i am reading this absolutely amazing book radical homemakers by shannon hayes. it is a book about how our current consumer driven society came to be. how we evolved from homes with two homemakers, where two adults worked all day to maintain the household and family. they worked in the home, for the home, for the family. today, homes sit empty all day while people leave their homes to work for someone else so that they can afford their homes. it is about the consumer society that has dictated a new norm and we are all supposed to follow this path in order to maintain the buy, buy economy. hayes argues, for example, that there is excessive value placed on work, especially over work, keeping family members away from the home and separated from each other. this in turn has led to rising rates of depression and other mental health illnesses in the USA, where hayes is writing from and about. her book is well researched, presented and for myself, has made me take a closer look at my family and our values and think about where we’re headed with the choices we are making.
|lion loves to help in the kitchen.|
i am a stay-at-home-mama by choice. years before dear hubby and i were ever married and seriously considering parenthood, i knew one day i wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. dear hubby has always been very supportive of this career path of mine and shared the belief of its importance. and yes, i do call it a career path or choice. homemaking is what i do all day, it is my work, my job. i may not receive monetary compensation for it, but i tend to our home and tend to the needs of the people living in our home. i ensure there is healthy food, clean clothes, clean living spaces, safe activities for the children, and much, much more.
being a fulltime at home parent is a rarity. there is tremendous pressure in our society to own lots of stuff, as that is a way to measure our success and ultimately, our self worth. the sizes of homes are getting bigger, but not because families are, but because of what it represents. the bigger the car, home, or diamond the more money they have and the happier they must be. but, according to hayes, research has proven this assumption is massively wrong. more money often means more hours worked, which actually means people are unhappier, because their time is very limited with their family.
i often get quite defensive when explaining my reasons for wanting to be at home. i feel like i have to justify that what i do is legitimate work and not just a lazy day with the kids. i in fact take my at-home duties very seriously, as i would with any job. for example, i try to feed my family fresh, nutritious foods, making meals from scratch most evenings. i am trying to teach my children how to enjoy a variety of foods; understand that food is grown on farms thanks to hard working people and doesn’t just appear in the grocery store. it is very important to us that our kids appreciate the manual labour and handmade aspect of their toys or clothes or food. obviously these discussions are short, as our kids are small, but we do acknowledge the fact that someone had to pick the fruit we are enjoying and someone had to ship it here and then someone else had to unpack it at the store.
|we picked these apples and are making an apple crisp.|
|sneaky little bro trying to grab an apple chunk!|
our society has lost the basic skills to darn, sew, knit, make clothes or fix cars, appliances, tools or grow and make our own foods, like bread. everything is ready-made for us. when things break, we toss them away and buy a new one.
in our household we make a conscious effort to try and make things, like gifts, for the kids, family and friends. for example, last christmas the boys got a much adored kitchen dear hubby built from an old night stand we purchased secondhand. i sewed some simple food items and found some real kitchen items from value village to round out the gift. this was our way of continuing our christmas traditions that will hopefully create a smaller foot print environmentally, but willalso create a sense of pride in the handmade items, no matter how small. we have been known to make soups, cookies, other baked treats, soaps and small sewn items as gifts for people.
all of that being said, i will admit that i too feel the pressures of keeping up with the jones’ (whoever they are). i want to have beautiful clothes, furniture and stainless steel everything, and i often feel the pressure to go out and get a paying job, so that we can afford more stuff. but, then i am reminded that we in fact do not want that stuff. we don’t want a tv, another car or fancy tech toys that are all the rage these days. what we do want is to see and experience the wonder of new places and people; we want live and work abroad, dear hubby seriously wants to sail around the world as a family, but most importantly we want to do EVERYTHING together.
i hope i didn’t come across as self-righteous. i am only speaking of my life and my family and what works for us. we are very much a work in progress.
here’s a little mama humour to leave you with on this soggy wednesday; something i found on pinterest.