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A Chore for Every Day

A Chore for Every Day
The "dishtowel" schedule


Market Day

Today's Featured Section: Managing Money

And a Random Article from It:
Living Below Your Means, Part One



The average American family walks around lugging $7,000 in annual consumer debt, according to CardTrak. That's a little more than $583 per month in extra money spent, if you want to see it in stark terms. Clearly, most people are living beyond their means.

As a solution, pundits and the popular media suggest living within your means. Heck, it's even suggested that our government adopt this money style. Seems simple enough: you don't spend more money than your household takes in. That's it. It ought to be doable, and it is. But it doesn't go far enough.




Long ago (like 1960), the rhythm of the average American housewife's life was fairly standard no matter where you went. Each day had its own task, and so the work got done in a logical, orderly fashion as the week progressed. It went like this:

Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

With a few variations (some folks had a gardening day instead of a separate ironing day, or the days were not quite in this order), this is the way everyone kept house for more than a hundred years. It was such a common scheme that day-of-the-week dishtowels emblazoned with that day's chore were everywhere. (You can still get Aunt Martha iron-on embroidery or paint transfers with this scheme--I collect them, in fact.)

There was logic behind this. Laundry was far and away the heaviest task a housewife faced, requiring a great deal of strength and fortitude to hand-wring clothes and carry big baskets of wet laundry to the clothesline from the basement washtubs. Monday was the day to do it, when you were still fresh and rested from Sunday. Tuesday's ironing followed Monday's wash. Mending and sewing on Wednesday made sense when you'd just been through the clothes and noticed what needed a button or a patch. And so on.

TNH features the day-of-the-week scheme for historical interest, not because you should do your chores this way (though some women still do and swear by it). I just like the orderliness of it as an idea, and I love those old dish towels. A note from reader Bill Larson: The children's song Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush outlines the chore system too, though there's no market day and two cleaning days in this scheme.

Oh--and we know that the "featured section" doesn't really line up with the chores on Monday--traditionally wash day and Family day at TNH--and Tuesday--traditionally ironing day and Healthy Living day at TNH--because we roll laundry and ironing articles into Clean and Organized, and we needed homes for Family and Healthy Living. ;)