The Accidental 1950s Housewife
“Oooh, I could quite get used to this” I thought as I knelt on the lawn, trowel in handing ‘doing some gardening’ and alternating between listening to Radio Four and One. “I quite like being a housewife.” It was summer 2009 and I’d been on maternity leave less than a week. I’d done some pre-natal yoga in the morning, walked to the high street butchers to pick up some meat, prepared dinner for hubby, and now I was gardening. Maternity leave, and therefore ‘being a housewife’, was turning out to be most enjoyable.
That was then.
I had been working for ten years since leaving university. My last job before maternity leave had been fun, yet incredibly full-on and demanding for a global technology company. I was exhausted and a slower pace of life was very much a blessing. Plus, whilst I was 38 weeks pregnant ‘with child’ I really had no idea what life would be actually like ‘with A child’ – let alone two! Of course being a housewife seemed wonderful.
The Accidental 1950s Housewife
I’m seven years down the road now. I’m not quite so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have become a 1950s style housewife. I’m not talking about the Stay-At-Home-Parent part but the house-work, housewife part. Without realising it, my non-return to full-time work, my fundamental principles and our move two years ago to the US have all contributed to this role I’ve accidentally created for myself.
Eco Mum, Eco Housewife
I’ve always been a bit of a ‘Greeny’ at heart. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been aware of the environment, all things ‘Eco’ and wanting to do my bit. One of my favourite childhood activities was taking the boxes of glass bottles to the bottle bank with my mum, throwing them in and hearing them smash. When I was at school I was a fully fledged member of ‘Earth Action’ – painting cardboard boxes green and distributing them throughout the school to collect waste paper. And since then I’ve tried to take these principles with me through life – (www.contentedcalf.com/category/green).
I have always line-dried our clothes. Our London house didn’t have the room for a separate tumble-drier, and once the rubbish combo finally conked out, we opted for a washer-only machine. Our outside ‘whirly-gig’ and indoor Victorian-esque ‘ceiling mounted laundry drying rack‘ together dried our clothes wonderfully.
Well now that we live in California, especially being a Brit, I can’t BARE not to hang our laundry outside. All that sunshine!! No running out and trying too unpeg three loads of washing as a torrential rainstorm dumps it’s load on your (once) beautifully dry washing, or deciding after three days of being rained on that even if the sun DOES come out, that maybe you should wash it again in case all that acid rain and airport smog has got into the clothes. None of that here. So out the washing goes.
But of course, this is a fairly laborious extra step in tackling the never-ending task of the family’s laundry.
As a result, this is me on a regular basis. If I hadn’t recently decided to only do laundry once a week, it would literally be me every moment of every day!
Wanting to just feed Real Food to my girls
Type #jerf into instagram, and you get millions of posts from people who believe, as I do, that one of the easiest ways to stay healthy and nourished is to ‘just eat real food’. I think I’ve pretty much always believed this to some extent. Hubby and I have always cooked from scratch in the main. And this has been particularly so after the girls were born – suddenly one begins to think a whole lot more about we should be putting into our bodies and what we should be leaving out.
However, our move to the US catapulted me to a whole new meteoric level of analysing our food and its contents. It started when I could not find any low sugar ‘fromage frais’ for the girls upon our move here. (Two years in, I have recently found some, ish – thanks WholeFoods!) So I decided to try and make my own using Greek yoghurt and fruit. I have now perfected the recipe and the girls love it.
And I love that they love it. No added sugar. Just real food. But time (though luckily not tonnes, but definitely more than getting a pot out the fridge). And energy. And mess. That requires extra cleaning and washing up. I am thankful everyday for our dishwasher!
Since then I have created and developed a whole range of homemade foods that I would previously have bought. Of course I still do buy shop bought versions a great deal of the time, but I do try to lean towards the homemade versions as much as possible.
Contented Calf creations = Contented Kids
100% fruit popsicles / ice-lollies
The levels of sugar in so many of the foods here is appalling! And so homemade sugar-free ice-cream, and sugar-free lemonade, and bread, and granola, and sore-throat remedies, and jello pots, and smoothies, and… and…
There is a LOT of cooking from scratch in the Contented Calf household! All my creations, plus at least two meals a day. Every day. It’s exhausting.
This leads to the final puzzle piece in my transformation from UK-based Mumpreneur Extraordinaire to US 1950s Housewife Supreme…
The Groceries aka Food Shopping
There are many wonderful things about our life in California. But food shopping is not one of them. Moving to the US has been a real eye-opener on what additives food companies put into processed food! (Check out this article on Food Babe for a comparison of like-for-like processed foods in the US and the UK.) Not that we were big processed food eaters, but any of our convenience ‘treats’ like ice-cream, yoghurt, jelly/o, cake, crisps etc suddenly became a whole lot less appealing.
Add on top of that the toxic pesticides banned in the EU and not in the US, and I’m compelled to buy almost exclusively organic (except for the Clean Fifteen). Of course, buying organic is not cheap. So the most cost-effective way is to buy as much as possible in good old Costco, then top up in WholeFoods and Trader Joe’s. Home-delivery is possible through Instacart, and Safeways does delivery, but it’s not quite the same as Tesco delivery or lovely Ocado. Admittedly I have yet to try Google Express, so that could be my saviour. But for now, I’m in the supermarket at least once a week, marching down the aisles putting real items in my real cart, instead of standing in my kitchen with my grocery app on my phone adding what I need to my virtual ‘cart’.
And voila! There you have it. My accidental transformation into a 1950s housewife is complete. I will bid you a good day, and will see you in the kitchen, in the store or by the clothes line.