Living off the grid is a independent, ethical living choice that we make in and out each day. While this is a fulfilling life choice, it can be difficult to get your kids enthusiastic about self reliant living at a young age. While your kids may love being outdoors, they may not be motivated to imitate the ethical homesteading choices you make when they go out into the world and have their own home. Luckily, there are some great ways to incorporate homesteading into your everyday activities with your children. It’s all about taking small (and fun) tasks that contribute to your lifestyle and using them to teach your children the importance of independence, self-sufficiency, and ethical lifestyle choices. If you are homeschooling your children, it’s even easier to shape build an appreciation of living off the grid by centering entire lessons on concepts that are important to your lifestyle.
Beyond the value inherent in teaching a new generation the ins and outs of prepping and living off the grid, bringing your children into the prepping fold can serve as a great bonding experience between parent and child. Whether you live on a rural homestead or you embrace sustainable energy and self-sufficiency in a city setting, there are external pressures that can make it difficult for you to stay engaged with your children and foster a quality relationship. Between work and the stresses inherent in living off the grid, it can be easy to look get so busy that you look up one day and realize your children have grown up when you weren’t looking.
One way to teach your children the value of prepping is simply to involve them in the easy tasks associated with your lifestyle from a young age. Your children cannot build or assemble a solar panel at three, but they are certainly capable of tasks that will build their self esteem and create a “stake” in your lifestyle, like helping you gather eggs from the chicken coop or helping pull weeds in the garden. As they grow older, it is a good idea to give them more complex tasks that involve them in living off the grid. Asking your child to help with these types of tasks (as opposed to sweeping or doing the dishes, tasks they would also be asked to complete in a city household) teaches your children the responsibility of chores as well as the unique value of living in an off-the-grid home.
Off-the-grid living doesn’t mean all work and no play though. Find fun activities or toys that will help your kids get involved in off-the-grid living. A science kit that shows how to build a windmill or a solar panel can help your kids learn the science behind the tools that power your home before they are old enough to help with the actual work involved with setting up solar panels or windmills. You can create kits like this without purchasing them if you would prefer that, but activities like this are great to add to your homeschooling repertoire. The satisfaction that your kids will get upon successfully completing a task like this one (building a mini-windmill) accomplishes two things: first, it helps your kids build pride in the work that it takes to live off the grid, and secondly, it teaches them that fun and useful things take hard work to accomplish. Living off the grid takes a lot of work to do successfully, and your kids need to learn early on that they will have to work day in and day out to do so successfully; however, it is worth it.
If you’re homeschooling your children, use their science lessons to teach them about the energy that powers your home, whether that’s passive or active solar, wind, or water energy. For math lessons (depending on their age) use your own home as a budget model. Do you grow all of your own food, or do you purchase some of it? Do you purchase supplies for energy generation and livestock care? Walk your child through the work of balancing your family’s income and expenses, not only to work on their math skills, but to drive home the value of managing your money wisely. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you have the opportunity to teach your children the practical application of principles that they would only learn theoretically in school. Living off the grid adds another valuable component: you have both the privilege and responsibility to teach your children the values of your lifestyle that they wouldn’t encounter or be surrounded by as they transition to public school and the workforce. For younger children, these science lessons can be more simple and hands-on. Dig in a plot of dirt outside your home and teach your children what all the different organisms and insects you see are, and how they fit into the little ecosystems surrounding your home. If you have the space, block off a small plot of land and help your kids create their own garden. Include edible plants that are easy for first-time gardeners to grow. These plants will depend on your location and climate, but think plants like lettuce, squash, beans, and radishes. Fruits and veggies that are easy to grow will help you teach your children the lesson that hard work will net them great results in a tactile way, and it’s also a great first step in teaching them that it can be a powerful thing to grow enough food to support your family.
If you and your family have been living “on the grid” in the same fashion that most of America does today, it will probably be a big shock to your kids that you are planning to adopt an entirely new lifestyle. It’s important to emphasize the things that your kids will find fun and exciting about your new life, like having the chance to explore the wilderness, create your own energy, raise animals, and create your own food. Focusing on the exciting and novel parts of moving to a new environment and/or lifestyle can help de-emphasize the things that your kids might have problems leaving behind, like television, cell phones, and a Wi-Fi connection. Teaching your kids to love a self sufficient lifestyle is no different than teaching them to love the outdoors, but living off the grid nets you a thousand fun and interactive ways to teach them the value of being self sufficient and living off the land.