My husband and I love every aspect of homesteading. Watering the plants, feeding animals, building stuff with our own hands, and more.
However, getting our children to share our zeal and excitement is not always an easy task. This is a big struggle that my husband and I faced when we turned from our city lives and started chasing our dreams of homesteading with kids.
So today I want to share with you a few ideas that might help your kids come around to your ideas of homesteading and want to be more involved in the process.
1. Cater to Their Interest
When we began homesteading, I had the challenge of getting 3 boys all about 7 years apart who were electronic junkies to set that mindset free and embrace ‘the simple life.’ Ha! Not an easy one.
Even so, I had to find a way to make it interesting for them.
First, since my youngest loves pizza, we came up with the idea of letting him grow his own pizza ingredients from seeds. We planted them apart from the rest of the garden, and they were his responsibility.
He was a preschooler at the time and did really well.
Second, I had a preteen who loved the indoors and at times probably thought we were trying to make him have a nervous breakdown when we traded his Xbox time with outdoor time.
However, we noticed that he loves taking care of animals. So we bought some baby chicks and ducklings and told him they were his responsibility. He loved caring for them because they were so small (and cute!) However, also, he was very proud when they grew to full-size healthy birds.
Third, I had a teenager that was just starting to drive.
He embraced the “look” of a country boy quite easily. (It made great selfies) Still, he wasn’t really into all of the planting and harvesting stuff. So we put him on a tractor and put him to work to help build our homestead. He fell in love quickly.
The takeaway here is that you have to find what will pique their interest and plug it into that part of homesteading. They will be much more pliable and have a better attitude about helping with the homestead if they have a part in homesteading that really strikes their fancy.
2. Let Them Get Their Hands on Equipment
It doesn’t matter if you have boys or girls, all kids like to use tools. Adults do too.
If you put the right tool in your child and/or children’s hands, this not only educates them on things that they will certainly use in the future but it also gives them a sense of involvement.
Even better, get a gardening tool set for kids if you have the budget.
3. Make It Educational
When we began homesteading with kids we had no idea of all the changes that would occur in our lives. One of the decisions we made along this journey was to homeschool our children. Our oldest made the decision for himself but our younger 2 are very energetic little boys that prefer a different learning environment and have thrived with our homeschooling approach.
Homesteading really caught their attention because it is a hands-on learning opportunity for them. And anything that allows them to learn without sitting still for hours on end, they are certainly for it.
Therefore, homesteading with kids can be a great way for your kids to learn.
If you have children that are more focused on science then let them test the acidity of your soil with a simple soil test kit. If you have a child that is more artistic then put a camera in their hand or an easel and encourage them to embrace all of the beauty that is found on a homestead.
And finally, if you have a child that is more focused on language arts then give them a journal and allow them to journal their experience on the homestead. It would be a great way to keep important family memories that they will want as they grow up.
There are multiple ways to make your child’s homesteading experience a pleasant one and one that they find informative and intriguing.
4. Cut Them Loose in the Kitchen
I have been using this method lately with my preteen. He feels very accomplished when he helps prepare a meal. He loves the fact that he is helping me out and also that he is able to serve his family.
In his mind, it is a silent way of saying, “I love you!”
I love it when we raise our own meats and vegetables and then I can bring my kids to the kitchen to show them how to preserve and also prepare them. This is a way for them to get their hands on the actual product of our homestead.
It shows them why we work so tirelessly the way that we do. Not to mention, it prepares them for the future.
Gender doesn’t matter. Each child needs to know how to prepare their own meals and save their own food. Why? Because it helps them to save money when they are older. It also teaches them to be independent which one day they will need to be.
5. Let Them Be Small Entrepreneurs
Okay, let’s be real for a moment. Money isn’t everything, but if you need a carrot waved in front of your kids’ faces, sometimes teaching them how to monetize the homestead is just the way to get them involved.
We know that we can make money on our homestead in multiple ways such as selling eggs, raising and selling animals, and selling garden extras.
Now, if you put your kids in charge of some of these functions and allow them to earn money for their work then not only are you teaching them about homesteading, but you are also teaching them how to make money in a non-traditional way which will prove itself invaluable as they grow up.
If you are struggling to find a way to get your kids involved around your homestead, don’t fret. As soon as they learn that they can have their own business at their young age, I’m sure a few ears will perk up and some hands will be ready to work.
6. Give Your Little Ones a ‘Job’
I often feel bad for my little boys as I feel like they get left out because they are smaller. Let’s be real, I’m not putting a 5 and 10-year-old out on a tractor. Maybe when they are a little older but not now.
When their dad is outside working with our oldest son, I always try to find my ‘littles’ a job that they can handle around the homestead too. This makes them feel more involved and included, plus they like to know they are helping.
However, maybe you aren’t sure of good jobs to give your smaller children. Well, there is always plenty to be done around a homestead for all ages.
If you have smaller children, give these chores a try so they can help, feel included, and also stay busy around the homestead:
- Collect eggs
- Sweep out the barn
- Help pull weeds
- Help pick vegetables and fruits
- Feed smaller animals
- Water smaller animals
Those are a few good places to start. As your children begin showing you what they are comfortable with doing, I’m sure you’ll find a few unique tasks around your homestead that they are more than capable of doing.
7. Let Go of Your Sanity
I am someone who loves order. To say I am a ‘neat freak’ is probably an understatement.
However, when you have kids on a homestead things can get a little messy and little less efficient than what you might hope.
Even so, the best thing you can do is simply let go of your sanity and embrace the chaos. You want to know why? Because that is life. Those are the memories your kids will remember.
So yes, your kids may not plant the seeds just right…
Your kids may not harvest vegetables just right…
…Or your kids may even have a way of undoing a job that you just finished. (Ahem! I’ve been there.) However, that’s okay.
Things always have a way of getting done. You stressing over each thing will only make things less fun for your children and also give you high blood pressure.
I know some of you might be thinking, “What?” But honestly, I was once there. I once freaked out when I didn’t stay on schedule. Between homesteading, homeschooling, and working from home you’d think I’d have to keep a pretty tight schedule.
However, I don’t. I’ve learned not to do that; it makes life miserable.
I may not get everything done as quickly as I’d like each week but it all somehow still gets done.
Just remember to let go and enjoy your homesteading life with your children. This is all part of building a life one step at a time.
8. Start Them Young
If I had one thing I would go back and change in my life, it would be to embark on my dream of homesteading with kids earlier. However, I didn’t so I didn’t have the opportunity to start all of my children out as early as I had hoped on this homesteading journey.
If you are a homesteader with very small children, strap them to you and roll onward with your dream. There are so many options with playpens, strollers, and baby carriers. Put them to use.
I know how difficult it can be to get things done with very small children in tow. However, remember to see my last point in those stressful moments.
Because truthfully, when your children grow up around the homestead life, it is normal for them. They will embrace it the same way my kids embraced the life of grocery shopping and video games. It is just about what children grow up around as to what they deem as the norm.
9. Let Them Provide for the Family
One of the biggest ways that I was able to get all 3 of our boys into homesteading was through hunting and butchering animals. I know, there is something about boys, they love guns, blood, and guts.
Not all of our boys are old enough to handle a gun. Still, they are old enough to learn hunter safety. And they are old enough to watch and learn about butchering an animal.
I want to put emphasis on the fact that through my own experience, none of my children have been scarred by this in any way. I know a lot of people fear that kids seeing a dead animal will somehow harm them.
Although I am not a psychologist, my boys have a greater appreciation of food and life after seeing what it takes for us to have meat. They want to help more with the animals that we raise for meat. They also have a great appreciation for the effort it takes to fill a freezer with meat.
So you can use your own judgment on this particular option.
Even so, I know how much it has allowed our boys to embrace our homesteading life and grow in knowledge and respect for life.
10. If It’s Broke, Let Them Fix It
If you live on a homestead then you know how stuff is constantly needing to be fixed. For instance, I was sitting in church a few Sundays ago. I usually don’t have my phone with me but my husband was serving on the church’s security team so I usually keep my phone close by when he does that.
Well, my phone suddenly vibrated and it was a text message from my mother-in-law telling me I had to come home because our goats were running loose.
I, unfortunately, had to leave service so I could go home and fix a hole in the fence that our Billy goat had decided to make. Then I had to patch a hole in our goat cabin (they are a little spoiled!) that he had decided to make by using his horns to pry a board loose.
You have to be handy in repairs and maintenance when homesteading. So why not include your kids in this process?
You are not only giving them a sense of purpose around the homestead but also teaching them valuable skills that they will need later in life. Everyone needs to know how to make repairs because that is one thing we can always bank on, things will break throughout life.
Well, there you have it folks.
These are my 10 methods to help get your children involved around your homestead and to happily partake in your homesteading with kids dream.
Don’t get discouraged if your kids are still a little reluctant (especially if they are older.) It is a bit of culture shock when you’ve lived most of your life based around convenience. However, with time and patience, hopefully, they’ll come around and realize how great this life can be and how invaluable the skills you learn through homesteading really are.