18 August 2010

The home revolution

Let's continue on the theme of career Homemakers today because there is work to be done.  We need to form a strategy.  The common problem that seems to crop up with many is when friends and family criticise our choice to work at home.  I really don't get this. I think some of it stems from not understanding the work of a homemaker and part of it from a conformist mentality.  When everyone conforms to the group dynamic, it validates their choices.  When someone doesn't conform, it creates doubt and suspicion.  And although homemaking might sound like the most harmless of careers, it's a radical choice now and not everyone will be comfortable with this home revolution. We need to work together to help change these outdated attitudes so that not only do we work at home with the support of family and friends but we also open up the option of a homemaking career for younger people who, right now, might not even know it's an intelligent and important option.

As you age, confidence fills every atom of your being.  Well, it has for me. I've always been a confident person but now I'm older I just expect many people to have differing opinions and beliefs and when I'm made aware of how different I am to many of my contempories, I just shrug and get on with it - I expect it.  And that might be the key to this - expect that people won't understand and when they tell you that, it's not a shock and you can talk to them about your choice in a rational way.  Don't be hurt by what others say to you on this topic.  For some reason, some people who would never think of insulting or hurting you with a comment about how they don't like your new hair style, think it's perfectly okay to tell you they don't like the way you've chosen to spend your days.  They just don't think it will offend or upset you, and if they do, you don't want them as friends.  Walk away.

I think it would be helpful to think carefully about your reasons for wanting to be a homemaker  and then write it all down.  Include all the positive benefits like debt reduction, healthy food, family support, being greener and reducing stress in your life so that you're clear in your mind about your own particular reasons.  When this topic comes up, say that you know this way of living is the best for you and your family and explain your list in a positive and self confident way.  Be prepared to talk about your decision but don't go on about it too much.  If someone won't accept your choice, then just end the conversation with something like: "You might not understand why I need to do this but I'd appreciate your support."  During the course of your conversations with friends, tell them about something that you're enjoying at the moment, talk about your normal everyday activities - particularly those that might seem quaint or outdated.  Tell them about your bread and soap making and how everyone appreciates your skills.  Show them your knitting and sewing.  Demonstrate your life in gentle ways.  Be your own best advertisement.

Homemaking has been looked down upon for decades.  This is not going to change overnight.  But if we all develop a strategy to talk about our work in a way they highlights the significance of it, if we show, by example, that being a homemaker makes us content, if we reskill ourselves for a productive future, if we guide our families with grace and confidence and if we share our experiences in a thoughtful way then we'll gain some of the support we all hope for and validate our choice to be what we are.



  1. "When everyone conforms to the group dynamic, it validates their choices. When someone doesn't conform, it creates doubt and suspicion. And although homemaking might sound like the most harmless of careers, it's a radical choice now and not everyone will be comfortable with this home revolution."

    Well said. It's funny how that works. Perhaps it is a facetof the Durkheim Constant.

    We've run up against the same thing with regard to steering our kids away from television. Pleaple lecture us on how they are going to be ignorant of pop culture. We think the educational value of other activities makes it worth this kind of ignorance.

  2. Wonderful post with great tips. I often find myself having to defend staying at home, not only from the general public, but family as well. I am learning a lot from your blog!

  3. I get the feeling sometimes that people think that if you've had higher education, that you are wasted being a homemaker. All I can say is that my priorities are different. Education is important, so how is educating and caring for your family, and particularly your children be somehow "less" than having a career? I refuse to be ashamed of my choice to be the the keeper of my house. I really like your idea of writing down your reasons for homemaking - it really clarifies everything to see it in writing!

  4. As an individual born in the month of the crab and boar year, A homemaker and mother has eternally appealed to me! I see no shame in it and feel quite proud that one's sentiments and eternal values reflect this(I love people, animals and the Earth:).

    We need more loving folk like you, Rhonda!



  5. Quietly lead by example and show off a bit. I like it. Works for me. I'm in. Homemaker I am.

  6. great post (as usual). a couple of years ago i was working on an organic farm. i was having a philosophical conversation with my boss clyde about being "green" and conscious vs my capitalistic views. he said one day id have to choose. the trouble being we are brainwashed into putting a dollar value on everything, we think that a monetary system is the only way for the world to function. when the lightbulb goes on and you discount this and can put a "value" on the work you do in a non monetary way the true value emerges. when we can free our minds from a capitalistic and consumeristic world we will all be "better off". amazing stuff, keep going, you are doing great and Valuable work. im inspired even more everytime i read your posts.

  7. I recently had a baby and am now a stay-at-home-mama after being in the workforce for years. I love it. I read your blog often for inspiration and advice. Thank you for your writing!

  8. I made the decision to stay home and be a mother and homemaker after our first child was born. My husband supported the decision. That baby is now 20 and I have gone back to work. People's reactions over the years varied but the one I shall always remember is the guest speaker who came to school to speak to parents about futher education for their children. Her view was that if you didn't push your children to further education and then have them use their qualification the world may have missed out on a rocket scientist. I do have a university degree but have never worked in the field of my degree but its not a waste. By choosing to stay at home we have raised confident, well adjusted children who contribute to society. I've had the time and energy to volunteer many hours in community involvement.Homemakers build the foundation of our society.

  9. People might be enlightened by reading Elizabeth Warren's
    The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke.

    Lots of people think they should have two incomes for more money and security, but that isn't quite as real as they may think. Some of the book refers more specifically to things that happened in US law about twenty five years ago that made credit card debt more of a problem, but these ideas - while not as much fun to consider as thinking about the freedom and creativity one can find in working at home - are another piece of evidence that can help women understand or justify their desire to do this.

    Warren is a professor at Harvard University, and I find her ideas very enlightening.

  10. ps to my last comment:

    I may be living in another world, but I don't think homemaking is looked down on so much where I live, although I used to feel sad about not having had another career. But my life has been wonderful and I don't regret those choices at all.

  11. I've been a full time homemaker for over 35 years. My hubby and I were married 6 months (I wanted to work and pay off the new car I'd bought two years earlier before quitting my job) when I walked out of the office and I never looked back, never regretted the choice.
    At that time, mid 70's, the women's movement was raging and my "choice", which is what womens lib was suppose to be all about, was looked down on by many people we knew. I received more then a few negative comments and at time's some were outright nasty.
    I shrugged it all off and did my own thing knowing what I was doing was right for me.

    Thirty-five years later I am still happily married to the same wonderful man and we have two wonderful daughters who also know how to manage on very little and be happy.

    Its wonderful to watch the younger generation discover what I've always known. Happiness comes from living simply and loving what you do.

    Thank you Rhonda for helping to make homemaking a choice once again.

  12. I don't understand the mentality either Rhonda, that makes people think it is wrong to be a homemaker. It is the best job I have ever had, hands down! Thanks for the great and encouraging post:)

  13. I'm loving your recent posts about homemaking/home working. It is something that my husband and i have planned to do when we start a family in a year. I was wondering if you could recommend any good books that would be good sources of info (along with this wonderful blog)? Thanks - I know I will return often to your blog for ideas, inspiration and communtiy.

  14. I think each family has to do what is best for those who live under the same roof,no matter how that works out,no matter who it is who stays home or not.
    I have been home for the past couple of years full time due to our son being ill.I am now returning to work only because we need to get out from under the medical bills.
    By working part time I can speed up the paying off of debits and still have time for all of my homemaking.
    When I was home full time I always told people "I am doing what is right for my family and our needs"

    Another good posting,thank you.

  15. As a child I dreamed of being a homemaker. It was what I wanted to do all my life. Why is my dream any less real or any less valid than someone who always dreamed of being a writer or an attorney or President of the USA? When I got married, my husband could not understand my dream of staying home. It took my becoming disabled before he could wrap his mind around my being at home. Now, he totally understands and loves my being at home. He has come to value what I bring to the table in our marriage. It's not a paycheck and has no prestige but it sure makes life better for us.

  16. Wow, I love what you write. I can't believe how friends think it's ok to say how "boring" it must be to be at home. I've been asked don't I need something for me to keep my brain working? OMG. With 3 teenaged girls, a hubby and a dog, vegie patch, garden, messy house to look after? I am very fulfilled and hardly bored -I sew, knit, crochet, cook, garden, the list goes on... and I love it!

  17. Well said thesimplepoppy! I always have the feeling that I have defend my decision as a homemaker and activities associated with it (cloth diapers, canning, gardening, etc.) and that I'm looked down upon because I have a college degree, and a Masters degree, but no "career"! Thanks for a wonderful post. It really lifted my day and boosted my self confidence.

  18. Love it...thanks again for a great post! What is the story behind the last picture you posted... it looks like salsa turned sideways over a strainer. :o)

  19. Thank you for this post, I can't even begin to explain what it means to me. I have touched on this subject as well. I included a piece by Oprah Winfrey honoring the Mom, and included it in my post because when I first had my daughter I didn't feel the support of being home. I wish more people would understand what goes into making a home and how much my family depends on me. Well I could write a book here lol but I just wanted you to know this post touched me and I thank you.

  20. Thanks Rhonda. I am sometime a little embarrassed about the simple life I lead. Only sharing my thoughts with a few close friends who understand my choices. However, just this w/e (timely given your posts this week) a friend was at my house doing the dished and commented on my knitted dishoth. Well that started a long conversation ending with her with a bar of my homemade soap in her hand telling me I am an inspiration. Thanks for confirming my feelings in your wonderful blog.

  21. I think part of the problem with the image of homemaking as a career choice (including as a temporary or part-time career choice) is that it's assumed to go with a particular set of social and political views, which may or may not be the case in individual circumstances.

    For the generation of women who had to fight to have jobs outside the home and to have equal pay and equal career opportunities, it can seem like a rejection of their achievements for women to want to work in the home - and I think that this is predominantly a women's issue, whether it should be or not.

    There's also a school of thought that women who opt to work inside the home and be 'supported' by their male partners, are automatically subscribing to a very traditional view of relationships - something that is not always the case. The fact that if a couple chooses to have one partner at home, it's more likely to be a woman because men still have higher earning capacity is a problem which distorts the picture.

    As a feminist, I believe that women should be free to make choices for themselves and for their families, and that should include the right to work at home if that's what suits them best. As a single person, I would like there to be much for flexibility in the 'standard' work week so that I'm not constantly run ragged trying to juggle a demanding job and caring for my home.

    I think there are paradigms that need to be changed and paradigm change is seldom easy, but it can be achieved if people are willing to speak out about their circumstances and choices.

  22. Pen pen, it's a jar of homemade relish pressing down on yoghurt in a strainer to make cheese. :- )

  23. thanks again Rhonda, for a very thought filled post. I am now, after only nearly 4 years of being at home with my children, getting more comfortable with having a finger pointed in my direction and hearing "She stays at home" like it's some sort of poor reflection of my employability.

    I have just made my second batch of laundry liquid, and I am telling everyone about it, including how it only takes me around 20 minutes from beginning to decantering. Although I'm sure the 'mainstream' think I'm nuts, I'm comfortable, and I just no longer see their approval or disapproval as a reflection of my own thoughts on things anymore.

    Thanks again.

  24. Hi Rhonda. I am loving your blog so much and am surprised I didn't come to it earlier than last week.

    Regarding this post..."Homemaking has been looked down upon for decades. This is not going to change overnight." I feel all the more confident about my choice the more I read here, so thank you for validating what we do (and providing so much useful information about how to embrace home making and simplifying).

    What I wonder about is how this grass-roots approach will eventually get through to our economists. It's one thing to slowly change the minds of people who see the fruits of what we do. But how I'd love to see our choices start to influence the unsustainable economic model of growth upon which our whole society is based.

  25. Dear Rhonda, as a mother of a toddler and another little one on the way (any day now!), it's usually pretty "obvious" to people why I stay home. But the fact is, I've been a homemaker even before I had children, for the same reasons you so often mention in your posts. It's amazing how much in common I feel we have, even though we're homemakers in different stages of life. You no longer have children at home so of course you have extra time you occupy in such wonderfully creative and productive ways. My hands have been itching to try some soap-making and canning, but sometimes, with little ones some things just have to wait.

    Perhaps a time will come again when I must "defend" my staying at home. Hopefully I'll take it with grace.

  26. Great post today Rhonda, as usual.
    I was, years ago, working in a hugh multi-national office, going through the same things of the typical office agenda, working, not getting promoted, the boss trying to chase whatever in the office to " help promote" and not getting anywhere.

    When my health deteriorated to where I am now disabled, I am home, and I love it, and am very proud of it. Though the stigma of being disabled doesn't help on top of being a home maker,(being told that you are worthless in the job market, period) I do not know of Austrailan culture, but all you have to do is be observant and look around at all the feral kids and all the drugs and problems resulting from not having a mum around or family to guide and educate. This is my observance only, but I see it even where I live in my trailer park, the mess things are in from no structure in the home.
    I personally, do not discuss much with people that I do run into, or with the neighbors, as I have several stigma's that dog me, I am disabled, I am at home, and I live in a trailer park which is the bain of my community to boot, so I personally have difficulty with the whole home issure and I quit defending myself, I generally just walk away. It is stress that I do not need in my life.

  27. Love it and love you! Thanks for encouraging me in my choice.

  28. Rhonda - Great post, and I agree with what you've said. The one thing you should caution people about, is that when trying to communicate the attitude they should not focus on "cheap" or "saving money" when talking to the unconverted. Since they may not get the reasons behind what you are doing, they will latch onto that aspect of it and miss the real picture. You have to keep the real reasons for all the little things you do out front, or there is no chance at all that you'll make an impact.

  29. Thank you for your continual affirmation of a homemaker's role, Rhonda. I'm a single mother who is attempting to live on a small income so I can stay at home with my children and homeschool them and give them a comfortable home and homemade bread and simple pleasures rather than have more money and be away from them all day. My children regularly voice their appreciation that I am home with them even though it means they don't have as much "stuff" as all of their friends. Your support, although you don't know who I am, and your ideas on living simply and saving money help me with this choice. Your post today confirmed that I have been dealing with the naysayers in my life, including my own father, in the correct way. Thanks so much for your encouragement. I come to your blog daily even when I don't have time for anything else because I know it will be uplifting.


  30. Hi Rhonda
    For years I tried and be what people exspected a young single,childless woman to want to be and that was career minded. Never was I love my home, the rhythm I help create and the people I feed and nurture in it. I dont alway make a good job but what I do is done with love and want for the bettermet of all.
    Recently due to heath reasons I joined a gym and have found myself when asked my occupaition saying I am a home maker and love my job, and you know Rhonda, I do. wouldn't do anything else. what other occupaition can change from day to day or hour to hour? It is so flexable and I find myself making good frugal strides into happy domesticity.
    I once heard in a very good sit com called "Butterflys" Rea use the line "Modern thingking not modern doing"

    Good poste spke right to my happy place


  31. oh frogeot to say rea was from a generation of women born and educated to be wives and mothers and he children grew up in a world where choice was theres and the frustration she felt because of it. I always belived that under it all she wouldnt have been anywhere else

  32. I think staying at home full time, especially without children to take care of, puzzles some people. They don't realize the things that a homemaker can be doing with all that time. I've learned to be such a better cook and baker as well as learning how to sew better in the last couple of years. And, I am still learning! It is a good idea to share with people the things that take up your time because I have been asked "What do you do all day?"

  33. A wonderful post Rhonda. It makes my day to come across people that are excited and want to know more about my homelife.
    I usually run into these people in the supermarket when shopping with my five children and the conversations usually start with a question or comment about the children.
    All our families and friends work, mostly full time. This makes it very difficult in times of need. I have come across any number of annoyed professionals for me having the chidren with me at appointments.
    Homemakers without children at home are just as important as ones with children at home, and not just to help family/friends. Homemakers keep the home fires burning, they are the backbone in the household and they are just as important as the hand that rocks the cradle.

  34. so true Linda, its part of what we as women still need to work towards, homemaking as a valid and worthy career, though I am not opposed to men being homemakers either it just generally tends to be women and tends to be less worthy when women are doing it. I feel the same of stay at home parenting, which is my full time position. Some may combine parenting with homemaking but I believe parenting is a fulltime job in itself and any homemaking that gets done outside of it is an additional full time (and somedays part time) position.

  35. Well said! My sentiments exactly. A good friend who reads your blog told me I would like this and she's right. I have a blog with a similar mission...share the joys of homemaking. I'm trying to help 're-claim' the lost of arts of homemaking and inspire interest in what I consider to be a fabulous career option and one with profound implications for our family and culture. I will have to keep up with you since we have such similar perspectives. I'm more of a 'how to' person and love teaching so my blog is focused more on the how than the why.

    I'm so glad Jaime suggested I drop by. :o)

    Donna Rodgers @ Comin' Home

  36. Definately a wish choice,to be a homemaker. I have spent 30 years of doubt and being belittled and looked down upon by my peers. They said it was a waste of my education and they have high flying jobs. Now I can leave that all behind. I know I made the correct choice for my and my families life. We have home grown and home made food.We will be getting hens soon too. I have taken up knitting and am learning to crochet. Sewing next! My family appreciate what I do for them and I love them. Thats all that matters in this world.THANK YOU so much for this blog. its very encouraging and inspiring.

  37. Found another great post. I normally say this quiety because people think you are rich when you say you don't have a mortgage. We were lucky enough to sell a business and buy our house outright and then move mortgage free to our dream home. But, it needed a lot of work and hubs is talented enough that he could do thework himself. Because of this we are again lucky not to have Dad our working all the hours and can have some great family time. My sister and her family are the opposite. She HAS to go our to work because they want stuff. I know they have a mortgage, too, but she always says she hates the idea of cooking, cleaning, homemaking in general whereas I could not be happier. As DarceyLee said in her post she has become a better cook by being at home and I have too. Thanks again for encouragement and inspiration.


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