Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: One fine afternoon, 32-year-old Jen Byck got to wondering what it would be like to be a 1950s housewife -- what her days would actually be like if she lived according to the rules and advice of books and magazines of that era. And so she set out to try it for a week.
Since this is 2010 and not 1954, she blogged about her experience, too. And so began The '50s Housewife Experiment, which she chronicled on her blog, JenButNeverJenn.com. The first experiment centered mainly around food and housekeeping. For the second experiment, which she just wrapped up, she focused more on making her husband happy.
Momlogic called Jen up at her Toronto abode to find out what had inspired this freelance copywriter to relive a bygone era.
momlogic: What were your days like as a '50s housewife?
Jen Byck: A part of the experiment was to do without modern conveniences. I tried to stick with watching the news. I tried to stick with things that she would have watched. When I did watch TV, I watched "I Love Lucy" instead of regular TV. I didn't use my cell phone. I didn't use my credit card.
ml: Was your mom a housewife?
JB: She was for the bulk of my childhood. She thinks it's funny. I think she actually kind of appreciates it in a weird way.
ml: What made you decide to focus on your husband's needs for the second experiment?
JB: I received a few comments that a true '50s housewife would have catered more directly to her husband. [My husband] had just started a new job, and I had found a few books on helping your husband get ahead in business life and social life. I thought it would be interesting to do another experiment where the marriage part would be a focus.
ml: What did he think of it?
JB: He was amused. He finds the entire thing pretty amusing. He loves the fact that he comes home to a clean house and food. That kind of thing makes his tail wag.
ml: What was the weirdest thing you did?
JB: One book suggested you get a fine every time that you nag, and I still think that's so crazy. But it actually made me stop and think, "Is it worth it to bring something up?" It made me realize moments that I was nagging. It made me realize that I don't particularly like nagging and there are better ways of getting your way. But I will not keep the nag jar.
ml: What was your favorite '50s activity?
JB: My husband and I went out bowling for the first experiment, and that was really fun. I can't remember the last time I went bowling. We went to this bowling alley and discovered it was dead and had a total blast.
ml: What was the most absurd thing?
JB: Carved grapefruit -- that one was pretty ridiculous, especially for me. I woke up early to carve a grapefruit for my husband, and he was completely confused.
ml: What's next for the blog?
JB: I was contacted by a TV development company in New York, and what we've come up with is a fairly campy and kitschy '50s-housewife-centered reality show -- the sort of thing I hope John Waters would tune in to. The show is still in the network-pitching stage. So, who knows!