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.
A big part of homesteading involves keeping mice out of buildings, and in particular, your home. It’s surprising how small of a hole a mouse can get in, and they will get in if you leave it open. Examples: In an open crawl space or dirt floor basement, under the eaves of your home, attics, in garages that are attached to your home, between the logs of a log cabin, and so many other places. It’s not a romantic view of homesteading and it’s also seriously concerning for the health of young babies and kids.
You need to fill all holes in your home and put trim tight around exterior or garage doors before moving in with your young kids. My husband went to our farm before we brought the kids here, and filled in all of the holes so that mice wouldn’t get in. Before he did that, they were running around everywhere and using carpet and insulation as mouse hotels. He thoroughly cleaned everything, caulked all doorways, under baseboards, and around windows to keep them out. This also helps with flies and wasps and any other bug that want to get in for a dry place to live. A lot of times when you buy a homestead, there are existing buildings that are run-down and those buildings will definitely have mice in them. Just assume it, and prevent them from entering before moving in.
Now, what have your experiences with young kids been? I’m sure there are some older and wiser people out there that were raised on a farm and have some great stories to tell about when they were young! I would love to hear your perspective!
Rosemary Hansen is an author, homesteading Mama, and a chef. She has spent the last 10 years “homesteading” in the city. She and her family have just started their off-grid homestead in rural British Columbia, Canada. Her books, Grow a Salad In Your City Apartment and Rosemary’s Natural Cosmetic Guide are a great way to ease into a healthy, pure lifestyle. You can connect with Rosemary at her website: www.RosemaryPureLiving.com or on her YouTube channel. Read all of Rosemary's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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