Library Find: How To Manage Without A Maid

I’ve mentioned my adoration for the New York Society Library (April 19, click here). The stack section of the library covers 12 floors – I can enter any of them and find the quirky gem. While not a find of great literary import, I did have to chuckle over finding How to manage Without A Maid by Lita Price and Harriet Bonnet (1942). The book outlines not one, but two foreign lives: one of handling the household by keeping help, the other, a life  without career except for household management. The book outlines that modern technology frees the modern woman from dealing with difficult servants and the intrusions into a family’s privacy their presence necessarily creates.

“Maid service is getting harder and harder to find at any price and only too often, even if you pay top wages, you will have to put up with help which is unskilled, unwilling and seldom permanent. Usually as soon as a house worker can find another type of employment, she will leave you flat and you have still another maid to break in.” (p. 26)

Here’s the suggested workday for the reader, enabled by time management, lists, and modern technology:

Suggested Timing Budget for Forty Hours a Week of Housework (yes! a full time job worth of housework!)

Six hours each Weekday (that would include Saturday, ladies!)

Breakfast prep ……………………………………………….20 min
Menu planning, kitchen work, straightening….…..40 min
Bedrooms………………………………………………….….30 min
Weekly cleaning task or laundry………………………2 hours
Light lunch prep……………………………………………15 min
Kitchen work and partial dinner prep………………45 min
Extras around the house………………………………..30 min
Dinner prep…………………………………………………..30 min
Kitchen work……………………………………………….30 min

Four hours on Sundays (get to it!)

Breakfast prep…………………………………………………..20 min
Kitchen work and straightening……………………….…30 min
Cleaning up……………………………………………………..30 min
Partial dinner prep…………………………………………….30 min

I’m all for handwork, but I guess the point of this image is not to show the woman who might have been interested in ham radio or political rallies in the evening.

Straightening and bedmaking…………………………….30 min
Dinner prep……………………………………………..………30 min
Kitchen and partial supper prep………………………….25 min
Supper prep……………………………………………………..30 min
Kitchen work……………………………………………….…..15 min

Yahoo.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.