WANTED, A YOUNG WOMAN TO DO HOUSEWORK
Business Principles Applied to Housework
C. HELENE BARKER
Author of Automobile French
New York Moffat, Yard & Company
This little book is not a treatise on Domestic Science. The vacuum cleaner and the fireless cooker are not even mentioned. The efficient kitchen devised in such an interesting and clever way has no place in it. Its exclusive object is to suggest a satisfactory and workable solution along modern lines of how to get one's housework efficiently performed without doing it one's self.
If the propositions that she advances seem at first startling, the writer begs only for a patient hearing, for she is convinced by strong reasons and abundant experience, that liberty in the household, like social and political liberty, can never come except from obedience to just law.
CAUSES OF THE PRESENT UNSATISFACTORY CONDITION OF DOMESTIC LABOR
Ignorance and Inefficiency in the Home 1 Difficulty of Obtaining Women to Do Housework 11 The Disadvantages of Housework Compared with Work in Factories, Stores, and Offices 19
BUSINESS PRINCIPLES APPLIED TO HOUSEWORK
Living Outside Place of Employment 31 Housework Limited to 8 Hours a Day 47 Housework Limited to 6 Days a Week 61 The Observance of Legal Holidays 75 Extra Pay for Overtime 81
EIGHT HOUR SCHEDULES IN THE HOME
Eight Hour Schedules for One Employee 93 Eight Hour Schedules for Two Employees 109 Eight Hour Schedules for Three Employees 121
CAUSES OF THE PRESENT UNSATISFACTORY CONDITION OF DOMESTIC LABOR
Ignorance and inefficiency in the home. Difficulty of obtaining women to do housework. The disadvantages connected with housework compared with work in factories, stores, and offices.
IGNORANCE AND INEFFICIENCY IN THE HOME
The twentieth-century woman, in spite of her progressive and ambitious theories about woman's sphere of activity, has allowed her housekeeping methods to remain almost stationary, while other professions and industries have moved forward with gigantic strides.
She does not hesitate to blazon abroad with banners and pennants her desire to share with man the responsibility for the administration of the State, but she overlooks the disquieting fact that in the management of her own household, where her authority is absolute, she has failed to convince the world of her power to govern. When confronted with this accusation, she asserts that the maintenance of a home is neither a business nor a profession, and that in consequence it ought not to be compared with them nor be judged by the same standards.
Is it not due perhaps to this erroneous idea that housekeeping is a failure to-day? For the fact that it is a failure cannot be hidden, and that it has been a failure for many years past is equally true. Recent inventions, and labor saving utensils, have greatly facilitated housework, yet housekeeping is still accompanied with much dissatisfaction on the part of the employer and the employee.
There are only a few women to-day who regard domestic science in the light of a profession, or a business, although in reality it is both. For what is a profession if it be not the application of science to life? And does not work which one follows regularly constitute a business?
Many women, however, do not regard housekeeping even as a serious occupation, and few have devoted as much time, thought, and energy to mastering the principles of domestic economy as of late years women of all classes of society have willingly given to the study of the rules and ever changing intricacies of auction bridge. Some consider their time too valuable to devote to domestic and culinary matters, and openly boast of their ignorance. Outside engagements, pleasures, philanthropic schemes, or work, monopolize their days, and the conduct of the house devolves upon their employees. The result is rarely satisfactory. It is essential that the woman who is at the head of any concern, be it a business, a profession, or a home, should not only thoroughly understand its every detail, but in order to make it a success she must give it her personal attention each day for at least a portion of her time.
It is a popular impression that the knowledge of good housekeeping, and of the proper care of children, comes naturally to a woman, who, though she had no previous training or preparation for these duties, suddenly finds them thrust upon her. But how many women can really look back with joy to the first years of their housekeeping? Do they not remember them more with a feeling of dismay than pleasure? How many foolish mistakes occurred entailing repentance and discomfort! And how many heart-burnings were caused, and even tears shed, because in spite of the best intentions, everything seemed to go wrong? And why? Simply because of ignorance and inefficiency in the home, not only of the employee, but of the employer also.
That an employee is ignorant and unskilled in her work is often excusable, but there is absolutely no excuse for a woman who has time and money at her command, to be ignorant of domestic science, when of her own free will she undertakes the responsibilities of housekeeping.
Nearly all women take interest in the furnishing of their homes, and give their personal attention to it with the result that as a rule they excel in household decoration, and often produce marvels of beauty and taste with the expenditure of relatively small amounts of money.
Marketing is also very generally attended to in person by the housewife, but she is using the telephone more and more frequently as a substitute for a personal visit to butcher and grocer, and this is greatly to her disadvantage. The telephone is a very convenient instrument, especially in emergency, or for ordering things that do not vary in price. But when prices depend upon the fluctuations of the market, or when the articles to be purchased are of a perishable nature, it must be remembered that the telephone is also a very convenient instrument for the merchant who is anxious to get rid of his bad stock.
The remaining branches of housekeeping apparently do not interest the modern housewife. She entrusts them very generally to her employees, upon whose skill and knowledge she blindly relies. Unfortunately skill and knowledge are very rare qualities, and if the housewife herself be ignorant of the proper way of doing the work in her own home, how can she be fitted to direct those she places in charge of it, or to make a wise choice when she has to select a new employee? Too often she engages women and young girls without investigating their references of character or capability, and when time proves what an imprudent proceeding she has been party to, she simply attributes the consequent troubles to causes beyond her control. If the housewife were really worthy of her name she would be able not only to pick out better employees, but to insist upon their work being properly done. To-day she is almost afraid to ask her cook to prepare all the dishes for the family meals, nor does she always find some one willing to do the family washing. She is obliged to buy food already cooked from the caterer or baker, because her so-called "cook" was not accustomed to bake bread and rolls, or to make pies and cakes, or ice cream, for previous employers, from whom nevertheless she received an excellent reference as cook. Of course in cities it is easy to buy food already cooked or canned and to send all the washing to the laundry, but it helps to raise the "high cost of living" to alarming proportions, and it also encourages ignorance in the most important branches of domestic economy.
In spite of the "rush of modern life," a woman who has a home ought to be willing to give some part of her time to its daily supervision. Eternal vigilance is the price of everything worth having. If she gave this she would not have so many tales of woe to relate about the laziness, neglectfulness, and stupidity of her cook and housemaids. There is not a single housewife to-day who has not had many bitter experiences. One who desires information upon this subject has only to call on the nearest friend.
To the uninterested person, to the onlooker, the helplessness of the woman who is at the head of the home, her inability to cope with her domestic difficulties, is often comic, sometimes pathetic, sometimes almost tragic. The publications of the day have caricatured the situation until it has become an outworn jest. The present system of housekeeping can no longer stand. One of two things must occur. Either the housewife must adopt business principles in ruling her household, or she will find before many more years elapse there will be no longer any woman willing to place her neck under the domestic yoke.
If the principles set forth in the following pages can be popularized in a comprehensive plan of which all the parts can be thoroughly understood both by the housewife and her employee, ignorance and inefficiency in the home will be presently abolished.
DIFFICULTY OF OBTAINING WOMEN TO DO HOUSEWORK
The present unsatisfactory condition of domestic labor in private houses is not confined to any special city or country; it is universal. Each year the difficulty of obtaining women to do housework seems to increase and the demand is so much greater than the supply, that ignorant and inefficient employees are retained simply because it is impossible to find others more competent to replace them.
There is hardly a home to-day where, at one time or another, the housewife has not gone through the unenviable experience of being financially able and perfectly willing to pay for the services of some one to help her in her housekeeping duties, and yet found it almost impossible to get a really competent and intelligent employee. As a rule, those who apply for positions in housework are grossly ignorant of the duties they profess to perform, and the well trained, clever, and experienced workers are sadly in the minority.
Women and young girls who face the necessity of self support, or who wish to lead a life of independence, no longer choose housework as a means of earning a livelihood. It is evident that there is a reason, and a very potent one, that decides them to accept any kind of employment in preference to the work offered them in a private home. Wages, apparently, have little to do with their decision, nor other considerations which must add very much to their material welfare, such as good food in abundance, and clean, well ventilated sleeping accommodations, for these two important items are generally included at present in the salaries of household employees. Concessions, too, are frequently made, and favors bestowed upon them by many of their employers, yet few young girls, and still fewer women are content to work in private families.
It is a deplorable state of affairs, and women seem to be gradually losing their courage to battle with this increasingly difficult question: How to obtain and retain one's domestic employees?
The peace of the family and the joy and comfort of one's home should be a great enough incentive to awaken the housewife to the realization that something must be wrong in her present methods. It is in vain that she complains bitterly, on all occasions, of the scarcity of good servants, asserting that it is beyond her comprehension why work in factories, stores, and offices, should be preferred to the work she offers.
Is it beyond her comprehension? Or has she never considered in what way the work she offers differs from the work so eagerly accepted? Does she not realize that the present laws of labor adopted in business are very different from those she still enforces in her own home? Why does she not compare housework with all other work in which women are employed, and find out why housework is disdained by nearly all self supporting women?
Instead of doing this, she sometimes avoids the trouble of trying to keep house with incompetent employees by living in hotels, or non-housekeeping apartments; but for the housewife who does not possess the financial means to indulge herself thus, or who still prefers home life with all its trials to hotel life, the only alternative is to submit to pay high wages for very poor work or to do a great part of the housework herself. In both cases the result is bad, for in neither does the family enjoy the full benefit of home, nor is the vexatious problem, so often designated as the "servant question," brought any nearer to a solution.
The careful study of any form of labor invariably reveals some need of amelioration, but in none is there a more urgent need of reform than in domestic labor in private homes.
It is more for the sake of the housewife than for her employee that a reform is to be desired. The latter is solving her problem by finding work outside the home, while the former is still unduly harassed by household troubles. With a few notable exceptions, only those who are unqualified to compete with the business woman are left to help the householder, and the problem confronting her to-day is not so much how to change inefficient to efficient help, but how to obtain any help at all.
The spirit of independence has so deeply entered into the lives of women of all classes, that until housework be regulated in such a way as to give to those engaged in it the same rights and privileges as are granted to them in other forms of labor, the best workers will naturally seek employment elsewhere.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF HOUSEWORK COMPARED WITH WORK IN FACTORIES, STORES, AND OFFICES
Housework, when carefully compared with work performed by women in factories, stores, and offices, shows to a remarkable degree how many old fashioned ways of conducting her household still cling to the modern housewife. The methods that made housekeeping a success in the time of our ancestors are not adapted to the present needs of a society in which women who earn their own living are occupying so much more important positions than formerly. Large stores and factories, requiring the cooperation of many employees, have done more to open new avenues of work for women than could have been dreamed of in former times, when it was the custom for each family to produce at home as much as possible, if not all, that was necessary for its own consumption.
Women, as a rule, are not taught self reliance, and many who hesitate to leave their homes to earn a livelihood, find that by doing work in stores, factories, or offices, they are not utterly separated from their families. The work may be harder than they anticipated and the pay small, but there is always the hope of promotion and of a corresponding increase of wages. Business hours are frequently long, but they are limited, and after the day's work is over, the remainder of the twenty-four hours is at the disposal of the employees, who can still enjoy the happiness and freedom associated with the life of their own social circle. Besides they have one day out of seven as a day of rest, and many legal holidays come annually to relieve the overstrain.
With housework it is very different. The woman who accepts the position of a household employee in a private home must usually make up her mind to leave her family, to detach herself from all home ties, and to take up her abode in her employer's house. It is only occasionally, about once a week for a few hours at a time, that she is allowed to make her escape. It is a recognized fact that a change of environment has a beneficial effect upon every one, but a domestic employee must forego this daily renewal of thought and atmosphere. Even if she does not know that she needs it in order to keep her mental activities alive, the result is inevitable: to one who does nothing but the same work from early morning until late at night and who never comes in contact with the outside world except four times a month, the work soon sinks to mere drudgery.
As to promotion in housework it seems to be almost unknown. Considering the many responsible positions waiting to be filled in private families, nothing could be more desirable than to instil into one's employees the ambition to rise. An employee who has passed through all the different branches of domestic science, from the lowest to the highest in one family, must be far better fitted to occupy the highest position in that family than one who applies for the position with the training and experience gained only in other families where the mode of living may be very different. Since there is no chance of promotion and in consequence of receiving better pay, the domestic employee is often tempted to seek higher wages elsewhere, and thus the desire "to make a change," so disastrous to the peace of mind of the housewife, is engendered in her employees.
In domestic labor the hours of work are longer than in any other form of employment, for they are unlimited. Moreover, instead of having one day out of seven as a day of rest, only half a day is granted beginning usually about three o'clock in the afternoon, or even later. And legal holidays bring no relief, for they are practically unknown to the household employee. The only way women engaged in housework in private families can obtain a real holiday is by being suddenly called away "to take care of a sick aunt." There is an old saying containing certain words of wisdom about "all work and no play" that perhaps explains the dullness so often met with in domestic help.
The hardest thing to submit to, however, from the point of view of the woman employed in housework, is the lack of freedom outside of working hours. This prevents her from taking part in her former social life. She is not allowed to go out even for an hour or two every day to see her relatives and friends. To ask them to visit her in her employer's kitchen is not a very agreeable alternative either to herself or her employer, and even then she is obliged to be on duty, for she must still wear her uniform and hold herself in readiness to answer the bell until the family for whom she works retires for the night.
With such restrictions it is not surprising that the majority of women feel that they are losing "caste" if they accept positions in private families. There are two more causes to which this feeling of the loss of caste may be attributed. One is the habit of calling household employees by their first name or by their surname without the prefix of "Miss"; the other is the custom of making them eat in their employer's kitchen. These are minor details, perhaps, but nevertheless they count for much in the lives of women who earn their own living, and anything, however small, that tends to raise one's self respect, is worthy of consideration. Perhaps, too, while the word "servant" (a noble word enough in its history and its moral connotation) carries with it a stigma, a sense of degradation, among the working women, it should be avoided.
Briefly summed up, then, the present disadvantages of housework compared with work in factories, stores, and offices, are as follows:
Enforced separation from one's family. Loss of personal freedom. Lack of promotion. Unlimited hours of work. No day of rest each week. Non-observance of legal holidays. Loss of caste.
In the present comparison of housework with work in factories, stores, and offices, a recital of the advantages of domestic service, even under the present method of housekeeping, must not be omitted, for such advantages are important, although unfortunately they do not outweigh the present disadvantages.
To the woman whose home ties have been disrupted by death or discord, and to the newly arrived immigrant especially, housework is a great boon, inasmuch as besides good wages, all meals and a room to sleep in are given her. Moreover housework is the only form of labor where unskilled work can command high wages. This, however, is much more fortunate for the employee than for her employer.
Housework in itself is certainly not worse than any other kind of manual work in which women are engaged; it is often more interesting and less fatiguing. It also helps a woman more than any other occupation to prepare herself for her natural sphere of life:—that of the home maker. A girl who has spent several years in a well ordered family helping to do the housework, is far better fitted to run her own home intelligently and on economic lines than a girl who has spent the same number of years behind a counter, or working in a factory or an office.
Again, work in a private house is infinitely more desirable, from the point of view of the influence of one's surroundings, than daily labor in a factory or store. The variety of domestic duties, the freedom of moving about from one room to another, of sitting or standing to do one's work, are much to be preferred to the work that compels the worker to stand or sit in one place all day long.
If it be admitted, then, that housework is in itself a desirable and suitable occupation for women who must earn their living by manual labor, it can not be the work itself, but the conditions surrounding it that make it so distasteful to the modern working woman.
BUSINESS PRINCIPLES APPLIED TO HOUSEWORK
Living outside place of employment. Housework limited to eight hours a day. Housework limited to six days a week. The observance of legal holidays. Extra pay for overtime.
LIVING OUTSIDE PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT
There are many housewives who are very much opposed to the adoption of a plan enabling household employees to live outside their place of employment. They claim that it is wiser to keep them under constant supervision day and night in order to prevent the introduction of disease or the acquisition of bad habits.
There is more risk of disease being introduced into the home, and of bad habits being contracted by allowing one's children to associate with other children in schools, public or private, and by letting them play in the streets and public parks, where they mingle with more or less undesirable companions, than by having the housework performed by employees who come each day to their work and return to their homes at night when their duties are over. Nevertheless no sensible parents would keep their children shut up in the house, only allowing them to go out of doors for a few hours once a week, for fear of contagion or contamination, and yet this is just what the housewife has been doing for years with her household employees under the firm impression that she was protecting them as well as herself.
Present statistics, however, upon the morality and immorality of women who belong to what is at present termed the "servant class," prove only too clearly that the "protection" provided by the employer's home does not protect. The shelter thus given serves too often to encourage a life of deception, especially as in reality the housewife knows but little of what takes place "below stairs."
The "servants' quarters" are, as a rule, far enough away from the other rooms of the house for much to transpire there without the knowledge of the "mistress of the house," but who has not heard her complain of the misconduct of her employees? Startling discoveries have been made at the most unexpected times and from the most unexpected quarters. One lady found her maid was in the habit of going out at night after the family had retired, and leaving the front door unlocked in order to regain admittance in the early morning without arousing the family. Another housewife discovered one day that her cook's husband, whose existence until then was unknown, had been coming for several months to her house for his dinner. Every householder finds that in the late evening her "servants" entertain their numerous "cousins" and friends at her expense. Moreover, they do not hesitate to use the best china, glass, and silver for special parties and draw upon the household supplies for the choicest meats and wines. And because they cannot go out in the day time, it is not unusual to find some friend or relative comes to spend the entire day with them, and in consequence the housewife not only feeds her "help" but a string of hangers-on as well. Why should she be surprised that she does not get an adequate return for the amount of money she spends? And these things take place, not only during the temporary absence of the employer, but even while she is sitting peacefully in the library and listening to a parlor lecture on the relations of capital and labor.
Women say tearfully or bravely on such occasions: "What can be done to make servants better? They are getting worse every day." And the housewife (one might almost call her by Samuel Pepys's pleasing phrase, "the poor wretch") then pours out to any sympathetic ear endless recitals of aggravating, worrying, nerve-racking experiences. Instead of putting an end to such a regrettable state of affairs that would never be tolerated by any business employer, she seems content to bewail her fate and clings still more steadfastly to obsolete methods.
Why does she not adopt the methods of the business man in dealing with his employees? The advisability of having household employees live outside their place of employment is so apparent that it ought to appeal to every one. There would be no longer the necessity of putting aside and of furnishing certain rooms of the house for their accommodation: a practice which in the majority of families is quite a serious inconvenience and always an expense. In small homes where only one maid is kept, it may not make much difference to give up one room to her, but where several employees are needed, it means very often that many rooms must be used as sleeping apartments for them, frequently too a sitting room or a special dining room is given them. This is not all, for the rooms must be furnished and kept clean and warm, and supplied with an unlimited amount of gas and electricity. In many families the boarding and lodging of household employees cause as much anxiety and expense to the housewife as to provide for her own family.
And why does she do it? Why does she consent to take upon herself so much extra trouble for nothing? For, although she offers good food and a bed besides excellent wages to all who work for her, she is the most poorly served of all employers to-day.
In the great feudal castles of the Middle Ages it was not deemed safe for women to venture forth alone, even in the daytime, and so those engaged in housework were naturally compelled to live under their Master's roof, eating at his table and sitting "below the salt." But the Master and the Serf of feudal times disappeared long ago, only the Mistress and her "servants" remain.
To-day, however, "servants" no longer sit at their employer's table; they remain in the kitchen, where as a rule they are given to eat what is left from the family meals. Some housewives, from motives of kindness and consideration for the welfare of those in their employ, have special meals prepared for them and served in a dining-room of their own at hours which do not conflict with the meals of the family. But this does not always meet with gratitude or even due appreciation; the disdainful way in which Bridget often complains of the food too generously provided for her is well known.
A chambermaid came one day to her employer and said she did not wish to complain but thought it better to say frankly that she was not satisfied with what she was getting to eat in her house: she wanted to have roast beef for dinner more often, at least three or four times a week, for she did not care to eat mutton, nor steak, and never ate pork, nor could she, to quote her own words "fill up on bread and vegetables as the other girls did in the kitchen."
Then, and only then, did her employer wake up with a start to the realization of the true position every housewife occupies in the eyes of her household employees. They evidently regard her in the light of a caterer; she does the marketing not only for her family but for them too. She pays a cook high wages, not only to cook meals for herself and family, but for her employees also.
For the first time in her life, this housewife asked herself the following questions: Why should she allow her household employees to live in her house? Why should she consent to board them at her expense? Why should she continue to place at their disposal a bedroom each, a private bathroom, a sitting room or a dining room? Why should she allow them to make use of her kitchen and laundry to do their own personal washing, even providing them with soap and starch, irons and an ironing board, fuel and gas? Why should she do all this for them when no business employer, man or woman, ever does it? Was it simply because her mother, her grandmother, her great-grandmother had been in the habit of doing it?
This awakening was the beginning of the end of all the trouble and expense which she had endured for so many years in connection with the boarding and lodging of her "servants." To-day she has no "servants"; she has household employees who come to her house each day, just as other employees go each day to their place of employment. They take no meals in her house, and her housekeeping expenses have diminished as much as her own comfort has increased. Her employees are better and more efficient than any she ever had under the old regime, and nothing could persuade her to return to her former methods of housekeeping.
The cost of providing meals for domestic employees varies according to the mode of living of each individual family, and of late it has been the subject of much discussion. Some important details, however, seem to be generally overlooked, for the cost of the food is the only thing usually considered by the average housewife. To this first expense must be added the cost of pots and pans for cooking purposes; even under careful management, kitchen utensils are bound to wear out and must be replaced. Then there is the cost of the extra fuel or gas or electricity required to cook the food, nor must one forget to count the extra work of the cook to prepare the meals, and of the kitchen maid or of some other maid to wash up the dishes after each meal served to employees. There is also the expense of buying kitchen plates and dishes, glasses, cups and saucers, knives and forks, etc. Every housewife is in the habit of providing kitchenware for the use of her employees.
The total sum of all these items would astonish those who think that the actual expense of giving meals to household employees is not a very great one and is limited to the cost of the food they eat; even this last expense is considerably augmented by the careless and wasteful way in which provisions are generally handled by those who do not have to pay for them. When ways and means are discussed among housewives to reduce the present "high cost of living," it would be well to advise all women to try the experiment of having their household employees live outside their place of employment. The result from an economic point of view alone is amazing, and the relief it brings the housewife who is no longer obliged to provide food and sleeping accommodations for her employees is so great that one wonders why she has been willing to burden herself with these responsibilities for so many years.
There was once a time when women did not go out alone to eat in a restaurant, but to-day one sees about as many women as men eating their midday meal in public. If women engaged in general business prove themselves thus capable of self care, there seems to be no reason why household employees, who often receive higher wages than shop girls and stenographers, should not be able to do the same. They would enjoy their meals more outside, albeit the food given them in their employer's house is undoubtedly of a better quality; the change of surroundings and the opportunity of meeting friends, of leaving their work behind them, would compensate them. In any event, it is clearly proved by the scarcity of women applying for positions in private houses that these two advantages only to be obtained in domestic labor—board and lodging—do not attract the working woman of the present day.
The joy of eating the bread of independence is an old and deeply rooted feeling. There is an ancient fable of AEsop about the Dog and the Wolf which portrays this sentiment in a very quaint and delightful manner. (Sir Roger l'Estrange's translation.)
THE DOG AND THE WOLF
There was a Hagged Carrion of a Wolf, and a Jolly Sort of a Gentile Dog, with Good Flesh upon's Back, that fell into Company together upon the King's High-Way. The Wolf was wonderfully pleas'd with his Companion, and as Inquisitive to Learn how be brought himself to That Blessed State of Body. Why, says the Dog, I keep my Master's House from Thieves, and I have very Good Meat, Drink, and Lodging for my pains. Now if you'll go along with Me, and do as I do, you may fare as I fare. The Wolf Struck up the Bargain, and so away they Trotted together: But as they were Jogging on, the Wolf spy'd a Bare Place about the Dog's Neck where the Hair was worn off. Brother (says he) how comes this I prethee? Oh, That's Nothing, says the Dog, but the Fretting of my Collar a little. Nay, says T'other, if there be a Collar in the Case, I know Better Things than to sell my Liberty for a Crust.
...'Tis a Comfort to have Good Meat and Drink at Command, and Warm Lodging: But He that sells his Freedom for the Cramming of his Belly, has but a Hard Bargain of it.
In modern business enterprises, there is hardly a single instance of an employer who is willing to board his employees, nor would he consider for a moment the proposition of allowing them to remain at their place of employment all night and of providing sleeping accommodations for them. Neither in consideration of benefiting them, nor with the view of benefiting himself by thus making sure of having them on hand for work early the next morning, would he ever consent to such an arrangement. When he needs some one to watch over his interests in the night time, he engages a night watchman, a very much more economical plan than to provide lodging for all his employees.
Why should the housewife be the only employer to assume the burden of a double responsibility toward her employees? Perhaps in the country, where it might be impossible for them to live outside her home, such a necessity might arise, but in cities and suburban towns, there is absolutely no valid reason why household employees should sleep, eat, and live under their employer's roof. It is a custom only, and truly a custom that would be "more honored in the breach than in the observance."
HOUSEWORK LIMITED TO EIGHT HOURS A DAY
In the home woman's work is said to be never ended. If this be true, it is the fault of the woman who plans the work, for in all the positions of life, work can be carried on indefinitely if badly planned.
It is the essential thesis of this little volume that the domestic labor of women should be limited to a fixed number of hours per day in private houses.
It is not unusual at the present day for a woman to work twelve, or fourteen hours a day, or even longer, when she earns her living as a household employee. A man's mental and physical forces begin to wane at the end of eight, nine, or ten hours of constant application to the same work, and a woman's strength is not greater than a man's. The truth of the proposition, abstractly considered, has been long acknowledged and nowadays requires no argument.
When a woman accepts a position in business, she is told exactly how many hours a day she must work, but when a woman is engaged to fill a domestic position in a family, the number of hours she is expected to give her employer is never specified. She is simply told that she must be on duty early in the morning before the family arises, and that she may consider herself off duty as soon as the family for whom she is working has withdrawn for the night. Is it surprising that under such conditions working women are not very enthusiastic over the domestic proposition to-day?
A household employee ought to have her hours of work as clearly defined as if she were a business employee, and there is no reason why the eight-hour labor law could not be applied as successfully to housework as to any other enterprise.
Work in business is generally divided into two periods. Yet this division can not always be effected, and in railroad and steamship positions, in post offices, upon trolley lines, in hotels, in hospitals, and in other cases too numerous to mention, where work must follow a continuous round, the working hours are divided into more than two periods, according to the nature of the work and the interests of the employer, not however exceeding a fixed number of hours per day or per week.
It would be far better for the housewife as well as for her employees, if the housework were limited in a similar way. But with the introduction of the eight-hour law in the home, certain new conditions would have to be rigidly enforced in order to ensure success.
Firstly, the employee should be made to understand that during the eight hours of work agreed upon, she must be engaged in actual work for her employer.
Secondly, when an employee is off duty, she should not be allowed to remain with or to talk to the other employee or employees who are still on duty. When her work is finished, she ought to leave her employer's house. The non-observance of either of these two points produces a demoralizing effect.
Thirdly, a general knowledge of cooking, and serving meals, of cleaning and taking proper care of the rooms of a house, of attending correctly to the telephone and the door bell, of sewing, of washing and ironing, and of taking care of children, should be insisted upon from all household employees.
There are many housewives who will state that this last condition is impossible, that it is asking too much from one employee; and since it is hard to-day to find a good cook, it will be still harder to find one who understands other household work as well. But those who jump to these conclusions have never tried the experiment. It is not only possible but practicable.
Judging from the ordinary intelligence displayed by the average cook and housemaid in the majority of private homes to-day, it ought not to seem incredible that the duties of both could be easily mastered by young women of ordinary ability. A woman who knows how to prepare and cook a meal, may easily learn the correct way of serving it, and the possession of this knowledge ought not to prevent her from being capable of sweeping a room, or making a bed, or taking care of children.
It is above all in families where only a few employees are kept, that the housewife will quickly realize how much it is to her immediate advantage to employ women who know how to do all kinds of housework, instead of having those who make a specialty of one particular branch.
The specialization of work in private houses has been carried to such an extreme that it has become one of the greatest drawbacks to successful housekeeping in small families. Under this system of specialization, a household employee is not capable in emergency of taking up satisfactorily the work of another. Even if she be able to do it, she often professes ignorance for fear it may prolong her own hours of labor, or because, as she sometimes frankly admits, she does not consider it "her place." The chambermaid does not know how to cook, the cook does not know how to do the chamberwork, the waitress, in her turn, can do neither cooking nor chamberwork, and the annoyance to the whole family caused by the temporary absence of one of its regular employees is enough to spoil for the time being all the traditional comforts of home.
In hotels and public institutions, and in large private establishments, where the work demands a numerous staff of employees, the specialization of the work is the only means for its successful accomplishment, but in the average home requiring from one to four or five employees no system could be worse from an economic point of view, nor less conducive to the comfort of the family.
Specialization produces another bad effect, for it prevents the existence of the feeling of equality among employees in the same house. Each "specialist" speaks rather disparagingly of the other's work, regardless of the relative position her own special "art" may occupy to the unprejudiced mind.
An amusing instance of this was recently shown at a country place near New York, when "the lady of the manor" asked a friend to send some one down from the city to help with the housework during the temporary absence of her maid. The friend could not find any one at the domestic employment agencies willing to go, but at last through the Charity Organization Society, she heard of a woman temporarily out of employment, who had been frequently employed as scrubwoman on the vacation piers. When the work was offered her, she accepted it immediately. Arriving at her new employer's house, she began at once to scrub the floors, and when the work was completed, she sat on a chair and took no further notice of anything. The next day, having no more floors to scrub, the same general lack of interest was manifested. She was asked to wash the dishes after dinner. She replied that she was not used to "dishwashing," and did not know how to do it. She was persuaded, however, to make the attempt, but performed her new task very reluctantly. The following morning she said she felt "lonely" and would return at once to the city. As the train came in sight to bear her back to her accustomed surroundings, she gave a snort of relief, and exclaimed: "I'm a scrubwoman, I am. I ain't going to do no fancy dishwashing, no, not for no one; I'm a scrubwoman." And she clambered up into the train with the alacrity of a woman whose dignity had received a hard blow.
The above illustration is typical of the spirit subjected to the system of specialization, and shows how unwise it is to encourage it in the home where all branches of housework could be easily made interchangeable.
Under the new system of limiting housework to eight hours a day, the housewife must insist that all applicants be willing and able to perform any part of the housework she may assign, and their duties ought not to be specified otherwise than by the term HOUSEWORK. The employee who refuses to wait on the table during the absence of the waitress, or to cook, or to do the laundry work, or to answer the telephone, or to carry packages from her employer's automobile to the library, because she does not consider it "her place to do these things," should be instantly discharged.
These very important conditions being understood and conceded, the choice and arrangement of the eight hours' work must necessarily lie with each individual housewife. Each family is different and has different claims upon its time. The "rush hours" of social life are sometimes in the evening, and sometimes in the afternoon, and again in some families, especially where there are small children, the breakfast hour seems the most complicated of the day. All these details have to be carefully thought of when making an eight hour schedule. At the end of this book a set of schedules is placed. Any intelligent housewife can understand them, imitate them, and in many instances improve them. They are merely given as elementary examples.
According to the number of employees she engages, the housewife will have eight, sixteen, or twenty-four hours of work to distribute among them, and to meet her peculiar needs she will find it necessary at the outset to devote some hours to a satisfactory scheme. After testing several, she will probably have to begin all over again before she finally succeeds in evolving one that is available. But the problem is interesting in itself, and always admits of a solution.
It may not be amiss to make this final suggestion for the woman who is willing to give the new plan a fair trial: she should follow the example of the business man when he is in need of new employees, and advertise for help, stating hours of work, and requesting that all applications be made by letter. This disposes rapidly of the illiterate, and in the majority of cases, a woman who writes a good, legible, and accurate hand, is more apt to be efficient in her work than one who sends in a dirty, careless, ill-expressed and badly spelled application. Through advertising one comes into touch with many women it would be impossible to reach otherwise. It is also the most advantageous way of bringing the employer and employee together, inasmuch as it dispenses entirely with the services of a third person, who, naturally can not be expected to offer gratuitous service.
The plan of limiting housework to eight hours a day is not an idle theory; it has been in successful operation for several years. Yet it is not easy to change the habit of years. There are many housewives who would loudly declare it impossible to conform to such business rules in the household; and many of the older generation of cooks and housemaids would agree. But when such a plan has been generally adopted, the domestic labor problem will be solved, and it does not appear that in the present state of social organization, it can be solved in any other way.
HOUSEWORK LIMITED TO SIX DAYS A WEEK
Under the present system of housekeeping, there is not one day out of the three hundred and sixty-five that a domestic employee has the right to claim as a day of rest, not even a legal holiday.
It is remarkable that this fact, showing so forcibly one of the greatest disadvantages connected with housework, should attract so little attention. No one seems to care about the fate of the "servant girl," as she is so often disdainfully called. During six days of the week she works on the average fourteen hours a day, but no one stops to notice that she is tired. On the seventh day, instead of resting as every other employee has the right to do, her work is merely reduced to nine, eight, or perhaps seven hours; and yet she needs a day of rest as much as every other woman who earns her bread. The rights of the domestic employee are ignored on all sides apparently. In public demonstrations of dissatisfaction between employers and employees the most oppressed class of the working people—the women who do housework—has never yet been represented.
This is probably due to two causes: the first is because women dissatisfied with housework are rapidly finding positions in business where they enjoy rights and privileges denied them in domestic labor; and the second is because the great majority of women engaged in housework are foreign-born. These women learn quickly to understand and speak English, but they do not often read and write it, and as they are kept in close confinement in their employer's house, they have rarely the opportunity of hearing about the emancipation of the modern working woman. Most of them are of a very humble origin, and being debarred from business positions on account of their ignorance and inexperience, they are thankful to earn money in any kind of employment regardless of the length of working hours.
Their children, however, who are American born and enjoy better educational advantages, do not follow in their footsteps when the time comes for them to earn their living. They become stenographers, typewriters, dressmakers, milliners, shirt waist makers, cash-girls, saleswomen, etc.; in fact any occupation where work is limited to a fixed number of hours a day and confined to six days a week, is considered more desirable than housework. The result is that the housewife is compelled to take for her employees only those who are rejected by every other employer; the capable, independent, intelligent American woman is hardly ever seen in domestic service.
In Washington, D.C., a law (the La Follette Eight Hour Law for Women in the District of Columbia) was recently passed limiting to eight hours a day and six days a week practically all work in which women are industrially employed; "hotel servants" are included under the provisions of this law, but "domestic servants in private homes" are expressly excluded.
If this new law be considered a just and humane measure for women who are business employees, and if business houses be compelled to observe it, one naturally wonders why it should not prove to be an equally just and humane law for women who work in private families, and why should not the home be compelled to observe it too? Instead of being a barrier to progress, the home ought to cooperate with the state in the enforcement of laws for the amelioration of the condition of working women. The home, being presided over by a woman, presumably of some education and intelligence, should be a most fitting place in which to apply a law designed to protect women against excessive hours of labor.
Why should housework in private homes be an exception to all other work? Is it because some housewives say, in self justification and frequently without an accurate knowledge of what it is to do housework week after week without one day's release, that housework is easier than other work? Is it easier? Is it not sometimes harder? However, it is not a question of housework being harder or easier than other work, but of the desirability of having it limited to eight hours a day and six days a week. Why should the housewife be allowed to remain in such a state of apathy in regard to the physical welfare of her household employees?
"Six days shalt thou labor" has all the sanction of scripture, of morals, and of common experience. It is only fair that women who work in private families should have one day out of seven as a day of rest, even as their more fortunate sisters in the business world. If by adopting such a law in the home the housewife found that her work was performed far more efficiently and willingly than at present, would it not be as much to her advantage as to the advantage of those she employs to limit the hours of household labor to six days a week? Many housewives may object to this proposition inasmuch as the work in a home can not be suspended even for a day. But when two or more employees work in a private home, it is very easy to plan the housework so that each employee may have a different day of the week as a "day of rest," without the comfort of the family being disturbed by the temporary absence of one of the employees. It is only in families where one employee is kept that it may make a very serious difference to the housewife when her "maid-of-all-work" is away for one entire day each week. Nevertheless the comfort of an employer ought not to outweigh justice to an employee.
There are many ways of regulating the housework, as will be seen in the schedules at the end of this book, in order to give one day of freedom each week to household employees without causing much inconvenience to the housewife. By continuing to refuse this privilege to women employed in domestic labor, housekeeping is becoming more and more complicated. Already it is such a common occurrence in some cities and in many parts of the country, not to find any woman willing to do housework, that many housewives are beginning to think that their future comfort in all household matters will depend entirely upon new labor saving devices and upon the help of the community rather than upon the increased knowledge and skill of domestic employees.
There exists a prevailing impression, too, that housework has lost its dignity, and that at this period of the world's social history, it is impossible to restore it for women have stepped above it. But this is not true. The fact is that housework has remained stationary while other work has gained in freedom and dignity. Without noisy protestations, or indignant speeches delivered in public, women have slowly and silently, one by one, deserted housework as a career on account of the narrowing, servile, and unjust conditions inseparable from it at the present day. Let these conditions be removed and new regulations based upon modern business principles take their place, and then it will be seen that housework has never lost its dignity, and the very women who abandoned it will be the first to choose it again as a means of earning their livelihood.
As a proof of this, the following experience may be cited of a New Work woman who wished to obtain a domestic employee for general housework. She went to several employment agencies and at the end of a week she had seen four applicants; three were foreigners and spoke English so brokenly that they could never have been left in charge of a telephone. Not one of the four was worth considering after investigating their references, and these were the only women she could find willing to do general housework. Upon the advice of a friend, the perplexed housewife advertised in one of the daily newspapers, but only a few women applied for the position and these were far from being satisfactory. She then inserted another advertisement expressed in the following words: "Wanted: a young woman to help with housework, eight hours a day, six days a week, sleep home. Apply by letter only."
This last clause was added to prevent any one from applying for the position who could not write English, as it was absolutely necessary that the person engaged to do the housework should be capable of attending correctly to the telephone. On the same day the advertisement appeared, eighty-five applications by letter were received, and twenty more came the following day. All who wrote expressed their willingness to fill the position of a domestic employee and to do anything in the way of housework under the new conditions specified in the advertisement. Only one stated she would do no washing. Many who replied to this advertisement had occupied positions, which according to the present standard, were far superior to housework; many, too, were married women, experienced in all household work, and most anxious to accept a position in a private family, a position that did not break up their own home life.
The housewife was bewildered by the unexpected result of her advertisement: the tables were turned at last. Instead of being one of many looking in vain for a good domestic employee, she found that she had now the advantage of being able to choose from more than a hundred applicants one who would best suit her own peculiar needs.
The same advertisement has been inserted at different times and has always brought the same remarkable result: from one hundred to one hundred and sixty answers each time. It is true that all who present themselves may not be efficient, but efficiency speedily comes to the front when upon it alone depends a desirable position.
Two very important facts came to light through the help of this advertisement; one was to find so many women eager to do housework when it was limited to eight hours a day and six days a week, and the other was to hear that they were willing to board and lodge themselves, as well as work, for the same wages that "servants" are accustomed to receive, although to the latter the housewife invariably gives gratis all food and sleeping accommodations. These two facts alone prove beyond a doubt that by applying business principles to housework all objections to it as a means of earning a livelihood are removed.
It is quite likely that for a time the old fashioned "mistress," and the old fashioned "servant" will continue to cling to past customs; but once it is proved that domestic labor limited to eight hours a day and six days a week, brings a better, more intelligent, more efficient class of employees to the home, the most obdurate employer will change her mind.
No legislation is needed. If all who are trying to solve the "servant question" will begin to practice the new plan in their own homes, the future will take care of itself and the old ways will die a natural death.
THE OBSERVANCE OF LEGAL HOLIDAYS IN THE HOME
The pleasure brought by the advent of a holiday into the lives of the working people can hardly be overestimated, and it is doubtful if holidays would ever have become legalized had they not proved of distinct value to the masses. To have one day each week free from the steady grind of one's dally work is a great relief, but to have a holiday is something still better, for it usually means a day set apart for general rejoicing.
Why do all housewives persistently disregard the right of the household employee to have legal holidays? The reason generally brought forward is that many families need their employees more on a holiday than on any other day. In many cases this is quite true on account of family reunions or the entertaining of friends, but very often the housewife could easily dispense with the services of her employees on a holiday. She does not do it, however, or only occasionally, because it is not the custom to grant holidays to women who work in private homes.
If it be impossible, on account of the exigencies of home life, to grant all legal holidays to household employees, there are many different ways of planning the housework so that other days may be given instead. Sometimes the day before or the day after a holiday will give as much pleasure as the day itself. A woman who is at the head of a home has many opportunities of coming into close contact with her employees; she can easily ascertain their wishes in this respect and act accordingly. It is more the fact of being entitled to a holiday than to have it on a certain day that ought to be emphasized.
Domestic employees would be benefited by having these extra days of liberty, just as much as all other employees. A trial is all that is necessary to show how much better a household employee will work after having a holiday. She returns to her duties with renewed strength and the knowledge that she is no longer forced to play the role of Cinderella gives her a fresh interest in life. Unfortunately the housewife has been accustomed for so many years to have her "servants" work for her all day long on every day of the week, with only a few hours off duty "on every other Sunday and on every other Thursday," that she is rather inclined to resent such an innovation as the observance of legal holidays in domestic labor. She fails to perceive that by her present attitude she shows herself in a very unfavorable light as an employer, for the lack of holidays is decidedly one of the reasons for which housework is shunned to-day.
Business men have evolved a satisfactory and workable plan by which their employees are neither overworked nor deprived of all legal holidays, although frequently the work they are engaged in can not be suspended day or night even for an hour.
It remains for women of the leisure class, and to this class belong all those who can afford to pay to have their housework done for them, to adopt a similar plan in their homes.
EXTRA PAY FOR OVERTIME
When the plan for limiting housework to eight hours a day is discussed for the first time, the following question invariably arises: What is to be done when anything unusual happens to break the routine of the regular work, as for instance, when sickness occurs, when friends arrive unexpectedly, when a dinner party is given?
Sickness, of course, is unavoidable, but as a rule a trained nurse or an extra household assistant is called in to help. Many times, however, this is not absolutely necessary, or perhaps the family can not afford to have outside help, and the extra work caused by sickness usually falls upon the domestic employee whose hours of labor are more or less prolonged in consequence. What ought to be done in such an event?
There is but one answer: Work that can not be accomplished within the regular working hours already agreed upon should be paid for as "overtime."
When it is a question of work being prolonged beyond the eight hours a day by the entertaining of friends, one can only say that this ought not to happen if the housewife planned her working schedule carefully. She alone is responsible for her social engagements; she alone can make a schedule that will enable her to have her friends come to luncheon or dinner without prolonging the day's work beyond the hours agreed upon between herself and her employees.
When friends arrive unexpectedly, however, or when a dinner party or a big social function takes place in the home, an eight hour schedule may be the cause of great inconvenience, unless a previous agreement has been made to meet just such occasions. It is certain that some compensation is due to all domestic employees for the extra long hours of work caused by unusual events in the home life of their employers, and many ways have been devised already to remunerate them.
In modern social life a custom of long standing still exists which makes it almost compulsory for this remuneration to come out of the pocket, not of the hostess, but of her guests. The unfortunate custom of giving "tips" is not generally criticised very openly, but when viewed in the light of reason and justice, it seems to be a very poor way of trying to remove one of the present hardships connected with domestic labor. Why should the housewife depend upon the generosity of her guests to help her pay her household employees? She never demurs at the extra expense entailed in giving luncheons and dinners in her friends' honor, nor in taking them to places of interest and amusement. Why then should she object to giving a little more money to her household employees upon whose work the success of her hospitality so largely depends?
There are many women who entertain extensively, but they never recompense a household employee for any extra work that may be demanded from her on that account. They consider themselves fully justified in exacting extra long hours of work because of the high wages they pay, especially as it frequently happens that while the work is more on some days, it is less on others, and they think in consequence that their employees have no cause for complaint.
It is a mistake, however, to think that an employee who is obliged to be on duty and has little or nothing to do on one day, is really compensated for the extra hours of work she has been compelled to give on other days. A saleswoman who on certain days has no customers or only a few, is just as much "on duty" as if her work filled all her time, and it is the same with a domestic employee. Indeed it is generally conceded to be more irksome to remain idle at one's post than to be actively engaged in work.
But on the other hand, there are many housewives who feel that they ought to give their employees more pay for extra work especially when it is connected with the entertaining of friends, and the following ways of rewarding them have been tried with more or less success.
One plan that gained favor with several families was to give ten cents to the cook and ten cents to the waitress every time a guest was invited to a meal: ten cents for each guest. At the end of a month the ten cent pieces had amounted to quite a sum of money.
Another plan that was tried in a small family was to give fifty cents to the cook and fifty cents to each of the two waitresses for every dinner party that took place, regardless of the number of guests. Still another plan was to give at the end of the month, a two dollar, five dollar, or ten dollar bill to an employee who had given many extra hours of satisfactory work to her employer.
All these plans are good in a certain sense, inasmuch as they show that women are awakening to the realization that some compensation is due to household employees for the extra long hours of work frequently unavoidable in family life. But unfortunately these plans lack stability, for they depend altogether upon the generosity and kindness of different employers, instead of upon a just and firmly established business principle.
And now comes the question: What method of payment for overtime will produce a permanently satisfactory result?
The only one that appears just and is applicable to all cases is to pay each employee one and a half times as much per hour for extra work as for regular work. In this way each employee is paid for overtime in just proportion to the value of her regular services. For instance, when a household employee receives $20, $30, or $40 per month, that is to say $5, $7.50, or $10 per week, for working eight hours a day and six days a week, she is receiving approximately 10, 15, or 20 cents per hour for her regular work. By giving her one and one half times as much for extra work, she ought to receive 15, 22-1/2, or 30 cents per hour for every hour she works for her employer after the completion of her regular eight hours' work.
This plan has never failed to bring satisfaction, and it has the advantage of placing the employer and the employee on an equally delightful footing of independence. The performance of extra work is no longer regarded as a matter of obligation on one side, and of concession on the other, but as a purely business transaction.
Some housewives fear that the regular work would be intentionally prolonged beyond all measure if it became an established rule to pay extra for work performed overtime. This could be easily checked, however, by paying extra only for work that was necessitated by unusual events in the family life.
In families where only one employee is kept, naturally the occasions for asking her to work overtime arise more frequently than in families where there are two or more employees, especially if there be small children in the family. Yet these occasions need not come very often, if the housewife bears in mind that even with only one employee, she has eight hours every day at her own disposal; she ought to plan her outside engagements accordingly. Her liberty from household cares during these eight hours can only be gained though by having efficient and trustworthy assistants in her home, and she can never obtain these unless she abandons her old fashioned methods of housekeeping. She must grant to household employees the same rights and privileges given to business employees; she must apply business principles to housework. A great power lies in the hands of the modern housewife, a power as yet only suspected by a few, which, if properly wielded, can raise housework from its present undignified position to the place it ought to occupy, and that is in the foremost rank of manual labor for women.
EIGHT HOUR SCHEDULES IN THE HOME
Eight hour schedules for one employee. Eight hour schedules for two employees. Eight hour schedules for three employees.
EIGHT HOUR SCHEDULES FOR ONE EMPLOYEE
The schedules given in the following pages have been in actual practice for a sufficient length of time to prove that they can be relied on to produce satisfactory results, although no doubt many housewives will find that some of them must be modified to meet special requirements in their homes.
Two very important points must always be borne in mind in order to obtain the greatest advantage from an eight hour schedule, especially in families where only one employee is engaged to do the housework.
The first point is this: the housewife ought only to make her working schedule after she has carefully studied her own comfort and convenience in regard to the hours she considers the most important of the day for her to have help in her housework.
The second point is for the housewife to reserve for herself the entire freedom of the eight hours during which her employee is on duty, for then she can place, or she ought to be able to, the full responsibility of the housekeeping upon her employee.
By adhering strictly to these two points, the housewife will soon perceive that she can dispense with the services of her employee for the remaining hours of the day without much inconvenience to herself or her family. She may even find it more pleasant than otherwise to be relieved from the sight and sound of household work, for at least a few hours a day, when she is in her own home.
Possibly the housewife who has but one employee will not accept with alacrity the proposition of allowing her to be off duty for an entire day once a week, for unless she be willing to do the necessary work herself on that day, she must engage a special person to take the place of her regular employee. But many families engage a woman to come once a week to help with the washing and house-cleaning, especially when they have only one household employee. If this woman came on the day the regular employee was away, she could relieve the housewife of all the housework that could not be postponed until the next day.
SCHEDULE NO. I
When only one employee is engaged in a private home, her services are needed more at meal time than at any other time of the day, especially if small children are in the family. As the hours for the three principal meals are about the same everywhere, the following schedule is a very useful one.
From 7 A.M. to 10 A.M. 3 hours From 12 M. to 3 P.M. 3 hours From 6 P.M. to 8 P.M. 2 hours ———- 8 hours
In the morning from seven to ten o'clock, the employee had ample time to prepare and serve breakfast and wash up the dishes afterwards, and do the chamberwork. The three hours from noon until three o'clock were filled with duties that varied considerably each day. Luncheon was served at one o'clock; it was but a light meal easy to cook and easy to serve, therefore the time from two to three o'clock was usually devoted to ironing, or mending, or cleaning silver, or polishing brasses, or preparing some of the dishes in advance either for dinner that evening or for luncheon the next day. Two hours were sufficient to cook and serve dinner and wash up the dishes afterwards. A woman came once a week, on the day the employee was off duty, to do the family washing and assist with the general housework. She also did some of the ironing; the rest of the ironing was done the next day by the regular employee.
This schedule has been tested, not merely once for a few months, but several times, and not with the same employee, but with different employees, and it has always been most satisfactory.
It may seem doubtful to those who have never had their housework done on schedule time that the work can be completed in the time stated, but the greatest incentive that an employee can have to work quickly and well, is to know that her position is as good as any she can find elsewhere, and that when her work is over she is free to do exactly as she pleases with the remainder of her time.
SCHEDULE NO. II
The following schedule is very different from the preceding one, inasmuch as the housewife did not consider it necessary for her employee to be on duty in the middle of the day. There were no children in this family and as the housewife was alone in the day time, she very frequently went out for luncheon. She concluded therefore that it was the best time of the day for her to dispense with the services of her employee, whose working hours were arranged thus:
From 7:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. 4 hours From 4:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. 4 hours ———- 8 hours
By half past eleven in the morning, all the usual housework was finished, and the employee went home; she returned at half past four in the afternoon, in time to attend to five o'clock tea and dinner. Once a week, on alternate Saturdays and Sundays, she had a "day of rest." On these days the housewife got breakfast ready herself, after which she did as much or as little of the regular work as she chose. It is not difficult to reduce housework to a minimum on special occasions. The family, which was a small one, consisting of three adults, usually went out to dinner on these alternate Saturdays and Sundays.
SCHEDULE NO. III
In this schedule, the employee's work is divided into two periods, with one hour for rest between. The family consisted of a man and his wife, who lived in an apartment. The hours of work were as follows:
From 12 M. to 3 P.M. 3 hours From 4 P.M. to 9 P.M. 5 hours ———- 8 hours
The housewife was very fond of entertaining, and she chose an employee who was an excellent cook and a very good waitress. In consequence she was able to place the entire responsibility of luncheons and dinners on her, and on days when no guests were present all the house-cleaning was done. As the employee did not report on duty before noon, the housewife was obliged to get breakfast herself. However this was a very simple matter, for her employee always set the table for breakfast the night before. The next morning it was very easy for the housewife, with the aid of an electric heater on the breakfast table, to heat the cereal, boil the water for the coffee, and broil the bacon or scramble the eggs, or indeed to prepare any of the usual breakfast dishes.
The employee did all the washing, ironing and mending each week, and although she came to her work only at noon, she accomplished as much work during her eight hours as if she began earlier in the day.
SCHEDULE NO. IV
Many schedules were tried before a really satisfactory one was finally chosen for a family of six: mother, father, four small children. The eldest child was seven years old, and there was only one household employee to help with the work. They lived in the country, and breakfast had to be served promptly at 7:30 A.M., on account of taking the early morning train to town.
Naturally, with only one employee, the housewife was compelled to do some of the housework herself, and until the following schedule was adopted, she had been in the habit of rising early, dressing the children, and getting breakfast ready herself. Her employee arrived later in the day and remained until after dinner at night. The comfort and general welfare of the mother were increased to such a remarkable degree by the new schedule, however, that it is well worth special attention.
The hours were as follows:
From 6:30 A.M. to 10:30 A.M. 4 hours From 11:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. 4 hours ———- 8 hours
Immediately upon arriving at the house, the employee went to the children and took complete charge of all of them. The two oldest dressed themselves, but of course the other two required help. After dressing them, she prepared breakfast. The cereal was always cooked the day before, and as a gas stove was used for cooking purposes, it was not hard to have breakfast ready promptly every morning at 7:30. Then the employee, having had her own breakfast before leaving her home, worked steadily until 10:30 A.M. During this time, the only work the mother felt she ought to do was to go out with her two youngest children; the other two went to school. She was always home again by 10:30, when her employee stopped working. The employee lived too far away to go home for lunch, and as there was no place in the neighborhood where she could go for lunch, she always brought it with her and ate it in her employer's house. During the hour she was off duty, the mother attended to some household duties herself, and she also bathed the two children, and put them to bed for their morning nap.
At 11:30, her employee reappeared on duty, and took full charge of the house and children until 3:30 P.M.; her work for the day was then over and she went home.
This schedule makes the mother stay home after half past three, but by that time all the real housework had been done by her employee. To give the children their supper and to put them to bed leisurely, was much easier work than to rise early and dress them hurriedly in the morning, and to get breakfast ready for the entire family. It was not much trouble to get dinner herself in the evening for her husband and herself only. The house was quiet, the children asleep, and there was no necessity of hurrying as in the morning. When she wished to give a dinner party, or to receive her friends, or to go to any entertainment in the afternoon after 3:30, she asked her employee to give her extra hours of work for which she paid extra. Once a week her employee had a "day of rest," and on this day another woman was engaged to take her place.
This schedule enabled the mother to have many hours each day absolutely free from the children and household cares.
EIGHT HOUR SCHEDULES FOR TWO EMPLOYEES
It is much easier to plan an eight hour schedule for two employees than for one, and there is no limit to the number of different ways in which the sixteen hours of work may be divided, subdivided, and arranged to please the individual housewife. With two employees, it is no longer necessary for the housewife to remain at home while one is off duty, even for an hour, for one relieves the other without any cessation of work. Even on the seventh day, "the day of rest," the housewife can always arrange to have her work done without doing it herself, in spite of the absence of one of her employees.
When a schedule is finally agreed upon, however, it must be rigidly enforced, for it is more important to keep to the hours specified when there are two employees than when there is only one. Although the housewife may be tempted to claim the privilege of changing her hours very often to please herself, since she is the employer, if she value her peace of mind, she will refrain from doing it. Only when the inevitable, the unforeseen, occurs should she make a change in her regular schedule. When one employee is off duty all day, the other employee can remain on duty the entire day; naturally this plan necessitates more than eight hours of work on that day, probably two or three more hours, but if on the day after or the day before, the employee be allowed to work two or three hours less than eight hours, the average of eight hours a day and six days a week is maintained.
Another example of what the housewife can do when one of her employees is off duty the entire day, is to make her other employee follow schedule No. 1. This enables her to keep to eight hours a day and at the same time the housewife does none of the housework herself.
SCHEDULE NO. V
With two employees it is a wise plan to arrange a schedule that makes the work of one employee commence the moment the work of the other ceases. This tends to promote punctuality without requiring special supervision on the part of the housewife.
The following schedule is admirably adapted to the every day life of the average family with two employees:
From 7 A.M. to 11 A.M. 4 hours From 12 M. to 4 P.M. 4 hours ———- 8 hours
From 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. 4 hours From 4 P.M. to 8 P.M. 4 hours ———- 8 hours
All the washing, ironing, and mending of the family were done by the two employees, and they also took care of the children when necessary. Besides being good cooks, they were both excellent waitresses; in consequence it made no difference which one was on duty at meal time.
One employee only was in charge of breakfast; she came at seven o'clock in the morning, and worked steadily until eleven o'clock, when the second employee arrived. She then went out for her lunch, returning at twelve, and remaining on duty until four o'clock in the afternoon. She was then free for the remainder of the day.
The second employee, as soon as she arrived at 11 A.M., went through the house and finished any work that was not completed by the first employee. She worked without stopping until 3 P.M., then went away for her lunch; she returned at 4 P.M. to relieve the first employee whose work was over at four o'clock. The second employee remained on duty until 8 P.M.; she cooked and served dinner so quickly and efficiently that the housewife who had always been accustomed to have two employees, a "cook" and a "waitress," on duty for dinner every night, found to her great surprise that one efficient household employee, working on schedule time, accomplished in the same time the work of two of her former "servants."
SCHEDULE NO. VI
In this schedule the housewife wanted both her employees to help her with her two children. With this end in view, she made all the work of the house interchange with the care of the children; in consequence when one employee was off duty, the other could always be relied on to help with the children. This proved to be a very successful schedule, for it relieved the mother from being obliged to sit in the nursery as she was compelled to do every time her former "nurse" went downstairs to her meals, or had her "afternoon off." But when the mother wished to be with her children, and that was very often, the employee who was in the nursery at the time, left the room immediately to attend to other household duties.
Both employees were on duty at 7 A.M., a most necessary arrangement where there are small children in a family. The first employee prepared and served breakfast for the family, while the other employee took full charge of the children, giving them their breakfast in the nursery, and taking them out afterwards for a walk. At 10 A.M., she returned with the children, and she was then off duty for two hours. The mother generally chose this time to be with her children; if however, she had any other engagement, the first employee was on duty until noon and could be called upon to look after them.
From 7 A.M. to 12 M. 5 hours From 5 P.M. to 8 P.M. 3 hours ———- 8 hours
From 7 A.M. to 10 A.M. 3 hours From 12 M. to 5 P.M. 5 hours ———- 8 hours
SCHEDULE NO. VII
There are many families who may object to all the preceding schedules on account of the early hour in the evening for household employees to be off duty. When the housewife has never had her housework done on schedule time by an efficient employee, she may well think it impossible to have the dinner dishes washed up and everything put away in order by 8 P.M. However some families do not begin dinner before half past seven, or eight o'clock, or even later, but in these families, it is not unusual for the breakfast hour to be very late also. In consequence nothing is easier than to make a schedule for the day's work begin late and end late, without making any other alteration in it.