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August 24, 2012

Young Return to Old-Fashioned Domesticity

by Julie Taboh

An increasing number of Americans are growing their own food, making their own clothes and generally embracing the domestic lifestyle of their grandparents' generation. Although there are no statistics yet, some experts say this do-it-yourself movement has been gaining momentum among the under-40 population.

Shannon Kline and her daughter Alice are picking the last of the summer harvest from the family's vegetable garden while her husband Geoff Delanoy prepares the soil for their fall crops.

Life for this Baltimore-based family is all about living close to nature.

“We like to grow our own food because we want to know what goes into it. We want to know what we’re feeding our family,” said Shannon Kline.

Older ways

Kline also makes clothes for her two young daughters.

“The organic cotton is really soft and it is not going to hurt my young children’s skin. They like that I made it. My older daughter tells me that she’s very proud that I make her clothes,” she said.
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Kline also makes and sells children's clothing online and at craft shows.

Having a home-based business allows her to spend time with her daughters. Today, she’s using some of that time to make skin lotion with Alice.

“What we do here is a lot of work. It’s worth it because I’m doing it side by side with my family, and this is the time that we’re never going to get back, and this is what my daughter’s going to remember when she’s older,” she said.

Family time at home

Kline is one of a growing number of young Americans embracing the home-centered lifestyle of their grandparents’ generation.

Culture writer Emily Matchar said in an interview via Skype that she's writing a book about the movement, which she calls “New Domesticity.”

"People spend a lot of time at their computers and there’s just something very lovely and very appealing about doing something with your hands and maybe doing something that seems old-fashioned or seems to connect you with previous generations," said Matchar.

Sociologist Betsy Greer said that connection is the key to this growing movement.

“It’s this dual thing where it connects us to ourselves, because we have time to think while we’re doing it, and it connects us to others,” she said.

Shannon Kline agrees. “I’ve met a lot of women who have really taken up sewing and canning and gardening, and have really been loving it.”

It's a feeling that many Americans apparently believe has been lost in today's fast-paced world.