Are you considering diving into homesteading?
Are you concerned you may have a mutiny on your hands when it comes to your children? I hear this all the time.
The main question is: “How do I get my kids onboard with homesteading if they’re not into the idea of it?”
My kids didn’t start out sharing mine and my husband’s homesteading dream. It has taken a few hard lessons and compromise on both sides.
Yet, here we are, almost a decade later living our new homesteading dream. I’m going to share a few of the tips I’ve learned along this journey to encourage and give you ideas on how your whole family could share this one amazing dream.
Here’s how to raise children with a homesteader mentality:
1. Find Their Thing
Here’s the thing, most kids today don’t get excited when you start talking about working outside, breaking a sweat, or building this type of life.
If they’re like my kids, they’ll farm on Minecraft, but they have no interest in doing it in real life. This is until you help introduce them to new things.
I found what my youngest loved to do on his video games, excited him in real life too. Therefore, he helps me start seeds, plant a garden, harvest the garden, and he loves playing with the baby animals.
Plus, as he’s growing older, we’re learning he may share his Dad’s enthusiasm for carpentry skills.
Our older two kids enjoy building items. The oldest likes for things to be organized and look good. He’s discovered building structures helps with his end goal.
While our middle child likes the idea of building structures or systems which help streamline the work.
It may take some time to figure out what your kids’ “thing” may be, but once you find it, this may be how you keep them motivated and involved in this dream.
2. Get Them Involved
If you dream of having a homestead, you can’t do it alone. It’s possible to homestead as a single person, but only if you’re trying to raise food for only a single person.
When trying to raise enough crops and livestock to sustain a larger family, you must have all hands-on deck.
Make sure you aren’t working yourself into the ground and remember to include your kids. I made this mistake in the beginning.
My kids were not into the homesteading idea in the slightest. To avoid the fight, I’d try to do it all by myself.
This was a bad decision because I became burnt-out and my kids weren’t involved which meant they cared less and less about this dream.
I fixed this situation by assigning daily chores. If they expected to earn time on their video games, they were going to have to help us out first.
Make sure the chores are dealing with the parts of homesteading they enjoy. For instance, with my youngest, he had to help more with the crops while the older two helped with tidying things up or feeding animals.
When they have a stake in the dream, they suddenly begin to care a little more.
3. Don’t Make Drastic Changes
Homesteading is a gradual thing. If you make up your mind you’re going to homestead, sell off your larger house, move to an off-grid cabin in the woods, and dive in with both feet, your family is going to revolt.
They’re most likely used to having modern conveniences, living around people, and shopping at the grocery store.
You can’t take these things away from them in one clean swipe and expect a positive result. Make it a gradual thing.
In our case, we began by canning food. I didn’t grow it. I purchased produce in bulk while it was in season and asked for help when canning.
We originally built a mini-homestead on less than two acres. When this dream had been fulfilled, we made the jump to a larger homestead on ten acres.
It lessened some of the work because the goats could be on pasture instead of being fed hay daily which seemed like a treat to the kids because it meant less work.
By taking baby steps, it didn’t feel as overwhelming and was easier for the kids to adjust to this new way of life.
4. Don’t Bash What They Love
My husband likes video games as much as the next person, but he doesn’t understand kids being sucked into them.
It was easy for him to grow frustrated when he’d ask the children to do something, and they were tuned into their phones or gaming systems instead of what he was saying.
Though this was an issue we had to address by setting ground rules as to how much electronics during the day was healthy, it was common for my husband to make remarks about their games.
I’m guilty of venting my frustrations as well over my kids’ addiction to electronics.
Yet, we learned over time that by making what they love our enemy, we were making ourselves the enemy to the kids because they felt we were attacking something they loved.
It may sound crazy, but it’s how they explained it to us.
Instead of venting our frustrations over the electronics, we began to use them to our advantage. Since we knew how much they loved them, the kids had to work to earn their time (as I mentioned briefly above.)
If your kids are sucked into sports, electronics, or anything else, use this to your advantage instead of disliking how much time they spend on their activities verses the homestead.
Explain to your children you need their help. If they’ll help you accomplish what needs to be done daily to provide for the family, you’ll reward them by giving them time towards the activities they love to do.
It’s a fair trade and one which can also teach your children work ethic, which is something they’ll need throughout their lives.
5. Homesteading May Not Look Like You Thought
This may sound as though your kids are making all the sacrifice, but this isn’t true. You may have to change your dream to move forward with a happy family.
In mine and my husband’s case, we could easily move to a secluded area, totally off-grid, and be happy as clams for the rest of our days.
Our children don’t share the same mentality. They can get onboard with raising livestock, raising food, and canning food.
But they aren’t a fan of living off-grid because you must cut back on water and electricity consumption. This cuts into the long showers they enjoy, and the amount of equipment they can run for their video games.
I’ve had to accept the fact we may not end up off-grid until our children have left the house because it costs too much money to install solar panels with the amount of electricity we consume now.
My children know I’m giving up something I’d love to have because they enjoy electronics. I don’t make them feel guilt over it or act huffy.
They know because they were there when we looked into it, they heard the conversation between their dad and I trying to afford such a system, and they knew we decided to push it off until later in life.
My kids expressed their appreciation and know this whole dream is a matter of giving and taking. They understand we’re sacrificing things we want as well.
Be willing to change your dream to accommodate your children (within reason) if it means keeping the peace. You’ll be glad you did.
After all, children won’t be children forever. You should have time later in life to accomplish the dreams you’re putting on hold for the moment.
6. Educate Your Kids
Kids only know what they’ve seen their whole life. If all they know is going to the grocery store for food, it may seem strange to grow their own food.
If they haven’t been exposed to livestock, it’s common for kids to be unsure of what you’re getting them into.
The best way my husband and I have found to educate our kids is to let them see the rewards. We’ve discussed how important it is to be prepared if we weren’t able to go to the grocery store or have other amenities we’re accustomed to.
At first, our children thought we were a little ‘out there,' but when the first hurricane,
We also explained to them how much money this could save us. When they were able to participate in more activities because we had extra money from raising our own crops to feed everyone, they understood how this lifestyle could benefit them in a variety of ways.
7. Make Life Fun
If homesteading is nothing but work to your kids, they’re going to hate it. Everyone needs fun in their life.
I didn’t realize this until we were approximately five years into this journey. We had worked ourselves to death, and my husband was ready for a break.
We started going on short vacations, and I realized how nice it was to breathe a little. A few years later, we purchased a boat.
Now, we go to the lake on some weekends to get a break. This has added fun to our family’s life and our kids don’t mind working if they know a break is around the corner.
But we’ve also found ways to make work fun on the homestead. We take time to smell the roses if you will.
During the day, we take walks, breathe in fresh air, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. We take the time to play with our livestock and enjoy the babies.
Plus, my kids enjoy getting to ride around in wheel barrels, on some of our farm vehicles, or playing in the barn.
If you make their childhood fun, they’ll embrace the learning experience.
8. Incorporate New Ideas with an Old-Fashioned Mentality
My kids are a ton better with technology than I’ll ever be. My eight-year-old is already learning how to code. It blows my mind!
Therefore, when I do something the ‘old way,’ he’ll look at me and say, “Don’t you know there’s a more efficient way?”
Instead of scoffing and doing it my way, I give him the room to manufacture new contraptions to make the same job a little easier.
This not only encourages his creative nature, but it saves me time and money many times too. He’s helped us manufacture a sliding coop door, developed new methods to feed and water animals, and has helped us design many of the structures around the homestead.
Let your kids’ creative minds run wild. You may be blown away as to how much they can add to your homestead and simplify things for you.
9. Support Their Efforts
As smart as my kids have been around the homestead, they aren’t perfect. They try to do certain chores, take on new tasks or projects, or try to build things which sometimes fail.
Letting your kids help can take more time. There’s no denying this fact, but instead of getting frustrated and taking the job back over, encourage your kids.
Come alongside them to help, offer suggestions, and congratulate them on their efforts. When people feel encouraged and appreciated, you’d be surprised how much this can boost morale.
There are times when children want to help but aren’t old enough or strong enough to get the job done. Don’t discourage their efforts.
Instead, encourage teamwork if you have multiple children. This is a great life lesson and one which still allows everyone to feel as though they played an equally important role in getting the job done.
Any way in which you can show your support towards your children when they’re making strides to get onboard with the homesteading
10. Your Dream May Not Be Their Dream
I have three children. The oldest wants as far away from farm life as he can manage to get. He spent most of his younger years in the city, and he prefers it.
My middle son is our farmer. He enjoys gardening, loves goat kids, and we call him the ‘chicken whisperer’ because he has a way with them.
We aren’t quite sure what our youngest will do yet. He loves animals and is quite an inventor which could lead him in multiple directions.
Yet, I’m okay with realizing my dream may not be their dream. My goal is to make sure my children know how to survive in the event they must.
But I also want them to experience different aspects of life. You can live in a city and still enjoy gardening, but you may have to go about it differently.
Or they could live on a farm and homestead on a smaller scale. It doesn’t matter how they choose to apply what they learn as long as they have the knowledge to take any approach they desire.
If your kids don’t seem to share the same dream you have, don’t take offense. Instead, teach them what you know.
Lessons around a homestead can be applied in many areas of life, and you may be surprised how they take what they know and turn it into their own dream.
There’s no magic potion for transforming your children into homesteaders. Some kids instantly love this life and other kids are less attracted to it.
But don’t let this stop you from pursuing your dream. There will be compromise, but this within itself is a great life lesson to teach your children. Don’t be discouraged if everyone isn’t quite as gung-ho as you are. Take it slow, and your family will figure out what homesteading looks like for them.