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I've acted like a 50's housewife for 10 long days and that's what happened


I am a mother who works at home. Notice that I am not saying “housewife”. Not just because the term is pretty out of date (being a housewife and raising kids in the 50s was so much different), but because I was so much more pretending to be trying to be "good" wife "who takes care of the house: I have two children, I write (articles like this and children's literature), and occasionally I do some housework even though it's at the bottom of the line -Do list is available. I don't like it I want to be righteous and say it's because I put my kids first or that my job is very important (to be fair, it is to me) but really, I downright hate all things about it Clean.

The role of women in the family has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Women marry later, have more control over their fertility through birth control, have more choices about their careers, and most things in general. Thank God! However, some of them are still quick to romance if they were a cherished casserole recipe and clean house in a time when everything was expected of women.

For example, my grandmother is one of the brightest, most capable women I know. It was a rarity in the 50s and 60s. She worked full-time outside her home while she was married and raised children. She was worse when she divorced and became a single working mom in a high performing job. And while she continued to work in publishing and editing, at school she studied things like household budgets and child development. She studied home economics. The idea of ​​going to college today is almost ridiculous.

The video below shows what a home economics degree in Iowa State was like for my grandmother in college. In fact, my grandmother knew the star of the film, Kay. The women had to look forward to that at this time. This was what society asked them to do:

The experiment

I thought I was going on a great adventure. I would try to do what my female ancestors did many years ago: I would be a housewife and have my house cleaned for 10 days. And before we go any further, I have to make a confession: I really didn't want that. But I wanted to know if I might find it worthwhile. I wanted to know if my husband would like it or if he would even notice. I wanted to know if it is not possible to follow the housewife advice of the 50s.

Day 1: The Great Facade

I had some start-up help on the first Monday because I got an offer to swap my windows and I wanted the window guy to be able to walk around my house without tripping or worse, knowing what I am am I set the day on fire. After dropping my eldest at the bus stop, I ran home with my daughter and started "cleaning".

However, there was no actual cleaning, mostly just the trash cans that had migrated from their original rooms, or the stairs or in sacks that I had pushed into various cupboards and under the bed. After the floors and surfaces were largely free of clutter, I discovered a terrible secret: all clutter was to hide piles of dog hair and stains from inexplicably sticky or stained floors. (It's okay for you to judge me, I judge myself pretty harshly.) TBH, it's not that I'll never clean. Sometimes I attack a room with vengeance. I'll even scrub the walls. But it's been a long time since most of my home was treated like this.

A proper housewife would have started the required cleaning after showing the window guy around the house. Unfortunately, I fell very briefly. I had already walked around the house and put in a lot of energy. Cleaning could wait until tomorrow. When my husband got home, the first words out of his mouth were, "Wow, it looks great here." (I guess he wasn't looking too closely.)

Day 2: Actual Shopping and Cooking!

I would do anything to avoid any real scrubbing, and instead of bothering with cleaning the house directly, I decided to do some grocery shopping. It's still a housewife chore, right? And while it probably doesn't make a difference, I haven't worn yoga pants in the store. (I know.) I actually have nice jeans and nice shoes dressed and felt - gasp ! - kind of pretty and composed. I realized that I was more of a housewife enjoying my shopping because I felt less confused. Point one to the foremothers.

I got lots of "healthy" fruits and vegetables and chicken. Because I wanted to cook! And housewives love chicken! A roast! A casserole! The chicken options were endless . OK so maybe the reality was just tossing a few things in the crock pot and turning the knob, but there was quality Cooking smells from my kitchen. As soon as everything was ready, I cleaned the kitchen. Yes. Actual cleaning

The kids loved the dinner I made. And it was really nice to sit down and eat on suitable dishes and a clean tablecloth. There was a definite shortage of shoes sticking to the floor. It was very nice. My only problem: my husband was working late, which brings me to my next day

Day 3: No complaints!

One of the housewife rules I followed was to support your husband in his career. This means you won't be complaining about your day or boring it with the details. And no question about whether he has to work late. Absolutely no walking: “What the hell, dude? Are they paying you overtime? Can you please come home and help sleep? “As unattractive as that was to my ancestors, it's not as far from how I would normally react if I went for the second day as a result I barely said two words to the guy I created two children with.

I was upset because didn't he know he was derailing my experiment? Except maybe he didn't let it derail because I bit my tongue. I told him I understood and would see him when he was here and that I would pack up the leftovers for him. We might not have got the family dinner I was hoping for, but he was grateful when I stayed up to sit with him while he ate the food I dutifully provided him with in the microwave. He even asked me about my day.

It was just slightly frustrating that he didn't notice my strange new behavior. I don't know if I was counting on a cooking medal, but I always try to do nice things for him, even if I don't usually put him right in the middle of my universe. And when he asked me about my day, he proved that he wasn't in the middle of the universe either - a comforting thought.

Day 4: fail. Again.

I swear I had good intentions. I really did. But when I started taking all of the things out of my closets (which I had hidden on the first day) I was totally overwhelmed. I had one of those huge IKEA bags full of things. There were toys, combs and hair ties, cans that needed to be recycled, random eating utensils, socks, endless amounts of mail and papers, books and some tools. I started sorting. There was no enthusiasm, none of the hectic energy that led me to put these things in the closet at all. I put my daughter in front of the TV, put some of the stuff away, got overwhelmed, and decided to work on writing instead. I'm in the process of redesigning a young adult novel with my agent. And while there is no real time constraint on completion, I tend to revise everything in one fell swoop. So I did that. It was clearly not a housewife. It was exactly what I needed too.

My husband got home on time for dinner. But it was pizza. On paper plates. In the playroom. Where my two children could watch TV, I could always overwork. Oops.

I only share this in the spirit of full disclosure. I kept changing my mind about how to feel about this failure. The feminist / artistic part of me was like, damn it times Revising a novel is important, and my husband and kids are obviously good at pizza and a movie. The downside was: I wanted to do this experiment. I really wanted to try. And wow, I've been sucking totally so far.

Day 5: Friday!

I had never looked forward to Friday more than last week. Maybe that's not true, but since I started staying home while my husband worked, I couldn't wait to have an adult to talk to and someone to share parenting responsibilities with . On Fridays, since they have had children, they have become increasingly holy.

And to get the weekend off to the right start, I had a full day of cleaning and tidying up and setting the actual meals - baked lemon tilapia with broccoli that I bought fresh instead of pulling out of the freezer - that It took some effort, planning, and a few steps to "touch a woman". Things didn't have to be perfect because my husband would certainly be doing chores over the weekend.

But I was wrong

Days 6 and 7: The weekend

The house was in somewhat decent shape for the weekend. While I thought it would mean I could sit back and relax somehow, it really meant that my husband no pressure felt to wash or wash dishes . And since I started this experiment, I've refused to actually ask him for help.

I don't want to hit the man. He took the children with him. He even took my son out on Saturday night and they had a great time together. But it didn't do exactly what I hoped, and frankly, I don't know what I expected. Maybe after a week of not making any demands on him, he would send me to a spa for a weekend. Or that he would find out that I had actually cooked for him and he would write me a check and tell me to buy something nice. I wanted a little thank you, but I wanted great help. I wanted him to really realize how much effort it takes to follow the kids around and clean up the mess they've made, and how much tidying up is needed to avoid constantly heading for extremely painful Lego shards to step.

That weekend the house got messy again. I was lagging behind the laundry and dirty laundry was no longer starting to get into the basket. The dishes were in the sink. Toys were everywhere. (Everywhere! I swear Legos have legs and like to crawl into every corner.

Monday came way too early. And I felt pretty beaten. I was a housekeeper.

Day 8 & 9: Back to the grind

Monday was a chance to start over. I stocked up on groceries. I did a lot of laundry. On Tuesday I set the kitchen back to "acceptable". I even found a push of motivation and put everything in closets where they belong. I wasn't a June splitter, and I didn't have the advantage of twitching my nose over things like Samantha Stevens from Bewitched too do it, but I was fine anyway!

Until I looked at my bathroom. They were disgusting. My fingers itched while typing and I got cabin fever. I was pretty unhappy. Add that work was crazier than ever for my husband, and he wasn't home for dinner or bedtime - and you can imagine how I felt doing this experiment.

My guilt for being a shitty housewife was really starting to come to me. Taking care of the kids every day from waking up to going to bed is tough for me on a good day. And by good day I mean one where I cut myself limp, trying to give up the blame and allow myself to sit on my bed and write, or take the kids to my parents' house so I can have adult company and can do like all that I should do does not exist.

The dinner I made on Tuesday was really unimaginative. I opened a few cans of soup and then put the kids in the bath, knowing this would kill the last half hour before bed. But hey, at least we were together?

Day 10: The finish line or whatever else I should have done

I had to collect myself. I had to get out of my radio. And guys, I had a really great day. I have interrupted my time. An hour while listening to an audio book. An hour to answer emails and deal with other writing materials. An hour of coffee and some groceries. Putting things back in the crock pot so I don't have to worry about them later. When my daughter was taking a nap, I actually worked out and took a shower. An hour to move things (this task never ends). Another hung out with my son after school, repeating sight words and talking about his day.

Everything felt manageable that day. And my husband got home on time for dinner. And commented on how nice I looked. (Because I put on real clothes and some mascara and did my hair. How much the housewife of mine is 50s.) We had this nice dinner and he asked me about my day. I told him how much I had done. And he was really grateful. The house looked okay, not perfect, but pretty good. I was probably noticeably happier, especially since he was home for dinner. He bathed the kids while I was doing a little more work and we went to bed as a team.

Yeah, it was kind of a perfect end to the experiment.

Emulating our ancestors wasn't as easy as I thought

I don't think I failed miserably, even if about half the days were really fun and the house was never as sparkling as I wanted it to be. When I was successful, my husband was grateful. I don't think the change was dramatic enough that he knew something was going on, but then again, he wasn't home as much as he usually is.

The last day kind of drove me home because I really need a balance. The reality is, most days I fail at something, and that's not unique to this experiment. It's not unique to me either. Bring a group of women together, and once you describe all of the ways she's an absolute fucking mother, we'll all throw ourselves into the world where we're so much worse. I want to say something righteous about how we shouldn't do this, except, it feels damn good to know that I'm not the only person in the world who feels like I'm saving a sinking ship.

Either I didn't write anything that wore me down and anxious, or my kids were ignored for writing, or the house was a total mess, or I forgot about dinner until dinner and the only thing I could eat was scrambled eggs . I take it easy on myself. I realized what I was really hoping to get out of the experiment was knowing that if I let go of all that other stuff, I would actually create the clean and organized home I always want. I thought the experiment would give me permission to let go of it.

As naive as it sounds, I thought that by just focusing on the stove and home, I found that the simpler life of a 50s housewife was somehow easier. Maybe more boring, less stimulating, and less rewarding, but at least it wouldn't feel that insurmountable. Even when I am committed to this experiment, I have been really reluctant to drop the other balls that I juggle on a daily basis.

Because that's me, a home mother who loves her children and loves her job. I may never be as organized or together as I would like.I was diagnosed with ADHD in an inattentive manner, but I avoided medication because it severely affected my ability to wander my mind and tell stories - which I love very much. I have to deal with a certain amount of chaos. I just am.

I was hoping for a day when I would hear, "Honey, I'm home," and then I put a scotch on the rocks in front of my husband, turned my pressed A-line dress, and clicked my heels toward the kitchen Dinner. But no, I didn't get that day. Still, I learned a lot. I have many strengths and weaknesses even more, but best of all, I have a family and partner who will accept these things and be supportive of my writing, even if it means tripping over toys and eating eggs


All in all, I am so happy that I am living in a perfect home during this time Not the only thing i have tried because i'm not sure if it will ever happen. My hat is for the women in the past who kept their homes running smoothly. My even bigger hat is for the women who have fought for a place outside the home. And to the women reading this, you absolutely have my permission to mess your house up a little today. I will not judge you. In fact, I will probably thank you.