Daily Schedule for the 50’s Housewife

I attempted the vintage housewife challenge last year but fell short in my efforts once spring rolled around. I have a suspicion all the schedules and lists I am finding online where the typical SUBURBAN 1950’s housewife schedule. I live on a small family farm in the Northeast, we are somewhat rural, but not as isolated as families would be on a Midwestern ranch. In the spring and summer I am out helping my husband with the crops, animals, and harvests, I deliver orders to stores, and also spend a significant amount of time running to get tractor parts and taking kids to sporting events. It is not humanly possible to tackle the daily schedule of a 1950’s housewife for me during the spring and summer months, but winter and fall are a whole different story!

I am undeterred by my previous attempt and trying this again! I have created a simple printable to keep myself on schedule during the day if you are joining me in the 1950’s housewife challenge you can get your copy FREE when you subscribe to get emails from The Vintage Housewife to hang on your fridge:  Subscribe to the Weekly email!

4 PDFs displaying the 1950's housewife daily routine, and a daily cleaning and chore checklist.

The schedule which has been widely circulated on the interwebz, and greatly debated, but does seem to be an accurate representation of the typical middle-class suburban 1950’s housewife’s day, and will provide structure for my day going forward. I will undertake all my daily tasks as authentically as possible. The typical family only had one car, which means less impulsive trips into town for me. I will manage the household finances frugally, and provide tasty full meals, complete with dessert DAILY. I will also put forth an effort to bring a little bit of glamor to my appearance (goodbye, yoga pants, and messy hair knot! ).

Daily Schedule for the 50’s Housewife:

  1. Throw back the covers
  2. Open up the blinds and windows
  3. Freshen up
  4. Make and serve breakfast
  5. Clean up breakfast
  6. Complete a 10-minute exercise regime
  7. Shower, do hair and makeup, get dressed
  8. 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
  9. Straighten up the living and dining room, including picking up potential clutter, light dusting, fluffing/straightening pillows, and watering plants or flowers
  10. Make the beds
  11. Tidy the bedroom, including light dusting
  12. Hang up any clothes that may be about or ensure dirty ones are in the hamper
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. Begin long-advance preparations for dinner (such as making dessert)
  16. Wipe down kitchen work surfaces and inside the fridge
  17. Dispose of garbage
  18. Rinse dish cloths and hang to dry
  19. Sweep or mop the kitchen floor
  20. 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
  21. If returning from the grocery store, wash vegetables, wrap them and put them away. Place rest of groceries or purchases in their proper place
  22. Have a quick lunch
  23. Start advance food conditioning like crisping vegetables or thawing frozen foods
  24. Handle weekly chore for the day (more on that below)
  25. Set the table for dinner
  26. Arrange the living room for evening enjoyment (such as “the Mister’s” newspaper, book, and cigarettes)
  27. Do a quick sweep of the floors and ensure entrance ways are clear
  28. Prepare a special dish for dinner
  29. Freshen up before the husband returns from work. Consider changing into something more festive if the day dress is plain
  30. Set out a tray with equipment for making cocktails, should “the Mister” want to serve drinks before dinner
  31. Greet husband “gayly”
  32. Serve dinner
  33. Clear table and wash dishes
  34. Pour boiling water down the sink to ensure pipes are flushed
  35. If necessary, pack the husband’s lunch for the next day. Set aside a lunch tray in the refrigerator for yourself if having leftovers
  36. Set table for breakfast
  37. Ensure breakfast foods are available and do any make-ahead preparations for it
  38. 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

54 thoughts on “Daily Schedule for the 50’s Housewife”

  1. I love this! If my future husband is willing to go to his job every day so I don’t have to, I would be more than happy to do the house chores all day, because I prefer that kind of work to a typical ‘career’. Sounds more than fair to me! 🙂

    1. I would recommend having a Plan B in the event your husband/partner is unable to maintain financial responsibilities. As a women, it’s vital you are capable of maintaining a life, with or without a partner. Food for thought.

      1. I think housewives are misunderstood because of this! This schedule shows how hard a day of work this person has, and it shows the variety of tasks and skills she has to complete. If her husband were to leave or die, she would be able to get a job because she’s been building lots of skills that could fit in with a lot of different careers. Planning, scheduling, physical labor, care taking, those are all general abilities that a lot of jobs require. I’m a housewife and feel my work has absolutely changed our home life, instead of working all day and coming home and having to work again on the house, I can just work on the house and then in the evening totally relax! I can travel anytime, visit friends, study any subject I want and become a master at anything I put my mind to. It’s extremely liberating and my husband loves it too.

  2. Hey jen is it okay for me (Almost teen) to be looking at stuff like this from that time? Sometimes i feel that i am too young to like, do or even look at something like this. I love vintage but i just don’t know how i can if i am too young or if it just isn’t possible to have a lifestyle like this. What do you think?

    1. Hello Cate!
      It’s wonderful that from such a young age, you already have an idea of what you want in life.
      It is totally ok for you to like this lifestyle, you remind me of myself, I was the kind of girl that when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up” I’d answer “I want to be a mom”.
      Nowadays it’s not that common to find people who still like the vintage ways, and I was lucky enough to meet a man who thinks the same way I do and supports my wishes in life, and our marriage is amazing, we are a team, both are roles are so important.
      I would still encourage you to plan ahead and do get a career for yourself, just to be safe, I did that and it was a great decision.

      1. Not to be a Debbie downer, but I think that it’s very healthy to have a plan B- especially when all one wants is to be a mom. I have wanted to be a mom since I was 4, and never really became interested in anything else (I love teaching, but planned on helping my children with homework etc instead of pursuing it academically). Unfortunately I have fertility issues and now, in my 30’s, I have wasted so much time not doing things I enjoy because I was so angry I’m not a mom yet. Hopefully before I’m 40 I’ll be a mom but I also feel that girls should be encouraged to think of what else they’d like to be so that if they also have fertility issues, they don’t pine away their 20’s.

    2. I know you asked Jen specifically but felt my two cents might help. Growing up I was raised modern but we always watched older shows and movies mixed with our cartoons, such as leave it to beaver, gunsmoke, and the Andy Griffith show specifically. However the way I was raised I had as much focus on economics as livelihood since the two go hand in hand. Don’t ever grow up solely wanting to rely on someone else to financially carry you. As long as you accept the probability that you will need at least a part time job to pay for housing and bills then you are certainly grounded enough to decide how to run the home you pay for. A lot of the skills and practices in routines like this are good habits as well as historical, and in today’s world anyone can dress however they like. The hardest part is if you’re still in school below the college level or even at college local to your home town. People, especially younger people, will be cruel to anything different that isn’t legally protected. But usually because they’re insecure or just sour.

    3. Haha! I thought I was the only one. As a teenager, I would say it’s (almost) never too late or too early to be thinking about the future. And it’s definitely not too early in this case. Depending on how old you are and when you plan on getting married, there really isn’t a whole lot of time to prepare for a major life change. And even if you don’t get married there is always good advice to take away from the 50s.

    4. I’m your age as well and I’m interested in this too I think it’s perfectly normal. Because unlike women who were actually from this time we aren’t forced into this lifestyle we are choosing it and that is what women empowerment is all about right? Having the freedom and the right to choose and because of that there’s nothing wrong with liking or finding interest in this lifestyle : )

    5. I think your never to young. You might just have an old sole. I have been obsessed with the 50’s and early eras since I was a little girl. I’m now in my 40’s. I loved watching Bewitched and other shows of the era. Nothing wrong with wanting to keep a clean house and to make your spouse happy. You may not be able to do everything exactly like this list but you will get a schedule yourself. Since your a Teen maybe just apply the list to your bedroom and the bathroom you use. I’m sure the adults in the house would live the extra help. Ask grandma or great grandma what their daily routines where when they where in there 20’s they would love sharing the stories .

  3. This is amazing work. I love the 1950’s and i think that it will effect my career choices. This is great work. Thank you for everything!

  4. I love these daily routines 🙂 I am a 18 year old girl who loves cleaning and learning about how a female should take care of her home.

  5. I am trying to still get a copy. I have already subscribed. I am doing a history lesson with my daughter and we plan on doing the week challenge. We are going to use it as a comparison to today’s home life as well as learning some life skills. Are you still sharing the list you created? Out of all the lists yours seems to be the most accurate. We have the one from the page but would like the beautifully detailed one you made that also has the monthly chores on it.

    Also do you have one that includes children for comparison from a newly wedded couple versus a family?

  6. Hello, I love your content! I tried to subscribe but haven’t received anything though. Could you please subscribe me to the site so that I can get updates and the checklist? Thanks in advance

  7. I enjoyed this! I am a 41 yr old suburban housewife. I grew up with much old grandparents and parents that taught me all of this. I do this everyday. Well I don’t dress in heels everyday and some days I do wear yoga pants. But Iv never left my bed unmade, just can’t start my day without doing it. Our child is all grown now but the house still gets dirty everyday, go figure. I did all of this and had a career while the kids where growing up. I look back and swear I ran on autopilot.

  8. Hello, I tried to subscribe but haven’t received anything. Could you please subscribe me to the site so that I can get updates and the checklist?

  9. This is all very good, had much enjoyment reading this chore list but you didn’t say what they do in their free time just for there own enjoyment. I assume they probably just did more cooking, more gardening and probably some sewing.

    1. I have a great number of letters written by my great grandmother and my grandmother to one another in the fifties and sixties. They were both farm wives, so their routines were a little different, but my grandmother enjoyed listening to the radio (which was like our TV today), crocheting, and shopping. She and my grandpa would drive to Branson, Missouri once a year for vacation, and they loved the country music shows. On Saturday afternoons, they would get ready and go to town, as did nearly everyone else. There, they shopped, visited with neighbors, played pool (mainly the men), and then came home, made popcorn, listened to a weekly music show on the radio, and played games. My great grandmother was in her fifties during the fifties, and she already had many grandchildren who were her whole world. For fun, they visited with friends or sat out on their porch and watched people go by. The county fair was a big deal for farm wives, but much of the year was marked by the seasons. In the winter, farmers were able to relax a little more and my Grandma Lottie always planned her garden far ahead (you are so right about that). She spent time looking at seeds and deciding which she would plant. She loved her flowers, too. My other great grandmother quilted and I have one of those quilts with patches of my Grandpa Great’s shirts, her aprons, and worn sheets and curtains. My aunt and uncle, in their twenties and thirties during that time, loved to play cards with friends.

    1. …and I was very surprised when I came to point 22..have a quick lunch! By all these chores before I assumed it was already early evening ??

    1. I agree – I was raised in the fifties, and no way did we do these things or wear those dresses to clean in – that was only on Ozzie and Harriet or leave it to Beaver.

      1. My mother would wear a housecoat in the morning while she did her house and garden chores. This was just a loose, knee-length shift dress that buttoned up the front. She generally finished around 10:00 am. Then she’d freshen up and put on something pretty to go out or entertain her girlfriends in.

  10. Loved this post….sounds very much like Flylady…just in a different order and with Daily Focus (chore a day) rather than same chores everyday…I follow Flylady (as best I can) and find I am doing more everywhere but have less to do! Yep…you read that correctly! I push myself to get it done and then I can ‘reward’ myself with time to do what I want….it worked when all five children lived at home and I ran my own business too! Now only my 10yo daughter at home (and hubby) and it still works like a dream.

    I’ve ditched the microwave (cook all meals from scratch or steam to reheat), I’m ditching my mobile phone, the toaster is on the blink so that won’t get replaced when it finally gives up and I air dry everything (and iron 15mins a day to keep on top of that!) I have a vacuum cleaner, washing machine and currently a dishwasher (that I inherited with the house….it also won’t be replaced when it dies!) You spend longer browsing rubbish on phones than you ever will washing up a few plates and cups!

    Will be reading more posts….thanks! xx

    1. Id love to learn more about ur routine…I am really trying to implement a routine. I have one 3 year old and another on the way. What’s the Fly Lady routine. Ill google but it would be nice to learn from actual like minded people. Thanks!

  11. I think such a schedule really was easier to handle back in the day because homes were smaller and people had far less stuff! There were also fewer distractions. My Grandmother also taught me (or tried) to NOT make such a mess and then it is not necessary to clean so much! (she was an immaculate housekeeper and could do anything – always reminded me of Martha Stewart’s mother)
    And I agree with an above comment, children were not only expected to help around the house, they were required to – for it teaches them not only good habits but values such as responsibility, taking care of one’s belongings, respect, and helping others. Also, laziness was a completely unacceptable behavior! And we all know the old saying about idle hands! Haha
    Today mom’s are frazzled as they try to take care of everything while kids are laying around watching tv or playing video games.
    Moms today also spend half their lives driving kids around to school and numerous activities – this was just not done in the past. Kids typically lived close enough to school to walk or ride the bus and the activities were usually at the school or nearby.

  12. This excerpt from the 1950s household seem to have meant a couple, since it had no children’s maintenance in it…
    I found a new mother’s book from the 1950s which assumed that the family had 3-4 kids within 5 years or so…
    Can you imagine having 2 or 3 kids in diapers at the same time, with a wringer washing machine ?!!

    1. Wow,and I thought I had laundry problems! Just thinking about have two tots in diapers and having to wash by hand, seems like it would take up a lot of the day!

      1. My grandmother used cloth diapers, she lived in a small town but not county by any means, and there was a man who came around and collected them to be laundered and brought back! This was the early 60s though

    2. That was my mother. A wringer washer til 1973 and 7th child. No dishwasher ever. One bathroom. SO much laundry and cooking. Don’t know how she did it.

  13. This exact routine comes from a blog called Jen but Never Jenn, back in 2010. She got it out of the Bride’s Reference Book, published in 1948. And, yes, it is a recommendation for a new, middle-class, suburban housewife!

  14. I own and read regularly a small library of antique books on housekeeping (1900’s to the 1960’s). From what I have read housewives were not as busy as we believe them to be. They had daily chores, weekly chores, monthly chores and seasonal chores that included things like cleaning the siding on the outside of the house. But they had plenty of time for socializing with their friends often, being part of women’s clubs and being on the PTA. Not to mention that your kids can help with the chores like they did in the bygone eras. My mother (born Oct 1951) had a list of chores she and her sisters did as children.

    Now a days there are some great cleaning hacks and products that will cut the cleaning time in half even if you follow the “1950’s housewife” schedule. Even using green/environment friendly products and recipes.

    I was a live-in housekeeper when I was in college and trust me- most of the daily chores and even weekly are maintaining the cleanliness of the house and not having to deep clean everyday. When I started working for the family that employed me the chores took forever but as the house was being maintained what would take many hours soon turned to one or two hours of work.

    If you are interested in finding out more about a “vintage” cleaning schedule I recommend the Housewife’s Handbook a WISE Book (by the WISE publishers as part of a collection). It is from the late 50’s early 60’s. I have a couple copies and buy it whenever I see it in decent condition at thrift stores. I give it as part of a gift at bridal showers. I also plan on putting a copy in each of my daughters’ hope chests.

    1. Grimm I would be interested to know your daily schedule! Did you keep a list of daily, weekly, monthly chores? Can you share? ????????

  15. I came across this chore list as well and have completed my own 1950’s housewife challenge list. Even though it was so much work to do, I loved the end results so I continue to do it now lol. Only thing is I am using my dryer and microwave and cell phone because I do run a business so I can’t logically and reasonably get rid of that lol. Other than that, it’s all pretty authentic.

  16. I subscribed to your newsletter and received the “confirm your email” message but never got the printables. Also, how soon should I start receiving your newsletters?

    1. Hi Jennifer!
      I am so sorry about that! The automatic workflow got turned off during maintenance. I have reactivated the welcome email and you should be receiving it shortly. After the welcome email, you can look for future emails Sunday mornings!

      1. Hello Jen,

        Was hoping to get a copy when I enter my email. I subscribed a couple of days ago and am still waiting. Hope all is well. I know Covid has effected so many.

        Best, Sara

  17. I came upon your blog and loved it. I was wondering will you be continuing blogging ? I haven’t seen every many article this year.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thank you so much for stopping by, you are right things have been a little quiet around here, but Yes, I am continuing! I am doing basic site maintenance this week, but really going to start blogging again after Labor Day.

  18. I’ve tried to subscribe to the emails but everytime I enter my email it says, “please select at least one” but I have no idea what I’m supposed to be selecting. Please help?

    1. Hi Ash,
      First of, Thank you very much for pointing this out to me!!
      I was hoping to have this problem ironed out quickly, but it is taking a little longer than I expected. I can definitely send you an email once I get everything running smoothly again if you would like with a link to a working sign-up form.
      I am so sorry about this! I should have this figured out later today or tomorrow.

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