Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Importance Of Schedules

Chapter 2 of Home Comforts discusses the importance of establishing routines and schedules. Without a system of sorts, you'll either feel that your work is never done and lose your motivation, or fall into emergency mode when housework is only done when domestic chaos becomes unbearable. The author discusses setting priorities (such as health and safety) and keeping lists.

She gives an interesting example of an elderly gentleman who has a housekeeping book and writes down the contents of all the closets and cupboards. Cheryl also gives lists of daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual chores and then discusses them in more detail. For working people, she suggests at least some minimal amount of cleaning to be done right after breakfast, before they go to work, so that you return to a reasonably clean house.

Here I'd like to stop and give a suggestion to homemakers without small children who are home alone for the biggest part of the day. Morning is the best time for errands, doctor appointments and visiting, and if you go out in the morning and spend a couple of hours outside, you'll come home rejuvenated and won't experience this feeling of restlessness which comes from being cooped up the whole day.
In this case, her advice also applies to you: try to make your bed, wash the dishes and do at least some picking up, so that you come home to a reasonably decent looking house.

Mrs Mendelson then goes on to discuss weekly routines. According to her, the traditional routine of washing on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, sewing on Wednesday, marketing on Thursday, cleaning on Friday and baking on Saturday was still used till the end of the 1960s. Just for the comparison, Little House In The Big Woods mentions nearly the same weekly schedule, except that Thursday is churning day, and Wednesday chore is mending, not sewing. 

The author states that sewing and baking are rather obsolete, but still suggests people continue using a modified version of the weekly routine, and gives her ideas for working couples with small apartments and big houses. One interesting point she makes is that it's more efficient to designate a special laundry day than do a load each day; or at least to do it twice a week. I have been pondering this issue and it appears to me that the old weekly schedule still makes sense (with the exception of churning, of course:).

I know many people don't iron but I still do, and since I have no dryer, my laundry is never dry all on the same day, so Tuesday is the day when I do the most of folding and putting away anyway. Cheryl, by the way, suggests choosing a second day for mini-laundering and having Wednesday as the odd-job day, used for mending, paying the bills and doing odd jobs. Ironically, in the Little House times it was a mending day, too; and those who sew can still use it as a sewing day. You can still market on Thursday, clean on Friday and bake on Saturday and so preserve an old tradition from dying out. I should add that if you don't usually bake, Saturday can be used for cooking something extra, then freezing it in.

A funny thing is that Mrs Mendelson keeps talking about how easy modern housekeeping is, even for working couples, and then proceeds to give quite an extensive list of weekly chores, like changing bed linens twice a week (the last info I've read on the issue is that up to once in 2 weeks is still considered hygienic); washing the whole bathroom including tiles (an abbreviated version of it costs the housekeeper 1 hour), and cleaning your fridge every week (takes me more than 1 hour). How are you supposed to do it all after your normal working hours is a riddle; though, to be fair, she suggests doing major housecleaning on Saturday for working couples.

She then encourages people to do a yearly spring cleaning, discusses the order of work and debates whether vacuuming should be done first or last. I freely admit that I do it first, which is apparently wrong, but it suits me just fine so I doubt it'll change. In conclusion, the author mentions little touches such as fresh flowers or baked goodies to make your house homey. All in all, lots of useful info in this chapter.


  1. Sanne,
    thank you for digging deeper in Home Comforts!

    Have you read Mrs. Mendelson's other books, like the Laundry Book or The Good Life? I was wondering if they are part of the original book, but have been published like an updated separate book.

    Personally I think a lot can be accomplished during work week if the evenings are not filled with hobbies, outside home activities, tv and social media... :-)

  2. Miriam, she mentions her laundry book quite a lot but I've never read it. I've never heard about the other one you mentioned.

    Cleaning in the evening depends on what sort of work you do during the day. If you work really hard, the only thing you want to do in the evening is collapse, and as you get older, your energy levels decrease. I know it's theoretically possible but will probably cost one his sleeping hours and (mental) health, after all, folks choose to do hobbies and use social media after work as a way to unwind.

  3. I am enjoying this series-Thank you!
    I am 57 and I love being a housewife and am quite domestic. I feel like the last of a dying breed sometimes, but that's ok. My girls love being home with their families.

  4. Becky, you are welcome! The new generation of housewives is growing up, my next post will be about it.

  5. ".....and so preserve an old tradition from dying out." This is so important, isn't it?
    Keep up the good work, Sanne, and God bless you!

  6. Thanks, Mrs.O, God bless you, too! I noticed that Cheryl Mendelson is a real stickler for tradition:)

  7. Years back I enjoyed seeing Cheryl Mendelson on Martha Stewarts's show. You could tell Martha agreed with her yet was uncomfortable with someone who was an expert in Martha's own field. :) It was so long ago but I wonder if someone has it on You-Tube or such.
    I love to read other people's ideas on scheduling. I go over their lists and times etc. Seeing if I can improve on the schedule I already use. I do try to have certain things I do on certain days. An A. list and a B. list. A's are things that have to be done and B's are things I hope to do if I have time that day. With my husband now retired I never know what my days will be like. If he wants to stay home or go out at a minutes notice. We could be out all day and into the night. So I do also have a short list of things to hurriedly do first thing in the morning to keep things tidy. Then if time on to more and more. { A. and B.}. I love keeping house and baking and all. I wish though I had the time to devote to it still.
    I have Cheryl's book and really enjoy it. Thank you for discussing it. I look forward to hearing more.
    I hear that more and more women are opting out of the full time work force and coming home? Is this really true? Sarah

  8. Sarah, was it back in the 1990s? Because that's when I think she wrote the book, somewhere about year 2000.

    Yes, it's helpful to have an abbreviated version of your daily routine. I noticed husbands often like to go out, makes them feel younger, I guess:)

    As for your question, well, it's a difficult one. The statistics are conflicting for different countries. Since the beginning of the 20th century, there was a trend for female labour force participation to increase. It now appears to have stabilised. Many women choose to work part-time, even those who are young and unmarried. What I think is really changed, is the attitudes, many younger women think it's OK to stay home if you choose so. Unlike many boomers, they don't have any sense of duty about working outside home. Their motto is do whatever you feel like, if you feel like staying home and can afford it, why not? I think it's good.