By Jenna Dooley, The Flip Flop Barnyard
Recently, I introduced my family to you and shared our homesteading story. If you read that, you already know that we are a family of ten. We have eight children ranging from a baby to teenagers. All of our children enjoy our homesteading lifestyle and working together as a family.
Many times, I am asked how we get our children excited about this homesteading lifestyle and how we get them to do farm chores without complaining. Well, most of the time without complaining, they are kids after all. The simple answer is that we set the example and educate them on why we live this way.
I’ve found many times in life, people just expect their children to do as they say without equipping them with the knowledge of why. I do believe children should be obedient to their parents but not out of fear, out of trust. We’ve made it a point to teach our children about the negative impacts of an unhealthy diet and unsustainable lifestyle or farming practices. They appreciate that and respond with a true desire to live life well.
Our children have learned to trust our judgment so that they don’t feel the need to question us or rebel against our wishes. This doesn’t mean that they don’t ask questions at all. They do, that’s how children (and adults) learn. We are very open and always available to answer their questions. They just know that if we ask something of them or give them instruction, they can trust that we have their best interest in mind.
We also do farm chores as a family as much as possible. When we can’t all work together, we at least have several family members teaming up. This helps the chores to be done quickly and efficiently. It also keeps the responsibilities spread out and no one gets weighed down with the majority of the work
The older children carry more responsibility than the younger children because they are more capable. The younger children are always eager to help and love to follow in the footsteps of their older siblings. As parents, we try to set the example of working with a good attitude and enjoying our chores and tasks as much as possible.
Much of this revolves around being focused on intentional living. Life moves by so quickly and it is easy to get lost in the negativities. We work hard to keep our heads up and dwell on the positive things in life.
Our homesteading encompasses feeding and caring for animals, gardening, cooking, canning, housework and chores, and any projects that we are working on. Our children are always involved in every process.
On weekends, Derek and I feed the animals together along with the kids. On weekdays, the oldest three kids feed in teams of two, alternating days. They usually have a younger helper or two with them. Some days, I help them, it just depends on what I have going on at the time.
Our family loves to garden together, this is one of our favorite family activities. From getting the garden prepared, planting seeds, weeding, and harvesting, everyone does their part. Sometimes, the littles do more digging and premature picking but that’s ok, they are learning through it all.
When we bring in all of our lovely garden harvests, we usually have some to preserve. Our children also help with this. There are beans to be snapped, vegetables to be cut up, brines to be made, and jars to be prepped. All of the kids can help with this at some level. Some of the kids believe their sole job is to be the taste tester of all the yummy things.
We divy out the inside chores and give each child a job. Mostly, they work in teams because things go faster and are more enjoyable when they have a helper. Many hands make light work is one of my favorite sayings. This helps to keep our household running.
When it comes to projects for our homestead, the children are involved on whatever level they can be. Sometimes they get to help build, other times they hold tools, and sometimes they just observe. At any rate, they are always learning something that will remain of value for the rest of their lives.
At the end of the day, our goal is to work together and spend quality time together. We all learn from each other as we go. One of the great things that homesteading has taught our family is to enjoy each and every moment that we spend together.
About the Author:
Jenna is a busy wife and a mom to eight kids. She’s a homesteader, homemaker, and homeschooler. She’s very passionate about organic gardening, and naturally raising livestock. You can find her on her blog and YouTube channel, The Flip Flop Barnyard.
Read all of Jenna’s HoA posts here.
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