1930s Housewife Challenge: The Big Day

In case you missed my last post, I was challenged to live like a 1930s housewife for a day. It was all Procter & Gamble’s idea. They decided I didn’t appreciate their household products enough and wanted to punish me. Hence the “Life Before P&G Challenge.”

10:00am on the day of the challenge and I was slightly hungover, still in my pyjamas – without the sleep in.  It doesn’t scream 1930s housewife does it?

We had a great night out the evening before, and came crashing back to earth on Sunday. Anyway. Let me tell you all about the challenge.

Is that legal?

I used a washing board with a “lemon household bar” which looked like soap and had nil to do with lemon. As I washed, the water fizzed like Rotorua – what on earth was in this stuff? It turns out I have a talent for the washboard, I was on fire actually. Remember Tom Cruise in Far and Away? I’m sorry to remind you. Anyway… “You ploonge and scroob.” Well that was me. This isn’t to say I enjoyed it, in fact my back is still not talking to me. And for clothes that have been washed with a lemon household bar, they do not smell citrus fresh.

On the bright side, the vibrations from the washboard gave my hands a little massage. Shame they still feel like sandpaper.

Another thing, I didn’t take my jewellery off beforehand. My rings ended up looking really dull and without sparkle. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone, ever.

“Oh tra la la! I’m your household slave!  Fa la la…”

I’ve spent years without a dishwasher, but that was BC. Once you have a dishwasher, it is nearly impossible to go back. So I will say that this aspect of the challenge was rather unpleasant.

I grated the stinky pink carbolic soap into a sink of hot water, and that grater is never touching parmesan again. Little pink flecks were floating around reminiscent of a skin disease. It soon dissolved, turning the water milky and, well, dirty looking. I washed the dishes and they looked pretty clean.

My husband didn’t realise they were clean and put them in the dishwasher. I wasn’t going to argue.

I brushed my teeth using a bright pink paste that tasted of Deep Heat / Dencorub. My lips stung and didn’t even get that sultry, bee-stung look. Ripped off.

The cold cream went on OK, actually it smelt lovely. But instead of just rinsing off it clung to my face like a slurry of squished limpets, leaving a greasy film on my face. Isn’t that what every girl wants?

I then applied “liberal dustings” of very fragrenced compressed powder and rouge. It then dawned on me: I smell old.  I really love makeup, but today I’m not allowed to wear any of mine.  So of course I now love it more.

“Only thirty more years til George Clooney is born!”

I asked my husband how I look. He panicked and I knew he was thinking, “Oh God, did she get a haircut?”

Now to my hair which I washed in the bath with a plain cake of soap.  When I first got out of the bath I actually thought I’d got away with it.  Sadly as my hair dried I could tell The Situation Was Bad.  While my hair wasn’t as dry, stringy or smelly as I’d expected, it didn’t feel clean and it didn’t look good.  That horrid little soap took away my swish.  I’ll be wearing a hat tomorrow and this hair experience has left me deeply scarred.

I washed the floor with a mixture of lemon juice, baking soda and water. It felt less like cleaning, more like anointing. This is a toilet-training household at the moment, and I wasn’t convinced it was doing the job.

Yes, “job” is an unfortunate choice of word so soon after “toilet training.” Sorry about that.

I cleaned the stove and sinks with baking soda, and it actually worked a treat. Although despite me rinsing it over and over,  it left white residue once completely dry.  Has anyone told you they enjoy white residue on their sink?  No.  Because it’s ever so slightly annoying.  Also my husband is unconvinced about the smell – but that could be something else, as this is odourless.

The instructions for cleaning windows and mirrors go like this: combine water and vinegar, spray onto surface, stab self in heart, wipe off with newspaper, now spray with pure vinegar, clean with dry cloth, use newspaper again, die of boredom. After one mirror I assure you it works but the world is an amazing place so you should be out doing something more fun.

Early wax on, wax off.

We started off well. I was cleaning the kitchen while the kids played with blocks. They normally love blocks, but today they just threw them at each other. So out came the play-doh… again, they will normally play with this for ages but not today. Which is just as well because it was invented in the 1950s. So I decided it was time for lego and fuzzy-felt.

Oh crap.

They weren’t around in the 1930s.

It turned out my little girl was ill, so I relaxed the rules as far as the kids were concerned.

Quick poll: I’ve always believed that parents used to smack their children because they had no TV. Agree?

I have to say the food side of things was not an issue. I just made sure our meals didn’t require blenders / microwaves / rice cookers etc. Tea-bags were out, which is fine as I love loose-leaf tea anyway. Although there was obviously a lot less time to cook or bake.

“Oopsy – that was arsenic I just put in his supper.  Oh well…”

I only experienced a small taste of what life was like for a 1930s housewife, and it was only for one day. We think stacking the dishwasher or sorting the laundry for the machine is a chore, when really, it’s not.

I have time to play with my children every day. Some days are better than others, but still, I’m so grateful for that.

A life without washing machines, dishwashers, cleaning products, modern skincare, kitchen appliances etc is not easy.

But a life without deep conditioning hair treatment is unthinkable.

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