Reviews of Homeward Bound

“3.5 out of 4 stars” - People Magazine                                                               “The brilliance of Emily Matchar’s new book is that it exhaustively describes what disillusioned workers are opting into: a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle that’s focused on the home. Matchar synthesizes dozens of trend stories … into a single, compelling narrative about the resurgence of domesticity….Refreshing.” -The New Republic                                                       "[P]rovocatively explores what the movement says about the role of women in society today.” – The New Yorker                                                                       "I unreservedly loved it…It’s empathetic and funny and thoughtful and smart, and I encourage all of you to read it."– The Hairpin                                                         “Cogently argues that choosing a more hands-on, DIY lifestyle – family farming, canning, crafting, can, without sacrificing feminism’s hard-won gains, improve on an earlier time when ‘people lived more lightly on the earth and relied less on corporations, and family and community came first.’” - ELLE                                                               “[I]ntelligent and insightful...essential reading.” - Christianity Today                                                       “A lively and perceptive reporter… a valuable and astute assessment.”—Publishers Weekly                                                         “A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.”— Kirkus Reviews

What is New Domesticity?

This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex & the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?                                                                                     My book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, which explores New Domesticity in greater depth, will be published by Simon & Schuster in May 2013.

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How parenting became the ultimate DIY project

eating homemade baby food via theatlantic.com

While we’ve all heard a lot about what I call “DIY parenting” (the kind of parenting that embraces anti-institutional, self-sufficient strategies like homeschooling/home birth/making all your baby food from scratch, etc. etc.), we don’t talk that much about why this kind of parenting has grown so popular. In the Atlantic, I take a look at the historical and social factors that made DIY parenting so ubiquitous among educated, progressive parents.

7 comments to How parenting became the ultimate DIY project

  • Nicole

    Hi Emily

    I really enjoyed reading your article in the Atlantic. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while too. Not everyone is good at everything, say knitting or making jams for example, yet this drive towards everything DIY implies a move away from specialisations (we must do it all ourselves). With education it’s the same: homeschooling = DIY education. Is it really reasonable to expect that all parents can be good at this?

    I work in teacher education, so may be a little biased, but I’m also a mom and know that by sending my daughter to daycare and school at some later point, I’m not abdicating my responsibility for her education. I’m simply complementing what she learns at home by exposing her to other people’s ideas.

    • Emily

      Totally agree! “It takes a village” is such a cliche, but it’s true. Why should each individual feel totally responsible for every little thing in their child’s upbringing, and how can they expect to be good at it all? I for one would make a HORRIBLE teacher!

  • Nicole

    Haha, and I suck at making jam/ knitting/ getting vegetables to stay alive in my garden! Crafty projects are purely for recreational purposes with me.

  • Hi Emily

    Thanks for this thought-provoking and strangely liberating article. I used to be much more of a DIY parent. Then I had kids. Ha!

    I realize now that I am a much better mother if I don’t try to do everything myself. I also recognize that my kids benefit from spending time away from me (and vice versa).

    P.S. You and I were co-authors on LP New England a few years back. I was excited to learn (through my local moms’ group) about your blog and forthcoming book. Congratulations!

    • Emily

      Mara! Hi! I totally remember being so impressed that you were doing LP research while pregnant with twins. Glad to see you’re still traveling, and I love the blog. It gives me hope for my own future ;)

  • To me making baby food is so elementary, I can’t fathom why would anyone NOT do it. I do all of my own from scratch cooking and baking because I have the time, but even if I didn’t, baby food is beyond elementary.

    That said, I personally could not extend this diy approach to the schooling of my kids, cause I would really be bad at it, and we have excellent, affordable private education right here where we live.

    And yes, I love the space aspect of it, like someone above mentions.

  • Aside from areas that require years of training, though, such as medicine, etc, I feel like the more we move away from specialization, the better – because of the kinds of human beings we become as a result. I think it’s good for the general level of self-assurance and competence to be able to do if not anything then at least a great deal of things. I, for instance, constantly teach myself new skills, and this is the ethos of my entire community as well. I am glad that my kids are growing up on a farm with strongly-diy mom and dad (down to participating in the running of their schools). If the economy was to collapse today, we have a great deal of skills already, down to firearm literacy (though not sure why I am bringing that up).