Jayne Hall has a top degree and dreamt of opening her own swimming school, but she’s ditched her old life to become a fully-fledged 1950s-style housewife.
She now spends her days cooking, cleaning and making the house she shares with husband Allan and their sons is perfect.
But she’s hit out at critics who say her lifestyle is “anti-feminist”, saying every woman is different and that she’s happier than ever.
Jayne, 45, from Blyth, Northumberland, is part of a growing movement of ‘tradwives’ – adhering to old-fashioned gender stereotypes which cast men as ‘breadwinners’ and charged women with creating domestic bliss for their partners.
Responding to critics who say tradwives’ attitudes are “outdated,” she said: “I am very grateful to women who have fought for equal rights and know that sexism still exists in the world, but that’s not what is happening here
Being a tradwife, making my family home lovely and having my partner’s dinner on the table when he gets home from work is my choice – not his. Living this way makes me happy.
“I’m not being held back, and I’m certainly not disrespecting feminism by being a tradwife.
“As women, we should understand that it’s about choice. There is no one set way to be a woman and, just as I don’t belittle women who go to work, they shouldn’t belittle me.”
A retail manager before studying Japanese at university and eventually becoming a swimming teacher, Jayne’s ambitions did a U-turn as she went from working full-time to part-time to focus on cooking and cleaning for her partner, Allan, who works in engineering, and their sons from previous relationships.
Still earning what she calls “pin money” for the family, Jayne had hoped to one day opening her own swimming school, but lockdown meant she became a full-time housewife – even dressing in 1950s gear and using vintage appliances – and she no longer wants to return to work again.
Leaving school with no qualifications, Jayne threw herself into work, eventually becoming a retail manager – a demanding role which often meant her working such long hours she did not get home until 10pm.
But, after having her son, who is now 12, with her ex-husband, she decided to become a mature student – returning to college, sitting A levels and landing a place at university, studying Japanese language and culture.
Always taking on new challenges, next she pursued her love of swimming and retrained so she could teach the sport, saying: “I’ve done lots of different things in my life.
“Previously, I lived a very feminist, independent life. But, looking back, I can see I wasn’t happy then. I was going through life in a haze and was always painfully shy.
“As a bigger girl, I never wanted to draw attention to myself. I’d see women sometimes in beautiful, glamorous dresses and think, ‘I wish I was brave enough to wear that.’”
A single mother for some time, after her marriage ended, her independence gave her more confidence and she met Allan online seven years ago.
She continued: “I wanted somebody who would cherish me and give as much as they took from the relationship.
“That’s exactly what I found in Allan. We’re very similar, and grow together.”
As they built a life together, Jayne and Allan’s relationship went from strength to strength.
But, often coming home from work mentally exhausted, she said there was scant opportunity for quality family time.
“I’d be completely drained after each day, then coming home to more work like lesson plans, as well as seeing to the house and kids,” she said.
“Eventually, I went down to working part-time hours and I loved being at home more.
“Allan is not a man who thinks the woman should do the housework. Of course, he would help out, too, but as he worked full time, practically, I was at home more and so it made sense for me to take on the bulk of it.”
Then, at the beginning of 2020, Jayne handed in her notice at work, hoping to focus instead on opening her own swim school.
But her mind changed again, after she enjoyed being a full-time housewife during lockdown so much that she decided not to resume her career.
“I feel mentally much better and on top of things more. The house is tidy, the garden looks lovely, the kids are happy and I’m more able to support Allan, who has a stressful job,” she said.