Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Laundry starch
Remember when every day of the week had its own assigned chore?

Laura Ingalls did. Her mother’s weekly schedule stayed with Laura throughout her life and made an appearance in her first book: “Wash on Monday. Iron on Tuesday. Mend on Wednesday. Churn on Thursday. Clean on Friday. Bake on Saturday. Rest on Sunday.”

My dad remembers, too  — or at least, he remembers his grandmother observing a regular weekly schedule of domestic drudgery.

Me? Not so much.

Some weeks it feels like my days all run together in an endless stream of crazy. Work work. House work. Email. Laundry. Reading. Cooking. Writing. Cleaning. All day. Every day.

I completely get why the old timey ladies tried to bring some order and regularity to their otherwise frantic weekly dance around the mulberry bush . . .

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, The mulberry bush.
Here we go ’round the mulberry bush,
So early in the morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes,
Wash our clothes, Wash our clothes.
This is the way we wash our clothes,
So early Monday morning. . . . 

As a working mom in the twenty-first century, my great grandmother’s schedule probably wouldn’t be a good fit for me. For one thing, my dad usually does his laundry on Mondays. (I do laundry every other day of the week, or nearly.)

That said, we have started keeping a weekly schedule of sorts that has been helping to bring a little order to the crazy and break up the monotony of the everyday.

On the chance that it might be helpful or interesting to some of you, here’s what our weekly “mulberry bush” looks like:

Sunday morning: church

Sunday evening: music night

Tuesday night: family night

Thursday night: game night (board and card games, not video games!)

Friday night: movie night

Saturday morning: chore day

It’s not a perfect scheme — and we’re not perfect at sticking to it — but it does lend a certain pleasant rhythm to our daily life that was missing before. What’s more, it gives us lots of fun little moments to look forward to together throughout our week.

Heaven help me, though, if movie night ever gets preempted or neglected!

This is the way we watch our movies,
Watch our movies, watch our movies.
This is the way we watch our movies
So early Friday evening. 

Do you have a regular schedule to bring order to your domestic life? Or is yours a “make it up as we go along” kind of house?


6 thoughts on “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

  1. My Grandmother had that same weekly schedule, to a degree. She didn’t churn and she baked as needed. I do remember wash on Monday, which included hanging the laundry on the line in the back yard, then when dry, sprinkling the cotton with an old soda bottle that was fitted with a plastic daisy flower that was designed to sprinkle the laundry! Then we would roll it up tightly and store it in the fridge for 2 days, then we would iron on Wednesday. Mending happened as needed and tended to pile up, at least when we were visiting!

    I once asked how she could have had all her laundry done on 1 day, when she had little kids? She explained that they didn’t have the amount of clothing we have today, as a kid, my mother had 3 dresses; 2 everyday which she wore for school AND chores and 1 for good which went to church or visiting. She was expected to keep them clean and undamaged during the week. There were several pinafore type things Grandma and Mom used to cover their dresses, which helped to save them when doing chores I am sure.

    What’s funny is that we thought nothing odd about Grandma stowing her sprinkled laundry in the fridge, never even questioned that she did so! Never questioned why my Mom never did, it seemed such a Grandma kind of thing to do.

    Some advice Grandma gave me when I became a young wife then mother was to follow a weekly schedule, but if I had put off the laundry for a one day a week marathon do, I’d still be doing it today!

    • Wow. Great memories. I love reading first-person history — and knowing that the weekly schedule was not an isolated phenomenon.

      But the refrigerator? That’s got me curious for sure!

      I agree. I used to try to do laundry just on one day of the week, but after baby #3, I began to find that the only way to stay even marginally on top of it was to start doing a load or two nearly every day. Of course, we all have way more than three dresses apiece, and we’re not very fastidious about keeping our clothes neat and tidy.

  2. I remember my mom (your grandma) putting dampened clothes in the refrigerator on occasion. Putting the rolled up dampened clothes in a plastic bag and setting them aside allowed the dampness to spread to every thread. But if you weren’t going to iron later that day, then the dampened clothes needed to be refrigerated so they wouldn’t grow mold. Perma-press or non-wrinkling fabrics didn’t come about until the late 1960’s. That’s why sheets and pillow cases also needed ironing. They wrinkled horribly, even when hung out to dry, especially if there wasn’t much wind to stretch them out a bit. Ironing helped to stretch the fabric out, make them more comfortable, and fit the person or the bed/pillows better, as well as get sanitized. All through high school and until I married, one of my chores was to iron the entire family’s laundry every Saturday, which took about 3 or 4 hours per session.

  3. Well. You know my abysmal housekeeping. In my defense…well there is no defense. I’m one of those people that hates housework, Just when I get around to the cleany thing, I will find a book that I needed to take a break with, snacks and all.

    The only ray of light is the laundry.I love my front loader. It does a great job of cleaning and spinning. In our old home the summer winds were such that the wind could dry sheets in about 20 min.(bear in mind that we were a very arid area).Not so these days… Beside the fact that my hubby was tired of getting close-lined, and we wanted our tallish relations to keep their heads, my husband took the line down. 😦

    Over the years there was a way to keep the house clean…have people over! For a few years we hosted an evening midweek Bible study and a homeschool book club. That kept me on track…somewhat.

    One more thing I am using to try to keep the mess at bay somewhat, is my.Cozi calendar.This is a calendar designed for busy parents with kids to shuffle…I put Kent’s schedule, all my local kids,and my two tutorial classes on there, I schedule where I need to be and when and Dr.Appointments and what not..I chose the Fly Lady option to add to the regular Cozi . In the past the flylady cleaning system was overwhelming…With Cozi the cleaning suggestions for one day are there, to use as I have time or not…. .

    Kent brought me a treat…See ya~

    • Hurrah for husbands bearing treats!

      Thanks for reminding me about Cozi. I thought it was so cool last summer when you first introduced it to me, and then, of course, I promptly forgot all about it.

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