Grumpy old fart!!!

"If you talk to God you're religious. If God talks to you, you're psychotic."

No Servant Problem – Britannia and Eve – Saturday 1st January 1938

No Servant Problem

TO the right-thinking mistress, there is no servant problem. She treats her maid as she would any other person, and forgets all the traditions of the good – or was it the bad – old days of domestic service.

The only real way to run a house is by organised housework. Where there is no method, things are bound to go wrong, with the result that tempers are frayed and mistress and maid are in constant friction.

To keep things right, work to a plan and draw up a schedule of duties. See that it is a workable one and you will find that by keeping to a timetable, method soon becomes a habit.

Make out a family menu sheet for a fortnight at a time. This will not have the same monotony as a weekly one. The maid soon masters these scheduled dishes.

A girl with average intelligence can be taught how to cook, and she picks up wonderfully well if a little patience is taken over her. Daintiness and efficiency in serving can be arrived at by constant practice.

The chief grievance in domestic service is the long hours. The average maid is on duty for about sixteen hours a day – not working hard all the time perhaps, but the bell must be answered, the casual caller given a cup of tea, or the telephone attended to. These and many other trivial matters break into any little leisure time she may have, which means that she is never really off duty.

If the work is organised properly, all this can be avoided and the number of working hours reduced.

Breakfast can be set the night before, if covered with a light piece of muslin to keep out the dust.

See that your maid gets to bed at a decent time of night. Don’t keep her hanging on for an after-theatre supper, or late snacks.

Invest in useful utensils for table cooking. Make your preparations early in the day and the rest is simple. Keep away, however, from anything too elaborate for a late meal.

There is always some part of the day when the work slacks off. A maid should be allowed to look upon this as leisure.

To manage this free time, speed up the work during the forenoon, try to avoid having parcels delivered during her leisure hours, and if you must have your afternoon tea, have the tray set in advance. With an electric kettle, you can quite easily perform this little duty yourself.

In the one-maid household where there are children, this leisure time is difficult to arrange. It means taking a little responsibility yourself as long as the children are young. Few maids, however, object to taking the children out walking, provided some time off is allowed later on.

You will find that this short break will help a maid to carry on cheerfully during the strenuous hours round about dinner or supper time.

With regard to regular time off, the allowance is generally one complete afternoon and evening off each week. Allow the girl out until such an hour when the cinemas close. If there is a dance, trust her occasionally till a late hour, on the condition that the work next day does not suffer. Never change her time off at the last moment. She has made plans, too.

A whole day a month is sometimes advocated, but it is not always possible to arrange such a lengthy period, especially where there is a young family. A Sunday afternoon a week and perhaps Church in the evening is a much appreciated privilege, but if this is impossible, then alternate Sundays must certainly be given.

Servants have many little grievances; chief among them perhaps is the mistress who nags and stands irritatingly over the maid while she goes about her work. There is also the mistress who spies, who watches the illicit ‘phone calls, checks up the notepaper, locks the food cupboards.

This surveillance is sometimes justified, but in the majority of cases it pays to trust a maid.

Give your maid a decent bedroom, and a comfortable bed. Make a point of giving her good food without being extravagant, and see that her table appointments are well kept.

Do not forget that a word of praise is a marvellous incentive, but at the same time do not be afraid to call her in question for carelessness. Take an interest in her personal life. Respect her privacy and give her facilities for an occasional visitor. In fact, treat her like a human being and she will repay you a thousandfold.


Britannia and Eve – Saturday 1st January 1938


March 18, 2018 - Posted by | Advertisements, Maid, Maids, Servants, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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