Wednesday, July 23, 2008

With time Comes Progress....and Sanity

I was curious what the web held on being a good housewife. For one thing
I wondered if people still cared. I found this article from a 1954 text book and realized this is exactly what my grandmothers always told me. When I would relay to my friends what my mother and grandmothers did, they looked at me like I was speaking martian.

I made the hubby take the 30s quiz for husbands. He was right at average. Unlike a good 30s housewife, I lorded over him that I was far "superior." I am sure that dropped my points down at least 15 points.

So about the post below. I'm not sure if my grandmothers saw me in the 50s if they'd think I was a good housewife. There are things I do from the list below, but not the others. I'm far more opinionated than most, especially this Home Ec Teacher's ideal. I do, however, keep the house clean, usually in a type-A fashion (complete with lists and labels to make it easier.) I try to cook as much as possible, and when I do its completely from scratch. Meals are usually on time b/c we're on a fairly straight-forwarded schedule. I do make the hubby something special in the kitchen once a week. Sometime its an elaborate ham or roast, other times its cookies or a cake. The way to his heart and soul is truly through his stomach.

I can't say however, that I put a new ribbon or retouch my makeup before he gets home. I have seen my mother run into the bathroom to touch up before she arrives home or my dad came home. She's such a caring wife. Most of the time it never crosses my mind. I fail as a 50s housewife...= ) (But I think its OK!)

Home Economics High School Text Book, 1954

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal, on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so that you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. 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.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the home just before your husband arrives, gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, dishwasher, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad he is home.

Some don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.

The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.


Summer said...

Oh gosh. I would make a terrible 50
s wife. Why don't they say "be a doormat" to your husband? Cater to his every need but make sure you don't have any! This flares my women's liberation temper. Why was this way of life so okay with our grandmothers but seems so way out of line to us? "Talk in a soothing voice". GEEZ!!!!

Carolyn said...

I actually remember reading this years ago and not only laughing at it but feeling a little angry that people ever expected it of women. I thought, "What about the wife's hard day? Is the husband getting the same kind of advice about how to behave when he arrives at home?"

However, now that I have been a wife for a whopping five years (yes, you can laugh at me at this point. I know five years isn't much) I'm actually starting to understand and agree with some of the things mentioned in this old textbook. I am a full-time homemaker and have two small children. My husband works hard all day to provide for our family and the least I can do for him is try to make our home a place he wants to come back to. If I were coming home from a long day at the office (which I used to do before our first was born)it would be wonderful to enter a quiet, clean, happy home where my spouse/friend greeted me with a smile instead of a grumpy face and a list of complaints.

Having said that, I just think the husband should have the same respect for his wife--who has also had a long day of work. Luckily I married a man who does. So, I guess you could see it as "being a doormat to your husband" but if the treatment is both ways, no one is a doormat.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the article up until the part of "offer to take off his shoes".....give me a break!

I am somewhere in the middle between "summer" and "Carolyn". I think the key to being a good housewife is also dependent on the husband.

Treat each other with respect and acknowledge that BOTH of you contribute toward the goal of making a house a home.