With homesteading, there is always so much to do. Depending on the time of the year, there are endless harvests to preserve, gardening or weeding to be done. There are no mornings to sleep in, as the animals need tending to. It can quickly get exhausting during the busy season. Throw in the kids getting a cold or the baby teething and not sleeping, and you’re bound to fall off track fast. You become exhausted, end up drinking too much coffee, are too fatigued to get things done yet you find yourself still up at midnight canning those tomatoes and looking like a walking zombie. Does any of this sound familiar?
It’s the start of a new year, and with that comes new goals for ourselves and the homestead. It’s really easy to overdo it. Our mothers and sisters of the pioneer past seemed to of survived and done so much that our lives seem almost luxurious in comparison. A kitchen aid mixer often does the grunt work for making butter or bread. We have the online world to answer any problematic situation that arises in our lives. We can even watch some juicy TV while peeling the potatoes.
But with these easier modern-day advantages it’s still easy to overdo it, mostly because we no longer live in community type atmospheres where the homesteading duties are spread out. Which means that some mothers, myself included, don’t actually get much (or any) outside help with our day-to-day lives. When you’re a homesteading mother (or even a full-time working mother) on top of being a mom, you’ve already added lots more to your plate. It can become hard to ask for help when you don’t have anyone to turn to. You may have friends or family that are close by, but the homesteading life is on a different playing field than what they’re comfortable with.
Truth be told, no matter how ambitious you can get, you need to avoid the homestead mama burnout. It will easily happen if you let it, so here are some ideas for preventing it.
1. Take half an hour for yourself every day. Got it? EVERY DAY. This is much easier said than done, and I often forget to do this. Take a bath, read a book, go for a walk, do a yoga routine, do something for YOU. Find an interest or hobby outside of the homesteading & motherhood realm, too. I realize that time is limited in a day, but if you can find something to do once a week or even once a month that recharges your spirit and makes you feel better then do it.
2. Get off your acreage. If you can, a change of scenery is really important for the soul (this is coming from an introvert mama). I find that even a trip to the grocery store solo is refreshing as I’m alone and I don’t have to answer to anyone. Even a walk somewhere off your acreage can help reduce your stress. Seeing the same scenery all day, every day, can make anyone stir crazy, and as a homesteader you’re likely spending most of your time at home.
3. Stay organized. This helps a lot. If you can spend half an hour at the beginning of the week, or even an hour to organize the month’s to-do list around the homestead it helps a lot with the flow. Rather than things piling up, distribute them as much as you can; that way you’re not as overwhelmed with forgotten things you have to do. Buy an organizing book or use an app to help you.
4. Don’t do it all. You can’t, especially when you have little kids that need constant attending to and supervision. If someone offers you free 20lbs of apples, it might be tempting to make that home-canned apple sauce, but if you truly don’t have the time you will burn yourself out more trying to fit it in. If your kids get sick, if you have a baby that doesn’t sleep for nights or weeks because of teething, if you get sick, take things off your lists. You have to, for your own sanity.
5. Involve the family (or create community/hire a WWOOFer). This might be hard if some family members (usually older children) really don’t see the point in spending hours processing or preserving food when you could just go to the grocery store. Explaining your intentions for doing so is helpful. There are many tasks that your children can help with like shelling peas, washing dirty carrots, feeding the animals or harvesting from the garden. Having the family more involved, thus more homestead support, really helps. Everyone has to eat; explain to everyone that homesteading is the way your family eats.
If family really rejects this lifestyle, or if your family has outgrown home, create a community and make new friends in your local area for things like canning parties or helping each other out with different homesteading duties. Spreading out the work with others for trade is another great option, there are people out there willing to do some weeding in exchange for fresh garden veggies. Try to meet other moms in the area and take turns to exchange child care for a few hours to yourself or to get the homesteading duties done. Another great option to consider is to hire a WWOOFer (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is a loose network of national organisations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms).