Chances are you have seen the “Good wife Guide”. This guide originally started as a chain email (remember those?) but it is now more frequently shared on Facebook. There are usually some remarks about how far we’ve come as a society, and then it usually gets torn to shreds about the sexist treatment of women. I am not here to argue about whether a woman belongs in the kitchen or the boardroom, that decision is personal, and honestly I think a woman belongs wherever she feels the most fulfilled.
This list of the ideal characteristics of a wife has launched many 1950’s Housewife Challenges, women undertake the role of 1950’s super-wife for a brief period of time. I admit I am curious if the soft skills of the 1950’s housewife would have an impact on my marriage, if daily life will run a little smoother in my household if everything is exceptionally tidy, and most of all I am curious will I resent my family’s slobbish tendencies after I spent the majority of my time cleaning?
The Good Wife’s Guide
The following is a viral post that is presented as an excerpt from a 1950’s home economics textbook intended for high school girls, teaching them how to prepare for married life. However, Snopes discredited this claim. While the list may not be an authentic period publication I do believe it to be a relatively accurate reflection of the mainstream vision of a woman’s role in post-war America, and therefore will be using this as a daily guide during my 1950’s Housewife Challenge.
1. 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 prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.
2. Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will 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.
3. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up school books, 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.
4. 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.
5. Minimize the noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of 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 to see him.
6. Some Don’ts: Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. The goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.
My Take on the 1950’s Housewife Challenge
This challenge is not new, in fact, it has been done numerous times by many different bloggers. Some focus on appearance, other’s on relying less on modern conveniences, both are fun and worthy causes!
My desire is perhaps a little more subtle. After the recent American election, there seems to be such hostility, rules of decorum seemingly thrown out the window. I long for the grace and thoughtfulness that the mid-century woman embodied. I will create a haven at home, nurture my family, and socialize the way women in the 1950’s would have. I will be gracious and kind, striving to make everyone around me feel comfortable and liked.
I will also undertake 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! ).
The 1950’s Housewife Challenge:
- Week #1: Dinner is Served, 1950’s Style
Want to follow along with my 1950’s Housewife Challenge? Becoming the ultimate 1950’s housewife seems like a big goal, so I will be undertaking one specific aspect of the Challenge each week, adding habits and traits in subsequent weeks. I will write weekly about my progress or resistance and share it here every Tuesday evening. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram for peaks into my day throughout the week, or sign up to my email list to get my weekly updates delivered directly to your inbox!