Eddie Clowney used to say I was frugal. Well, he never said it that nicely, but for the purpose of this column, we will just say frugal. But what Eddie did not understand is that I studied resource management at Winthrop under Mrs. Louise Hassenplug who not only taught the subject but lived it with all her heart. Mrs. Hassenplug was good to me because in one of my first papers I explained that since we were getting married soon, Bunny and I chose to buy a refrigerator instead of a diamond. She thought it was a great idea and it showed in my grade. By the way, I have no regrets about the refrigerator decision. Another time our class had to keep a record of exactly how much money we spent during the month. Since I only spent $22 for the entire month she was impressed. Perhaps Eddie was right about me being thrifty.
Recently while going through some old files, I found a document written in 1972 by Mrs. Hassenplug on home management and using work simplification methods for working women. The paper explained guidelines for management in the home since regardless of the size of the household, someone must make sure the home is functional. As I read the paper it was clear that the material was still relevant for today’s working woman and it sparked my interest in the modern family and who was getting the housework done. One article noted that women spend twice as much time preparing food, more than three times cleaning house, and more than four times doing laundry than men. However, in their defense, men spend more time mowing the lawn and fixing things. Another article noted that even though women are more educated and gainfully employed today, females continue to take on most of the household duties. In addition, women are eight times more likely to care for sick children and elderly parents. Another interesting article wrote that working women spent a minimum of 21 hours a week on household chores whereas at least 20% of men did no household chores at all. The article went on to say that in 1900 working women put in about 27 hours a week in household chores, in 2005 it was around the same, and remained the same in 2018. In addition, women have more of the mental load for families as they worry about doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and what to cook for dinner as the responsibility for these tasks usually fall on them. In defense of men, I will note that one article explained that men’s work time in the home had doubled from 4 hours in 1965 to 9 hours in 2011.
But overall, it seems that women continue to take the lead when it comes to running the house and caring for the family in addition to being employed outside the home. And as I consider how young working mothers handle chores in the home today, the following from Mrs. Hassenplug’s paper was worth noting. “So, what is your philosophy towards work and the time involved? Can you find a way to look on the work of the home as important work that makes for a happy family? Learn to do nothing better than it needs to be done. The word efficient is much nicer than lazy, as you begin to find ways to cut down on or eliminate work.” In other words, do the best you can. Work smarter not harder. Encourage your family to help with chores, and don’t worry about everything being perfect. Life is short, children grow up way too fast. A happy family is the important goal. Oh, and being frugal doesn’t hurt either.
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