My 1930’s Housewife Challenge

Did you know that P and G products first appeared in the UK 80 years ago? No, neither did I. In order to publicise this they have asked a few mum bloggers to spend an entire day as a 1930’s housewife. The idea being to see how modern technology and products have made a real difference to our lives.

So I could see the vast range of products P and G actually make I was sent a selection of their products, these ranged from Pantene Shampoo, Duracell batteries through to Fairy washing up liquid and Bold washing powder. In fact, an enormous range of stuff which I had never linked together, take a look. The following week we were sent some of the stuff required to do household and everyday tasks in a 1930’s fashion.So, armed with my newly made apron I ventured forth to become a 1930’s housewife.

Washing my hair
I did a bit of research and it appears that although shampoo wasn’t standard there was petroleum based shampoo which carried a risk of ignition! Anyway, everyday people such as myself used plain soap and so I set myself to lathering up a bar of soap and then rubbing the stuff into my hair. This wasn’t an easy job and took ages. It also didn’t clean my hair very well (as you will see). Modern day shampoo is a million times better, in fact if there is one thing that I couldn’t live without I came to realise its shampoo.

Doing my Face
Soap and water and a bit of cold cream to cleanse. To be honest I didn’t mind this too much. I then used pressed powder, mascara and rouge on my cheeks. Now, I’ll be honest here, it was a bit more of a make-up routine than I usually manage. So in actual fact was an improvement. Ahem.

The Laundry
Over the course of a weekend I do 8, yes that’s right, 8 loads of washing. It’s a chore stuffing it all in and out of the washing machine, tumble dryer/ hanging it on the line. In the 1930’s we would have been dirty. From my experience I can say with absolute certainty that bed sheets would not have been washed once a week, rather they would have been washed once a month. Clothes would have been worn for at least three days and I would have been tempted to make people double up on pant wearing, although we would have had standards. I suppose. Carbolic soap and washboard at the ready, I embarked upon my challenge with excitement. I finished an hour later, totally bedraggled. The novelty wore out very quickly, although I would have enjoyed turning a mangle.
You can see a bit of footage here:

Cleaning the cooker
Now this challenge was never going to be all that authentic as I have an electric cooker with a ceramic hob. In the 1930’s people would have had gas cookers with lots of fiddly bits to clean. Anyhow, I set to work cleaning the hob with Baking Powder and I have to say, although I expended a lot more elbow grease than usual I also got it an awful lot cleaner than usual. I had a sense of satisfaction, a job well done and earned. I think I may use baking powder again, it’s really useful to know it works so well, especially if you run out of modern day cleaners!

The washing up
I didn’t realise the difference a really good squirt of washing up liquid can make. It’s only in recent times that I have had the benefit of the dishwasher but I still do a lot of washing up as I am really careful about certain bits of cooking equipment. Anyway, if you use household soap for the washing up as I did, everything ends up with a nice greasy film which is hard to remove. Nothing seems as squeaky clean as it does nowadays. Yuk.

Playing the old fashioned way
Now to be fair, this challenge cannot be an exact replica of the past because my kids have had the benefit of television and modern toys with batteries. Therefore it was always going to be about ten million times harder for me and them. However, when they got fed up helping me with the laundry they did take themselves off and spend quite a long time building towers and taking teddy on an adventure. Hardly a massive success, but we all know that its really hard to take something away once you have got used to it…

Cleaning the windows

If you ever want a really fantastic team building exercise, then cleaning the windows the old fashioned way is a brilliant activity.I used a 50-50 water to vinegar mixture which I sprayed onto the windows and then wiped with a cloth. I then wiped them with newspaper. The smell was reminiscent of the fish and chip shop and made us all hungry. It was really hard work cleaning the windows with the newspaper but the results were spectacular. So clean and sparkly it was incredible. I thought it was quite a nice safe pastime for small children, so this exercise will be repeated again.

I Summarise!
So far  I think I’m probably a bit unusual in that I really enjoyed the whole day. I haven’t managed to cook the meal yet, I am planning on a big feast using my 1930’s crockery and I might even get everyone dressed up for that occasion. The household chores took a lot longer than usual, they were about a million times harder, yet I was left with a sense of satisfaction that I don’t normally get. I think this reason for this is that I had the dedicated time set aside to do the chores, I found I could think about things as I worked. I like the idea of being a housewife instead of my busy frenetic life so this challenge met my ‘ideal’ of this. However the thought of doing this day in and day out is not something I would relish.

The laundry was quite possibly one of the worse re-enactment exercises I’ve ever done (and yes, that does include mixing wee with vegetables to create ‘natural’ dye for wool). Hooray for the washing machine and Bold! My hair felt worse than ever before, hooray for Pantene. I don’t think I could ever be a 1930’s screen siren, but using the pressed powder and rouge did make me feel more womanly and I think perhaps I should make more of an effort with myself. The kids loved helping me with these tasks and it was a brilliant way of explaining how life was different in the past, in fact Boy took his washboard into school to show to all the other four year olds.

The Being a Mummy household has been inspired, look out for re-enactments of household chores throughout various time periods!


5 Responses

  1. missielizzie 21st March 2011 / 10:39 pm

    Brilliant!<br /><br />Love how you&#39;ve thrown yourself into this challenge.<br /><br />I&#39;m doing it too – looking forward to it (all except the vlogging bit!).<br /><br />Picked up an amazing book which should help me:

  2. pottedhistory 22nd March 2011 / 6:56 pm

    Yea pretty much in awe your right! I can remember turning the mangle in my grannie&#39;s kitchen and I think she still had a &quot;poss Tub&quot; when I was very little in the 1950s. More recently we spent many years in Lesotho, Southern Africa where Soap bars, wash boards, solid irons and treadle sewing machines are all still available, imported from China and India and in everyday use. How

  3. liveotherwise 22nd March 2011 / 6:58 pm

    Sounds like very hard work. Glad that you enjoyed it anyway.

  4. Isil Simsek 22nd March 2011 / 8:15 pm

    Really hard work.Cannot watch the videos at the moment as my son is sleeping on my lap but will definitely do.

  5. Richard Gillin 24th March 2011 / 9:42 pm

    We don&#39;t know we&#39;re born these days! Had manic time at work and couldn&#39;t see videos on Blackberry; now seen. Bet you&#39;re glad of a washing machine!

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