Homesteading is a hard life. Rewarding? Sure. Fun? Usually. But easy? Oh, heck no!
When I asked my readers what their biggest struggle with homesteading was, many of them said time.
I get it!
Time is one of the few things we can’t get more of.
There are only so many hours in the day and between homesteading activities and working or caring for children, your day is pretty filled up if not overflowing.
I’ve been at that place of frustration and feeling like giving up, but then I realized that giving up on my homesteading goals was just not going to work for me. What else could I possibly do with my life? So I figured out where I was making mistakes and learned how to change those habits so that I could maximize my time and have the life I want.
Here are some of the homestead time management mistakes that hold us back.
Homestead Time Management Mistake #1. Thinking You Can “Do It All”
We’d all like to think we can “do it all” but the truth is that none of us do it all. Homesteaders need to look at what’s most important to them and their families and forget about what everyone else is doing. Just because most homesteaders have chickens doesn’t mean you have to. Maybe you don’t like eggs or chicken, then raising chickens is probably not for you. Instead focus on rabbits, goats, ducks, whatever.
Over the course of your life, you may be able to dabble in it all but there will likely be many activities, tasks, and goals that are just not important enough for you to sacrifice other things for. Because that’s what it is. There is always a trade-off.
When we choose to spend our time doing one thing, it’s a conscious decision to NOT be doing something else. it makes sense than to pick only the most important activities to you. Why waste time doing something that doesn’t 100% speak to you?
Homestead Time Management Mistake #2. Not Planning and Doing
Some of us are planners and some of us are doers. Those of us who are planners can easily take a huge project and break it into manageable pieces. We may not be so great at acting on those smaller tasks though.
This is me! In fact, this is the number one thing I learned about myself and how I could become more productive.
Some are doers and just want to get started on a great idea but may skip the planning process and suffer from lack of organization.
Some may be both natural planners and natural doers but I doubt many of us are. For most of us, one or the other skill probably needs to be nurtured and doesn’t just come naturally.
I’ve found that the best way to learn the lacking skill is to just do it. For me, that meant to set a time limit on my dreaming, preparing, and planning and to have a set time where I would just get going whether I felt ready or not (I never feel ready but usually am ready enough).
If you are a doer, force yourself to sit down with your idea and write out a plan. Even if it’s not a great plan just do it. You’ll learn how to make a great plan with practice. (I go over some tips for good planning in my ebook Finding Time to Homestead).
Homestead Time Management Mistake #3. Doing Things the Way You’ve Always Done Them
I’m not going to remind you about that cliche quote about the definition of insanity but, well, it’s true. We, humans, are creatures of habits and can easily get stuck in cycles of doing the same thing the same way it didn’t work last time. We need to take a step back and evaluate what we’re doing. Sometimes it’s not even a matter of stubbornness but simply not knowing that there is any other way to do something.
What habits do you have for getting things done that are just not efficient?
Could you incorporate more permaculture systems into your homesteading to improve your time management? (hint: The answer is probably yes!). I know that for me permaculture has drastically reduced the time it takes out of my day to our grow food.
The point is if it’s not working, try to find another way to do it. In fact, try to do it exactly opposite of the way you do it and see how that works. Maybe you’ll be surprised.
Homestead Time Management Mistake #4. Starting the Day Late
Well OBVS! daytime hours are more often used for getting stuff done while nighttime hours tend to be recreational. So if you’re a night owl, consider changing your schedule and learning to be a little more of a morning person.
But there’s much more to it than just getting up and at ’em early. Why is it that many people can’t get out of bed in the morning? Staying up late watching TV (perhaps because it’s your only chance to relax), staying up late, or all night with crying babies, up late cleaning because you need at least a few clean dishes, older children that climb into bed with you and give you only a sliver of the bed (I may or may not have experience with this too), the list goes on.
So you have to get to the core of the problem. If it’s because the kids aren’t going to bed on time, then make a plan to have that happen (at least most of the time).
However, some night owls really do get the most work done late at night. if that’s you, great!
Homestead Time Management Mistake #5. Not Taking Care of Yourself
Self-care is one of the most under-prioritized tasks but is also possibly the most important. I know that if I’m not taking care of myself everyone suffers.
If you’re a mom and a homesteader you probably have many little (or big) creatures needing you to survive. That’s a lot of stinkin’ pressure! Take breaks to rejuvenate, even when it feels like things will fall apart without you. You’ll likely be able to do more once you get to clear your head and rest.
Also, don’t underestimate the impact that stress and a packed schedule can do to your health (and what that means for your homestead).
Take care of yourself so you can be well for those creatures who depend on you. And if you’re secretly hoping you’ll get sick so you can get some rest, you desperately need some self-care! (I don’t know this from experience, that would be crazy).
Homestead Time Management Mistake #6. Not Reevaluating Your Career/Job
Some of us dream of living entirely off the land, but the truth is, most of us will still need some kind of income, whether it’s from farming or from an outside job.
But when you have a full-time job to go to it’s hard to find the time to homestead. So just quit your job, right? Well, no. That would probably be a bad idea. But you can reevaluate it. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I love my job or is it just to pay the bills? If it’s to pay the bills, what would I rather do?
- Do I want to work full-time, part-time, or would I prefer to homestead/farm for my income?
- Can I work from home? If not can I find a job that allows me to work from home?
- Can I or my partner work part-time and handle the homestead the rest of the week?
You may be thinking, “well, that’s all nice but what about those of us who don’t have the luxury of following our passion?”. Here’s the thing:
Homesteading reduces your cost of living just because you’re making, growing, and raising a lot of what you need. So it’s not ridiculous to think that you could reduce your hours at your job, find a new job that fits your lifestyle better, or start working for yourself.
Perhaps you could start selling eggs, meat, or wool? What about handmade products? Baby chicks? Could you board horses on your property, use an outbuilding as storage to rent out, or grow a market garden? There are many opportunities for income on the homestead.
Could you start a business doing something you love? Freelance writing? Photography? Think of where your passion and your skills overlap and go from there.
I know that finding time is often the hardest part of homesteading, especially when you have little kids and a job.
For more detail on these tips (and more) for finding a balance between work (income), family, and a satisfying homesteading life, check out my book “Finding Time to Homestead” which will guide you through changes you can make to create room in your life for homesteading. (Also on Amazon!)
What is your greatest struggle with balancing homesteading with family and career?
Tell me in the comments below!