Old Rules

The Basics” The following is excerpted from an actual 1950’s high school Home Economics textbook: “ADVANCE: How to be a Good Wife”

And all I have to say is thank God I was born 30 years later. If only for the sake of electric vacuums . . But really, what do you modern “homemakers” think? Can you still relate to a few / any of these?


HAVE DINNER READY: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal–on time. This is a way to let him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home, and having a good meal ready is part of the warm welcome that is needed.

PREPARE YOURSELF: Take fifteen minutes to rest so that you will be refreshed when he arrives. 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. Greet him with a smile.

CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER: Make one last trip though the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up children’s books and toys, papers, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you lift too.

PREPARE THE CHILDREN: If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

MINIMIZE ALL NOISE: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise from the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

SOME “DO NOT’S”: Don’t greet him with problems and complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as a minor problem compared to what he might have gone through that day.

MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE: Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down in the bedroom. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

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.

MAKE THE EVENING HIS: Never complain if he doesn’t take you to dinner or to other entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to unwind and relax.

THE GOAL: TO MAKE YOUR HOME A PLACE OF PEACE AND ORDER WHERE YOUR HUSBAND CAN RELAX IN BODY AND SPIRIT.” Most wives in the 1950’s had one job: to be a homemaker. This meant wives must not only clean the house but also truly make a home. Being a homemaker in the 1950’s meant caring for both your family and your house, as well as presenting yourself as picture-perfect throughout the day. Not only that, you had to make it seem effortless.

3 Responses

  • this gives me anxiety just by reading it! the only thing i sort of do is have dinner ready by the time he gets home. but thats mainly out of habit and because everyone is just as hungry. it reminds me of this article i read about how housewives in the 50’s were being abused by their husbands and the therapists were telling the wives that it was due to the fact that they were stressing their husbands out and they needed to be calming forces in their lives. so crazy and misguided.


  • It’s just crazy, how twisted and one sided most of the advice is. I’d say one of the only things I can see myself doing is clearing away the clutter right before he gets home. Out of simple respect. I know I hate to come home to a distorted house after a long day. And I just laughed a little reading: “PREPARE THE CHILDREN: If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.” – Hah! I wish 😀

  • I wonder if this was written by a man or a woman?

    I can see some of this stuff as something that’s nice to do for someone you love, if you’re home and they just got home from a long day of work. Not sure about everyone else, but in my home some of these thing happen for both of us. My husband does some of this stuff for me if he’s been home for the day, and I just got home from work and vice versa.

    About ‘preparing the children’, I can’t see that ever happening.

    Again, great picture pairing. I can see Betty having this list memorized to a T.


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