Housekeeping is like farming. It is very laborious, and its tasks vary with the seasons. There is the monotonous daily round, certainly, of meals, and beds, and sweeping, and dusting; but in addition to that each month brings a special household duty, and it is this variety which makes domestic work interesting.
One month we shall be all talking about our marmalade, and we shall be in the dust of spring-cleaning the next. All our spare time for another month may be occupied in certain necessary renovations, such as painting shabby woodwork, making and putting up new draperies. Then, if we can get the house put decently into the background of our thoughts, we must turn our attention to the making and altering of summer clothing for ourselves and the children.
All this must be got well over before the fruit season comes upon us, for the berries will not put off their ripening for a day to suit our convenience or the pressure of our other work. One thing presses upon the heels of another, so that there is seldom an interval of leisure. While each duty of the month lasts, we are greatly engrossed in it, and forget other things that were just as important in their day; but we get tired of too much of one task.
Jam-making is delightful at first, but don’t we get weary of it when we have boiled about a hundred pounds of sugar? Cleaning is exhilarating for about ten days or so, and then we long to be “straight” once more. Staying guests — and, for that matter, mere afternoon callers — complicate matters considerably for the busy housewife who has not reliable servants. Such-and-such must be done before So-and-So comes, but we cannot always manage it nevertheless.
People are never really busy unless they have more to do than they can properly fit in. I do not mean that the necessary daily or weekly round ought to be more than can be comfortably accomplished, but there should be in every healthy person a ceaseless activity of mind that reaches out to fill each wakeful hour.