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Do you struggle with a morning routine? Especially with kids? The struggle is real! I used to despair that I would ever be able to get my home and my life running smoothly. It wasn’t until I started reading vintage books, trying to figure out how the 1950s housewife did it, that I realized she really did have it all together. And she had lists that told her how to get there! I was able to use those lists to put together my own morning routine with kids, and now my house runs smoothly.
The 1950s Housewife Morning Routine
Essentially, the 1950s housewife had a routine that looked like this:
- Wake up, get dressed and do hair and makeup.
- Nurse baby.
- Throw back the covers to air out the bed and open the blinds and curtains.
- Fix breakfast for herself and her husband.
- Spend time with her husband.
- Prepare breakfast for the family.
- Get little children up, check on older children.
- Serve breakfast.
- Wash and dress little children.
- Say goodbye to the husband and older children.
- Clean up the kitchen, clean downstairs and call the grocers.
- Bathe the baby, make the beds, and clean upstairs.
Now I apply all of these to my mornings, and I end up with a very successful, focused and productive morning. Here’s how that looks:
Get up Earlier than Everyone Else
This is the foundation of all morning routines. My husband has REALLY odd hours, and I don’t always get up earlier than he does, but usually, I am the first one up.
My day starts with stretching, mouthwash, and cold water on my wrists and eyes. Then, if my husband isn’t already up, I warm up the house, start the coffee, and drink a cup of hot water with lemon.
Take Time to Be Pretty
Preserve your bridal freshness to keep your husband’s affection! My beauty routine is straight out of one of my favorite vintage beauty books, The Handbook of Beauty by Constance Hart (affiliate link).
Skincare and Exercise
I start by creaming my face. I have dry, sensitive skin, so I put on face cream (affiliate link) at every opportunity.
I like to exercise now, or I have no time for it. I exercise for 10 minutes, usually dance (affiliate link), or vintage calisthenics.
After I exercise, I take a quick sponge bath. I push back my cuticles, remove the cream from my face and put on deodorant, body powder, and scent (affiliate links). Body powder is the best trick for shapewear!
After I apply body powder, I get dressed.
I wear house dresses every day. I also wear shapewear every day. After body powder, I put on 1940s-style underthings, including a corset for waist training and a garter belt for my stockings. Over those things goes a sleek slip, to hide any bulges. Then, dress and heels.
I wear aprons for laundry, cleaning, and kitchen work, but I don’t wear dresses that would upset me if they were ruined by work. I either wear a made-by-me (using a vintage pattern) or a modern rockabilly shirtdress. For shoes, I either wear simple pumps or vintage-style Oxfords (affiliate link).
Hair and Face
After I dress, I brush out my hair. I set my hair overnight, so I brush it out (at least 50 strokes), then style it.
The housewife beauty routine is all about skincare and doesn’t include applying makeup unless you are going out. (The career girl routine includes applying your makeup after breakfast and before you dress.) I do wear a little bit of makeup, though, because I like red lipstick and long, dark lashes (affiliate links).
Finally, I wash my hands and put on hand cream (affiliate link). Professional 1950s housewife, at your service!
Spend Time with Your Husband
By now, my husband is almost always out of bed, so I throw back the covers, open the windows, and air the bedroom. I also have to take about 45 minutes to nurse the baby, change him, and put him back to bed. I do this at 6:00 am. The baby’s feeding times are one of the non-negotiables in my schedule. He NEEDS to be on schedule.
After Baby is back in bed, I fix breakfast (using one of my vintage breakfast menus — squee!) and my husband and I eat and chat together before all the children get up. I eat a “vintage diet” breakfast, so I try to eat before the kids are up, otherwise they steal all my cream cheese!
Take Care of Your Children
The children eat breakfast at about 7:45. Then, I get the little ones dressed and washed. Their routines are pretty standard: brush teeth, wash hands and face, get dressed, brush hair. I just have to maintain consistency so they learn to do it right and make it a habit.
I don’t get them dressed before they eat, either. One of my best vintage tips was to just put them in a bathrobe to eat. It keeps their clothes clean.
The older children have their own routine to follow. They have to wash up and dress, then tidy their bedroom before breakfast. After breakfast, at 8, they have chores to do outside, working with Dad, and then after that, they do their schoolwork.
Begin Your Daily Work
This is the part where all those 1950s housecleaning schedules kick in! All of my cleaning routines come from the 1953 America’s Housekeeping Book (affiliate link). It’s truly my favorite housekeeping book.
After Breakfast Chores
After breakfast, I clear the table before I dress the little ones, and then I wash the dishes after they are ready for the day and playing where I can watch them. I wash dishes by hand, and yes, I use a vintage routine for washing dishes!
Then I tidy the living room and dining room. I use a big basket (affiliate link) and go around sweeping everything that doesn’t belong off the surfaces and tossing in anything on the floor. Then I put everything away that is in the basket. That is tidying, and it takes me about 30 minutes to do. (If it starts taking more than 30 minutes, I do some decluttering.)
Daily Cleaning Routine
After I tidy the “downstairs,” it is 9. At this point, I make sure the little ones get their vitamins and play independently, and the older ones are all doing schoolwork. Then, I start the laundry if it’s Monday and clean (dusting and vacuuming) the “downstairs.” (We have no stairs, but I call the living areas the “downstairs” and the bedrooms and bathrooms the “upstairs” for housekeeping.)
When I am done with the dusting and the vacuuming, I “call the grocer” (I wish!). Actually, I just make sure that I know what we are having for dinner, and that everything is ready to prepare later on.
By this time, it is around 9:30, so I bathe the baby, then nurse him. After he nurses, he gets another nap, and I clean my bedroom, the little ones’ rooms, and the bathrooms. I don’t clean the baby’s room until later when he is having an airing, though.
By this time, it is 11. I go back to the kitchen, where I am joined by any of the school-aged children who are learning to read and write. They do their schoolwork at the kitchen table while I make lunch and prepare things for dinner. Usually, I try to prep lunch while I make breakfast, but it doesn’t always work out that way!
Productivity with Vintage Routines
That’s how I get everything done in the morning! All of my routines came from vintage books, as well. My homeschool routines all use vintage lessons and books, too. I use my 1950s cleaning routines, beauty routines, and children’s schedules to make sure that I cover all the things that need doing. I actually make an hour-by-hour schedule, to make sure that the littles and I stay on track through the day!