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I have learned so many new things since I started homesteading, but nothing was as important as learning to deal with homestead burnout. It has saved my sanity, changed my attitude and has helped me cope with the challenges that arise while homesteading.
What Causes Homestead Burnout?
We seem to have this glorified picture painted for us when we start homesteading. We see animals, healthy and running around the farm, chickens laying eggs every morning while the rooster crows in pride, abundant and weed-free gardens bursting with crops and flowers, and a wonderful farmhouse surrounded by beautiful views. I’m sure somewhere there may be just that farm, and if it is you, God bless you! However, in reality, that probably is not exactly what most of us have.
Some new homesteaders imagine that homesteading means getting up at 9 a.m., eating a big breakfast, collecting eggs, milking a cow, coming in and making butter. They vision dried herbs hanging from the ceiling, fresh vegetables in bins, homemade bread baking in the stove, and meandering in the garden and picking fresh vegetables for their salad.
They think they will make everything from scratch, and keep their homes clean at the same time. When these enthusiastic individuals start homesteading themselves and they realize the work and challenges of homesteading, homestead burnout happens.
The reality of my homestead…
I kid you not when I tell you that I have talked to people that think I live like Little House on the Prairie when I tell them I am a homesteader! I am certainly no Ma Ingalls!
For myself, I have chickens, but they can’t run free because the owls and hawks and other predators would make them a meal. My animals are healthy, but they do get sick, we have lost a few on the way, and they are in pens, safe, but enclosed none the less. I have a lot of gardens, herb gardens, veggie gardens, a kitchen garden, and flower gardens. But guess what, I battle insects and pests that seem to love my gardens as much as I do. I also have weeds, tons of them.
As far as the farmhouse goes, I have a tiny house. I mean tiny. It has a bedroom, bathroom, a small living room/office, and a kitchen. That’s it. It definitely is no huge farmhouse. I don’t even have a porch anymore because I closed that in to make a pantry.
The view in the back is beautiful, a dried up lake surrounded by trees and wild blackberry bushes, that soon will be vegetable gardens. The view on one side is a private aviation community, the other side is about 40 black Angus beef bulls, and in the front is my parents and my daughter’s house. Not very serene, but it’s country.
I awaken at around 7 a.m, any later and I panic because I lost time to do things! I eat light and quick in the morning because I am on a mission to get my day started. And although I do make homemade bread, I definitely don’t do it daily, although I wish I could.
I do have herbs drying out in the kitchen, and I do have bins of vegetables, and I try to cook from scratch, but realistically, there are days I just don’t feel like it, I won’t sugar coat it, the only thing I get coated in is grass, dirt, and manure. My house is not as clean as it once was, it is lived in now.
The reason I am ok with the dirt, the mess, the challenges and the changes in my life and in my homestead…I know how to avoid homestead burnout.
How You Can Avoid Homestead Burnout
There are steps you can take to avoid homestead burnout. Go through each idea and see if you can’t make some changes to your actions, your thinking, and your activities to make homesteading more enjoyable and rewarding.
I can’t stress enough the importance of planning as much as possible before you start homesteading. Even if you already started, start planning from here on out. I don’t just mean for now either. You have to plan your long-term goals as well as your short-term goals.
Think about where you want to be in 5, 10, or even 20 years. Are you going to farm on more than two acres? Will you need more help to keep up with the demands? Think about what you want to accomplish and what it will take to plan for those things. Allow yourself to dream, but then be realistic in your capabilities. Planning ahead of time can help prevent homestead burnout.
I plan everything from to-dos for the day to my meals, to tasks and projects for the weeks and months, even my free time or “me” time too. I know what I am planting and when, what I need to purchase, and what I need to save for. You can keep a large 3 ring binder and save all your schedules and plans in it.
I have a wonderful post on planning for a year of homesteading here, as well as a beginners primer to getting started homesteading here. If you are looking for a planner already set up for you that deals with homesteading, check out Reformation Acres!Regardless of how you do it, just do it. Plan!
One person can’t do everything. I cannot keep up with 3 acres of vegetables, keep a clean house, take care of thirty animals, cook from scratch daily, and still do laundry and have free time. It is impossible. I keep my gardens as big as I can take care of and I grow what I will use only, and I don’t have 5 milking goats because I do not realistically have the time to milk them twice a day.
Be realistic when you plan and take on new things. Ask yourself if you have the time to take on something new. Think about whether that new project can fit into your schedule. Also, take into consideration what help you have on hand. Can someone pick up the slack for you? If not, reconsider it for the moment. Taking on more than you can handle will lead you right down the road to homestead burnout.
Get enough sleep and eat well
Not getting enough sleep can cause homestead burnout to happen quickly. When you are tired you cannot perform well. You will feel lazy, your mind will not be clear and your energy level will plummet. That is a recipe for disaster. Se a time at night and force yourself to sleep. Set an alarm in the morning and force yourself to get up. If you do this repetitively it will become a habit.
Always eat a healthy breakfast. The first meal of the day is important to build your energy level until lunch. You don’t have to make a complete buffet for breakfast. I have a granola or protein bar, a banana, and juice. It works for me and it is not a heavy breakfast that weighs me down. If I get hungry before lunch I will have some fruit to tie me over. The important thing is to eat to keep your energy levels where they need to be.
Minimize and downsize
I really think that before I became a homesteader I was a hoarder. I seemed to have kept everything because “I may need it later”. That little hobby didn’t work so well when I moved into a tiny house. I was crowded, couldn’t find anything, and stressed. I put up some sheds and a storage trailer. Then I sorted everything, box by box and room by room. Anything I didn’t need to make my homestead smoother or effective, I donated.
Having to much stuff causes clutter and confusion. When you have to look in too many places to find what you need you not only have wasted time but probably aggravated yourself as well. Time wasting and aggravation can lead to homestead burnout. Stay organized and get rid of the extra “stuff” you don’t need.
Figure out your priorities
Knowing what is important and what isn’t can help avoid homestead burnout. I used to drive myself crazy trying to keep my home like something you would see in a magazine. I spent so much time on it that other tasks were being neglected. Now, I live in a home that is comfortable and clean but lived in.
I had plants everywhere. Although they looked great, it meant watering constantly and dragging hoses everywhere. So I combine all my plants to only a few areas that I could water easily. I did the same with my vegetables and herbs. I have some smaller gardens now that I can keep up with easily, water easily, and harvest easily.
Before you do anything, prioritize what you are pursuing. Think about what is important for you to achieve your goals first. An outdoor shower may be something you desire, but would in ground sprinklers be more beneficial? Don’t repaint the house because you want to change things up if the barn or outbuildings need to be painted or repaired. Set your priorities based on your goals that you set for yourself.
Take time for you
Don’t forget that YOU matter too. Take a day, a week, even just a few hours and do something for you. Leave the home, go for a walk, see a movie. If you really don’t want to leave, get a book and read outside, take some pictures of your animals or gardens, watch a movie. Women homesteaders…take a spa night. Grab some bubble bath and maybe a glass of wine. Soak and relax.
You can’t do everything that is work all the time. That leads to homestead burnout. Schedule “you time” at least once a week even if it is for an hour. You have to walk away, relax and regroup. Taking time away and for you can help you have clearer thoughts, relieves frustration and can even allow you to come up with creative ways to solve problems that you may not have thought of before.
Schedule some time to relax and put it in a planner. Make it a priority.
Homesteading can be a rewarding and an enjoyable experience. If we learn how to avoid homestead burnout we can be productive and successful even when life throws challenges at us. What do you do to avoid homestead burnout? Share your comments below!
This post was shared on Good Morning Mondays and The Homestead Bloggers Network.