I have to issue a proviso here. I’m not really young. I’m mid-life, so have had some years to get some things right. I made a decision 7 years ago to leave an institutional job so that I could live more freely and yet also more closely to my family. I like working from home, with my partner and child involved in what I do. We eat three meals a day together. My daughter is home schooled and my partner is an artist who works from home too. We bicker a little bit and sometimes I wish for a little more separation from my work and domestic tasks. But, generally, it works quite well. If we feel unwell or sad, we’re there for each other. We can eat healthy food that we like. We can organise our day and our space as we like.
Some people ask why we only have one child. It doesn’t seem normal. But, I feel it’s responsible in a crowded planet to have no more than one (or maybe two) children. And I’m glad that it’s more acceptable to choose to be childless too. I’m happier with the one child than my partner and daughter are, but I think they see the benefits.
I get a little frustrated with the conventional media assuming that there are women’s roles and men’s roles, and clearly delineated issues associated with those roles. Apart from the actual bearing of a child, everything else is interchangeable. My (male) partner has always played an active nurturing role, with childcare and home. All the tasks of making a thriving life are equal. It happens that some of the tasks I do bring in more money but the money doesn’t assign more value to those tasks. In theory and most of the time, in reality. Sometimes, when we rub up against conventional thinking it doesn’t feel so equal.
When I was growing up, my mum was the main full time worker outside the home, as well as the main domestic worker. My dad was an artist and involved in politics so he did have an active life outside the home, but it wasn’t so much contributing to financial stability of the home. However, it did contribute to our education and social connections. It did have value. Sometimes, when we rubbed up against conventional thinking, it didn’t feel so valuable.
The key task of making a thriving home life is to disregard conventional thinking and to innovate, to find new ways of arranging your living space, your daily routine and your collaborations with your family members. Because my mum now has dementia, we’re continually adjusting her care and routine as her condition changes. As the world becomes more changeable, we will all have to continually adjust and shuffle how we express our care for each other and our daily routines. We have to be open to change and try not to judge other people for their choices.