Balancing Work & Play for a Happier Homestead

March 6, 2018



We just had a great weekend!  I know, weekends are supposed to be great.  But here’s the thing - we’re not always good at weekends. 


As part-time homesteaders weekends are when we have time to get chores done and tackle big projects – our to-do lists are sometimes a mile long.  My husband and I love this stuff; for us, this work is play.  But the kids?  Not surprisingly, trimming apple trees and loading the wood rack are not first on their list when it comes to Saturday fun.  Who’d have guessed?


So, instead of feeling like a happy homesteading family during our weekends we often end up with arguments, whining children, and feeling like we didn’t accomplish anything we set out to do.

So what did we do differently this weekend?  Quite simply, we prioritized play as much as we prioritized work (and blended the two); and we emphasized doing all of it together.    


This weekend, we set an intention to balance things out and show our kids that we wanted them to be a part of everything and that we wanted to be with them as much as we wanted to be home.  I know it sounds awful to admit that we sometimes don’t remember to do this, but we’re all human and I’d venture to guess that the desire to accomplish your to-do list sometimes gets the better of any parent.


Here is what our to-do list looked like for this weekend, with everyone in the family contributing ideas of what they wanted to be included:


  • Plant Onion Seeds

  • Scooter Time in the Garage

  • Transplant House Plants

  • Play Games

  • Refill Wood Rack

  • Play Camouflage in the Woods

  • Trim Apple Trees

  • Go in the Hot Tub

  • Tap Maple Trees

  • Read books

  • Plan Meals for the Week

  • Painting & Drawing

  • Take Photos for Online Sales

  • Kindle Time

  • Make Broth & Squash Soup

  • Game Night


The list specifically balanced time together with time apart, separate and joint chores with separate and joint play.  We all filled the wood rack (and made a game of it), but the kids got to go on their scooters while we were planting onion seeds; we all planned meals for the week, but the kids read books and painted while we made broth; we all played in the woods together, went in the hot tub (our guilty pleasure), and had a family game night.  My son helped me take photos and gave me a huge high five when we sold something online, and the kids drew pictures of their favorite activities from the weekend.


And you know what?  We crossed everything off of the list with minimal fighting and a lot of smiles.  GO TEAM!


It is simply not fair as a parent to expect our kids to get excited about homesteading chores all of the time or to play patiently on their own all day while we do them.  Part of the whole reason we own this land is for our children; the last thing we want is for them to resent it. 


That said, we also want them to learn that they are a part of the homestead and that they have responsibilities too.  It is important to involve them strategically in homesteading chores, and there’s nothing wrong with making chores fun.


Like many things in life, balance is key. 


What are some of your strategies for balancing homesteading work and play?

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