Homesteading chores and kids, those are two words, when used together, that can sometimes make us mom’s cringe. I don’t know, maybe it is just me, but when I am working on either making a meal or building garden beds and trellises, I often become so focused on the project that it can be frustrating to have to stop and explain things to my kids. I’m also a recovering perfectionist, so when little hands get involved and the project doesn’t come out the way I had hoped, sometimes that makes me shriek a little inside.
All of that aside, I know that if I want my kids to ever learn how to do anything for themselves, I must be willing to let them help, be an example for them, and teach them. Even if they are just holding the flashlight, or helping me screw in a few screws with the drill, or holding the twigs together while I zip tie them for our new trellises, these are all little opportunities to bond, make memories, and teach my kiddos valuable lessons.
We have a large family and our kids range in age from 7 years old all the way up to 23 years old. Many of the projects we do around here, all of my kids are able to at least “help” us with, and we do our best to include them in all we are doing. We don’t want to just leave the lessons of homesteading and self-sufficiency as memories for our children to look back on one day, we want them to carry these lessons into their futures and teach them to their own children.
Note: I did not categorize these by age. The reason for this is, I believe that parents are the best at judging when a child is responsible and mature enough to take on a task. Obviously, do not let your children help or work on any projects that are unsafe.
Homesteading Chores and Kids
My kids love this job! They have a little basket that they take with them and they love guessing who’s egg each belongs to.
Help Clean Animal Pens and Houses
We don’t own a tractor, but we do own shovels, buckets, and muck boots. When it comes time to clean out our animal pens and houses and give them fresh bedding, it is all hands on deck here.
Feed and Water Animals
There is nothing better than watching my little people feed my animals treats from our kitchen. This is a wonderful way for our kids and the animals to learn how to trust each other and it also teaches our kiddos the responsibility they have for the animals in their care.
Run To The Compost Bin
After feeding your animals treats, you may think you won’t have much left for the compost bin, at least that is what I thought. But our family is huge and I know that my flock won’t eat everything I send out to them, so some things are better left to composting. We currently have a chicken bucket and a compost bucket we keep in the kitchen. Every evening my 10-year-old and 12-year-old take these out to their delegated places. Within the next few weeks, there will be a pig bucket too so I’m not sure how much will actually end up in the compost bin. We may have to start a worm farm!
Start/Plant Seeds, Plant the Garden, Harvest Fruits and Veggies
I’ll admit, I get a little nervous when it comes to letting the kids help with our garden. But, I’ve learned over the last few years that all my kids, boys and girls alike, need to learn this part of homesteading and self-sufficiency just as much as they need to learn the processing part. This year we’ll be planting a 32×50 foot garden and many of the plants we are growing need to be started indoors. I have learned to enjoy this time with my kids and make it as much of a family event as I can.
We’re also going to let the kids have their own small section of the garden to care for this year. They will be starting their own seeds and caring for their seedlings all the way up to harvest and processing time. This way they learn all the hard work that goes into growing their own food, but they will also get to experience the satisfaction and accomplishment of growing their own food.
Little kids can pick up rocks, sticks, rake, and sweep. Older kids can mow, rake, use the weed trimmer, haul heavy buckets and wheelbarrows, move brush, trees, some can learn how to run a tractor.
Help Plan and Work On Projects
We are in the process of adding a lot of new things to our homestead. Not in any particular order, we’d like to add garden beds, pigs, an expanded chicken coop, meat chickens, a feed shed, a garden shed, perimeter fencing, and moving our front door to the side of the house, building a small porch, and finally a rain catchment system. We don’t have deep pockets, so many of these projects must be done with resourcefulness and repurposing of materials that we are able to get for free or very, very low-cost.
These projects will not just give us an opportunity to teach our children valuable building skills, but they will also learn the invaluable skills of being resourceful, frugal, and learning how to repurpose materials in order to reach a goal you are working toward. They have been helping us decide what to grow, where to put buildings, how big they should be, and how many of each animal we should raise this year. Having the kids be part of the project right from the beginning will help in encouraging them to continue and see it to its completion.
Meal Prep and Preserve Food
When my little people were tiny people, they would observe me cooking our meals and preserving our food from the garden from their high chairs or boosters seats. When they outgrew those, they would sit on the counter and nibble on whatever food I was storing up for us. Through the years, they have moved to washing fruits and veggies. preparing jars, rings, and lids, cooking, filling the jars, loading freezer bags, and putting all the goodies away. Regardless of if your child is just an observer at this point or is old enough to be a helper, kiddos can absolutely be part of this process.