This week, I've made a video and written an article about homesteading with young kids + my methods to help your family accomplish more on your farm or homestead! I'm not gonna lie, I am bouncing a baby on my hip while typing one-handed right now! #IRL
Are you interested in homesteading with young kids? Not sure if you can do it safely and without wearing yourself to the ground? Here are my tips and real life experiences homesteading with my young kids and husband. In my video, I talk a lot about how I cope with the lack of sleep and the all-consuming attention that it requires to parent young children. They are adorable and fun, but also exhausting at times.
In this article, I want to cover some of the additional key things that a family needs to watch out for with young children. My husband is a total expert in keeping safety at the forefront of our minds at all times, so I try to take a page from his book as often as I can.
We like to take things slowly as a family. That means focusing on the super important critical projects and leaving everything else to sort itself out in time. So, the first projects we tackled when we moved to our farm included: fixing up the bathroom and setting up a really basic, functional kitchen (without running water). We left out projects that were more about prettiness, like putting laminate on the floors instead of the old carpet, or replacing a door that was damaged leading to the balcony (we simply screwed plywood over the opening).
How does all this relate to having young kids on the farm? Simply that when you go fast, you are more likely get injured or injure someone around you and make mistakes that cost more time and money. With young kids in your family, you have to have patience and take it slow so that everyone is safe and only the essential things are handled. As time goes on and the kids get more capable and able to look after themselves, then the family can move on to projects that make us happy like building an outdoor cob oven or setting up a sauna.
Safety on the Farm
Many, many things can injure children and babies, so it’s important to think realistically about what you can accomplish with just one parent working on dangerous projects while the other cares for the kids. Having said that, a lot of projects can also involve the kiddos with a healthy awareness of safety.
In other words:
Using a table saw or operating a welder = bad idea with little kids wandering around
Building garden beds with supervision (and wood pre-cut) = good learning experience!
But, you will likely be doing 95% of the work yourself, while the littles run off to chase a ladybug or point out something super interesting to their little creative minds. Still fun to have the family out together doing a project, though!
That was a bit trite, but for those of you who have zero experience with kids, that will give you an idea of what you can accomplish with little kids and what projects will need to have the kids sent off with another parent or relative to keep things safe.
Really young babies can be hard (but not impossible!) to incorporate into a new homestead, so it might be easier to wait until they are at least a year old before starting your homestead (if you have the luxury of planning ahead like that!). A walking one year-old can help with cleaning up toys, carrying small loads of sticks or hay, and can fetch things and go on little errands. They can be a handful though, and will get into everything so you need to have baby-proofing planned out.
Having said all of that, a newborn can go into Mama’s baby sling and get carried around while you garden, cook, preserve, and care for animals. But it’s important to make sure that Mama is getting enough rest, since giving birth and nursing 24/7 is hard on the body. So don’t overdo it, Mama! If you’re prepared to carry baby lots, then go for the farm life with a small infant, if not, wait until Baby is older.
Read the rest of my article on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
Is your family thinking of homesteading or is already out in a rural area? What questions or concerns do you have about homesteading with young kids?