Learn so to systematize your concerns, that each day of the week shall have its appropriate work, and every domestic know, without being prompted, what she is to do on that day. Observe whether all do their appropriate work; but do not prompt them, unless you see that they are likely to forget. They should learn to feel the responsibility to be on their own memory - not yours.
In the morning, soon after breakfast, give all your directions about the dinner, and tea, and specify all the work you wish to have done in addition to the regular routine of the day. If you think of any thing more afterwards, defer it, if you can, till another day; nothing disturbs the temper of domestics more than to have additional work assigned them after the business of the day has been laid out.
The two following modes of arranging the work of a week, are designed for families whose pecuniary means allow an entirely comfortable, but not a costly mode of living; yet they may contain useful hints for those whose wealth admits of the employment of a number of domestics.
On Monday have the house swept and dusted, the clothes for the wash collected, and such articles mended as should be before being washed.
On Tuesday, wash; and here it should be observed, that those persons who have never practised washing, are often unreasonable in their requirements on this day. If there is but one domestic, she is of course to do the washing; but, unless the family is small, she could be excused from doing the cooking or other ordinary work of the family.
Every one acquainted with this part of family labor, knows that it is very discouraging to be obliged to leave it and do other things; and the cleaning which must be done after the clothes are upon the line, is a sufficient occupation for the remaining time and strength, without one's being obliged to do any portion of the daily housework. In families where the washings are large, it is better to delay the ironing until the next day but one; this gives time for doing some things necessarily omitted on washing-day; for baking, if the size of the family makes it necessary to bake twice a week, and for folding the clothes; and the girl is better able to do the whole ironing in a day, than if she were to perform this labor immediately after washing. To most persons, both washing and ironing are severe labors, and therefore should not be assigned to successive days, unless the domestic herself prefers it, which is sometimes the case.
Therefore, on Wednesday, bake, and fold the clothes. On Tliursday, iron. On Friday, have all parts of the house that are in constant use, swept and dusted again, the brasses rubbed, and if there are windows to be washed, closets or sleeping rooms to be scoured, let it be done on this day.
On Saturday, bake, and provide such a supply for the table as shall supersede the necessity of cooking on Sunday.
The chief advantage of this method is, that the mistress of the family has not the Monday's sweeping to do, in addition to getting the washing-day dinner; and if she is subject to incidental company, and has not daughters or a friend to help her, or has slender health, this is an important relief.
The other arrangement is to wash on Monday; bake, and do other things necessarily omitted, on Tuesday; iron on Wednesday; Thursday, do no extra work. Friday, sweep and clean; Saturday, bake; distribute clean bed linen, and see that every thing is in readiness for the Sabbath.
The practice of rubbing all the silver in common use every week is not necessary, provided it is always washed in clean suds, and rinsed in scalding soft water without soap. If it is washed in the kitchen with other dishes, it will be necessary to rub it once in two or three weeks.
There are several advantages in washing on Monday. It is then easy on Saturday to provide food enough to last until after the washing is done, which cannot easily be accomplished if it is delayed until Tuesday. Another is, that if Monday is a pleasant day, the clothes may be dried, and the ironing and mending completed during the first half of the week; but if Tuesday be the washing-day, and it is rainy, the work of the whole week is delayed. Still another reason is, that after the entire rest of Sunday the frame is invigorated for labor; and lastly, it gives one day in the week of comparative leisure to the domestic. This is a consideration worthy of regard. Some ladies are always uneasy, and appear to think themselves wronged, when they see their domestics quietly seated at their sewing; as if they could not render faithful service without being employed the whole time in household labor. But those persons who so arrange their affairs as to secure to their domestics several hours every week for their own employments, and who take an interest in promoting, in every reasonable way, their comfort and happiness, will be amply rewarded in their faithfulness and attachment.
The situation of a waiting-maid is, in some families, one of hard bondage. It seems as if her employers had forgotten that she is made of flesh and blood, and is therefore capable of having an aching head and weary limbs. She must run at the call of the various bells throughout the house, and no matter how tired she becomes, there is no rest for the sole of her foot. If the unfortunate being is a homeless, motherless little girl, or a friendless foreigner, so much the worse. By a little consideration on the part of the lady, or ladies, of a family, such hard requisitions might be avoided without any real sacrifice of comfort. Our happiness is promoted by the cultivation of such habits that we shall not need the constant attendance of another to save us from exertion.
If your domestics cannot read, offer to teach them, and devote several half hours to their instruction during the week, and an additional hour on Sunday. It is a religious duty, a part of every Christian's mission. Encourage in them a taste for reading, by keeping useful and entertaining books in the kitchen. A love of rational pleasure will thus be promoted, and the effect be every way beneficial.
Let the least possible amount of labor be required from those who serve you, on Sunday. This ought to be a needless injunction in this country; but many a professor of religion, living on the soil trodden by the puritan pilgrims, provides a better din-ner for the Sabbath than for any other day. Religion forbids such a practice; but, aside from this consideration, family com-, fort is essentially promoted by quietness and freedom from care on the Lord's day. Domestics, whatever be their religious predilections, uniformly regard it a great privilege to be exempt from cooking on that day. It is easy, by a little good management, to provide a dinner, nice enough for any table in the land, without even kindling a fire. In the summer this is done in many families; and in the winter, when a fire is of course always burning, a cup of tea, or a dish of vegetables, can be added to the cold articles already provided, without keeping any one from church for the purpose.
In concluding these suggestions, the writer cannot refrain from adding a few words of sympathy and encouragement for those who, having passed their youth in affluent ease, or in the delights of study, are obliged, by the vicissitudes of life, to spend their time and strength in laborious household occupations. There are many such instances in this country, particularly in the great Western Valley. Adversity succeeds prosperity like a sudden inundation, and sweeps away the possessions and the hopes of multitudes. The poor and uneducated are often rapidly elevated to wealthy independence, while the refined and highly educated are compelled to taste the bitterness of poverty; and minds capable of any attainment, and that would grace any station, are doomed to expend their energies in devising methods for the hands to earn a scanty livelihood.
Let not such persons feel themselves degraded by the per-formance of the humblest domestic labor.
"Some kinds of baseness Are nobly undergone, and most poor matters Point to rich ends."
However lowly the common duties of life may be, a faithful and cheerful discharge of them is always honorable, and God smiles on those who patiently fulfil them.