She maintained a household in an old school, single handed fashion. No garbage disposal. No dishwasher. No dryer, a clothesline. (I have great memories of walking in between the clean, damp sheets that smelled like Downy fabric softener. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.) She prepared three meals a day and did the dishes after every meal. There wasn't a divided sink, she used plastic tubs.
But every morning, before she started her day in earnest, she would sit down with her coffee and cigarettes to play solitaire. After lunch she sat down to watch All My Children. She did needlepoint and cross-stitch and knitted, things she enjoyed. And she put on lipstick when she left the house.
Here are some things I've put together from my grandmother and the other women I've known and my own experience as a housewife:
Get a piece of paper and write down everything you do in a day. You'll be amazed. You do a LOT.
Invest in some rubber gloves. Keep some lotion by the sink and put some on your hands before you put on your gloves.
Make the house smell nice. Let in some fresh air and use cleaning products that you think smell good. If you make your own, add some essential oils.
Brush your teeth every day and bathe at least every other day.
Wear clean clothes.
If there are certain things that make your life more comfortable, buy them. For our household it's high quality bath tissue. I need a happy tushie.
Listening to stand up comedy while doing dishes makes the chore easier. Louis C.K. and George Lopez for dirty. Bill Cosby, Sinbad and Jeff Foxworthy for clean.
Reward yourself for doing a particularly tedious, unpleasant chore.
For god's sake eat something. Leftover child food doesn't count.
Sometimes locking yourself in the bathroom, stuffing a towel in your mouth and screaming obscenities helps immensely.
If you're tired, rest.
Ask for help.
Take help when it's offered.
Don't over schedule yourself.
Make time to spend time together as a family. Play Wii. Go for a hike. Do a puzzle. Do SOMETHING.
If you need a break, take one. Go for a walk. Sit on the front step and take some deep breaths.
When you lose your shit inappropriately, apologise.
Tell your kids and husband you love them. Tell them a lot.
Pick your battles.
Do something you like every day. Even if it's just for ten minutes. Take pictures. Read a book. Blog. Whatever.
Find other moms. Other moms understand. Oh, do they understand.
Learn to say "It works for our family."
Accept the fact that you CAN'T do it all. Seriously, you can't.
Oprah does not have all the answers. Seriously, she doesn't.
Laugh every single day. Several times a day if possible. Really, it's good. If you laugh, it's gonna be okay. Make yourself if you have to. Do it! Do it!!!!
Congratulate yourself if you have accomplished these things at the end of the day:
Fed everyone on clean dishes.
Not beaten anyone.
Put on lipstick.