So why are millennials turning back to modern homemaking?
Women can do anything, we really can.
That is the message we have been receiving for decades, that we can do anything, be anything, work at anything and that we should want to excel at our career ahead of everything else. None of this is wrong, but the power isn’t in that we can do as much as men, succeed in careers as much as men, or be as powerful as men in this world (that last point I actually don’t believe to be true – there is still work to be done). The power is in the choice, the choice whether a career (equivalent in the success and pay as men are afforded) or staying at home is what they choose, and each are afforded the same level of respect across society as a whole.
I decided to turn my attention to modern homemaking and why millennials are turning their hands back to homemaking, a skill that used to be embraced but is now one of those lost arts for many.
So why are Millennials turning back to modern homemaking?
Homemaking isn’t new, but is it making a comeback? We live in such a polarised world and slowing down and simplifying seems almost like a radical idea when really it’s just a normal part of what we want to do as humans. All of our choices are valid, whether you want to stay home or whether you choose to work outside the home, all our choices are valid and important.
When I had my first child I didn’t really know how I felt about what the ‘end’ of maternity leave might look like. I worked for myself so I could essentially decide how long I wanted to take off. I was able to take the normal amount of time off and actually decided to take a bit of extended leave, at around the 15-month mark.
I didn’t really know whether or not I wanted to return to work, but I thought I might dip my toe in the water and see how I felt. Incidentally I “returned” to work (for myself, and very much on my own schedule) in March 2020, just as the rest of the world was closing down. I worked, on a part-time and ad hoc basis until the birth of my second child in May 2021.
We had always said that I would be home full time with our children and it was something that we had set up our life to accommodate from long before we had children.
When my maternity leave finished after the birth of my second child I never felt any pull to go back to work. I just carried on with life as normal.
Returning to work?
I don’t need to return to work – a very privileged statement I know – but thinking back I had had this huge mindset shift and embraced a slow, simple, and more minimalist life. It just felt normal to embrace homemaking.
I didn’t know that I wanted to be a homemaker if I am honest, and it’s not like I am designated with all the tasks around the house and my husband gets to kick back and be waited on hand and foot, in fact the opposite is true. My husband has a very active role in our entire household, sometimes more than me in fact. I would say we very much have an equal share of what takes place inside our home. There are no designated tasks, we just pick up the slack and do the tasks that need to be done. If he has a particularly hard week of work I might pick up more of the slack, and if I am having a more difficult week then he will pick up the slack.
The question is always money
Financially our money is obviously for our family and that was a hard adjustment for me at first and I would always refer to it as his money. It’s not an easy adjustment to make when you have always been someone who is earning.
When we made these decisions to have me at home, we did it with the intention of it being a long term decision. Our ultimate choice is to home educate them, and so this really is a long term decision for our family.
So what is my role, and what does life look life for us going forward?
It’s taken me a really long time to embrace that nametag and really to embrace homemaking as a whole. I guess some of that is this preconditioned idea that the work we do inside our home isn’t as valuable as working for an employer or working for money. The work we do in our homes, within our families, in raising our children, is the most important work. Society doesn’t value this work and it shows. We are always judged by “what we do” in terms of our job. Society doesn’t value the work I do within the home. Capitalism wants us to keep those cogs turning. It wants us, as parents, to get back in the workplace, but there is a slow rumbling movement of people who are saying “no, absolutely not, I’m not subscribing to that”. We cannot keep functioning in this fast paced, always on, hustle culture.
Now I am not suggesting we all need to rush back into the home if that is not our desire. We can, of course, be whatever we want to be as women, but also we still have a way to go. That gender pay gap is very real.
We still have a long way to go
But being a homemaker is undervalued. Being a parent is still undervalued in our society. Our work in our homes and as parents of the next generation isn’t appreciated. There is still so much to be done, and maybe that is the whole point. We have the power now to make that decision for ourselves, and we don’t have to be defined by a job or what we do. I had to sit quite uncomfortably with this title of homemaker for quite a while, because of all the negative connotations that surround it, but I am embracing it more and more, and as I do I feel more like I am stepping into my most authentic self.
My work is valuable. Your work is valuable. The work we do within our homes is really important. We need to keep this conversation going.
For me the most important work takes place inside my home, raising the next generation and instilling the values that they will take out into the world. I truly believe that it is such important work. Our children are going to change the world. What we do inside our homes can be monumental and the biggest contribution I get to make is in the little people I get to raise.