Homesteading Dreams – Avoid Homestead Burnout and Stop Trying to Do It All
The aroma of fresh baked bread, jars of home canned goodness lining the pantry shelves, a beautiful meal created with ingredients from the garden, and the sounds of happy chickens in the yard. If you are on the homesteading, self-sufficient living journey, these are the moments many of us dream of.
The dirty truth
The reality of course, includes laundry hanging on the line with a thunderstorm approaching. The chickens in the yard are the last three of a dozen, the others killed by a marauding fox, and the vegetables on the table required hours and hours of back-breaking work. Dishes are piled high in the sink and the floors haven’t seen a broom or mop in ages.
Too often the images we see spread across social media don’t show the dirty truth about homesteading and self-sufficient living. We end up setting too many high expectations for ourselves, become discouraged, and end up with homestead burnout. I know, because I am feeling it.
In an effort to avoid burnout, I am reminding myself to slow down and stop trying to do it all. I know I need to set smaller, more achievable goals, learn to let some things go, and make time for taking care of myself. There is so much I love about this lifestyle, and I don’t want to give it up in frustration and overwhelm.
If you are suffering from homestead burnout, don’t give up the dream! Consider these six steps to create a better balance.
Step One – Set Realistic Goals
Decide what it is you value most – a well-stocked pantry, growing more food, cooking from scratch, DIY projects, saving money, raising animals, or learning new skills.
Write a list, then put a number next to each one, with number one going beside the activity you consider most important to feel successful as a homesteader. Then give a number for each item from most to least important.
Sometimes we set goals for ourselves based on what others are doing, and the misguided belief that we should be doing the same. Be realistic with yourself – what do you really want to be doing, have the skills to tackle, and are able to devote an appropriate amount of time to?
Use this to guide you in setting realistic goals. Sometimes, when we see in writing everything we are trying to accomplish, reality hits us. We can take a step back and evaluate what truly feels most important on our homesteading journey.
For me, growing food for the family is important, but gardening is a lot of hard work. Instead of trying to do it all, I now focus on growing a few foods that take less time but save us money all year. You can read my strategy – Best Foods to Grow to save Money – when you don’t have a lot of time.
Step Two – Decide What to Give Up
As much as we’d like to do it all, there are not enough hours in a day.
Of course, as I determine which goals and activities are top priority, I am also deciding what to give up. Sometimes we need to abandon certain ideas altogether, as they will never be a good fit for our lifestyle (raising and butchering our own pigs is one example that will likely never happen for us.) But maybe some things simply need to be saved for later (raising goats and learning to make cheese.)
Instead of struggling because we feel the need to do it all, we make the conscious choice to let some things go, at least for now. We are giving ourselves more breathing space in this way. It’s okay, we really don’t have to do it all.
Step Three – Do What You Love
Once you have decided what is most important to you, created realistic goals based on your priorities, and given yourself permission to let some things go, don’t forget to include time for the things you love, even if they are not directly related to self-sufficiency.
Living a well-balanced life means being intentional in how we choose to spend our time. After two and a half years, I am finally realizing I can’t afford to put off happiness until later. We were so caught up in building our homestead, creating infrastructure, and trying to accomplish greater self-sufficiency, we weren’t giving ourselves time to do the things we love.
Be sure to make time for the things you love, and start doing them today.
Step Four – Share Resources
Since you can’t do it all (none of us can!), consider creating a barter. This doesn’t have to be something formal, just as simple as finding a friend who does a few things really well, and agreeing to share for some things you do really well.
Perhaps you love making sourdough bread and your friend makes a super amazing blackberry jam every summer – offer an exchange! Or maybe you have a great harvest of winter squash this year and want to trade some butternuts for a neighbor’s home-made applesauce.
We have a great relationship with our neighbors, and we often share resources. Creating community is an essential part of living a self-sufficient lifestyle that often gets overlooked.
Step Five – Keep a Homestead Journal
Even if you already have a homestead binder for gardening notes and such, try keeping a homestead journal to track your goals. This is a great way to see the progress you are making, re-evaluate what you are doing, and offer insights into what truly brings you satisfaction.
Sometimes when we are caught up in the busyness of daily and seasonal activities, and so focused on what needs to be done, we lose the ability to see how far we have come. Keeping a journal with goals and highlights of our seasons, we can look back and better appreciate all we have achieved.
Step Six – Take Care of Yourself
We can easily get so caught up in the never-ending tasks of managing a home and pursuing a more self-sufficient life that we forget the most important thing of all – taking care of ourselves. Self-care involves the obvious things like eating well, staying hydrated, and getting the rest we need.
But self-care also means we are addressing our emotional and spiritual needs as well as our physical needs. Spending quality time with those we love, relaxing in nature, and pursuing our passions require time and energy. If we are so exhausted from our homesteading efforts, we cannot enjoy our lives and our health suffers.
Hopefully, the process of deciding our priorities and setting realistic goals, giving ourselves permission to let some things go, making time for the things we love, journaling our progress, and taking time out for self-care will give us the peace, joy, and contentment we imagine when we think of the homesteading life.
With great affection,