Abstract In this article we introduce the rationale for, and contributions to, this Special Issue. We go further, too, to raise questions concerning how we can approach and make sense of women's private and domestic lives. We identify and consider two main issues and tensions within this: intimacy/connection and individuality/instrumentality. We point to the wider significance of women's concerns with and management of situated everyday detail in families and households, and to the difficulties of recognising this if women's activities and experiences are viewed through male-centred conceptual lenses. We also consider the dilemmas involved in making women's private and domestic lives and understandings accessible to a public audience.