Monday, March 8, 2010

Feeling Better or Worse?

I have a very simple schedule that I keep. On Monday I do laundry, set my topsy-turvy "weekend" house back in order, and work from home. On Tuesday and Thursday I work at the office. Wednesday is grocery day, plus more working from home, and on Friday I catch up on anything that I let slide during the previous days, plus try to fit in some writing. Don't forget to include daily time to exercise, pray, eat, give my kids lots of attention, and make dinner.

It all seems busy enough to me, but a chance comment made me wonder...I heard or read somewhere this statement, "Oh, life was simpler then. When mother finished the breakfast dishes, it was time to start making lunch." Ouch! That sounds like pure misery to me, but I guess that's just the way it was. Interested to find out more about the way it was, I looked a few things up. Here are some comparisons that will either make you feel better (at least we don't have to scrub clothes by hand), or worse (how come, if I'm not scrubbing clothes by hand, I'm not getting more done with my time?).

COOKING THEN: "Prior to the second quarter of the nineteenth
century when mass-produced cast iron and steel stoves were more available
nationwide, cooking was a labor-intensive chore done on an open fire in a
fireplace. Wood or coal had to be hauled into the house, and ashes removed
daily. Worse was the limited variety of food that could be cooked by this
method. Kettles of stews or soups were easy enough, but the art of banking
fires over Dutch ovens or piles of bricks or stones for baking took considerable experience. Likewise, choosing the types of wood that burned hotter or longer and then arranging the fuels for consistent fires required great skill."

COOKING NOW: If it has more than 5 ingredients or takes longer than 20 minutes, I don't do it.

LAUNDRY THEN: "The most arduous household chore for women was laundry. For many, this was a two-day project every week, usually commencing with the washing on Monday, followed by ironing, folding, and mending on Tuesday. The housewife of the nineteenth century had to haul gallons of water from wells or pumps and maintain kettles of boiling water for the wash. Scrubbing, wringing, and carrying heavy, wet garments and linens to the clotheslines—and then retrieving the dried laundry—wearied and abused almost every muscle in her body. Her hands and arms were exposed to caustic lye-based detergents and scalding water for hours at a time."

LAUNDRY NOW: I happen to be in the middle of laundry right this very minute. While my clothes wash and dry themselves, I am up to my elbows in writing a new blog post.

HOUSECLEANING THEN: "Cleaning floors, and especially rugs, also was backbreaking work for the Victorian housewife. Between the endless clouds of dust entering the house from unpaved streets and the residues of soot and ash deposited daily from fire grates and oil or gas lamps, staying ahead of dirt was a constant challenge."

HOUSECLEANING NOW: I don't vacuum. That is what I have children for.

LINENS THEN: "For most women of the nineteenth century sewing was necessary to produce clothing, bedding, table linens, curtains, and most anything else made of textiles."

LINENS NOW: Hellooo, Target.

A NOT-SO-DISTANT THEN: "Studies from the 1950s showed that “women actually spent more time on household chores than had their mothers . . . logging a 99.6-hour workweek."

NOW: I prefer to have my husband think that home maintenance is still a full-time job. Thus, I should be pampered and adored for keeping it going along with my "other" job (the one that pays actual money). So, I will keep the number of hours I spend on it private, for now.

All the quotes in this post came from a chapter from a textbook called Advertising To The Amercian Woman 1 9 0 0 – 1 9 9 9. Find it online here.


The Crider Clan said...

Amen to that! I often think of my great-grandmother and all she had to do to keep up with her home. If she wanted Chicken for dinner, she went out and killed a chicken, plucked it, cleaned it, cut it up and built a fire in her stove so that she could cook it! I don't know how she managed everything! I'm just glad I don't have to do all that to a chicken!

Kent and Jan said...

We have a much simpler schedule. In the mornings, Jan does whatever she wants. In the evening, I do whatever she wants.

Kent and Jan said...

This is me, Jan. Kent is full of bull! (I just couldn't help saying that). Lecia, I love reading your blog. Keep up the good work.