Teens and Tweens? Try Raising Kids on a Homestead

raising kids on a homesteadWinter means close quarters most of the times, especially on weekends where a nasty snowstorm can keep everyone indoors except for those chores that need to be done no matter what. Sammy, our 17-year-old is fortunate enough to occupy the most private bedroom in the house down in the basement, but for the girls, they share the top floor loft. It's huge with it's own full bath, and has enough room to host 10 more ladies over for a sleepover. 

But when it's just Elizabeth and Carolyn, it still sounds like we have a party going on up there. An open-concept homestead sure does allow sound to travel. This is only one thing we deal with on a daily basis while raising kids on a homestead.

As we've shared before, we're a blended family. Wendie brought two amazing young men with her, ages 17 and 22. For my part, I have full custody of my two girls, ages 10 and 12. We have room, though the storage issues are projects in the works, but those close-quarter days can be something else. It's human nature to get a little testy once in a while, but we're not always dealing with testy. Sometimes it's grumpy, frustrated and mad

Taking time to hear everyone out in order to come to equitable agreements is a lot easier said than done. Conflict is going to arise, especially when dealing with tweens and teens. You know this. Our method for working with off-kilter kids is to hear what they have to say, implore them to apologize to each other and calm down. It may not always work, but we're running at about an 80% success rate so we're motivated to keep at it.

Raising Kids on a Homestead

raising kids on a homestead
I keep trying to figure out a good metaphor for raising kids on a homestead that incorporates not only the blended-aspect of our family, but also the mix of happiness, melancholy, joy and disappointment that seems to always be there. Happiness in small victories a great test grade. Melancholy at watching a snow storm cancel a planned slumber birthday party. Joy in playing with a dog who's love is absolute. And the disappointment when the girls don't hear from their mother, my ex-wife, for two months as Christmas and birthdays pass by. 

These are the moments that come together that make us who we are. There just isn't a something I can offer to make all of that easier to understand.

But life for us isn't all about specific moments and events. It is about finding happiness and joy in living, where we celebrate and encourage each other any way that we can. Raising kids on a homestead is all about that. The girls are doing fantastic in their new school and picking up the skills we hoped they would around the homestead including caring for livestock and learning why the chores are so important. 

Sammy is growing into his own man, preparing to head out west to pursue his dreams. Along the way, he's coming to understand tools and ways he can do things for himself to save money.

Homesteading with Tweens and Teens

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I don't know if it is the same for all homesteading families, but we try to keep teachable moments in mind as we move through our day. Everything from chores to toys to reading lists have something a growing kid can learn about the world around them. Some of mine and Wendie's favorite books growing up were the Frog and Toad stories by Arnold Lobel. 

These were sweet little bedtime tales that really pressed the lessons of being empathetic and positive. It's an early reader, beautifully illustrated and heart-melting with the adventures of two best friends. In fact, just this morning we listened to a reading of the story, "Spring," that a dad had recorded for his little girl. 

It was pure childhood magic. My favorite Frog and Toad story is the one where they plant seeds and check them everyday to see if they grew. A garden is like a friendship, where it is all about the journey, not the destination.

In the homestead chores realm, the girls are with us 100% of the time so they have a daily routine, starting each day with what you might expect. Carolyn loads the wood box next to the wood stove, packs her lunch and makes herself breakfast. Elizabeth feeds and waters the chickens and checks for eggs before doing her lunch and breakfast routine. Both are responsible to getting ready for their day, and are almost to the point where they don't need reminders from us.

Have packed bags ready to grab at the door as we leave. Remember to bring homework and after school club items as needed. Clean your face, brush your teeth, wear matching clothes. Evening chores include setting the table, bringing in more wood, a second scope of the chickens for fresh food, bedding, water and eggs. When Sammy is with us he'll work with me in the wood shop on whatever project is currently in need of completion. Lately, it's been putting together langstroth hives for the bee yard.

Homestead Chores

homestead chores
Oh, the chores, the chores, the chores. Depending on who you speak with and when, the homestead chores are done well or poorly executed. Yes Dad, I checked the coop for eggs. No wait, that was yesterday. Did anyone feed this satanic cat who tried to trip me up by the stairs? Where's the tortoise? I see tortoise poop but no tortoise. If the dog was fed, why is she on Sammy's bed eating a bag of pretzels? Are you sure you took a shower this morning? Your hair is standing on end in clumps.

OK, these aren't daily questions, but do tend to raise their little expletive-withholding heads when our homestead chores need to get done the right way. Like I said, we're working on it. A great day is when everything gets done and we don't have to remind anyone of their responsibilities. We're in a whole new world with the kids on this homestead, and definitely wouldn't trade our lives with anyone for any amount of money.

Homesteading Daily Schedule

homesteading daily scheduleRaising kids on a homestead is something that works for us. It doesn't magically cure or temper the usual tween and teen mindset. There are still tantrums and stomping and sullenness, but here we can mitigate the influences of the world a city environment was beginning to provide. Isolation between neighbors, anger at strangers. Pressures from peers that we've never met or heard about in the form of drugs and alcohol temptation. 

Wendie and I have always fostered and philosophy of raising our kids in a healthier environment, and yes, the homesteading daily schedule plays a factor in that. That's one reason we moved out here to learning-curve heaven.

We really enjoy sharing our off the grid homesteading life with you all, and would love to hear from your experiences. Are you raising kids on a homestead? How is it going with ensuring homestead chores are being done, and is your homesteading daily schedule working? How are your kids feeling about the life? Let us know by joining the conversation below!


Sarita said…
We too are trying to homestead off the grid, as well as being a homeschooling and work at home family! So much of what you write here is true for us too - blended family (seven kids in total) though five are grown and flown. The challenges of isolation and the rewards of learning valuable lessons. Thanks for this - found you through the Homestead Blog Hop.
WT said…
Hi Sarita!

It is great to hear from you:)

We thought about homeschooling for about a minute before deciding it was a little more than we could bite off- but you have my sincere respect.

And seven kids in your blended family? How did the older ones approach your marriage? Our girls were in grade school still and it was tough for them. Sammy, who was 13, took it as well as a young teen could be expected to, but Joey, who was18 at the time, was our champion. He wanted see us both happy and helped his younger siblings see that as well.

I have a feeling that if we were neighbors, you and us, we'd be alright:)

Best wishes for your spring!