Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase. You can read our full disclosure here.
So many times we start things with the best intentions only to never finish them. To watch them dwindle and rot away like they were meaningless. Even when they weren’t. A lot of times modern homesteading is that way. We start something with the best intentions and then get sucked into modern life and become overwhelmed. And it’s often hard to deal….
We’ve lived here for 3 years now. We started our plans as soon as we moved in and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up. How many times I’ve questioned my sanity for even wanting to adopt this lifestyle. So many times I feel like I’m being pulled in 10 different directions and none of them are the direction I truly need to be headed in.
There are gardens to tend, animals to feed, buildings to fix, coops to clean, compost piles to turn, meals to cook…. Honestly, it would be more concerning if I wasn’t overwhelmed. It can often feel like you don’t know where to begin and it’s pretty normal to feel that way. Whatever normal is….
But, that isn’t to say that homestead overwhelm and burnout isn’t avoidable. It is to a degree. There are certainly ways to reduce those feelings. Ways to quash those feelings that you must be as crazy as everyone seems to think you are. Because while it’s difficult and certainly a little unorthodox… there is nothing more worthwhile. Nothing more fulfilling. And nothing that will make you feel more whole than homesteading.
The freedom to know where your food came from, to teach your children what it takes to produce food. The sacrifices that must be made. The hard, but incredibly rewarding work. And to be able to spend some time with the earth between your hands… it is the most rewarding way to live your life. But that isn’t to say it’s never overwhelming.
However, throughout the hardships we’ve faced over the past 3 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to keep the overwhelm that is homesteading in the modern world to a minimum and I wanted to share those tips with you.
How to Avoid Homestead Overwhelm
Make a Vision Board
Our vision of what we want to do here on our homestead has been the biggest driving force behind actually accomplishing anything. When we first started, I just dreamed of what we wanted. I didn’t write it down, I didn’t take notes. I just… kept it all in my head and hoped I’d remember.
And then, I came on the the idea of vision boards and everything changed. No longer did I have to just picture what it would look like in my head. I could actually put those pictures on paper and keep them nearby to look at whenever I want to.
If you’ve never heard of a vision board, it’s simply a way to visually display what you want to be, do, or have in your life. It can be a simple poster board with magazine clippings or something more elaborate.
The idea is to simply take photos whether they’re clipped from magazines or printed from online and paste them onto a poster board or other surface and prominently display it where you can refer back to it day after day, month after month, even year after year.
Some people make secret boards on Pinterest and while that works, I prefer it to be a physical display. The photos don’t have to be practical for where you are, either. They can simply be dreams of your forever homestead and where you hope to be in the distant future. I have two. One that displays my current years goals and another that displays our long-term goals (which will be on a different property).
It doesn’t have to be anything pretty, just make one. Pick out the photos that speak to you, that make your heart say “yes, yes this is what I envision on my homestead” and you’ll be set.
Write It Out
You’ve got that beautiful visual, now it’s time to get it all out on paper in written form. I’m a list maker. If I don’t write it down, it’s not going to happen. I have far too many thoughts running around to depend on my memory to get it all done.
So, I write out goals, big goals, small goals, things that simply need done and I work through them. My goals for this fall were to expand our garden bed, add compost to the bed, plant garlic and cover crops, and then work on some indoor stuff like soap making and cheese making as the weather cools and I finish in the garden.
I write annual goals, seasonal goals, monthly goals, weekly goals, and daily goals. Each list is just a breakdown of the larger list. So next year one of our goals is to get our orchard planted. I’ll work off the seasonal goals of this winter I want to order our trees. Next spring, I’ll need to map out exactly where they are going and prepare the sites. Then, I’ll need to plant the trees and maintenance them which will be added to daily and weekly lists.
Whatever your goals are, make them realistic and break them down into steps. Then, you can add steps to your daily to do list as necessary until you work through them and reach your goal.
Everyone has different ideas on what’s important. And some things are unavoidable. But, you need to prioritize. Work through your lists and decide what’s important right now and what can wait.
Have plants that are going to die if you leave them inside much longer? You probably need to get them hardened off and put into the ground. Have chicks in a brooder that need to be moved to a coop that you don’t have? You should probably do that pretty soon.
This will help you decide what to put on those lists and where and make things seem a lot more manageable.
No man is an island. We all need help. None of us are superman and none of us can do all of the things. If you try, it’s a sure way to become overwhelmed and burned out pretty quickly.
I know that it is difficult for me to let go of the reins and let someone else take over sometimes. It’s that dreaded type-a personality coming out on me. But, I’ve learned (albeit slowly) to let go of that perfectionism and let others help me.
Our two year old goes and gets the eggs every day. Half the time she cracks them and they have to be brought in, scrambled up and usually fed back to the chickens. The older two help feed and water. They all help plant, weed, and harvest in the garden. Does the two year old pull things she shouldn’t? Sure… but she’s never going to learn if we don’t teach her.
They all help me out in the kitchen, too. And of course, my husband helps when he is able and our neighbors have come over and helped with projects that required equipment that we don’t possess.
Never be too proud to ask for help and let go of a little control. You’d be amazed at how willing a lot of people are to pitch in whether it be your kids, extended family, friends, or neighbors. There’s help available and you’re going to need it.
Give Yourself Grace
Homesteading is hard. I’m not going to lie and say it isn’t. It’s time consuming, it’s hard work, and can be emotionally challenging when things fail or animals die. So, you need to give yourself some grace.
I’ve made this mistake before. I just keep pushing even though I have been physically and emotionally exhausted. And then I get incredibly overwhelmed and burnt out. And spend a long time trying to get back to some sort of normal.
Don’t do this to yourself. We are all human. Things happen. Life happens. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to put something off until the next day (assuming it’s not life and death, of course). Don’t push yourself so hard that you can’t go any more. It makes this lifestyle seem too overwhelming and not near as rewarding as it should.
Don’t Give Up
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel. It’s not easy homesteading. Especially in the modern world. You can often feel like you’re living in two different worlds but one you can’t escape no matter how hard you try.
But each time I’ve tried to just give up, I’ve been pulled right back in. There is nothing more rewarding than pulling a fresh tomato out of the backyard. Or making a salve with herbs that we grew right here on our property to heal a scrape. Nothing better tasting than backstrap steak from a deer we harvested and butchered ourselves.
This life can seem incredibly overwhelming sometimes, but you know what? It’s so incredibly worth it. Just remember why you’re doing it, take a moment and come back. While you’ll regret quitting, you’ll never regret taking a break and reassessing your priorities. Just don’t give up.