Chores I am Amazed Previous Generations Found the Time to Do

June 25, 2013

General Humour, Parenting

I’ve recently come across a number of blog posts about the plight of tired parents. Be it moms or dads, stay at home parents or working ones, it seems that the laundry never ends, the house never stays tidy, and there simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, let alone get in a good nights sleep. Add in teething babies, sick children, nightmares, and midnight potty runs; parents seem to be getting by one day at a time.

I have days when I feel over run too. Those days when the children were awake in the night more than they were asleep, when the house is endlessly messy, the laundry pile is unending and my to do list is continued onto page 3. On those days I try to cut myself break. I throw in the proverbial towel and pop a pizza in the oven for supper and contemplate throwing toys and clothes out instead of putting them away.

But what if there was no pizza to put in the oven? (The frozen pizza wasn’t common in the grocery store until the early 1960s). My parent’s generation, and even more so, the generation that raised them, lacked an enormous number of conveniences my generation has, and yet they still got it all done. HOW?

Laughing Mom’s list of “Chores I am Amazed Previous Generations Found the Time to Do”.

1) Laundry, without a washing machine and dryer.

I am forever drowning in laundry. My children have more wardrobe changes a day than the Oscar’s host changes gowns. And all I have to do is throw it in the washer, transfer it to the dryer, and put it away. No hand washing. No soaking in a tub and scrubbing stains. No bleaching of baby clothes. No clothes line.

I am pretty sure I have never used a clothes pin as a clothes pin.  A way to hold close an open chip bag or a cute craft, yes, but to hang clothes outside…nope.

2) Iron things that don’t have to be ironed.

If I iron, it is because the clothing item can’t be worn otherwise – such as a work shirt. If it is my clothing item, it will very quickly find its way to the back of my closet in favor of items that can be smoothed out while I fold them (thank you cotton blends).

There is nothing better than getting into a freshly made bed where the sheets are crisp and the pillow case is smooth – and I appreciate it all the more when I am in a hotel – as not one time I have ever ironed my own sheets.

3) Hand wash dishes.

We have three types of dishes in our house: ones that are dishwasher safe, ones that are not, and go in the dishwasher anyway, and ones that are not dishwasher safe and never, ever, get used. I think back to when I used to wash up after supper when I was a teen and think I can probably start using items in the last category about the time my children are old enough to do chores….

50s-housewife-all-mod-cons4) Make meals from scratch.

The average homemaker in 1950 spent over three hours a day, preparing meals, cooking and feeding her family (

I make most of our meals from scratch, but they take no more than 30 minutes of prep time and the week is peppered with instant rice, the occasional frozen entree and/or bakery muffins. 3 HOURS a day? Crazy.

The 50s was also the height of the cocktail hour trend. I would be OK with that coming back in style.

5) Write letters.

Whether it be a love letter or a thank you note, correspondence pre-email was an art. One selected specific stationary, penned the note, and went to the post office to mail it. I remember having pen pals, the excitement when a letter came in the mail just for you. While email just doesn’t have the same feel to it, I can fire off communication at ten times the speed I can hand write it, and it doesn’t require me to leave the house either to purchase paper, nor to send it.

6) Getting dressed for dinner.

1950s-partyWhile this tradition waned after the 50s, our grandparents would have grown up in a era where women dressed for dinner: hair, makeup and a cocktail dress. I occasionally wear dresses and I do my make up and my hair; just not on a Tuesday to have dinner in my own kitchen. Though I guess if it took me 3 hours to prepare the dinner, I would consider it an occasion worth getting dressed up for.

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2 Comments on “Chores I am Amazed Previous Generations Found the Time to Do”

  1. jillianmak Says:

    I will never forget when my grandmother told me (with pride) that she ironed my grandfather’s underwear! Really?



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