Before the 1970s and the feminist revolution, women stayed at home for most of the day attending to the domestic chores that defined their roles as homemakers. With the exception of during World Wars I and II, women didn't really work outside of the home unless they worked in a family business or had no other means of support. The jobs inside the home that women performed became much easier as labor-saving devices such as the washing machine, dryer, dishwasher and others came into common use. Things that had previously taken all day now took much less time, leading to leisure hours that needed to be filled. Indeed, just having a car instead of taking public transportation to get to the market or the doctor freed up hours of time each day as well.
One can only imagine how a day in the life of a mid-century homemaker might look like. After preparing a hot breakfast, without a microwave, getting the kids off to school and hubbie to work, then the great clean up probably began. From hand washing dishes to making beds, to washing clothes and then putting the clothes on the line to dry - there was always something to do. One gets tired even thinking about all that drudgery. Then the house needed to be cleaned and vacuums and such weren't as efficient or as easy to use as they are now. No microwave to heat food quickly. And we won't even get into the fact that freezers needed to be defrosted a few times a year. One can only imagine how glamorous chopping away at frozen ice on the inside of a freezer might be or hand finishing kitchen cabinets from time to time.
If one is younger than 50 years old, it is hard to envision this type of daily routine unless you are a fan of MadMen or other retro type TV shows. But in reality, life was pretty good for these mid-century types for whom stress was self-imposed, not due to external forces such as job pressures or traffic jams. And as much as we might look down on the homemakers of the 1950s and 1960s, they probably had things much easier than today's woman have it. Perhaps a caution to be careful what you wish for.