Servants & Housework

When we first moved here we noticed these two weird little round brass plaques in the floors. One was in the dining room, and one was in a room by the kitchen (we didn’t know the room’s purpose at first, but then found out it had been a breakfast room). We Googled and looked down in the basement and finally figured out that they were inlaid switches for servant’s bells/buzzers. The buttons were missing so it was hard to know what they had been. They were set so perfectly- in the dining room one was right where the head of the table would have been. No matter how many times I tried to press them, no maids every came!

Anyway, running our big house like ours is easy if you have help, but we don’t so everyone has to pitch in. Also we don’t live in all the rooms and keep those closed off to cut down on cleaning. This house does keep us young! Lots of stairs keep you active and maintenance on a place like this gives you a purpose.

My husband and I both work outside the home so my cleaning routine has to be quick, easy and involve family help. My kids have “family chores” to help and they have to keep their rooms tidy, make their beds, do their laundry, etc. My husband usually cooks dinner as I clean the kitchen and prep lunches. He also takes care of most things outside the house. I do a weekly home blessing that takes about 1 1/2 hours (I clean the bathrooms and do the floors) and some detailed cleaning during the week. I also am blessed to have a large capacity washer and dryer so laundry is typically done in 3 loads or less. A lot of good habits I got from Fly Lady, but I also adapted it to fit our family.

Since I’m very introverted I find that I need to be home after work most weeknights, otherwise I get overwhelmed with housework and stress. My weekly goal is to either get all appointments errands into one day, or have no days with extra things to do.

Another thing that really helps me is to eat dinner early, do my exercise, and my nightly routine and be in my pjs and relaxing by 7:30. This really helps me re-fill my well.

But how did servant’s work in old times? Well I don’t know a whole lot, just that the line of demarcation was very obvious and upheld. Servants were to use the back stairs, stay in the back of the house and in the very top, and not be seen that much. They cleaned everything, washed everything, cooked everything, and washed up everything. People with servants did no do any work in the home. People today do the work of probably 3-4 servants did just to run a regular middle-class house. They say that it’s easier with machines and of course, it is, but someone still has to run the machines and do other parts of the labor machines can’t do. I wish help was easier to hire and less expensive in our country and times, but I also know that wages paid to servants in other parts of the world are typically very low. I don’t want to create a permanent underclass again just because I don’t want to do laundry.

How you feel about housework can be changed. It takes adjusting your attitude. I’ll leave you with some Flylady quotes that have become mantras for me on bad days:

Housework done wrong still blesses my family.

Housework is love made visible.

Perfection is a monster that sets out to steal your joy.


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