Sage Home Organizing Advice from 1961. Could it possibly work in 2016?



I was given article by Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant that was from 1961 in the Toronto Daily Star.  It is advice to a new bride on how to keep the honeymoon going forever by keeping her home neat and tidy with organization and know how. It was a delight to read.

Here are some highlights

  1. “Because you are working there is little time for housekeeping chores so they must be done consistently.  If you  get in the habit of leaving things until later the apartment will soon be a mess an you’ll be frazzled and bad tempered.”
  2. “Enlist your husband.  With a working wife he will likely be only too glad to pitch in for a few minutes a day”
  3. “Plan a grocery list.  Bridegrooms are usually helpful if you can plan the shopping for Thursday or Friday night or during the day on Saturday.”

Forming habits and sharing responsibilities are good advise for then and now. 

The article continues by describing a way to stay organized.  We can learn a lot from this writer in 1961.

Have a daily cleaning schedule.

It helps to have habits so work gets done without having to put much thought or energy into it.  Making beds, tidying up dirty dishes, clean up messes as they happen.  But do you need to quickly dust , including pictures with a special cloth with the polish already in it, wipe off the stove, refrigerator and counter tops?

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

The next thing in the article talks about things to take care of every 2-3 days. 

If you have a list of things that need to be done once or twice a week it makes it easier to stay on top of things instead of spending a lot of time on the tasks later.   Do laundry, sweeping/mopping the floor, taking out the trash or recycling.  But do you need to polish several pieces of silver 2 to 3 times a week or clean the bathroom thoroughly?

Scheduling things weekly makes it easy to give others a chance to take responsibility for keeping the home organized.

Planning menus for the next week can make grocery shopping easy and more economical.  Anyone can make supper if the menu is planned and the food is available.  Carpet cleaning companies suggest vacuuming rugs once a week to extend the life of your carpets.  Perhaps doing your laundry is a once a week task.  Checking the refrigerator to see what food needs to be used before it goes bad will also save you money.  But do you have to mend the socks for the man of the house, get the dry cleaning ready, wax the kitchen floor, clean the oven including the racks or change the sheets?

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn't walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn’t walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

Think about the things that should be done twice a month.

For some people it is grocery shopping, changing the beds, cleaning the house, repairing things that are broken.  Make a list that suits you and keep up with your organizing. But do you need to clean the windows, clean out your appliances or clean out your coffee maker regularly?

What would be good to do once a month? 

Perhaps you would want to do more extensive cleaning in one room each month.  Cleaning walls, window coverings, windows , blankets or furnace filters  .  If you spread out the work over a year, you will have cleaned each room by the end of the year but  you will never have to spend a lot of time all at once.  No need for a spring or fall cleaning blitz that can cause people to procrastinate because the job seems so big and  overwhelming.  Some people like to do food preparations, browning meats, dicing and freezing vegetables and / or baking once a month to make food preparation on a daily basis easier.  You may decide to organize an area of your home each month.   Some of these monthly tasks that may take minutes,  some may take a couple of hours.  Plan what works for you. But do you need to oil the furniture  or take down and wash the fixture?

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Lastly look at things that only need to be done twice a year. 

Perhaps they are seasonal tasks.  Put way or get out patio furniture, toys, car tires,bikes etc.  But do you need to wash rugs, clean Venetian blinds or take all the clothes out of your closet and give them a good cleaning and airing?

The interesting thing about this article written in 1961 is how much things have not changed.  A lot of things they suggested to do daily, weekly monthly or yearly have not changed. Doing a little each day, week, month or year makes it easier to stay organized.  Having the tasks scheduled makes it easier to avoid procrastination. Although we hardly ever use silver, we have self defrosting refrigerators and self cleaning appliances, we don’t do a lot of ironing, we have now added to our schedules, software and hardware maintenance, cleaning more than one vehicle, pools, lawns, etc.

Cleaning Schedule / Organizing Schedule

When my mom died my sister made a cleaning schedule for my dad.  It was similar to the ideas in this article.  It was based on what needs to be cleaned each week and then one additional thing to clean each week which changed each week, and then a thing to do each month with each month different.  By the end of the year the entire house, walls, drapes, cupboards, baseboards, appliances had been cleaned with only a little extra effort need once a month.

Some of you may sit down and make a list of things to do each day week, month, semi annually and annually.  For others make the lists as you go.  At the end of the year you will have good ideas of how to schedule cleaning and  maintenance tasks to have a life that runs  smoothly and leaves more time for fun, joy and happiness.

What things did your parents or grandparents do, that you still do, to keep your life and home running smoothly?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at


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  1. Janet Barclay on November 28, 2016 at 7:00 am

    When I read the article, I had to laugh at how much expectations have changed over the last 50 years, but you’ve done a great job of adapting their guidelines to today’s lifestyle – way to go!

    • Julie Stobbe on November 28, 2016 at 8:01 am

      It is true that expectations were higher but today all the cleaning jobs are easier, window cleaner you attach a bottle to your hose and spray your windows clean, one pass cleaning your floor with water and Norwex products instead of washing, rinsing and waxing,rumbas for vacuuming, dishwasher for dishes, washer and dryers for clothes, coffee makers, electric snow shovels, pressure washers for outdoor cleaning. Thankfully a lot of the household work can be done without a lot of physical labour and time unlike and achieve the same results as in the 1960’s.

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