I read an article today about why the 1950's housewife had it right. It was meant to show how the modern woman would be a total alien to the women from the 50's, and how we maybe need to get back to some of that old-fashioned mentality the women back then had.
I compared myself to the writer's idea of who the 50's housewife was, and was surprised (or maybe not so much) at the lack of differences between myself and the 50's housewife. Does that mean I'm old fashioned? Well, I don't make sure my hair is perfectly done every day, and I don't wear a dress to do housework, and I don't hurry and put on my red lipstick before my husband gets home from work so he'll have a beautifully done-up wife to come home to, but I do have some similarities. Here are just a few of the points I gathered from what I read, and my own take on them:
#1- Nutrition: Women in the 1950's cooked every meal at home, and didn't worry about fat content or how many carbs or how much gluten was in each ingredient. If the meal was hot and homemade it was healthy.
Now, while I do believe we have gained more knowledge since the 50's regarding health and nutrition, and I try to make healthier-by-today's-standards meals, I think they had something there. On average, a hot homemade meal is going to have less fat, more vegetables, and fewer processed ingredients than you will find in any happymeal. And you can't tell me that a piping hot pan of bubbling homemade macaroni and cheese isn't better than a box of yellow death (AKA- Kraft Mac n' cheese) no matter it's fat content! (We just don't make it every other night!)
#2- Discipline: Women in the 1950's didn't "cater" to their children's every whim. If the kid didn't eat what was served at dinner, they went to bed hungry. If they wanted the latest toy, they did chores and mowed lawns to earn the money.
I believe 1000% in this concept. I have done this in my own home. I'm no short-order cook. I make dinner and everyone eats it, or they don't eat. Period. It's worked for this long, and it works whenever I tend my nieces and nephews, even the pickiest ones. It makes life easier! Don't worry, your kid is NOT going to starve to death. They will eventually learn to eat what they like from what is served.
As for toys, I try to get my son what he wants at Christmas and Birthdays, but not every single little thing he wants. Leave your kids knowing they don't get everything they want when they want it. Don't rush out and buy the latest funny movie on DVD. Don't rush out and get the very latest video game, the coolest electronic gadget. Let them wait, and work for it. My son did yard work for people all last summer to earn $200 to buy himself an ipod touch. I didn't think he'd do it in one summer, but he did! You will be amazed at what your kids can accomplish if you give them the oportunity to do it. Give them chores- without pay. Give them responsibilities- hard ones, like weeding all the gardens in one afternoon. Like mowing the way overgrown spring lawn- in one day. It builds character, and teaches them hard work makes you feel good about yourself, and that's enough reward!
#3- Body image: The 1950's woman had a very different idea of how a women's body should look than we do today. They still valued being "fit" and "trim", but those words took on very different meanings.
The 1950's woman didn't spend hours at the gym. She didn't worship Jillian Michaels and make herself cry doing hundreds of butt-lifting lunges and ab-killing planks. Women's bodies were softer, curvier. The average pin-up girl would be a plus-size model by today's standards.
Now, this goes back to the nutrition idea, and how we have evolved and learned more about the body's needs nutritionally and physically, but I believe we have also become way too distorted about what "beautiful" means for today's woman. I, personally, do not think women with ripped abs and chizzled arms; a butt you could hurt yourself on- I do not find that beautiful. Or attractive. Or desirable. What are these women doing with their children to get a body like that? They must not be doing much with them!
I think physical exercise is important. You Zumba-moving women, you go with your rockin' self! An hour out of your day to take care of yourself physically is absolutely necessary, I think. (Do I work out for an hour? Uh..... not up to this point in my life. I'll let you know when I do. Don't hold your breath, though!) But I believe in moderation in all things. Women's bodies should be softer then men's. They are the cuddlers, the nurturers, the holders of children with scraped knees and broken hearts. We are the "soft" places to land on a rough day. If we are so consumed with how our own bodies look, what are we telling our little girls, and boys for that matter? What message are we giving out to the world? If you don't spend 2+ hours a day on your body, if you have more than 1% body fat, you are not worth anything? I'm sorry to say there are many, many people who really do feel that way. It's a very sad thing.
While I could go into many more comparisons about neighborliness, religiousness, etc, these were just a few of the more important things I noticed. I think there is a lot we could learn from the 1950's housewife. Just ask your grandmothers! Well, mine are no longer living, but I did learn a lot from them when I was young. Things such as, don't waste your time blogging when you could be doing something productive. (Ok, they didn't say "blogging", but something to that effect.) So I am going to log off and go bake some cookies. Really! I really am! Tomorrow is Valentine's day, and I'm going to do the old fashioned thing and take my neighbors some cookies. And wear red lipstick.