“All in a day’s work” takes on a whole new meaning.
When many of us were growing up our moms took care of most of the household tasks, from cleaning to shopping to cooking to school functions and even the budgeting. This type of comprehensive housewifery was considered the norm and even into the 1980s many women aspired to be the perfect wife or mother. These days most families need two incomes to make ends meet, but in another era it wasn’t always so. Modest home and consumer prices meant that even blue collar husbands could support their families financially on their salaries alone. While most families aren’t set up like 1950s families were, there is a lot of curiosity from younger generations on how housewives back then spent their time. There’s also the appeal of having a tidy home and eating meals together that makes it nostalgic- even for those who didn’t grow up that way.
As an experiment vintage style enthusiast (and YouTuber) Sage Lilleyman spent a week living like a 1950s housewife. She already has a lot vintage clothes, housewares, and recipes since she collects those things. But, following housewife’s routine from the period was a something new.
The first task in any day was always to make yourself presentable before making breakfast for one’s husband. Some women chose to lounge in their robes for the morning routines, but still a bit of Pond’s Cold Cream was a must-have first thing in the morning for 1950s housewives. There were other brands of course, but Pond’s was by far the most popular.
Living in Australia a few of the foods and customs are different, such as Vegemite on toast instead of jam in the mornings. But, otherwise many of the routines applied to women in various countries around the world.
After cleaning up from breakfast she does her 1950s exercise routine which consists of calisthenics from Jack LaLanne’s TV show which first aired in 1951 before becoming syndicated in 1959. She also followed some of Debbie Drake’s routines from the early 1960s. Unlike LaLanne’s moves Drake’s routine was more delicate as opposed to straightforward.
Once the exercises were done she gets dressed the authentic way- with stockings, girdle, slip, dress, and high heels. She wears some makeup, including the reddish-pink color Fire and Ice by Revlon- one of the most popular shades of the era.
On day one her first morning chores were tidying, doing laundry, and dusting, but of course each day of the week required something different to be achieved. In a world with fewer time-saving devices the chores had to be metered out through the week to make sure there was enough time to get everything done. After that meal planing was on the to-do list, but even by mid-morning her feet were hurting and she felt like she’d been run ragged.
Watch the video below to see how the rest of the week went in this fun experiment.