So how do you manage this lifestyle?

Being a little contemplative this morning, looking at my life and how I do things.  I’ve chosen a lifestyle that requires a lot of work and time-intensive things.  But the truth is, I can’t do it all.  And I’m not just talking about our food, I’m talking about everything.

We heat with wood, which requires cutting, splitting, stacking, hauling, lighting a fire, periodically feeding the fire, and cleaning out ashes.  I love wood heat and wouldn’t have it any other way, but it sure takes a lot more time than having a programmed thermostat that you don’t think about.

I make all of our bread products except pasta, which also takes considerable amount of work.  Yesterday I spent a couple hours grinding, sifting and bagging 3 weeks worth of wheat (about 20 pounds).  One batch of tortillas takes about an hour’s worth of hands-on work.  Baking bread takes about 45 minutes of hands-on time.  I don’t do pasta, which is almost a relief!  I spend hours every week making homemade bread, tortillas, coffee creamer, chocolate syrup, maple syrup, pancakes, granola, etc.  All of those things I could just buy at the store, but I choose to make them myself.

Starting seeds, putting them up until they reach size, and then planting, weeding, watering, maintaining, harvesting, and finally processing that food takes a ton of time.  Most people just go to the store and buy bags of frozen vegetables.

I just finished the chicken coop yesterday – aside from not painting it (which I will do once all this rain quits!) I spent countless hours putting it together, and also setting it up with automatic feeders and waterers.  All of this for food independence!

Cloth diapers, cooking from scratch every day,  even making homemade dog training treats all take considerably more time than the modern convenience counterparts.  And then you throw kids into the mix – in all that I have to find time to interact, educate, and train my children.

We choose this lifestyle because it is what feels right to us.  I choose to do these things because I have a desire to eliminate dependency on the grocery store as much as possible and to get away from all the “engineered food” along with the chemicals and preservatives that is in 95% of what the store sells.  My husband and I do not feel like the modern food system is a good thing for people or the environment, so we’re “voting with our dollars” and opting to buy more of the whole food product and then making our own.  A pleasant side effect of all this effort is that we eat well on a grocery budget that is about half of what the government says is the “cheapest” grocery budget possible for a family of four.

So I guess here’s the question – amidst all of the things that you do in your day, do you find time to have a neat and tidy house?  My house is not chaotic or a pigsty, but I am far from organized and we have “in progress” clutter all over the place.  I will admit I am not very good at getting organized but it does get annoying to just always have stuff all over.

But I don’t have time to do it all.  And then what about exercise?  I like to exercise and lift weights and I have a treadmill that I actually do enjoy using, but I don’t do it as much as I want to in theory because I am always so busy trying to get other things done.  It’s like, I have a mental list of things I have to get done in a given day and once those things are done, THEN I can work on the “optional” things, but then I never even get through the first list. Having the time to exercise beyond doing some squats here and there and wearing a weight vest around means sacrificing something else that I’m already doing.  For instance, I’m not going to feed my family food from a box just so I can have an hour to run on the treadmill.  But I miss that time!

Even blogging, I don’t really have much time to do this.  Even getting this blog post written so far has taken an hour, in between breaking up fights, building a fort, and helping Little Rambo go potty four hundred times.

So am I the only one?  For those of you other housewives who live this lifestyle, how do you do it?  Or do you not?  Because the truth is, if I make exercise a priority, something else has to go.  If I take the time to reorganize my house, something has to go.

Is there something I’m missing?  Am I making my stand on the wrong hill here?  I’ve cut back on a lot of optional things, in case you haven’t noticed I don’t blog as much!  Today is a great example of why I haven’t been blogging – it’s a very very rainy day, we’re stuck indoors, and I get interrupted by the kids about every minute or two.  It starts to get frustrating, and so rather than take it out on the kids and being annoyed with them, I try to just stop writing.

but then when do I get to be just Bethany?  I read about people who not only do all I do, but they grow and roast their own coffee, have a cow and make their own dairy products, wash laundry by hand, do dishes by hand, etc.  How in the world do you do ALL THAT?

I realize that my kids are young.  Ballerina Girl has the chore of putting away their clothes, she does it every week, and Little Rambo sometimes “helps” me unload the dishwasher.  Truth be told, having them do chore right now creates MORE work for me because I have to go back over and redo it after they are done, but it’s more for training purposes and I know someday I won’t need to do that.  So am I doomed to always be behind?  Am I just doomed to have a cluttery house?

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17 Comments

  1. I totally understand how you feel and feel the same way! In fact, the “lifestyle” burned me out so much and I felt left out of other things – exercise, socializing, volunteering at my kids’ school – that I took a year or so off of it. I’ve only recently come back to doing most things myself because the truth is there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all and this is what I really enjoy. Still, I’ve given myself permission to buy cereal bars and other prepared foods time to time. I’ve found other alternatives for things – buying locally grown and ground flour at the farmers’ market, for one. Just for sanity’s sake and so that I can keep up the gardening, chicken-keeping, and most of the home cooking. If I get too burnt, I won’t do any of it.

    1. See that’s really the trick… getting to the point where you can just drop stuff. Truth be told I don’t do this stuff out of guilt, though I imagine if I do at some point I’ll need to change what I do. I love your attitude about this though – I think it’s really healthy to say that if you get burned out, you won’t do any of it.

  2. I can empathize! Sometimes it gets overwhelming. We all have days that don’t go as planned or kids that need extra attention or animals that get loose, etc. It helps me to focus on the long-term goals rather than today and how messy my house may be or what I did not accomplish today or the looming list of things to do. I’ve chosen handmade, healthy and self-sufficient over convenience and that means I will not be an expert housekeeper or fitness buff.

    I’ve found that trying to schedule weekly & monthly tasks helps me feel less frenzied & frustrated. Mondays are for baking, Tues work (outside home) & shopping, Wed laundry & clean house, Thur gardening, Fri meal prep (I try to cook 4-6 dinners at a time & freeze for coming week), Sat work on property, Sun rest. Each of these tasks take about 4 hours, leaving the afternoon (or morning) for exercise, shower, home preschool, housekeeping and other tasks in season such as canning/freezing/drying produce, animal care, etc. Life happens so it doesn’t always happen as planned, but it really helps me to know what my tasks are that day and not stress so much about the unfinished work.

    It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job at your chosen lifestyle. Keep your chin up!

    About the little ones helping, it is frustrating and time consuming! I feel it’s important that they each have tasks, though. Each member of our family has a task that helps us all. The 3 yr old help with picking up toys, setting the table, folding towels. The 8 year old clears the table, unloads the dishwasher, folds laundry, dusts and cares for chickens. The 9 year old boy helps dad with outside work, cares for dog & cats, vacuums and is my right-hand man. As they’ve gotten older, they do a great job! Stick with it and they will learn to do it your way 🙂

    1. That’s a good point… I’ve done some scheduling and every time I try, I end up losing track of it but I think also every time I try to do it again, one more thing “sticks.” Mondays I wash & dry laundry, Tuesdays it gets folded and put away. Other than that, I usually end up doing a pretty decent clean on Thursdays but that’s not intentional, I think that’s just when I get most of my “weekly” chores done and can actually start cleaning up the house.

      Part of my problem is that I take it easy on the weekend but I think things are so different with my hubby being home that I just can’t find the motivation to do much. Maybe it’s just because all of these homesteady type tasks are so fulfilling to me but the other stuff isn’t! But I know every mom deals with that.

  3. First of all, Bethany, I should say officially YOU are the Mominator, not I! What you are doing is perfectly normal. Making your own food instead of buying it, being homesteaders, that is what people have always done! The reason we have all the “mod cons” is to give some rest from all the hard work that you are doing now; the problem is that we have let the “mod cons” rule us instead of ruling them. Your lifestyle now, while harder and much less convenient, is healthier, and that is what you were trying to accomplish. When the girls (love the nicknames!) get older, they will be able to help you more and that will make it much easier for you. You doing good, girl. I’m proud of you.

    -D

    1. Thanks Debz ♥

      That’s the truth, at least how I view it. I love these things that I do, I just feel sometimes like because that’s the lifestyle I’m doomed to be clutter-iffic. I guess it’s hard treading water sometimes but the truth is, I remember a year or two ago when I was working and I felt even more like I was treading water then. I couldn’t keep up with anything! I was an awful working mother.

  4. I know what you mean. It’s difficult at times, but I just work thru it a bit at a time. Saturdays are our “chore” days. My kids are a bit older and able to help more, but it’s almost getting to the stage where helping isn’t fun any more, so now it’s mandatory! LOL I pick-up clutter at night when the kids are off to bed, and try to make it a habit of never to leave or enter a room without something that needs to be put away, in my hands. It really helps! We home school thru our states Virtual School, so the kids are busy for a few hours everyday and that leaves me some time to get inside and or outside chores done also- in peace. Hubby pitches in where he can and it all adds up. I also have days where some things just DON’T come close to being done, but I generally go into a full blown panic mode and then start frantically speed cleaning my house right before the relatives or friends come over! Some days I have to go to bed LATE 12-1AM or get up EARLY 5 or 6AM to get everything done or to add ME time into a day. But, Hang in there though, it WILL get better as your kids get older! Cheers

    1. Thank you! It’s nice to see others who have been here! I don’t see this getting a whole lot better for about three years but I think once that timeframe passes, I can recruit my slaves (aka children) to do more around the house. Who knows if that will help! lol

      If anything they won’t be quite as needy.

  5. I think you are doing great and gone many steps beyond my family. I do all from scratch, but do not grind grain.
    Never made tortillas, would like to try that someday. Also we have no pets, no chickens.

    But you said the children interrupt you every couple of minutes. Why? Even if they are young they should be able to occupy themselves for an age-appropriate length of time and most likely they are in your proximity. Set a timer for things you need to have done and begin to make them understand.

    As for exercising, seems like you do it from morning to night. The pioneer women didn’t have to go jogging to get in shape. We live in Amish country…the wives and mothers aren’t off to pilates and spinning. They just live their lives. And the Amish children understand their chores and do them.

    My children are older but my house is still a cluttered occupied looking house. Can’t get away from that…there is always something being out worked on…sewing, or it’s canning season and I have 16 boxes of jars stacked up. I aim for a holiday or get-together and then get busy. So for about 15 times a year my house will be lovely and we enjoy it while it lasts. Then goes back to normal, but we still enjoy it.

    1. WHen I say I get interrupted it’s mostly my 2-year old. She is potty trained but too small to be able to really pull her pants down and get up on the potty even with a stool. And she has the world’s smallest bladder! In the mornings she has to pee alllllll the time, it’s ridiculous.

      And of course breaking up arguments, etc. But the main reason why I get interrupted is because I think when I am wanting to blog while they are around, they seem to sense it and become really needy. I don’t know why that’s the case, but I know it’s not just me it happens to… it’s uncanny. My kids will go play together in their room for well over an hour, but if they sense for a moment that I want to be left alone immediately I become a jungle gym.

      And the exercise… well you are absolutely right! The problem I think is that I am overweight and still am overweight even as I live this lifestyle. I am more active, more muscular, and just probably in general healthier than most women who are my size but the fact remains that I get frustrated with it all the same! I do a lot of work but not a whole lot of it is super active. Having said that though, we just moved into this house in November, and now spring is just getting started, so I’ve been living in the “not-so-active” part of a homesteader’s life. Once I get the garden in there will be a lot more physical work for me to do, so maybe I’ve just got some unrealistic expectations.

  6. Hi Bethany.

    I am hearing your choices and you’re UFF DAH moments in this post!
    I also live a simple life and cook from scratch, dog treats, garden, compost, repurpose and try to save money and steer as far away from the “Sleazy foods and practices that seem to be everywhere these days. Yeah, Jamie Oliver! Sorry side cheer, I wish him luck.

    OK. One difference is that I selectively chose to be kinder to my inner child, something that I have not done well nor at all up till now.

    I know in my heart I would never have made it as a pioneer woman. It really was just too much and for me I would have rather chose death. My hat is off to you. I do love many of the advantages that life offers me at this time in space. Although I love your blog and postings I differ to that I practice the more modern Simplified Life that I call my “Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Homesteading Method”. Is that cheating?

    Well, it seemed to have freed up some of my time, thus making our life easier. Well at least, in our opinion, more enjoyable by making room for more fun and less days I walk a bit bent over, lol. In the autumn of my life, it seems more important to me than it used to. Besides, I like to believe God intended it that way.

    I like your page and hope you enjoyed this conversation.
    Hugs fellow simple life gal.

  7. Bethany, you DO “do it all”! You do everything you need to be doing right now in your life. You’re creating a good balance of homesteady tasks and spending time with your family. You know you come from a long line of creative and innovative women who always had lots of projects going on at any given time. Learning this, trying out that, and deciding which things are worth doing for various reasons–that’s in your genes. (And so is a house that says “Creativity happens here!” 🙂

    When I was your age I used to compare myself to others who seemed to have their life so together–but always, the bottom line was there was something they really didn’t do that I valued in my own life. We all have different priorities–there really are no apples to compare with apples. I guess I learned to try to do things that were a good fit for my life and my family, and not expect myself to do more just because someone else does. As you know I’m still trying out new things and learning what works in different circumstances and situations.

    So–keep on enjoying your life and your beautiful family, and take some “me” time every single day. Mom’s orders!

    And a PS to all you young moms–one of my favorite sayings is, “Cleaning the house while children are growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.”

  8. Let go of the anxiety around clutter (within reason).It’s not worth fighting the tidal wave of messy toddler energy, and it will pass. My boys 9 and 12 are homesteading with me now, and it’s delightful the way it all paid off.

    Sometimes it can really take a load off to just buy disposable diapers for a week, or send the laundry out to be washed and folded, or get some quality takeout. Sanity over perfection!
    JP Green House would love for you to read..EarthDayMy Profile

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