When I suddenly had a baby and a 15 month old added to our homestead mix, you might say I was a little overwhelmed with getting anything done. I mean essential things, showering and making sure everyone including the animals and myself were fed. After surviving the first year of doing it all, I've got some tips to help you out. It's not easy, but it can be done!
Now to start off, remember homesteading much like raising children is a journey. Both require ALOT of hard work, dedication, love and time. So how do you manage both when it's easy to feel overwhelmed by just one?
I'm going to share with you what I've learned so far in order to help ease your anxiety about doing both. Because it really truly is worth it.
Neither my husband or myself grew up on acreage, had chickens, cows or raised animals for meat. Everything we do we've learned in the past 6 years or so. When we owned our own urban homestead and now 10 acre ranch.
Now that we've slowly gotten the hang of it we were blessed with our boys. We want to share this life with them and give them all we had as kids and more. Isn't that what we all want for our children?
This post isn't about our parenting style, our beliefs about raising children or the benefits of raising children on a homestead. This post is about how to manage your time and energy, to homestead and raise a family.
HOW TO HOMESTEAD WITH KIDS
It's important to note that eventually babies and toddlers grow to become more independent children. They are able to take on chores and entertain themselves.
These tips are especially helpful for the baby and toddler years.
Yah sure it's great we've got two boys under two, they'll be great farm hands! Well what do you do when you've got toddlers and a farm to deal with? Here's what's worked for me..
1. SCALE BACK
When I found out I was expecting number 2 I thought long and hard about what we could handle. If you sell a lot of farm products from your homestead or have other side hustles you do from home I suggest you scale back.
Write down all of the things you need to do and what do you feel like you're expected to do. Start to circle the things that are most important to you and your family, then start to cross things out or get creative with how you can cut back.
I figured out what we need to do to provide for our family and scaled back the business end of my homestead chores. I sold off half of my chickens and closed down two of my coops. Now I know we will have enough eggs to feed our family and a few to sell. My husband does the cows and I'm responsible for the chickens- so I made some money by downsizing my flock. And yes it went straight to diapers!
2. TIME BLOCKING
Yes I'm home on maternity leave but it isn't no holiday. If I'm not careful I can find myself in my pjs at 5pm and still wonder what's for dinner. Time blocking had become a very popular buzz word lately amongst moms. Basically it means chunking your tasks throughout the day and just focus on the one thing during that time. So stop multitasking to the point of never finishing anything!
Here's a sample day I sat down and figured out and stuck on the fridge to ensure everything happens around here.
Sample Time Blocking for Mom of Toddlers
6 – Get up and have coffee and breakfast with hubby before he goes to work and kids are up
7- Kids up, snuggle on couch with books and eat breakfast
8-11: Activity for the day. I choose one thing as an outing to tire them out/ library trip, strong start program, play at park, backyard adventure. See my list of free spring activities to get the idea.
11- Early lunch & clean up toys
1130-130. This is key nap time. My designated mama break time. Baby will nurse and have a nap in carrier and I will make my second cup of coffee and work on blogging.
Write yourself a list of things you can do during nap time that aren't exhausting and bring you a sense of purpose or joy. For me, I found that in writing this blog.
130-3. Second lunch and play time.
We will get outside together to do chores. See what that looks like below.
3-4. This is when the kids play, infant naps again and I have my power hour- I tidy, do laundry and choose something to clean- windows, bathroom, dust etc.
4- Dad home. Plays with kids and I start prepping dinner or have a break to do errands.
6- DINNER- We eat together as a family always during this time. One of my favourite parts of the day. There's a lot of research out there on the benefits of eating together.
630- BEDTIME – bath books bubba and bed. Dad does this routine while I clean up dinner and toys.
7-8: husband does his chores and projects. I'll tend to baby a little longer and then blog, read, have a shower
8-10: Dare I say this is our Netflix and chill time in the winter and fire and wine time during the summer? Declaring designated mom and dad time has made our relationship stronger.
Time is so valuable when your busy. My husband and I decided who is responsible for what to ensure it all gets done. We sat down and wrote it out on paper and stuck it on the fridge. Sounds a bit old school but it worked. Now I know he's going to feed the dog and I not have to worry if he did or not. Some days when life gets in the way I'll take a bit of his load or he will take a bit of mine.
4. GO OUTSIDE
No matter the weather or season we do our best to just get out there. Even in the middle of the winter when days are dreary and short, just get out there! I put one in the carrier or backpack and the other in the stroller or muddy buddy rain suit and we suit up. If it's all we've managed for the day at least we got outside.
5. INVOLVE KIDS IN CHORES
They will throw scratch to chickens when I get eggs and check feed. Remember we are doing this things because we enjoy them, we are modeling this joy to our child. Slow down and let them help, even if it means you sacrifice an egg or two.
Let your toddler wash windows or mop the floor with water and a cloth. Teach them to tidy up and clean up. Here are my tips for tidying and cleaning quickly so you can get more of the things you want to get done, done.
We often go and play in the barn. Even though they are little they can still help, while I sweep the barn and throw a bale of hay to the cows my littles throw rabbit feed for our free range rabbit that lives in the farm.
6. SELF CARE
I'm going to be totally honest, I live in a pony tail. I don't care what the heck my hair looks like most of the time, so its' easy for taking care of myself to fall at the wayside. BUT I've learned, that I if I can get ready enough for the day by 10, I feel a whole lot better and more productive than on the days I don't.
Shower at night or you may not get to it the next morning. Eat when they eat or you'll fade by the end of the day. Make a second cup of coffee or tea when you can and make sure you drink it while it's hot. Find some alone time and say some positive affirmations.
7. FIND A FOCAL POINT
Choose a project that you can work on during the calm. Pick a focus for the day or week and fit in in when you can. This month I've been planning a birthday party, so I'll try and do one tiny task everyday leading up to it. Sometimes it's just as small as pinning a recipe you will be using.
This may be small but it's a powerful tool for motivation and feeling accomplished at the end of the day. It's easy to feel like you did nothing but change diapers all day, working towards something your excited about helps combat the repetitiveness of it all.
If you find you have a lot of projects you want to work on, write them all down and choose the top three that are time pressing and will bring you some joy. Put the rest of the list away until another time and forget about the rest.
8. BULLET JOURNALING
Bullet journaling seems to be all the rage. I often have lists absolutely everywhere, scrap pieces of paper, a day timer, prescription notes. I have an exercise notebook for our farm business, my blog, the garden, and our budget. Recently, I've come across bullet journaling on Pinterest and started putting all of these notes into a more of a creative outlet and into one journal.
9. BABY WEARING
My favourite baby carrier is the Ergo 360. Its been a lifesaver for my back and super comfortable for long hours of baby carrying. It's also comfortable for the boys at all ages.
10. CALL IN THE SUPPORTS
When you have a baby or two friends, family and grand parents want their snuggle time. Don't be afraid to ask them to help pick something up, or throw the laundry in.
Now that babies are older I'll still ask for play dates with those people and I'll make a loaf of bread or deal with the endless green tomatoes while they play.
11. AMAZON PRIME
Homesteading means working towards building skills to lead a self sufficient life but a mom still needs diapers and gifts from time to time. Amazon Prime has been a game changer!
Guaranteed 2 day shipping on items we need makes life much easier. Get what you need online and move on. Forget packing up the kids in the carseats, one screaming on the way to the store and one falling asleep when it's not nap time.
Homesteading with kids is all about time management. Amazon Prime makes managing shopping tasks simple. Now to grow more food at home so we don't have to make trips to the grocery store more often…
Start your 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime below
12. INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY
Staying organized with homesteading tasks and homemaking jobs is not easy work. When trying to homestead and raise kids at the same time, it's so easy to feel like a chicken running around with it's head cut off.
BUT remember that you don't have to reinvent the wheel to get stuff done. Join in the community of other moms on social media. Follow the best homesteading boards on Pinterest. Check out some of the best printables other homesteader bloggers have made to make life easier. Also, stay inspired by following other homesteaders on Instagram and Twitter.
13. EMBRACE THE CHAOS
All these tips are fine and dandy, but they aren't always going to be applicable to every family. Heck, some of you might just be laughing and thing “yah right!”
There isn't a perfect solution or guide to homesteading with kids. I suggest that you try some of these ideas and figure out works well for you.
Take a deep breath, let the kids get dirty. If at the end of the day, the eggs are still in the coop nobody is going to be upset.
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Remember what I said at the start? Homesteading is a journey. My hope is that these tips that work for our family will help you find some peace amongst the chaos when homesteading with children.