How Do You Manage A Household?
I need your help! I’m looking for some advice for those of us who are stay-at-home, homesteading, and/or are homeschooling parents. (Especially if you can offer it to somebody doing all three!) I have read a lot of books,articles, and stories about people who have grown up homesteading or farming, and who then proceed to homeschool/homestead with their children. I’ve read a lot about people who have begun homesteading when their kids were a little older, or they started to homestead as adults, but before children. What I have yet to read much of though, are the stories of people like me who are beginning this journey, new to homesteading, and have young children. We’ve been homeschooling for a few years now, and the homesteading label is only a year old for us at this point (though we’ve been transitioning for the past couple of years). Our kids are young, and we have 5 of them. Truth be told, I just don’t hear a lot about people like that.
I know that a lot of you out there won’t fit into that gap where I fit, but I know that there are a lot of you who do. Maybe you haven’t made that plunge into homesteading or homeschooling just yet, but you plan to. The fact of the matter is that we could use some solid advice, because it’s not easy. So, what I am seeking from you all is for you to pass this around, share with your family, friends, or acquaintances who might have good advice. I’d like to hear your success stories, sage advice, and reassurance that it can indeed be done.
Personally, the thing that I have been struggling the most with since we have moved is finding any kind of rhythm or routine. I knew life was going to be intense for quite awhile. I knew that we wouldn’t be “settled” until after the Christmas/New Year season that has just passed. But here we are, and I admit I feel a bit lost. I think most stay-at-home parents feel this way on occasion. Where do we begin? How do we bring order to the chaos?
So what am I up against? Well, we have five kids ages 8, 6, 5, 3, and 8 months. I know, it’s a lot, and it’s busy here. The noise that happens with that many young children in the house 24/7 can be quite…intense. The messes can be overwhelming.
As I said, we homeschool and homestead, so there’s plenty to be done, and that’s on top of the regular cooking and cleaning and maintenance that has to happen to keep a household running. In the spring time there are gardens to plant and tend, yard work to be done, and lots of time spent outdoors. We have to feed the family and and do our regular chores and do schoolwork. There is a toddler running around and a baby to take care of. We have been cooking from scratch, so that means there haven’t been a lot of easy meals to make. I’ve done freezer meals in the past, but can’t seem to find time to make more so that we can stay on track during the busy times or when people get sick. In fall it’s much the same, only we are busy preserving the harvest and butchering animals.
It wasn’t until more recently that I truly began to understand my role as manager in this house. It’s my job to keep things running as smoothly as possible from sun up to sun down (and sometimes in the middle of the night). Scott is happy to offer advice when he can, offer assistance when possible, and try to help find solutions to our household issues, but there’s only so much he can do, and there is a limit to the amount he is able to understand since this isn’t his full-time job.
That’s where you come in. Some of you have been there, done that. You’ve figured out ways to make life easier without sacrificing the things that you hold most dear. Some of you are in the midst of it, but maybe a little more comfortable and have found your rhythm. My goal is to get as much advice together as possible not only as inspiration for myself, but as things for others to think about who are, or will be, in my shoes.
There’s a lot to be done, and I know full well that life will always be busy. I know that it is and always be hard work. I know that life has different seasons and different challenges. But I need to find not to let that slow me down. I can’t go floundering around for two weeks after we’ve had a rush of craziness, because the house needs to be taken care of and so do the people in it. I admit to not being great at pacing myself. It’s something I have been working hard on, but sometimes find myself feeling like I am making no forward progress.
I don’t want anyone to think that I’m complaining or that I have too much going on (because believe me, I don’t…I find myself wasting a lot of time during the day). I’m not seeking extra help with the kids or “permission” to stop doing anything. I just seem to stink at time management 🙂 What I’m looking for here is ideas for how to keep on task, ideas for combating the hurdles that life throws at us without tripping and loosing that rhythm. I want to know how you made/make life easier for yourself during the hard seasons in life, what you did to make things run a little more smoothly. How do you find time to feed your family well, care for the house and care for people who are relying on you?
I’m guessing there will be answers I’ve heard before, and that’s okay. But I bet there’s stuff that I haven’t heard or thought of, so I still want to hear from you! And if you know of a good book or article that addresses these issues, please share. I am happy to hear answers from any of you, even if you do not fit into these categories, or if you grew up around this and have some insight. When I’ve received a good number of answers and responses, I want to put a post together to share with those of you who want to take on this kind of a lifestyle, or who are in a place similar to me, not knowing what your next step should be. Because if you are anything like me, you aren’t just doing this for you. You do it for your family, and it’s something we treasure.
Please, pass this on to your friends, feel free to link it in your blogs or vlogs, share on your Facebook page or other social media, email to a friend or family member. We don’t have a huge audience here, though it is growing, so I’ll need your help finding the people who will have good advice! Thank you all in advance for your help, and please remember to leave your comments below!
I haven’t exactly been in your shoes, so I hesitate to give you advice. When we moved to our homestead, my kids were 13 and 9, and I only had two. You have a lot on your plate and you sound a little overwhelmed. Something that helps me is to keep a running “to-do” list. I use a spiral notebook. To the left of the margin, I put a star by the most pressing, gotta get done, items, and I make them my priority. As things come into my mind that I need to get done, I add them. If I get all of my starred items done then I look at the remaining ones and star some of them. We all have limited time and energy, so focus on getting the important stuff done. Something else challenging you is adjusting to homesteading, and young children’s needs are constantly changing, so that makes it challenging to nail down a routine. Involve your kids with chores as much as you can. Winter is probably harder, too, being inside more. With homeschooling, see that many (if not all) of your homesteading tasks are educational. Think “animal science” and “biology.” If you can see the learning that takes place there, then maybe it will not make you stress about getting behind in “book work.” Life skills are far more useable than much of what we study in homeschooling. Well, I hope that helps in some small way. You are doing important work, so try not to get too stressed.
Spring Lake Homestead
I am a list and note keeper myself, though I think I stopped really keeping them this summer, not sure why. Probably something I need to start doing again. I am in complete agreement about life-skills and such. I lean towards unschooling, so we see most everything as a learning opportunity. The big thing is making sure that we keep up with reading and writing and math. They are young, so it’s not too hard. Do you think you’d be able to recall what a day in the life of homesteading looked like in your first year? Thank you for your response!
Our homestead was slower to get started, I think. We may have had chickens toward the end of it. Although I enjoy gardening, neither of my kids did and I didn’t force it on them. I was happy to have some quiet time.
Spring Lake Homestead
That’s why I like line-drying the laundry…some nice quite time for me 🙂
Sometimes you have to grab it where you can!
Anita J Smith
we moved to our homestead over 20 years ago- w/ a 7 year old in tow. we were already homeschooling but i can say that everything takes longer to do- not just the day to day- but the farming and rebuilding and educating. our 3-5 year plan went out the window- we had to do everything at a different pace. change our expectations and our goals. we had a routine rather than a schedule…but even that would change or get disrupted. there were many ‘have to dos’ and the rest we had to let slide til another day or another season. declutter- have very little for kids to mess up,keep them helping however they can, decide top priorities for education and have a lot of frozen pre-made meals on hand and pray. this too will pass LOL (BTW we have a Christian Homeschooling Homestead FB group you would be welcome to join and see if you’d find encouragement in the journey. )
Spring Lake Homestead
I’m glad to hear that. I wouldn’t say that I’m stressed, just looking for a way to get the wheels moving. But I think it’s important to know that the pace is really slow with younger kids. I just sent a FB request, thank you 🙂 It can be so hard not to wish away the time when things are stressful. I just know that at this point with the baby being where he is at, this is when I am always able to really get back to “life as normal” (as normal as it can ever be!).
Spring Lake Homestead
By the way, do have any suggestions for good frozen meals?
When we started homesteading we had 4. Eight to newborn. We homeschooled, homesteaded, and I was home full time. My parents were there too in the early years, my dad full time, so we did have a team effort going. But certain things were my family’s responsibility mainly. Even so, it was chaos for a number of years. One thing that I wish we had not done was add so much at once. We were spontaneous with new animals and other projects and often found ourselves buried. I mean buried in a to do list is always going to be there, but mastering and finishing one thing before moving to the next would have saved us a lot of headaches. Things that did help – keep it simple (meals, housekeeping,) prioritize, and sometimes lower expectations. But I think the best thing you can do is delegate. All the kids except the baby can contribute to chores and housework. There is a learning curve there, but it is worth it in the long run. In the early years the older kids all had animals they helped care for, and we set up rotating cleaning zones for the day. Just a little structure goes a long way. In fact I just reinstituted those cleaning zones after drifting away from them for a few years. Of course now kids at home are 15, 12, and 10, and WOW can they get it done. 🙂
Spring Lake Homestead
Thanks for sharing! It’s reassuring that it takes a long time to get settled. This year is a year of mastering skills for us. We may add some new things, but nothing crazy. Mostly expanding on what we are already working on.
I’d like to know, too! Although I don’t homeschool, so in a couple of years when my youngest starts kinder I will have a lot more free time during the days to get all that other stuff done. Even then though, there are still breaks and summer, and trying to find a rhythm is hard. I’ll let you know if I ever figure anything out!
Spring Lake Homestead
Thanks 🙂 And I’ll let you know what answers I come up with as well.
We don’t have our homestead or kids yet and I can struggle to keep the house so I just wanted to comment and say it sounds like you’re doing brilliantly! Ive just finished up the busy period at work and I caved and bought pre-prepared freezer meals on the longest nights. I’m a list gal myself so when I’m panicking about all the jobs that need done, that’s the only thing that calms me down and focuses me. I also love my slow cooker and check every recipe to see if I can use it! X
This is my third year of homeschooling and it’s been my hardest year. We have a almost 10 year old and a 4 year old, and doing the two different grade levels has been a struggle for me. They both are distracted by the other’s activities and it just slows the whole day down. I’ve tried doing separate times, but that draws out the day too long. Honestly, I haven’t done well with it. Luckily, it’s not absolutely necessary for the 4 year old to really dive into everything like the 10 year old. We are fairly new to homesteading. My gardens have mostly failed, I’m hoping this year it’s different, but it still won’t be a huge, we will grow everything we need for the whole year type of garden. Not this year. We are planning to get a dairy cow this year and more chickens, but we won’t be fully self sustained. I’d say the best advice is to just take it one day at a time and remember that you don’t have to be perfect at this.
Spring Lake Homestead
The multiple grades thing is trickier than I had imagined when we first decided to homeschool (which I think was about 5 years ago), and that’s one of the reasons we lean the way of “unschooling.” They are constantly learning from life, and since they are living life instead of being in a school room, there are so many things that they are learning in a unique way from other kids. The cow sounds exciting and intimidating! I want to try to have a milking animal eventually, but I think we’ll be waiting a few years before that happens. Thanks for commenting!
Life is a little chaotic right now and we haven’t had a good routine for a few months, and while I love the idea of homeschooling, I’m not sure if we’ll ever decide to do it. I just don’t know that I’m cut out for it. But what creates a good routine in our house, honestly, is following eating schedules. So breakfast in the morning, followed by morning animal feeding, then a project of some kind (usually my project, they play), then morning snack, then morning play, lunch, rest time, snack, more play or project, and afternoon animal chores. Then comes the whole dinner bedtime routine. I find myself doing at least one load of laundry a day, which seems to keep it manageable. We used to have a good weekly routine too, but then the girls started preschool and I was trying to avoid bed rest and I lost all semblance of routine. But one thing is we meal plan, and I go into town for groceries the same day every week. We used to go to the library every Wednesday for story time. The dump on Fridays for trash and recycling. Etc.
Spring Lake Homestead
Yes, I admit that I haven’t been great about the eating schedules and such. Ever since switching to cooking from scratch, I’ve had a hard time adjusting to the prep time it takes to make meals. When I’m on top of things, I make homemade oatmeal packets, have extra granola bars for snacks, have cut veggies and washed fruit…it definitely helps not to be constantly pestered for food! We used to have story time as well and a few other outside activities, but not in the past year, at least not on a weekly basis. Now I have to set up my own. Thanks for sharing what works for you 🙂