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I LOVE the month of May! I always have. And as you may remember, I also love challenges. So it’s time for the Mid-Century May Challenge!
For the whole month of May, I will be attempting to live like a Mid-Century Mom and 50s housewife. (Actually also a 40s housewife. Because mid-century.) I don’t pretend that I will be doing more than a superficial job of living out this time period. But I think that there is a lot of value that comes out of this period, and I hope that I can help others find it.
I’m basing this challenge on my collections of vintage books and magazines and digital collections of period references, such as Prelinger Archive videos and back-issues of the Saturday Evening Post and Life Magazine.
From all of my research, I conclude that a mid-century mom would have 5 primary goals:
- Show pride in being a Mrs. by cultivating a feminine appearance, good health, radiant happiness, winsome charm and poise, and high moral character, by developing my talents, and by improving myself in social and domestic arts, culture, and current events.
- Make and keep a clean, orderly, pleasant, hospitable, tasteful home by handling the housekeeping management and budget cleverly and economically, and applying study and skill to solving the problems of homemaking.
- Cook and serve nutritious, well-planned meals that taste delicious and are beautifully presented on a well-set table, reinforcing the family bonds and family culture three times a day.
- Show pride in being a mother by applying a concerted, sustained effort to developing cleanliness, robust health, attractive appearance, good character, good taste, and good manners, raising the children to be orderly, well-mannered, well-educated, patriotic, hard-working, responsible citizens with good taste, good habits, and an independent mind.
- Make home life as supportive, comfortable, and enjoyable as possible for the husband, respecting his role as the head of the family and the head of the household, and helping him to succeed in his role as the breadwinner and provider.
My Mid-Century May Challenge
This is what these goals are going to look like in practice:
- Make breakfast, lunch, and dinner using actual seasonal menus and recipes of the time, and to the best of my ability using serving sizes and ingredients that were common. I will have to substitute sometimes, but for the most part, those substitutions will be because something wasn’t available, rather than because it isn’t to modern tastes.
- Use the appliances commonly available to housewives of the time, and care for them the same way. I will use my vacuum cleaner, washer, electric iron, stand mixer, coffee maker, toaster, waffle iron, and sewing machine. If I’m making an early 60s recipe, I will haul out my blender.
- Clean the house and do the laundry based on the ideals of the time, using the cleaning products and methods that were recommended whenever I can.
- Dress as a mid-century housewife would have dressed and follow the same exercise and beauty routines she would have. Clothes will be more retro than vintage, but I will be wearing house dresses and aprons to do my work!
- Treat my husband like a king, based on my marriage books of the time. Seriously.
- Take care of my children by the book. Schedules, nursery meals, and good, old-fashioned discipline. Yep.
- Make some things. Specifically, a mid-century housewife would have focused on gardening and summer sewing in May. I have plans to do some of both.
- Working from home. I have at least 5 books that talk about either working out of the home or from home from the 1940s and 1950s. In particular, I have a book about being a freelance writer from home. So I still get to blog; the only thing is that I have to pretend that my laptop is a typewriter. And a radio. And a mail-order catalog (hello, Amazon!) because Sears for farmwives. I am going to try to limit my time on social media, though.
And that’s my Mid-Century May Challenge! So much fun! I am so ready to do this! And my husband just grins indulgently at me, so I don’t think he’ll mind.
Mid-Century May Challenges
- Mid-Century Mom Baby Step 1: Get Up and Get Dressed
- Mid-Century May Baby Step 2: Daily Cleaning Routine
- Mid-Century May Baby Step 3: Meal Planning, ’50s Style
- Mid-Century May Baby Step 4: Plan Your Housework
- Mid-Century May Baby Step 5: Vintage Capsule Wardrobe
- Mid-Century May Baby Step 6: Vintage Baby Layette
- Mid-Century May Baby Step 7: How to Wash Dishes by Hand
- Mid-Century May Baby Step 8: The Cleaning Basket
Mid-Century May Updates
If you want to play along, drop me a comment, or tag your social media with #midcenturymay and I will find and like it! And if you sign up for my email list, you’ll get my daily Challenge emails too!