A dirty truth of life on the Homestead is how easy it is to go from motivated and thriving to overwhelmed and struggling. It happens in every realm of life and to just about every person at one time or another. We may have gotten a little overwhelmed, particularly over the last couple of years, so we wanted to share how it happened, and how easy it can be to minimize, or even prevent overwhelm on the Homestead.
How We Started.
Our first few years of Homesteading were amazing. We started multiple gardens, connected the house to water, electricity, and installed a septic. We moved from in-town to the farm and we harvested, literally thousands of pounds of produce those first few years.
We had a ball and enjoyed every second of it. Our older two children helped out every summer, working with us or watching our little one. The baby also spent hours outside with us, in his stroller or wagon, in a tent, or in his carrier. We juggled Danny’s job, the Homestead, kids, home, and harvesting pretty well.
When Overwhelm begins.
Overwhelm started after the first three growing seasons. Due to our children’s increasingly busy schedules, time on the farm became a premium. Our youngest child’s needs changed which required more direct supervision, Danny’s work off the farm got busy so he was around less and I injured my back which drastically limited my ability to do much without assistance for many months.
All of these things combined impacted our ability to stay on top of all the farm chores and led to us both, but me particularly, feeling overwhelmed. I stopped posting our achievements on social media, things got quiet, and by late 2021 I felt I was failing at everything. Something had to change.
What did We Learn?
- Let it go – we had to let go of the mess and the fact it bothered us so much. We also let go of our vision for the Homestead which was based on one particular time in our lives. We had to adjust it to where we were now.
- Plan – This actually took the most time out of everything. We had many conversations about what we wanted this next phase of life to look like. then we started on how to make that happen.
- Baby steps – We have our overall plan and then we broke it down into baby steps. We implement these as time and money allow and it’s working.
How Can You Prevent Overwhelm from happening on the Homestead?
We are now in the process of repairing the damage that overwhelm caused to all our hard work. A process that is costly, time-consuming, and frustrating. However, we have learned so much from our various mistakes that we have a much clearer idea of what we want for the Homestead and from it. We are actually excited by what we have planned now but the journey was stupidly hard and it doesn’t need to be the same for you.
Here are our suggestions for how you can minimize or even prevent overwhelm, and enjoy more of your Homesteading journey.
Start Small: It’s much easier to build up a Homestead from a solid foundation than go full-on in and spend your time constantly fixing what’s broken on a big scale. I started with what had worked for me in the past, I just did it on a much bigger scale. The weeds are different, conditions varied, and even my life is different so my growing methods should have been different. Changes and experiments, perfectly valid and necessary should have been done on a small scale not in a 30’x200′ garden, or multiple large beds.
Know your Why: Having a clear sense of why you are Homesteading and keeping it at the forefront of your mind and decision-making will help you stay focused on what is most important to you. We started Homesteading to be more self-reliant, we never set out to be farmers however, we kept expanding with constantly moving goals of selling the excess, storing a year’s worth of food, or even, growing direct for customers. Every time we got away from our Why, things got out of control very quickly. It doesn’t mean that we can’t change our reasons when we want to, we just need to be ready.
Contingency Plan: What will you do if someone is injured, you need to go away, or your income changes? We are focused on making our Homestead manageable by one person part-time. Also, preparing so we should be able to leave for two to three days without concern for animals, house or land. We are also organising have quite a few people we could ask for assistance in an emergency situation now which we did not have earlier.
Adaptability: Be flexible, not everything will work the first time, let it go, learn and adjust.
Enjoy Your Property: It’s very easy to get caught up in the work, planning, and mess of Homesteading and forget what drew us here in the first place. Make time to enjoy the beauty you have around you. Walking the woods and fields, enjoying cocktails by the firepit, and having coffee on the porch at sunrise are some of our favorites. We stroll the food forest and lay on the grass watching storms roll in over the ridgetops. Now we are also incorporating more of the surrounding area with fishing, hunting, kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking. We forgot to do that for a while.
The truth is that overwhelm happens to all of us; work, home, and family can all get too much. These last two years have left us with the knowledge that most of what causes overwhelm, is in our control. We are doing more planning. Knowing what really matters to us allows us to focus our attention on the important stuff.
Minimizing or preventing overwhelm on the homestead requires a thoughtful process but is so worth it. I wish we spent more time focusing on that stage and keeping our Why at the forefront of our decision-making. That alone would have prevented a lot of pain and wasted energy.
How do you manage your personal resources to help minimize overwhelm?