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Title: Wanted, a Young Woman to Do Housework - Business principles applied to housework
Author: Barker, C. Helene
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Business Principles Applied to Housework



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.





  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



  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 for One Employee                93
  Eight Hour Schedules for Two Employees              109
  Eight Hour Schedules for Three Employees            121



  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.


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

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.


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

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

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

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.


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
coöperation 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

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

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.



  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.


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 régime, 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 Æsop about the Dog and the Wolf
which portrays this sentiment in a very quaint and delightful manner.
(Sir Roger l'Estrange's translation.)


     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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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 coöperate 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

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


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 rôle 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.


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

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 for one employee.
  Eight hour schedules for two employees.
  Eight hour schedules for three employees.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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

This schedule enabled the mother to have many hours each day absolutely
free from the children and household cares.


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.


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:

  _First Employee_

  From  7 A.M. to 11 A.M.        4 hours
  From 12 M.   to  4 P.M.        4 hours
                                 8 hours

  _Second Employee_

  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."


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.

  _First Employee_

  From 7 A.M. to 12 M.           5 hours
  From 5 P.M. to  8 P.M.         3 hours
                                 8 hours

  _Second Employee_

  From  7 A.M. to 10 A.M.        3 hours
  From 12 M.   to  5 P.M.        5 hours
                                 8 hours


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.

The following schedule, however, combines an early breakfast and a late
dinner, in a family where only two employees were kept:

  _First Employee_

  From 7 A.M. to 12 M.           5 hours
  From 5 P.M. to  8 P.M.         3 hours
                                 8 hours

  _Second Employee_

  From 12 M.   to  5 P.M.        5 hours
  From  7 P.M. to 10 P.M.        3 hours
  (or from 8 to 11 P.M.)
                                 8 hours


The greater the number of household employees, the easier it is to make
a satisfactory working schedule. But the temptation to specialize the
work is greater, and should be carefully guarded against. It is just as
necessary with three employees as with one for the housewife to insist
that each one be capable and willing to do all kinds of work in the
home, including sewing and taking care of children.

With three employees, the housewife ought to make them take turns in
cooking and serving one of the three meals each day. This enables them
to become familiar with the dining room and with the different dishes
for each course; it also removes any feeling of embarrassment which
naturally might be felt by an employee who is rarely called upon to cook
or serve a meal.

To have an expert needlewoman in the house is a great boon to the
housewife, and when she has three employees who can sew in her home, she
ought to insist upon a great deal of sewing and mending being done by
each one of them.

It is rare that the "servant" of to-day is a good sewer; in fact the
housewife would hesitate to ask her to do even the ordinary mending, but
when one engages household employees on an eight hour schedule, and when
there are a hundred women to choose from, it is not hard to find several
who sew well.


It is so easy to plan the housework for three employees that one
schedule as an example seems quite sufficient, and the only thing that
the housewife must remember is to make all the work interchangeable.

  _First Employee_

  From  7 A.M. to 11 A.M.        4 hours
  From 12 M.   to  4 P.M.        4 hours
                                 8 hours

  _Second Employee_

  From 11 A.M. to 3 P.M.         4 hours
  From  4 P.M. to 8 P.M.         4 hours
                                 8 hours

  _Third Employee_

  From 2 P.M. to  5 P.M.         3 hours
  From 6 P.M. to 11 P.M.         5 hours
                                 8 hours


In conclusion it seems that a few words are necessary about families who
need the services of an employee at night as well as in the day time.
There are many mothers who do not wish or who are not able to take
care of their children at night, and in consequence it is absolutely
necessary to have an attendant. The present custom is to have the nurse
or maid sleep in the same room as the baby, or in a room adjoining the
children's bedroom, so as to be within call. But a woman who has worked
all day, or even eight hours a day, should not have her sleep disturbed
at night by taking care of children. No woman can be fit for her work
the next day if she has not been able to secure the average amount of
sleep necessary to health.

In many cases it has been proved that when a child does not sleep
well at night, the nurse has taken upon herself the responsibility of
giving it "soothing syrup" so as to keep it quiet. This is hardly to be
wondered at when one considers the strain under which the nurse is kept
day and night by taking care of a small child; besides the average nurse
is generally ignorant of the harm caused by so-called "soothing syrups."

If a child be sick, the mother should call in a trained nurse, that
is if she can afford it, and when she has several employees, she can
usually afford this extra expense. If the child or children be well,
and the mother desires some one to attend to them at night, she should
engage a woman who has no occupation during the day and who is willing
to work at night. She should make a point of choosing one who sews well,
so that the services of a seamstress might be combined with the duties
of a night nurse. There is always some mending to do in all families and
a woman who is clever with her needle might make herself very useful to
her employer. Thousands of women sew by artificial light in dressmaking
establishments and factories; in all probability just as many women
could be found to sew by artificial light in private homes. Perhaps at
first the novelty of working at night might deter women from taking a
position similar to the one suggested above, but a woman who was really
in need of work would not let the unusual hours prevent her from
accepting it,

Many men work at night and it is not unlikely that many women would be
willing to do it too. Women are not as timid as they were reputed to
be in former years; they would neither scream nor faint nowadays at
the sight of a little mouse scampering across the floor. Indeed quite
recently the newspapers reported that a woman whose husband had just
died had accepted the position of a night watchman, and she filled her
new rôle so successfully that on one occasion she managed to seize a
burglar and handed him over to a policeman.

This proposition of engaging a woman to work at night is only a
suggestion, however, offered to those who find it absolutely necessary
to have a domestic employee in their house at night. It remains to be
proved if it could be carried out successfully.

But the great changes in housekeeping described in the preceding
chapters are not mere suggestions nor theories of what might be done:
each reform has already been put into actual practice. The result has
been so extraordinary that one is impelled to believe that the only way
to solve the Servant Problem is to apply business principles to
housework in private homes.

Naturally such a revolution from methods now in vogue can not be wrought
in a day, and the transitional period may be one of some difficulty and
confusion for employer and employee alike who have spent a large portion
of their lives under the old régime. But the revolution is imperative,
and the ultimate benefit beyond calculation.

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