Has Anyone Read "Radical Homemakers"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 79 Old 04-09-2010, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's by Shannon Hayes. I'm reading it now and finding it interesting and validating. Like many of you said on a thread about not wanting to go back to a paying job, I'm quite happy being home, and I'm enjoying becoming more "domestic" - baking, cheesemaking, soap-making, etc., and less dependent on commercial junk. The book speaks to me on that level, but she seems to put down "soccer moms" - mothers who just take care of their kids, shop, and are more stereotypical modern-day SAHMs. I'm only about a third of the way in, but those are my impressions so far.

I was curious if any of you have read it, and if so, what do you think?

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#2 of 79 Old 04-09-2010, 12:15 PM
 
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That book sounds interesting. I enjoy being a homemaker for those reasons. I would probably not be able to cook from scratch, homeschool, garden, etc, if I had to take on a job outside the home.
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#3 of 79 Old 04-09-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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I just ordered the book from the library. She spoke at a conference I attended last winter and was very interesting and engaging.

My fear in reading the book is that I'll feel inadequate. My husband is an organic farmer (I used to be too), and we do more homestead-y type stuff than other families in our NYC-commuter-community. But I don't put by enough food for the whole winter or chop wood or anything.

Anyway, I should save my impressions for once I've read the book. I'm a fast reader so I'll be sure to check in soon.

Cheers!
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#4 of 79 Old 04-13-2010, 05:25 PM
 
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My library bought the book after I requested it (yay, library!) and I tore through it over a long weekend. I feel a bit overzealous in my enthusiasm for it, but it came at the exact right moment for me and I can't stop recommending it. To the OP point, I can understand your point about it not being soccer mom friendly (to use "soccer mom," fairly or unfairly, as shorthand for one type of stay-at-home lifestyle). I didn't read it as a judgment of that kind of lifestyle, but I think it's written for moms and dads who are looking for a different kind of home-centered experience. As the subtitle (Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture) suggests, it's about turning away from a lot that defines modern culture in this country, especially modern parenting, and embracing self sufficiency, family, and community. For me it's been an inspiration because it tackled several of the loose ends that I couldn't quite fit into the vision for how I'd like to realign my life (I'm a full-time WOHM right now who is trying to get her family to a new, lower COL location so our family isn't held hostage financially by the mortgage and suburban expenses). For example, what to do with the conflicted feelings about "wasting" my education, worries about feeling stuck or bored with domesticity, and the very real concerns about how reducing the family income will affect what are very often considered non-negotiable expenses (retirement savings, education costs, and health care).

If you've ever read Walden, or Your Money or Your Life, or Voluntary Simplicity, but just felt like those are things other people do (in some other place or some other time), I'd give it a try. For the first time in my life I am moved to act in big, bold strokes, feeling certain that I can do this and that joy will follow.
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#5 of 79 Old 04-13-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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I just put it on my Amazon wish list!

In December, I read Staying Home: From fulltime professional to fulltime parent, which is in a similar vein but probably much more aimed at "soccer moms" than Radical Homemakers. Staying Home was a great book, and helped me get over my identity/ role issues about "not using my degree to the fullest", but the examples in the book were def more mainstream families than DH and I.

I work very part-time, and I am very excited to be transitioning to a weekend position at work so I can be home during the week, but I would love to be able to eventually fully SAHM. I look forward to reading this book!

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#6 of 79 Old 04-14-2010, 09:25 AM
 
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I am reading Radical Homemaker right now. I am LOVING it. It has made so much so clear to me. And validated my choices... which I guess sometimes I need because the rest of the world knocks it.

I've been discussing it with my DH and we are looking to do SOME more homestead type things as described in the book. Anything to keep expenses down. We want out from under our mortgage ASAP so we can both enjoy a different way of life. So it has worked well for me in that corner of my world too.
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#7 of 79 Old 04-15-2010, 10:24 AM
 
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Our library has just ordered it and I placed a hold on it. I read the NYT article about it, which I found was pretty shallow in its coverage of the topic. I felt the article focused again on the "stuff," things that serve as symbols to some, such as chickens in the backyard, aprons and homeschooling, rather than the reasons behind these activities. There seems to be a need by large segments of society to "distill" any lifestyle choice down to a definable movement that can be made into a consumer opportunity/new niche mass market. (Think the green movement.)

In my household, I do these things first for their effect on our quality of life. We eat homemade, healthy food that is as close as we can to our house. Milk from the goats, eggs from the chickens, meat we raise, vegetables we grow, honey from our bees. But I also think inside myself, I do these traditional things to prove that they do not belong only to a certain kind of person. I consider myself a person living in the modern world. I have my own values and standards and I feel like I make choices consciously. We don't have to abandon the work and sacrifice of women before us to embrace these ways of being productive inside providers to our families.

Just last night, dh and I were discussing the productivity of women in his (Third World) country of origin. He said himself, women carry their families there and are constantly productive, whereas their men (who do the actual earning) produce very little by comparison. And it is these activities that the women are doing. They are keeping small livestock, milking and making dairy products, baking the bread, gleaning and wildcrafting, spinning and weaving the family's blankets, raising small children.

I am coming on the season of the year when I have to reduce my work hours so that I can do better at home. It is a humbling conversation to have with my employer, and a lot to ask of them in terms of understanding. But it is an empowering conversation with dh, as he expresses his value of my "domestic" contribution.

We continue learning.
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#8 of 79 Old 04-15-2010, 10:26 AM
 
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I put a hold on it at the library last week. They are still waiting for it to be delivered.
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#9 of 79 Old 04-15-2010, 10:50 AM
 
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Well said, Jo. I suspect you'll really enjoy the book. The author does a remarkable job of writing about the issues in the modern context, planting a stake on the continuum of both the consumerism and feminism. I've always had a hard time articulating a vision of family life that does justice to the elements of modern life that I actually enjoy and embrace, and this book opened the discussion in ways I could have done on my own. I wish I were as skilled a researcher and a clear a thinker as she is.
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#10 of 79 Old 04-17-2010, 08:34 AM
 
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While I wait on the book, I am having fun reading articles on the book's site.

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#11 of 79 Old 04-20-2010, 01:07 AM
 
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Does she explain why she uses the term "Radical"? The word makes it seem as though the ideas presented in the book can not or would not be followed by the mainstream, only the "radical" would chose to live this way. I think if we are ever going to normalize homesteading we should stay away from words like radical...just my thought. I haven't read the book and I would like to. I just have a problem with the word, it seems to be a new buzz word.

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#12 of 79 Old 04-20-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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I think "radical" is a nod to the way self-sufficiency is perceived by so many in the mainstream. The people she profiles, though, are decidedly ordinary -- and I mean that as a high compliment. I think the author does justice to this contrast, and I think this book does exactly what you allude to: normalizing the home-centered lifestyle and the kinds of communities that support it. Whether mainstream culture will follow ... that's another question. Based on the resistance I get within my own extended family regarding choices that question the value of buying, spending, owning, etc., I tend to doubt it.
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#13 of 79 Old 04-20-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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Does she explain why she uses the term "Radical"? The word makes it seem as though the ideas presented in the book can not or would not be followed by the mainstream, only the "radical" would chose to live this way. I think if we are ever going to normalize homesteading we should stay away from words like radical...just my thought. I haven't read the book and I would like to. I just have a problem with the word, it seems to be a new buzz word.
Well, the word 'radical' in the title of this thread made me look. I imagine the editors or whomever gets to decide what the title of the book is (if not the author) are fully cognizant of that, too.

This book sounds beautiful and inspiring. I could have used it 12 years ago when I quit my job to stay home with our first born. It sounds like the brand of domesticity I've been aspiring to since I was a teenager.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#14 of 79 Old 04-20-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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By the way, this is the author's web site: http://sapbush.com/

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#15 of 79 Old 04-21-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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I've been on the waiting list for this at the library for AGES. I really want to check it out.

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#16 of 79 Old 04-21-2010, 05:26 PM
 
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My two SAHM friends and I have all got it for our book club. I've already finished it (speed reader), and I LOVE IT!! It explains how I feel so much of the time. I struggle each day with trying to find a place of my own between having such a strong feminist-WOHM mentality and trying to be a 1950's June Cleaver housewife for my husband and child. And failing miserably at both. It gave me a boost to realize that I don't need to be June Cleaver nor does staying at home make me any less of a feminist.

I am so glad someone finally wrote a book that spoke up for the women that feel the way I do. And didn't make me feel like a failure because the dishes were still in the sink and that my husband has to cook dinner a couple times each night...

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#17 of 79 Old 04-22-2010, 09:01 PM
 
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To the OP point, I can understand your point about it not being soccer mom friendly (to use "soccer mom," fairly or unfairly, as shorthand for one type of stay-at-home lifestyle).
Homemaking, particularly radical homemaking like in the book, is a different activity and different role than stay-at-home parenting.

They can be done simultaneously, but they are different and distinct.
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#18 of 79 Old 04-23-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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I ordered it from amazon, should have it tomorrow. Will be back to report.

FWIW, my dd2 is in soccer. I guess we will have to stop that to be radical?

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#19 of 79 Old 04-23-2010, 09:19 PM
 
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I read it the other day and found it boring. There wasn't anything really new in it for me.

If you need validation for you choices, this is probably a great book and hopefully will motivate others to take the same path.
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#20 of 79 Old 04-24-2010, 11:22 AM
 
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I would love to read this. I just requested that my library get it, we'll see if they do!

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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#21 of 79 Old 04-26-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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Just got it from Amazon, and I'm liking it.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984
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#22 of 79 Old 04-26-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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I read it the other day and found it boring. There wasn't anything really new in it for me.

If you need validation for you choices, this is probably a great book and hopefully will motivate others to take the same path.
I am about 50 pages in and I am agreeing. But as you said, maybe I dont need validation about my choices but 5 plus years ago, maybe this would have been a better choice for me since I needed a "hey this is right for my family" read.

Back then, we had already taken a NFL/simple living years before and feeling sometimes like having to explain our lifestyle choices to friends/family/ and medical providers etc. Now that our ways are making their way into mainstream media America, its more acceptable or admirable which razzles us to no end . I think after this economy hit so many months ago and we were more prepared for it, others around us want to know more about our choices.

Or maybe I have found more like minded people in our life instead of just at MDC which also helps.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#23 of 79 Old 04-26-2010, 10:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the interesting discussion. I'm finding it validating and interesting. I've read a bit about the evolution of our modern-day work ethic/schedule before, but I'm enjoying reading it in terms of how it affects the home and family.

I'm wondering if any of you have read any of Daniel Quinn's books? They're quite different, but speak about some of the same issues, just from a very different direction. I think they'd appeal to many of you.

Crafty Mama to 5 year old DD and 1 year old DS.
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#24 of 79 Old 04-30-2010, 09:05 AM
 
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Love Daniel Quinn. Ishmael is by far and away one of the best books I've ever read. Beyond Civilization is also a good read - I just stumbled across it in my bookshelves and want to read it again.

I liked Radical Homemakers, simply because it put a voice to the way I had been feeling even back in the early years of our marriage, but just couldnt articulate in a coherent way. Now that I'm a SAHM, this book speaks to me even more. I've actually taken to quoting from her book when people ask what I do for a living and get all "oh, I wish I could do that, but we couldn 't afford it" while chuggin down a $4 coffee. Sounds a bit preachy, but I think the point gets made.

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#25 of 79 Old 04-30-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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Love Daniel Quinn. Ishmael is by far and away one of the best books I've ever read. Beyond Civilization is also a good read - I just stumbled across it in my bookshelves and want to read it again.

I liked Radical Homemakers, simply because it put a voice to the way I had been feeling even back in the early years of our marriage, but just couldnt articulate in a coherent way. Now that I'm a SAHM, this book speaks to me even more. I've actually taken to quoting from her book when people ask what I do for a living and get all "oh, I wish I could do that, but we couldn 't afford it" while chuggin down a $4 coffee. Sounds a bit preachy, but I think the point gets made.
Well in all fairness, they are correct. They cannot afford to stay home if a $4 cup of coffee is the norm. I know plenty of families with double income and double debt along with it. We never carried large amounts of debt and have always lived quite simply so it was a no brainer for me to stay home 8 plus years ago. Honestly for me, the sacrifice would be not being around my girls and seeing them grow. When someone says that or something similar, I usually agree, they cannot afford it. I dont go into my paid for years ago car, cooking from scratch, DIY, making our own coffee on our own equipment at home etc.

Moving on.....
I am enjoying the book and I am just on the portion regarding carrying medical benefits. I see the points most people are making. But, the amount we shell out annually, (well its part of DH's income package at work) is several thousands of dollars to cover the 4 of us. 4 years ago I delivered a micro preemie via emergency c section. Maggie had an uneventful stay in the nicu for over 3 mos and is a very healthy 4 yr old today. I credit her good health to our healthy lifestyle as I do ours and her sister's. Her uneventful stay in the NICU was medical cost of 550K-the bills are in her scrapbook. All paid for by our medical benefits. We shelled out our medical benefit costs that year and $144.08 for one test that for whatever reason wasnt covered.
We will opt for benefits. That could ruin any family. That one year has more than anything convinced me I will always have this and pay for it. I doubt any NICUs are going to trade a side of beef for keeping my kid alive.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#26 of 79 Old 04-30-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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I really liked that the people and families she profiled represented a range of approaches on some of those bigger issues, like insurance, homeschooling, etc. If I remember correctly, she usually included in each of those discussions a quick takeaway, like "of the nine people I interviewed, three had employer-provided insurance, two went without ... " It was a nice reminder how thoughtful people can look at the same question and arrive at different solutions.
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#27 of 79 Old 05-09-2010, 07:45 PM
 
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This looks like an interesting book and I've enjoyed reading everyone's responses to it. I'll take a look in our library system and put it on a wish list. (I prefer Barnes and Noble.)

LaDonna, wife to J. Mom to K-8, C-7, H (Mar 14-26, 2004), M-5, W-3, R-1.5 and baby due in August.
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#28 of 79 Old 05-12-2010, 01:37 AM
 
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Thank you to the OP for starting this thread. It sounds like a book I would really like to read. There are certain things I do that my husband thinks are evidence of my craziness - seeing me read this book would make him certain that I've lost it. I'm a little this way already. I've been poking around on this thread because I sooo want to be a SAHM in order to do some of the traditional things which for some reason I feel compelled to do - make bread, sew, garden, parent, maybe raise a few chickens.... DH isn't on board with all that, at least not totally - he lets me work part time. So I do all these things, but in a rather half-a$$ed kind of way. Maybe if I read the book I can be "crazy" in a more organized way!

By the way, I realize that my siggie shows me using a front-loading washer - haven't gotten away from that lovely convenience!

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#29 of 79 Old 05-12-2010, 12:21 PM
 
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There's a nice discussion about the book and related issues going on at the homegrown.org site (http://www.homegrown.org/group/radicalhomemakers). I think you have to register to post but not to read. Shannon Hayes also has a facebook page with occasional updates and articles.
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#30 of 79 Old 05-13-2010, 05:07 AM
 
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Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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