Friday, November 28, 2008

oh, for some decent help

No doubt that when Mrs Beeton first penned her housekeeping anthology, household help was cheap and plentiful.

And in 1923, in my revised edition, labour-saving in the home was a new feature because "The continued shortage of domestic labour and the high wages paid have forced many mistresses to take a much larger share in the work of the house themselves." (Note that it says a 'larger share' not 'do all of it by themselves'.) It still sounds like it was generally accepted that you would at least have a maid or a housekeeper to help you.

And, the America's Housekeeping Book, circa 1941, still mentions having a housekeeper as a reasonable way to manage your household duties and have enough time to tend to your children.

Heck, even Carol Brady had a housekeeper.

So, when did it go out of vogue to have help? Was it rising costs of wages? Or not being able to have live-in help?

Just think about how much easier it would be to have an extra person to do all your housework. All though, trying to manage a lazy, idle bint because that was all the help you could afford would be less fun.

Anyway, Mrs Beeton says that it is important to know how to do all the household chores, even if you don't do them yourself. That way you will know how long everything should take and you won't overload your help or leave them idle. Plus when you get a new girl you will be able to show her how to do all the things she's required to do.

I guess the moral of the story is, even if you don't have to do it yourself, you still have to know how to do. Inactivity is no excuse for inability.

1 comment:

atomicliving said...

Very good advice. I am obsessed with servant/help history. It is odd that the high rise in pay required and etc basically took the household help away from the middle class, and more labor-saving device, in essence, turned the 50's housewife into a free servant for her family. I would love the help of one more person around, and really, it might be a sort of life that could appeal to some. You can be, if well treated, really a part of the family. Your job is to make the house nice and hlep prepare meals for them, ur reward (besides money and room and board) a place to lay your weary head. But, the advent of industrialization and factories offered beter pay but really, have we come to a better place? not sure. I think we may find a return to alot of 'old ways' due to the fall of economies and ideals that are quickly wasting away our planet.