Homesteaders: How To Do It All
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I often get asked how in the world I can do “all the things” I do on a daily basis. After all, I run a farm, homeschool my kids, and work as an author. So I thought I’d write up a lil’ something to let you all know exactly how I do everything. Ready for my secrets on how to do it all?
1) How to do it all? Stop thinking you have to.
People joke that I must do everything by hand and make everything from scratch. Y’all, I do not.
There is this crazy notion that when we decide to live the simple life, we have to do everything the old fashioned way. Ima gonna let you in on a secret. Everyone out there trying to be like Fantasy Homesteader of 1892? Well, Fantasy Homesteader didn’t have to have her kids at 4H meetings or basketball practice or dance class. She wasn’t being asked to volunteer as a confirmation guide or a Scout leader.
Seriously, she wasn’t.
Here’s the deal: you probably have a flushing toilet in your house, and if you’re reading this, internet access. We are living in a completely different world than whatever Fantasy Homesteader you’re trying to emulate.
Get over it, and get over what other people think of how much you are or aren’t doing.
2) Realize that most people think they aren’t doing enough.
I’m willing to bet most people reading this are accomplishing plenty during their day but are fixated on the things they didn’t get done.
For all the things that I do get done in a day, there is that elusive, never-ending to-to list still floating around. And, while you’re looking at my life wistfully thinking, “Wow, she does so much,” understand that I’m probably looking at your life thinking the same thing.
3) Be selective about the things you agree to do.
Don’t get me wrong, homesteading is a lot of work. But the point that people sometimes miss is that because it’s so busy, there are things we can’t—or won’t—do.
Since moving to our farm in 2011, I’ve become well versed in the Art of No. As in, “no, I can’t do that right now.” Be honest about the time you have available and start respecting that time.
There is no shortage of people or organizations that need your assistance, from church to your local school to your best friend’s mother. When you are overextended, it helps no one—I don’t care what your church/school/best friend’s mother says.
When you’re constantly pushed to do more than you have time for, it’s yourself and your family and your farm that suffers the most.
4) Know when enough is enough.
Is social media bad? I don’t think so.
Can we spend too much time on it? Yep.
We all need time to relax, unwind, and catch up with friends…but if we’re spending six hours a day on Facebook and complaining we don’t have any time to get our stuff done…come on. We’re all adults, right? This goes for TV, reading, Pinterest, etc. as well.
Relaxing, unwinding, and entertainment is important, but know when enough is enough.
5) There is a trade off for everything you allow in your life.
We all have 24 hours in a day. Be honest about what you can fit into those 24 hours. There is a difference between being busy with a full life and being so busy that you need supplemental oxygen.
I once sat with a mom in tears because she was so busy and tired. She had four kids and was carting each of them to several things per week. When I asked her if maybe the kids could hold off on some of their activities for awhile, she looked at me incredulously and said, “But I want them to be in all those things!”
There is a trade off for everything you allow in your life. Being a part of everything means being really, really busy.
6) Worried about how to do it all? Maybe try lowering your expectations.
One can spend a ton of time keeping a house clean—especially if you have kids, or your house is a bouncing pad that people base from and then leave again. It’s hard to even consider how to do it all when you feel like you’re living in a circus of chaos.
Cleaning house is one of the things I’ve had to relax about. Is my house picked up? Sure. Is it spotless? No, and I’m okay with that.
If you drop by my house unexpectedly, you’re going to find laundry by the washing machine and dishes in the sink. If you call and say you’re coming over, I might vacuum, but I’m not going to deep clean behind the fridge. We’re all just people, living Life.
7) Realize that sometimes there just isn’t enough time.
Some people are hell bent on learning how to do it all. Lest I get angry emails asking how I think people can just give stuff up or get okay with having a messier house, let me be clear—sometimes there just isn’t enough time and life is too stinkin’ full. Sometimes you have to scale back.
Look. It was never written anywhere that we were promised leisure time while fitting in everything possible we would ever need to or want to do. Most of the time, we’re all really busy. Life. Is. Full. Sometimes it is more full than other times. Like, you know. Harvest time.
You may be at a place in life where there is just too much to do. But it doesn’t hurt to take a look at how things are set up. Would it be horrible to say, “Kids, you can be involved in ‘x’ number of things, but not ‘y'”? or “I really don’t have the time to do ___ right now, maybe in a couple years”?
Most of us can’t look at our own life and make this judgement—it sometimes takes the keen eye of an outsider to look at what we think is normal and ask why we do it the way we do it.
Maybe there is an option you haven’t considered that will free up some breathing space, help you fit in that thing you’ve been trying to make time for, or allow you do the same things in a different, more productive way.
It doesn’t hurt to ask.
8) So, then…
So. This whole how to do it all thing. How does one accomplish it?
They don’t. They just don’t.
And neither do I.
You’re going to be just fine.