Have you ever wondered how Great-Great Grandma ever survived? She did so much with so little. Choosing a homestead life is difficult. You really do have to CHOSE it. Like 'Sarah Plain and Tall', you need to write your name in the earth and decide in your heart to plant yourself there. Even those of us who have roots here must eventually at some point meet that fork in the road. Most girls I graduated with had an attitude of, "I can't wait to ditch this town." Some of them did end up staying or coming back, but they still aren't part of the land. They have city attitudes and are never really content with life out here.
Men are NOT exempt. They tend to overwork or overplay and neglect family as well. Admittedly, this isn't just a country problem. People find themselves discontent and acting selfishly in all kinds of circumstances. Trying to live a simple life in a day and age of constant conveniences & complications can sure add to the temptation though.
Great-Great Grandma had one big advantage we don't have; she didn't have so much temptation available to her. (I am sure she had her discontent and covetous moments, otherwise the Bible wouldn't address the subject.) We have so many things we take for granted, thinking we HAVE to have that she would have never thought possible. We think, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a washer/dryer combo that actually folded the clothes too?!" She probably thought, "I wish I had ONE week I didn't have to scrub these clothes, hang them to dry, iron the wrinkles out and then fold and put up..." Maybe she didn't even think about it. She just did what she had to do. Many ladies had help; a housekeeper, cook, or nanny. Those are things we today usually only dream about in wishful thinking because we've spent all the money on the automatic washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave...
So, here we are. We've chosen, really CHOSEN, to live the homestead life. Maybe you were taught many useful skills. Maybe you are learning everything new. Here are some of our basic dilemmas and possible solutions.
- Accept your natural beauty. You love the land because of the natural beauty. Love your God-given, natural beauty too. Face it, you don't have the time or money to go to the beauty shop all the time or purchase fancy beauty products. Your husband probably prefers your hair long and natural. If you can't handle that, pick a shorter style that doesn't require you to go to the salon often, or something you can trim yourself. If you wear make-up, narrow it down to a small bag of a few things that will work for all occasions. Keep your nails filed and udder balm on your hands and forget the stinky polish except for special occasions.
- Keep fewer, more practical clothes. Pick things that will work for all (or most) occasions that you can accessorize. When you feel a need to be trendy, add a pretty scarf, brooch, hat... Accessories are usually cheaper, take up less space, and match a variety of colors, styles and occasions. I like vests and have one or two for each season. I also have a purse for each season. These things don't take up much space for clutter and I can use them to decorate as well. Nothing is cuter on the wall than a pretty hat with a brooch pinned to the hatband and a scarf draped nearby. Classy fun!
- Realize Homesteading IS an activity. You garden, raise animals, bake, and probably do some handicrafts. You also read and research more about those things regularly. These are VERY worthy pursuits and accomplishments! The activities you and your children involve yourselves in need to complement and reinforce the rest of your family's life and benefit the homestead. This doesn't mean you won't participate in T-ball a few months a year. It just means 4-H, Farmer's Market, Stock Shows and Craft Shows are more up your alley. You are a very busy woman; prioritize! Decide how many extra things you can fit in each season and limit yourself accordingly.
- Relationships are MOST important. You decided to homestead because you wanted to get back to basics and be close to God & the land. Embrace that decision with Him and your family. Stop and smell the beauty of it all. Include the children and each other in every single thing. Celebrate the new baby animals together. Delight in the growth around you; physically, spiritually, and intellectually as a family. A homestead is the best place to raise a family. I've never had anyone disagree with me, even if they have chosen a different path.
- Enjoy the conveniences you decide to keep. Don't feel guilty when you choose to use the AC, dryer, disposable diapers, or order a pizza. It happens! We all need a little time and license to do something silly sometimes too. I usually go to the beauty shop once a year for a pedicure or some professional help with my hair and I splurge on mascara and lip gloss every few months. Make these things a treat, not a burden and NEVER let yourself take them for granted.
What challenges have you struggled with most? Do you have a special way you have coped? I'd love to hear more ideas!