Living the homestead, back-to-basics lifestyle is fun, but it is a lot of work. There’s a lot to be said for the great satisfaction you feel when you eat a meal completely created by your own work, and produced from your own home. You don’t have to shoulder all that work and responsibility on your own. The homesteading life is a great way to raise kids, and you and your whole family can become involved in the duties. Not only will your children learn many valuable lessons about life, where food comes from, and certainly to appreciate the food they eat, they will be more active and healthy for getting away from video games or television, and going out in the fresh air to work on the projects you have going on.
The Littlest Hands Learn the Fastest
Don’t wait for your youngest to grow up to get them involved. Teaching your kids about your way of life, and how to do things is much easier when they are young. Children as young as three can toddle around with you and help with the chores. Have them carry the egg basket when you collect eggs, learn how to recognize weeds in the garden and pull them up without disturbing the “good” plants around them, and even sit on a milk stool next to you while you work—company is important too.
Growing Up Healthy
Working in the garden is a lot of fun for the youngest of children—what four or five year old doesn’t love “playing in the dirt”? While they play, they are also learning very important lessons of healthy eating and good nutrition. Having your kids help you make bread, cheese, and other delicious homestead delights also gives them great math lessons, as well.
Growing Older the Homestead Way
There are many things older kids can do around the homestead. If you own dairy goats, milking chores before school-time and feeding chores after school gets them involved in a fun way. Don’t overlook what local 4-H clubs can do for your kids too. 4-H is an agricultural-based program that includes the very things you do on your farm, but gives kids a chance to develop those projects into achievement awards and even fair projects at your local and state fairs. Your kids do not have to go to a formal school to be a part of a local 4-H club. Homeschooled children are always welcome, and get the chance to meet and play with other kids with the same mindset.
Animals, Dirt and Kids are a Natural Combination
It is rare to find the child who doesn’t adapt readily to the back-to-basic life. It’s a completely natural combination. If you are starting a homesteading type of life when your kids are in their teens, you may have a little more difficulty. Teens have already become ingrained in the more sedentary lifestyle that plagues our society and increases the chances of childhood obesity or the tendency for becoming overweight later in life.
Encourage your older kids to get involved by asking them what “they” would like to see happen on your homestead. If they love animals but despise getting filthy in a garden, don’t push. Find ways to develop projects that they like and will get excited about. Gradually, you may find little Bobby or sweet Sue hanging around the edges of the garden as you work, and thinking seriously about jumping in with a trowel.
Saving Energy One Bulb at a Time
Another thing that can be a difficult adjustment for kids of any age is learning how to save power. If you have decided the back-to-basic lifestyle is right for you but your kids have lived their whole lives in the mass consumption lifestyle of your past, and that of their current peers, it can be hard to learn to only use lights you need at one time instead of having the entire house lit up. Unplugging computers, video games, and other items can cause a real “culture shock.”
Keep in mind that even though you are thoroughly committed, it will make the transition easier for your kids if you take things slowly. Gradually reduce TV, computer, and gaming times, and give them fun things to do around the home instead. If you handle it right and take it slow, the change will be fun, not frantic.