Are You A Radical Homemaker?

28/05/2010 20:31 | Updated 22 May 2015

If you decide to put your career on hold when you start a family it can feel as if you're swimming against the tide. Such mothers, particularly first-time ones, can feel isolated, bored and soon find they are lacking in confidence.

But by staying at home to look after your children and honing your domestic skills you may find a new lease of life, empowerment and a renewed sense of purpose.

A new movement shows how a different way of life can be lived. It highlights high powered, well educated women who give up their careers to tend gardens, children and friendships.

Yes, you may be a Radical Homemaker. But who is such a person and what do they do that's different to the usual stay-at-home mums and housewives?It is a concept and a name coined by American Shannon Hayes who has recently published a book on the subject with the subtitle "Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture".

Put like that it may sound dreary, a bit worthy and rather dull but think again. Hayes argues the usual life of a housewife (although the book is aimed at both sexes) is empty and dull.

Feminists might initially throw up their hands in horror at returning to domesticity but this is not a movement that requires women to go back to a role of servitude with nothing more to concern them than getting little Johnny ready for school and the husband's tea ready for his return.

In fact, Hayes advocates that radical homemakers can only find fulfilment if both sexes take on equal roles and while most do have children, they are not a prerequisite. Anyone can be a radical homemaker.

While Hayes believes that becoming more self-sufficient and honing our domestic skills are important, they turn the home into a platform from which to launch a great change in society.

"Once we feel sufficiently proficient with our domestic skills, few of us will be content to simply practice them til the end of our days. Many of us will strive for more, to bring more beauty to the world, to bring about greater social change, to make life better for our neighbours, to contribute our creative powers to a new, brighter, sustainable and happier future," she writes.

But if you've been up all night with the baby, are bored with cooking every night and think you will get buried under your ironing pile, turning those feelings around into a new way of living can take more energy than you may have to give. But it is possible.

According to Hayes, there are three stages to becoming something more: renouncing consumerism and a conventional life, then rediscovering lost domestic skills and finally rebuilding when radical homemakers look outwards towards society and their community.

"There is more to our lives than a partner, children and a clean house," writes Hayes.

What do you think? Do you find fulfilment in your role as a stay-at-home mum or do you think working outside the home is the only way to achieve that? Do you consider yourself a Radical Homemaker?


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