Why Every Successful Woman Needs a ‘Housewife’


If you’re a high-achieving woman with a career to navigate or business to build, you probably want more hours in the day, more energy, and more money. But what you might need most of all is a “housewife.”

It’s so very 1950s, and yet I’d argue the same theory holds today: Most successful people have a “housewife” behind them — of sorts.

This is someone who remembers to buy toothpaste before you run out. Someone who RSVPs to weddings and buys the gift and books the flights. Someone to shop for oatmeal and bananas and coffee. Someone who handles laundry and cleaning so Sunday is for fun, not chores and errands. Someone who takes the car for an oil change, gets the passports renewed, and handles every logistical detail that comes with raising children.

But your “housewife” doesn’t have to be a Mad Men-style archetype — nor do they even have to be female. They don’t have to be someone you’re romantically attached to, or even an actual person! Your “housewife” is simply the people, strategies, and systems you employ to manage the logistics of life — easily. Here are four ways to put more wife in your life, so you can put your focus on achieving your goals.

1. Ask your partner to be the “housewife” — for a season.
Sometimes work life ramps up in crazy fashion, and it’s a perfect time to ask your partner to help out. For example, in the exhilarating, uber-fast-paced weeks around the launch of my book, many of the general household tasks I normally did — picking up groceries, planning meals — dropped completely off my radar. So instead of sharing household duties in some rough approximation of 50/50 like we normally did, my husband became the “housewife” for a few months. Food showed up magically in my kitchen and on my plate. Clothes floated home from the dry cleaner. When my book tour was over, we went back to 50/50 until this spring, when he led the development of a new software project, and I found myself jumping in to help as “housewife.”

2. Outsource the “housewife” jobs.
This is when it gets fun. Whether or not you have a partner, the easiest path to a “housewife” is to outsource parts of the 1950s housewife canon. Hiring a cleaning service is an obvious example here, but these days you can be so much more creative: services like Plated and Blue Apron take the work out of meal planning and shopping; professional organizers and homemakers can come in and organize your house; you can use TaskRabbit to offload a few dreaded chores; you can employ a service to do your laundry (but don’t stop there — automate it with a weekly pickup so it takes even less time).

3. Automate everything.
Use technology to your advantage. The 1950s housewife, for example, might take an afternoon to pay the bills, but with autopay services today you don’t have to give it a second thought. Where else can you apply that? I know a working mother of two in NYC who swears by her standing FreshDirect delivery: Every Monday at 8 am, she knows she’ll get a box of the essentials her family needs from a set list she tweaks every few months. Total time per week: five minutes to put items in the fridge.

4. Schedule in time.
One of the best things I’ve been doing is regularly taking a half day off each month to handle myriad little details that come up: taking the car in for an oil change, dropping off returns, scheduling flights for upcoming family events, etc. For those few hours, I turn work mode off and become my own “housewife.” And somehow, by separating it out from the day-to-day hustle, I get to enjoy it more. After all, the logistics of life can be fun when you have the time for them.

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