Monday, March 24, 2014

Housekeeping - With a Will

Library of Congress: Working in the Kitchen, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1942.


Duty is very difficult in a self - indulgent world.   We wives often want to live in leisure, enjoy hobbies, and relax.  Today, the American Dream is considered to be all about retirement!  Yet, working in the home makes our surroundings pleasant, peaceful, and orderly.  I recently heard the advice from a doctor (from a 1940's movie) suggesting to his nurse that an upper class housewife should let some of her servants go, do 6 hours of housework a day, and then her health would be recovered in 3 months! 

"Duty with a will" means we have the right attitude of perseverance.  We do the daily chores despite our mood or emotions.  Often the task seems overwhelming and we have trouble even getting started.  Perhaps we have neglected the deep-down cleaning for weeks or months.  This becomes a mountain of impossibility!  But with a will, we can take each step and work little-by-little to make things nice.  Years ago, I read this old book about this young man who had to work in the fields.  I can't remember all the details but I remember him saying to himself over and over again, "With a will, Joe!"  And this became the motto of his life.  He did his duties and he did them well.

One of the sweetest things I've found to help get that "will" strong, is to dress for the day in a housewife's uniform.  This is a special outfit that says, "I am the hostess of this house and am happy to serve and make sure you are comfortable."    For some this may be a little jewelry, a special hairstyle, a pretty dress and . . . of course. . . a pretty apron.   This says that home is lovely and I am happy to work here.

Many mornings I have been giving myself little "pep talks" so I can drag myself out of bed. (gentle smiles)  Life can get overwhelming and exhausting and we have to learn to do our very best, despite these challenges. 

On a daily basis, grandbaby keeps me busy; my (mostly grown) children keep things exciting around here; and the care of my parents (the great-grandparents who live with us) have health issues which are a constant concern.    I also am dealing with a gnawing disappointment I feel because I have not been able to knit an old fashioned sweater- and- bonnet set for my new grandbaby, who will arrive next month.  Regardless of this,  I still have a home to keep, a husband to care for, and plenty of work to do; I will not despair.  I will do it, to the best of my ability, with a smile and with a will.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

I am looking forward to doing this in the Spring - Walking the gardens with Baby.

It's all up to you, Mother - The Cultured Society of Home.

We need more of this! - Homemaking Propaganda.

  - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics .  Paperback, 312 pages.


TheLoriA said...

Thank you so much for this post. It has helped me immensely. Lori

MamaHen said...

Thank you for this. I am getting over the flu and feeling discouraged because things are such a mess here. I don't even know where to start. But I will start and then just start the next thing and the next thing. :)

ChristyH said...

This was lovely and so encouraging!!

Jelli said...

I like the idea of putting on a special outfit or doing something special to really put yourself in the mood. Seems so '50s and I love it!

Anonymous said...

Your posts are always so encouraging!
It's so hard when my parents and ln-laws give no good example about duty...they live for fun, fun, fun and travel. It's so sad

Katrinka said...

I like the word 'duty'. Even in christian company today, it seems that the word 'duty' is undesirable. We're supposed to only do those things we can do with the right heart attitude. While I'm getting my heart right, my family needs attention, and sometimes performing my duties gets my heart going in the right direction, too.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for this. I struggle daily with having the will to do what needs done in my home and it's good to know that I'm not alone and to be encouraged to keep on keeping on. Thank you for that encouragement.

Cathy said...

Dear Mrs. White, Such a good point. I like to wear an apron with pockets, so I can pick up little things that need to be put away while I go through the house. Bless you, as you take care of your three generational household!

Deanna said...

Duty with a will is absolutely needed when difficult issues arise and cause hardships. Getting motivated when one has a will makes the task a little bit easier to put into motion knowing it's just got to be done.

Give me that drive and watch the housework take place! grins.

Blessings to you,

Cathy said...

Thinking of you, I just realized--you have a four generation household! May you have many blessings on you and yours.