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Homesteading is a very busy way of life. So is having a big family. I have 10 people living in the small house on my homestead. So, how do we do it? How can you win at homesteading when you have a big family?
I’ll admit that my homestead is far from a well-oiled machine, but we have figured out a way to make it work for us. I hope to help you do the same.
Communication is key.
Communication is so important when you have a big family. Especially with blended families! Each family member needs to know what is expected of them, what their role is. A chore chart helps with this, but it goes so much deeper than that.
Weekly family meetings are so helpful for healthy communication. So are family meals. We try to have everyone at the dinner table, together, every night. It’s impossible sometimes, with The Hubs’s work, but we do it as often as we can. And during dinner, there are no phones allowed. No TV going. We just use this time to talk and reflect.
Delegate, delegate, delegate.
If you have someone in your family who is good at something (even more if they enjoy it too!), delegate them as THE one to do it. Of course you should have a backup plan if that person can’t do it for some reason or another, but for the most part, that person should be the one doing it.
At our house, my daughter was the “animal medic”. When we have a sick or injured animal, she does her best at researching what to do, and takes care of the animal. My husband is, for the most part, the “butcher”. He’s the one who usually does the dispatching. I am, I guess you could say, the “cleaner”, and the “gardener”. I do most of the deep cleaning around the farm (chicken coop, anyone?), and I thoroughly enjoy gardening.
Try to find what your family members’ special talents are, and delegate them to a job that suits that talent.
Chore charts are your friend.
I know, it sounds silly to do a chore chart for your homestead, but it is necessary when you have a big family. We have one designated job for each person, every day. I made sure to put all of the things that need to be done daily on the farm. Things like dinner, dishes, cleaning the main living areas, and feeding the animals.
The young adults in the household scoffed at my idea of the chore chart. But honestly, it has saved my sanity! And it has been working very well for our homestead.
Help each other.
Help each other, with so much more than the daily chores! Watching others’ kids when they need it. Offering chore trade-offs when there is schedule conflicts. Lending a helping hand when another doesn’t feel well. Being mindful of your other family members’ needs. Being a friend when a friend is needed. Remember, you’re family. Just be there for each other!
Work together on bigger jobs.
When you have bigger jobs to do, work together on them. “Many hands make light work.” Fence building, property cleanup, and coop cleanouts are so much easier if you have multiple people contributing. I like to put these kind of things on a looser schedule or to-do list, and we do them as needed. You may need to schedule these sort of things in advance, so you’re sure that everyone will be around to help.
Create (and stick to!) a homestead budget.
This one is more difficult for us, but it is just as important as the other tips. Each family member should contribute to the farm finances in one way or another. Obviously not everyone will be able to contribute equally. But there should be a set amount that each family member is expected to help out with.
Without a budget, and structure, it’s so easy for finances to become messy. Some family members will feel like they are paying for more than their share. There will be resentment and discontent. Just plain unhappiness!
Running a homestead, especially with a big family, takes quite a bit of money. The food bill, and the feed bill, can be overwhelming. Make sure everyone is contributing as they can.
Discuss homestead goals.
Everyone in the family needs to be on the same page when it comes to the homestead. Of course, this is easier said than done. The whole family needs to discuss what they want out of the homestead. Then you need to weigh your options and figure out what additions should be made. I suggest making a vision board for your homestead.
What is a vision board?
- A vision board is a visual representation of your goals. For your homestead, this might include animals, barns, structures, fencing, and gardens. I suggest taking a large foam board and attaching pictures to it, and putting it in a place where you can refer to it often. The pictures can be drawn, cut out of magazines, or printed. You can even get really detailed and create the layout that you would like, if you are starting your homestead from scratch. Or sketch out the layout you have, then add pictures of the things that you want to add to the homestead in the future.
Goals will change and evolve as time goes on, and as you gain more experience. You have to be willing to revisit your goals on a fairly regular basis. Make sure the whole family knows what the goals are, and why these goals are important for your family.
Set realistic expectations.
It’s important to set realistic expectations for all family members. If a member of the family is pregnant or weak, they may not be able to perform as many heavy chores. Or if someone is allergic to grass, for example, they probably shouldn’t be in charge of mowing!
While they still need to help pitch in, you should try to find something that they are able to do. And if some family members work outside of the home, they can’t realistically do as much around the homestead as someone who is there most of the time. Just keep these things in mind when delegating chores.
Track and organize.
Another thing that is helpful for homesteading with a big family (or any size family, really!) is tracking and organizing. Tracking helps you figure out expenses so you can develop your budget. That way, you can learn how
much you’re spending, so you can cut costs if possible.
Organizing helps make sure you are doing things at the right time. For example, a garden planner helps remind you what kind of plants you are growing, the date you planted them, and when you should expect to harvest. A livestock organizer keeps track of breeding and medication records and allows you to see how much you’re spending on those homegrown animals. It will also remind you when it’s time to butcher.
There are lots of homesteading binders and apps to help you keep track. Find one that works best for you. I usually just do a paper log, but a phone app would actually be better since I always have my phone with me. My homestead binder will be available in my up-and-coming members only area. If only I was smart enough to develop my own app!
Homesteading with a big family has honestly been one of my best experiences. It’s a way of life that just takes hold of you. Of course it’s hard work, but it is so worth it! How do you do it? Do you have any more tips for us? Please share in the comments!