Prepare Yourself- “Take 15 minutes to rest, so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift. Greet him with a smile.” – I will say that 95% of the time I do all of these things but take a rest. Keep in mind that I’ve been with work-weary and homework-weary people all day. 😛

Most of the time he comes home to me looking like this. Little to no makeup, t-shirt and jeans or shorts.

Most of the time he comes home to me looking like this. Little to no makeup, t-shirt and jeans or shorts.

3. Clear Away the Clutter – I’m supposed to make a last trip around the main part of the house so it’s spotless for the man of the house. (I’m doing this for me, but if he benefits – great!)

4. Prepare the Children – “If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.” –I’m going to have to say that if I did this, my husband wouldn’t notice. Or he would think it’s weird. I think he would rather them have a little mud from playing outside, or smell like chlorine, or be in their dance clothes for class. This is the first really “dated” item on the list.

I'm sure Dick and Jane and Sally always greeted their father properly.

I’m sure Dick and Jane and Sally always greeted their father properly.

5. Minimize All Noise – this means make sure the washer, dryer, and vacuum shouldn’t be going, as well as the children. 😛

6. Make Him Comfortable – “Have a drink ready for him. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing voice. Allow him to relax and unwind. ” – Seriously? Will he do the same after I’ve been working hard? (Actually, just for kicks, I poured a glass of wine for the husband last night and gave it to him when he walked in to kiss me. He almost fell over.) As for the rest? Hahahahaha.


7. Listen to Him – I’d like to think we both listen to each other, as well as the children.

8. Make the Evening His – “Never complain if he doesn’t take you to dinner or to other entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to unwind and relax.” I’m at a loss for words. I understand trying to have a pleasant evening, but I think mutual respect is the key. Open communication rather than complaining on BOTH parts.

So, my inspiration from the 50s Housewife is more about the house and the meals and bringing the family together, rather than making him king of the household and being his servant, which it really seems a lot like is going on when I read this list of how to be a good wife. It’s hard to believe that the women who were putting airplanes together and working the factories while the men went to war just suddenly stopped doing that and only stayed home and made that the priority. Which is why, I suppose, the 60s happened.

In any case, today’s “housewife” or “wife” has a lot more on her plate than just the home. She has the home and the job, and let’s not forget keeping herself active and in shape. If there are are kids, there’s volunteering and shuttling kids to and from school, sports, dance class, and after school academics while finding time to make dinner and then get everyone to bed on time. Taking the time out of HER day to make the man feel special is one of the last things on her mind.

I’m wondering, however, if making him feel special will in turn inspire him to want to make HER feel special?

In any case, I’ll do the ones I think are valid. The others, I think I’ll leave for our grandmothers.


Readers, do you think that’s a list that works in today’s society? Why or why not?



2 responses »

  1. I very much enjoyed reading your article. I had a good laugh too, you made my day!
    Yes, it could work today…but I agree with u in NOT MAKING HIM THE KING AND ME HIS SLAVE. That is not ok.
    I do obey my husband, but we listen TO EACH OTHER, we talk TO EACH OTHER, we make decisions TOGETHER.

  2. 🙂

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