There are many ways of making housekeeping easier. Some of them are simple little things that require no expenditure of money. There are other things that do require expenditure of money, but they prove to be worth while. The old-fashioned housewife was busy from morning until night, because she did all her work in the most laborious way. The modern housewife thinks of her housework as a problem to be solved and plans to do it in the most effective way. If she can afford it, she buys Labor-saving devices to save her time and energy.
Sometimes it seems almost impossible to spend money for this labor-saving equipment, but wise planning on the part of the housewife and the cooperation of the family often make it possible. Can you think of any way in which you can help to buy a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine? Helping does not mean that you need to earn money for the purchase of these things, but rather that you do not insist on spending more than your share of the family income. For example, if you very much wish to have a new dress or coat that you really do not need, could you not give this as your share toward the purchase of household equipment.
How Convenient Arrangement Helps to Save Labor. - Just the same as in your clothes closet and dresser, everything connected with housework should be conveniently arranged to save labor. Brooms, dust mops and dust cloths should be kept in the closet or place that is most conveniently located so as to get these tools speedily when needed. Sometimes it helps very much to keep things in order to have a few hooks and shelves put into closets. For example, it is a good plan to have a holder bought at a hardware store or two nails put up to hold the broom as shown in Fig. 117. Why should the broom be turned upside down if it is left standing on the floor? It is also a good plan to have dust cloths kept in two or three conveniently located places. This makes it possible to do a little quick dusting without making a trip to another part of the house for the dust cloth. If there is an upstairs to your home, do you think it would be wise to keep a second set of tools upstairs?
List the things in your house that are conveniently arranged for doing the cleaning. From these lists make one class list which might be called "Helps in Keeping House." If there are any suggestions that are particularly good or unusual, they might be sent to the local paper or even to a household magazine. Ask your English teacher to help you write these up properly.
How Long-Handled Tools Help to Save Energy. - Have you ever realized that in selecting as simple a tool as a dust pan, it is possible to choose one that will save energy? Look at the picture in Fig. 118 and notice that the long-handled dustpan does not require the worker to stoop. It also keeps us from getting dust in our faces. We would not think of using a whiskbroom to sweep our floors. Why not have all the tools that we use to clean the floor made with long handles? It is certainly much easier to scrub the floor if we have a long-handled mop than to do it on our hands and knees. If we have a wringer attached to the pail it is even possible to wring out the mop without bending over. Do you know any other long-handled tools that help to save energy?
How the Height of Stationary Equipment Saves Energy. - Did you ever try to sit at a schoolroom desk that was too small for you? Of course, it was not comfortable and you could not work for long at such a desk. If you should have to iron at a table that was much too high for you for a long time or wash your clothes at a tub that was so low that it caused you to bend over a great deal, you would, of course, become very tired. Sometimes the housewife works at tables, sinks, laundry tubs or ironing boards that are not the right height. Because the height may not be very much too high or too low she may not notice that it causes her to become very tired. A few minutes' work at a surface that is not the right height may not matter, but continued work will surely cause fatigue. Unfortunately, the same height can not accommodate a tall person and a short person. If you are shorter than your mother it may be that the working surfaces in your home will be right for you but too low for your mother. Which girl in Fig. 119 will become tired more easily?
How Built-in Conveniences Save Labor. - Do you think it is more convenient to have an ironing board that is attached to the wall and can be let down into place or to have an ironing board that is kept in a closet and has to be brought out and put on a table? Some people find it convenient to fasten one end of the ironing board to the wall in a small cupboard as shown in Fig. 120. When the ironing board is not in use it can be folded up against the wall and the door of the little cupboard closed. Do you think there is any place in your home where an ironing board can be attached to the wall in this way?
Another built-in convenience that makes housekeeping easier is the closet in the hall for coats and wraps. This makes it easy for each member of the family to put his things away as soon as he enters the house. It saves many steps in putting things away and in getting them when you want them.