Let’s Talk about the Tradwife Movement

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Let me start by saying I love being a homemaker. The tradwife movement has been surprising and interesting to watch – especially since I have been writing about homemaking here on A Virtuous Woman since 2001 and I feel like I’m one of the OG’s in the online homemaking space whether people know my name or not. I’ve had millions of readers in the last 23+ years.

A little bit about me in case you’re new here: I’ve been a full-time homemaker for over 33 years. When I started writing about homemaking and teaching women how to be homemakers 23 years ago, I was only 25 years old.

I believe in traditional values and I appreciate traditional gender roles. I believe that homemakers have the ability to change the world, but I also believe you can be a homemaker even if you work outside the home. And I appreciate the efforts of good, Godly, strong men to care for their families and provide for their needs.

I do not consider myself a tradwife. I don’t like that term and I don’t agree with all of the ideals that seem to be wrapped up in this movement.

However, I do consider myself to be a traditional homemaker.

I don’t think it’s my place to judge whether a woman should work outside the home. I think that’s a decision between a woman, her husband, and God. Having said that, I will always encourage women to stay home and raise their children if they are able to, because I do believe that children want and need their moms at home, if at all possible.

But that doesn’t mean I think that women who work outside the home are bad moms. I know so many good moms who also work outside the home – and my life, my family’s life, has been immensely impacted by women who were moms who also worked outside the home: speech therapists, doctors, nurses, coaches, and more. It’s not for me to judge.

The Tradwife Movement

Okay, so about this tradwife movement. I find it interesting that more and more younger women are moving toward more traditional roles. I’ve been happy to see young women desiring to be homemakers, stay home, and care for their families. I think that’s good.

What I think is misleading or even harmful is how on social media, so many women are promoting an idealistic lifestyle that most women cannot relate to. Sometimes it can almost feel (to me) as if these making a caricature of homemakers that for the average woman just is not realistic.

As a stay at home mom, I’ve lived in the same fixer-upper for over 20 years and for most of my years raising children our house was in desperate need of work and there wasn’t a lot of picture-worthiness about my house.

But I made do with what I had and made the best of it. I tried to make our home cozy despite a lack of money and peeling paint. But by today’s social media standards, my house – though large with good bones and beautiful in its own right – would not have made the cut.

The thing is, for most of us, when you choose to live on one income you do it knowing sacrifices will have to be made. And that’s okay. I never wanted to leave my babies in someone else’s care. I wanted to be a full-time mom. And with my last child now in college, I can honestly say I don’t regret staying home with them one bit. I wouldn’t change those years for anything.

And honestly, I never really considered me staying home a sacrifice. It’s truly what I wanted to do. In fact, I don’t ever remember considering another option.

Social Media Isn’t the Full Truth

I don’t want to say social media is a lie because I believe that most women posting homemaking ideas or content are sharing from their hearts. But we have to remember that watching a 15 second video is just that – 15 seconds. You’re not seeing their entire life in that one clip.

You shouldn’t judge your own life against a 15 second clip or even a 30 minute video on YouTube. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Having a life you can be proud of and find contentment in requires actual work.

Because I raised 5 children full-time, homeschooled, and did all the homemaking things while also creating a blog and other social media content, I often wonder how anyone can create such idealistic, picture-perfect content all the time. Goodness knows my house was certainly not perfect and ready for pictures much less video at any given time. But I can’t possibly know what goes on behind the scenes in someone else’s household.

Having juggled being a mom with a large family – for years we had 11 or more people living in our house and I was the primary caretaker for everything and everyone – and it was a lot. I typically only found time to write late at night or during naptimes if I was lucky.

Content creators may or may not have help. I’ve never had outside help. Some creators do. Either way is okay. The women creating homemaking content shouldn’t be criticized just because they have the ability to juggle motherhood and content creation at the same time – whether or not they have outside help.

As Christian women, I want to encourage you to lift each other up and applaud each other’s successes, and look for encouragement where you can find it.

If you don’t like a particular person’s content, make the decision to keep scrolling and move on. I’ll tell you what I always told my kids:

Just because you think something doesn’t mean you have to say it.

Not everything online is meant for everyone. Not everything you see is meant for you. That’s okay.

I believe that women were created to love and desire beauty. In fact, I include beauty in my 10 Virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman. But from a financial standpoint, having a picture-perfect aesthetic home and life is often out of reach for many young women – especially if they are living on one income.

I don’t feel jealous or annoyed when I see perfectly curated homes or perfectly curated lives. Any jealousy or annoyance someone might feel toward another person’s lifestyle is really more a referendum on their own state of contentedness or lack thereof.

I can look at another woman wearing a pretty dress and baking bread without feeling attacked. I don’t believe that women who share beautiful, uplifting content are implying that I or anyone else needs to do more – or that my struggle with a particular skill means I am somehow not worthy of love or appreciation.

And herein lies the biggest issue: The idea that someone else’s choice or lifestyle is a direct condemnation of my (or your) life.

Mom shaming is at an all time high. In fact, social media in general is so toxic it’s often not even fun anymore. The comment section of most social media posts are filled with anger, hatred, jealousy, and unhappiness.

I love seeing moms cooking from scratch and feeding their families nourishing food. That’s a good thing! Why would anyone suggest it’s not a good thing? The fact is, homemade food from scratch is healthier and less expensive than eating processed foods or eating out. And yet, you’ll see the haters come out in the comment section like cooking from scratch is unrealistic or unattainable for the average person. Or, you’ll see comments condemning women for feeding their kids homemade alternatives to processed foods.

What has happened to our society when women criticize other women for sharing their ideas? The beauty in this world is often found in how unique each individual is in their creativity and resourcefulness.

Yesterday I saw this beautiful post encouraging multi-generational living. The caption was heartwarming. The video was of a grandmother and her little toddler granddaughter. Precious! I loved it. And yet the comment section was filled with unhappy people who felt the need to disparage the sentiment offered in the post.

Why? Why do people feel the need to tear other people and their choices down?

I’ve been a blogger since 2001. I’ve been encouraging women in their faith, homemaking efforts, and marriages ever since. I was 25 years old when I began teaching other women what I felt God was laying on my heart to share.

I wrote about the things I was struggling with as a mom or about the things I was learning as a homemaker. I wrote about love and marriage and how to be a better wife. I wrote with the intention of encouraging. Not to bring shame to others who were struggling.

I can’t know the heart of every young homemaker who posts on social media. Maybe some do it for the attention. Maybe some enjoy feeling superior to others and their life off-screen is at odds with what they portray. But I imagine in most cases these women are sharing what they are passionate about and interested in because that’s what they are passionate about and interested in. And they want to share their ideas and experiences with other like-minded women.

We all want to fit in somewhere. Finding community is helpful in this weary walk.

The flip side of this is that people today want to be validated to the point where criticism and ideas that challenge their beliefs are not welcome. If you only surround yourself with people who see everything the same way you do, you will never grow as a human being or a Christ follower.

What I Don’t Like about the Tradwife Movement

There are some social media accounts and bloggers in the tradwife movement who are promoting an unrealistic lifestyle. And I have come across some accounts that worry me in their strict, legalistic viewpoints.

The thing about this life… we live in this fallen world together. No two people or circumstances are the same. The only sure and safe thing we have is the Bible – and even that is often twisted or taken out of context. It’s so important to rightly divide the Word of God and it’s important to study the Bible, precept, by precept so that when you come across teachings that don’t align with the Word of God, you know.

I think there’s a misconception that traditional Christian women or homemakers wear pretty dresses every day and bake bread and never have an opinion that differs from their husbands. Or that you need to look a certain way or be a certain way or eat a certain way.

I know, because as a young mom (I was a young Christian too) I was sucked into the idea back in the early 2000’s that I needed to wear dresses every day and not cut my hair and do all the things on a checklist to be a good wife and mother.

That didn’t last long for me. I wasn’t happy.

I love my jeans and t-shirts. I feel frumpy when I don’t cut my hair. And I don’t like feeling frumpy.

If you think this movement is new, it’s not. It’s just packaged differently.

When I was a young mom, the internet was still new. And back then it was the quiverful movement. What’s sad to me when I look back at that is, we were all just trying to do our best. Sometimes people even in trying to be faithful still gets it wrong. Or not quite right. Or they make assumptions that are grounded in truth.

That’s where grace comes in.

Everyone is just trying to do their best. Even the people we don’t agree with or the ones that are hard to get along with.

You see when I was a young mom, I read blogs – we didn’t have social media back then. But we had blogs. And I was doing my best to be a good Christian wife and mother. So when ladies I looked up to suggested something, I took it to heart.

What I’ve come to realize as I’ve gotten older and wiser, is that often there is no one right answer. The only absolute truth is the Word of God. Read your Bible and see what God has to say about the things you do.

Sometimes the Bible doesn’t give us specific instructions and we have the freedom to choose. You get to live your free will while doing God’s will for your life! What an incredible gift!

What is realistic in homemaking?

And finally, the other thing that bothers me about this tradwife movement isn’t the young women making the content. It’s the response I’ve seen from those who consume the content. Not the ones who love it, but the ones who hate it.

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

There’s this idea that it’s impossible to be a good homemaker, bake bread, cook from scratch, keep house, etc, and not be a hot mess. That’s just not true. I think what’s failing here is that most women simply do not know how to run a household well or how to manage their time at home.

I’m not it’s easy. I’m saying it’s doable.

Most women today didn’t have moms who stayed home or taught them how to run a household. That’s where Titus 2 comes in.

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5

Over the course of my 33 years as a homemaker, I raised five children of my own and homeschooled for 23 years. For most of those years, I made three hot meals a day from scratch, and baked most of our bread. I had two baking days each week: Sunday and Thursday. I had elderly family members that I helped care for as well. And I’m a pastor’s wife (we had three churches). And I had my stepkids and their spouses and their kids living with us for a few years.

I was busy. I never had outside help, no housekeepers, no nannies. I made it work. Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad or even impossible.

Note: I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have help. Take all the help you can get!

You can and should strive to learn new skills that help you create the life and home you desire. Those things you feel God lay on your heart. Maybe you need to work on time management. Maybe you want to get better routines going during the day. Maybe you need to learn how to be more patient. Maybe you want to learn how to cook from scratch.

Maybe you want to bake homemade bread – learn how! Maybe you have no interest in baking bread but you’d love to learn how to make homemade soups – do that!

There is no one right way to be a homemaker. What ultimately matters is that you’re loving and nurturing your family in a way that honors God. Thats all. Be you. Let others be too.

One last thought

I also see this sentiment a lot: You should never rely on your husband for an income, what if you get divorced?

Is there merit in this idea? This is a very nuanced topic and this blog post is already really long so I may have to write about that in another blog post.

But to sum up my thoughts, I believe that being a homemaker is a safe and viable option for most women if their husbands are on board from the beginning. Clear communication is key – especially when dating before you get married.

I believe that homemaking is valuable and that being a good wife is noble. But no one lives a perfect life with a perfect aesthetic. Idealistic is just that – an ideal we can strive for but none’s life is always ideal. Life is hard. Do the best you can, ask God what He thinks, and stop comparing yourself to others.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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  1. I've never even heard of the term Tradwife until this email, lol. I opened the article because I was curious what it was. Traditional Wife, ok, got it. What exactly is a traditional wife? And exactly who gets to define that term? It's dumb. If you are a woman married to a man, I suppose that makes you a traditional wife, end of story. I'm pretty sure only petty women feel the need to compete rather than connect with one another. One would do well to tend her own garden and help her neighbor when she can rather than throwing grass killer over the fence while ignoring her own weedy yard. At any rate, I am a homemaker, married 31 years. I've had part-time jobs here and there but left the job if it ever interfered with my children or husbands schedules. Now my kids are all grown and married. I am still a homemaker, when the older grands were little I was their caretaker and when my husband took a job that is 100% travel, I started traveling with him. My daughter's both work outside the home full time, and yet, one raises chickens and one bakes her own bread, lol. My son is a stay at home dad to his two year old son because his wife found being at home too difficult for her mentally and I am not home consistently enough to care for my grandson. I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, although my husband would prefer dresses every day. I don't cut my hair because I end up crying every time I do. I wear makeup if I'm going to be seen in public, lol. And while my home used to be extremely tidy, we are now sharing it with my son and his family and I am embarrassed to have company stop by. The housekeeping apple fell far and rolled away, and I am not a maid, lol. Funny enough I used to keep a blog back in 2006 to 2008ish about homemaking. Sometimes I still write about my travels but being in the last throws of perimenopause has drained most of my energy. So I haven't written anything new for quite a while. Most of my time right now is spent in Gods word. But from your post, it sounds as if there are women out there who are making homemaking into a competitive sport. That is hilarious. More power to them.
  2. Excellent post. I also have been a homemaker, but with 37 years of experience now. We have 12 children, who I birthed and homeschool/homeschooled (some are now graduated and married with children of their own) and I saw the whole working mom vs sahm, homeschool vs public school, quiverfull vs not, etc etc etc things come and go. All being repackaged in a different way over the times of seeing them come and go. This is nothing new. Thank you for sharing your views, you are not the only one thinking these things.
  3. Hi. Thanks for this. I am also a homeschool mom and I love it. I think it’s so sad that people have to make negative comments simply because they are feeling unhappy or inadequate and are trying to make themselves feel better. The comparison game is not good. But it’s everywhere and not just on social media. Like you said, we need to study God’s Word. We need to pray for and love them anyway. Also I am reminded that I am not perfect and need to be careful not to fall into that comparison trap myself.
  4. This is helpful for me to be aware of all the hate floating around the internet these days. I'd like to be a homemaker one day, but I recognize that I would like to be involved in community efforts. The pandemic taught me that working from home and being home for most of my time wasn't good for me at all. I think moving forward, this article gives me the freedom to build my homemaking lifestyle the way that is best suited to my life and personality. Thanks Melissa.

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