When I began to pastor the church I found literature from the 1950s that was apparently being passed around as ‘the way women should be.’ (Our church was only 20 years old and did not exist in the 1950s.) While I did not agree with much of it, there were a few good points.
The 1950s woman threw on a ‘house coat’ or some other ‘easy to care for/ don’t care if I get dirty’ frock in the morning. She took the kids to school in this, cleaned the house etc. Just before her husband got home was when she, and the children, washed and made themselves ‘presentable.’ How many young mothers today, who are home with the children, find that they are not able to get a shower until 4:30 or so? This is not a bad plan.
After dinner was ‘family time.’ The dishes were often left for the morning (after the husband went to work) so that the whole family could spend time together. (There were actually dividers sold and/or doors at the entrance to the living room so that guests could not see into the kitchen.) The woman’s ‘work’ was therefore also done for the day at this time. And since only the living room was used for guests, if it had been a ‘tough day’ and the rest of the house was still a wreck, so be it.
The husband was reminded that his wife had a ‘ministry to the household,’ which he was to respect. While I do not believe that this is the only ‘ministry’ a woman can have, it is a tough one, and appreciation of what a stay-at-home wife does all day in taking care of the children and the house is wonderful thing.
Since all women were home with their children, a time to have each other over for ‘tea’ in the afternoon was expected. This is when the women and children visited, so it did not interfere with family time. Also remember that schools let out around 2:30, and there was no homework or extra-curricular activities until high school during these years. The visiting was done in your house clothes, so it was relaxed. You were not expected to ‘look good’ until your husband got home after 5. Looking good was for him, not something other women were to judge you on.
Milk and other ‘staples’ were also delivered to your house (by men), so you did not have to run to the store as often. Bakeries and meat markets were within walking distance. Making dinner just got easier because you just ran to the corner (or sent a child) if you needed anything.
While I truly understand the frustration with never being able to use your God-given gifts as a woman during this era, there were a few perks to this time for when the children were small that we do not have today.
It almost makes a young mother long for the ‘good old days.’ (I have no clue what the women whose children were grown were supposed to do. In my family they drank.)