Today I've been doing some reading from a 1958 home economics textbook called Homemaking for Teen-Agers. It's a high school textbook for a class I really wish I would have been able to take! I especially liked the section called "Simpler Methods to Save Time and Energy." After reading the ten page chapter on how to vacuum correctly, I really needed something to help me save some time and energy.
I didn't actually do the twenty-seven step vacuuming process, I just read about it. Still, it took a lot of time and energy to even think about doing that much vacuuming. They wanted me to vacuum my lampshades. No. I won't do it.
The "simpler methods" section starts out in a very promising manner: "Simplify one's housekeeping by the elimination of as many tasks as possible: for example, use paper napkins for everyday meals instead of cloth ones which must be washed and ironed. Tables can be attractive with paper napkins and the food just as delicious."
Awesome! I already do that! I save my cloth napkins for extremely special occasions...like hosting Thanksgiving when I'm 45 years old and rich. Then I'll go get my cloth napkins...from the store.
"In the early days of our country, there was no need, perhaps, for speeding up the performance of household tasks, but in the twentieth century we live at a faster pace, with many interests and responsibilities that fill our days to overflowing."
Who wrote this book? I need to have a word with them. *flip to the front cover* Irene McDermott. Irene, honey, you don't understand the meaning of "fast-paced." You think 1958 was fast-paced? That's cute. The internet hadn't even been invented yet. Fast food joints didn't exist. Students weren't involved in 128 after school groups per kid. People actually ate dinner as a family. I mean, I guess trying to fit in a nightly episode of I Love Lucy might have made your schedule feel a little crunched, but for real. No. You're not fast-paced. Nice try.
"The thinking housekeeper will find many ways of simplifying work: for example, the elimination of white window curtains which must be washed frequently."
Wait, I'm supposed to wash my curtains? Hmmm... I'm avoiding a guilt trip here by skipping ahead to the next paragraph.
"Keep your cleaning tools in a basket or carrier, so that everything you need will be available when you arrive at the scene of the action."
I love this. "Scene of the action" makes me feel like some kid of superhero. "Here comes Superwife, ready to fight dust and germs! Bacteria doesn't stand a chance!" That actually makes sense, too, and I have an extra basket. I'm doing that one.
"Avoid creating a general state of confusion in the room which you are cleaning. When all of the furniture is pushed to the center of the room, it will slow up the cleaning process when you have to walk around as you work. Keep your line of traffic free."
In the interests of avoiding a "general state of confusion," I vow to leave my furniture where it is while I clean. Phew! That was an easy one.
"Form the habit of saving steps. For instance, suppose you are responsible for cleaning the bedroom section of the house. One task is to empty the wastebaskets in each bedroom and in the bathroom, and carry the wastepaper to the rubbish barrel in the back yard. Will you carry each down separately? Will you place a large container in the hall and bring each basket to the container for emptying?"
A few things about this section: 1. From now on I am so calling our dumpster the "rubbish barrel." 2. Do you think I can interpret this "saving steps" section to mean that I can stuff some boxes under the bed or in my closet to clean out later? I think yes.
Last but not least... "Rest periods are important. There is one often-neglected item which should appear on on every housekeeping schedule: REST. Some homemakers feel that it best to get all of their work done first and then settle down for a rest, but scientific analysis of efficiency on the job has shown that it is better to take short rest periods three or four times during the day."
Awesome. This one's even easier to follow than the paper napkins. When Rex comes home and the house is a mess, I'll just tell him that scientific analysis shows that I'm actually raising my efficiency. Brilliant. Thanks, Irene! I think I'll read more of your book tomorrow.