Instructions for Housewives — circa 1952

Creative Commons Photo.

This list is way too entertaining not to share. Adapted from a 1952 home-ec textbook for high school girls, here are some instructions to help housewives create a soothing oasis for their husbands. Can you imagine the uproar if this was still being taught in public schools today?

(I found this list in the book The Power of a Positive Mom, by Karol Ladd. Ms. Ladd in no way thinks this is a sustainable way of life for today’s multitasking mama. She was just using it as a reminder that making others feel valued is an important key to a successful community and home.)

So, here ya go! Take a moment to channel your inner June Cleaver, and allow yourself to be as tickled by this list as I was. (Most of the ideas aren’t half bad. Most of them. I’m not putting a ribbon in my hair.)

Instructions for Housewives
As taught to the girls attending high school during the Leave it to Beaver era~~~~

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal on the table — on time. This is a way of letting your husband know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.

2. Prepare yourself. Take fifteen minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when your husband 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 schoolbooks, toys, paper, ect. Then run a dustcloth 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 their 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.

6. Some don’ts. Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through during the day.

7. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedrom. Have or 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 and 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 feel refreshed.

What do you think? I’m all for numbers 1, 3, and 10, but not so sure about putting a ribbon in my hair or changing the girls into clean clothes for dinner…


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