I just want to go on record in saying that I am not a housekeeper in any shape, form or fashion. Neither was my mother. I can do it when I put my mind to it, but not on a regular basis. Please. I can however perform a mean "whirlwind pick up". I can stash stuff with the best of 'em.
The other day I thought about cleaning the house after I finished writing book two for the summer, but I didn't dwell on the subject long before I started book three. Anyway that's what spurred this topic on housekeeping.
"A really good housekeeper is almost always unhappy. While she does so much for the comfort of others, she nearly ruins her own health and life. It is because she cannot be easy and comfortable when there is the least disorder or dirt to be seen."
The Household, January 1884
The crazy notion during the late 1800's was that to clean the home women were achieving their highest calling. Women's popular literature of the time was full of advice about and encouragement for proper housekeeping.
An early voice in the movement to raise the status of housework was Catherine Esther Beecher, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Catherine Beecher devoted a great deal of her time in glorifying housekeeping and attempting to convince women that their daily duties, no matter how tedious or distressing, were important and assigned to them by nature and God.
She believed a good housekeeper should be a jack-of-all-sciences and could use those sciences to run the household efficiently. She suggested definite weekly schedules and rational designs for the kitchen and cooking areas. She also wrote many manuals offering a philosophy for housekeeping and practical methods for reaching those philosophical ends.
In Norton Juster's book, So Sweet to Labor, he noted that the term "drudgery" appears many times as a descriptive term. Women wrote letters describing the endless, repetitive work undertaken week after week.
The weekly schedule of "drudge" likely included laundry on Monday, ironing and mending on Tuesday, baking on Wednesday and Saturday. This was in addition to childcare, cooking three meals a day, hauling water and keeping the fire burning in the stove, a chore that in itself took at least one hour a day. Women also made the family's clothes and performed the seasonal preserving of fruits, vegetables and meat. Oftentimes, they also had charge of the garden, livestock and poultry, any work related to civilizing the farm.
Thanks for visiting and if you have something to say about housekeeping, leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you!