Over the years there have been many guides printed in women’s magazines on how to be the perfect wife, mother, and cook for one’s family. This was no more true than in the 1950s when post-war American society was focused around men leaving the house for work -often in an urban or suburban environment. This left their wives at home to tend to the children, the chores, the meal prep, the shopping, and in many cases the financial planning as well. In many rural areas before WWII the work divide was more fluid, with women tending to farm chores and men taking on odd jobs or artistic endeavors to make a little extra cash. The mass move to metropolitan areas meant that the labor was more divided and women of the 1950s strove to be the very best wives they could be. So what was a typical 1950s housewife routine and can men handle the work today?
Daily skin care, including cold cream facials and hand cream, were a part of many housewives’ habits. Then there was also the cooking and cleaning, which required them to get up pretty early in the morning. As an experiment, three modern men took on these routines for 7 days and then shared their thoughts as the week progressed.
Some of the men didn’t realize just how much cleaning was involved in maintaining a tidy household. Others were appalled at having to get up before the sun each morning. Another man just sort of stopped making breakfasts for his partner part way through the week because he was short on time- something most housewives of the 1950s would never have done.
While the skin care part of the routines was enjoyable, it was the only man in the experiment who is a father to note that even though the self-care aspect of being a 1950s housewife improved his skin, the rest of the routine was primarily for the good of the family- leaving the homemaker potentially feeling a bit under-appreciated.