Homemaking doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be easy and fun. You can even add Urban farming to it and have a thriving little farm right there in the town. Add homeschooling and you’re living like Little House on the Prairie.
I was obsessed with Laura Ingles and her family. I was obsessed with pioneers too…as a child. Now I’m in my 40’s, live in town and I’m obsessed with the Amish. I love parts of their lifestyle, however, washing clothes by hand and no radio or long dresses in the summer doesn’t appeal to me.
What does appeal to me as I get older and the world seems to get more bizarre is the part about not being too much a part of the world, about having a secure and devoted community that isn’t hooked on drugs and booze, just God and plain living. I like the simple life and my family and I seem to be turning more toward that all the time while still enjoying the benefits of the modern world.
And you can have both and mix and match a life that is cozy, safe, peaceful, frugal, and sustainable in all ways.
We now own our piece of a neighborhood and, though our bit of land is small compared to say an acre by the river, it’s land and it’s amazing what you can do with 6,000 square feet if you work it wisely. We’ve already planted several fruit trees: avocado, apple, lemon, mandarin, orange, pomegranate, and Bali is sure there is a peach or almond growing on its own by the fence. I’ve put in patches, raised beds, and barrels of veggies, melons, and strawberries. I have pots of basil and peppers. This is a lot of free food. I’ll definitely need to learn to can starting this fall.
I don’t have chickens yet. I have to think about this. I love chickens and each city has it’s regulations as to how many you can have. You can build your own chicken coop or find them used on Craigslist. Chickens are great for getting rid of those snails and nasty bugs that ruin gardens. Their poop is so good for the soil and their eggs are so good for us.
Gardening and composting is easy. You do have to do some research if you’re a newbie and I still am. But here is what I’ve learned so far. When making raised beds you can build your own. All you need are boards and nails and build a box or rectangle. Not hard. As for the soil, you use what is there and if it’s not fabulous you add a mix of raised bed soil, potting soil, and compost. Our beds are built on cement to cover it and made up solely of this mix and my veggies are growing like crazy. You can even be more simple and just dig beds in the very ground. You don’t need raised beds and if the soil is good, you work with that. All you will need is a few dollars worth of seeds. You can start a compost and have your own rich, homemade soil in 6 months to a year.
I have started a compost but it won’t be ready until next year. I did not build a box or do anything fancy. I simply dug a huge hole and I put my scraps in there, cover with a thin layer of dirt and leaves from the yard when we rake. Repeat. I put coffee grounds, egg shells, and produce scraps in the mix. I did this at my old house and it made amazing compost. You could cover with a tarp if you like.
So, there’s your Urban Farm! A veggie garden, fruit trees ( you can get these with food stamps), chickens (people give chickens and coops away on Freecycle and Craigslist). You can even plant table grapes along your fences and blueberries near the door. Use your space.
Then there is the homemaking in a frugal and sustainable way. Big things to do are to recycle, reuse, compost. Use what you have and don’t spend money. It can be tricky but you get clever after a while and you turn it into a game to see how creative you can get. Examples may be to mend holes in clothes instead of getting rid of them, gluing broken toys, using a rope as a clothes line instead of buying a fancy one, eating leftovers by making them into a casserole, using an extra bath mat at the front door instead of buying a new rug for the entryway, using a cardboard box to create a doll house, an old nightstand to make a kids kitchen stove.
Homemaking requires plenty of cleaning and caretaking. It gets exhausting with the constant demand, monotonous routines, and very little “me time”.
What I have done to make it easier and keep my energy and joy is to keep my house decluttered and organized, to have routines and habits that give the home a flow. Examples are cleaning my kitchen at night so I walk into a tidy room in the morning to start another day of cooking and baking. I bake once a week, use a lot of one pot or crock pot dishes, we eat a lot of leftovers. I do laundry and big housecleaning once a week and I listen to great music and drink coffee.
To be frugal I make a budget for the household, cut out what is not necessary, try to reduce our usage of utilities, use a grocery envelope. I use the radio, the internet, library, and cheap cable on TV for entertainment. I’d use an antenna if I wasn’t in a contract right now. I don’t go shopping for anything outside groceries. I earn points on my one secured credit card with the bank and I use those for Starbuck cards and Fandango cards to treat myself. And those are big treats to me.
I was not excited about the idea of sending my children to a public school. We’ve had some rough and depressing looking schools where we used to live. I looked into homeschooling for years before Arjan was even of age. I’ve now chosen an Independent Study Charter school in our area. He will start August. I like the flexibility and that we choose the way he learns and what he learns. I have a teacher and guidance counselor to help us along in this very new journey. She will meet with us twice a month and help me learn to be a teacher to my son and guide me toward curriculums and ideas on learning, teaching, and scheduling. I also like this school because as Arjan gets older he can attend classes, workshops, and tutoring on all the subjects I will struggle with later such as math and science. They even have field trips. I love the campus, it has big gardens and fruit trees everywhere…just like our backyard! The inside of the school is very cozy and decorated in all sorts of educational and fun, creative ways. It’s a happy place.
I also joined a homeschool group in town to meet for further field trips, fun, meeting mothers for support and children Arjan’s age. We can make friends and learn more about the opportunities in our new town.
I won’t be setting up a room just for school and I won’t have rigid schedules. I will have a big drawer in the dining room cabinet filled with all our school stuff. Arjan can work at the table with his books and laptop. I purchased a cheap Apple laptop for $125 on Amazon for ABCMouse and such. He can read anywhere in the house and we will learn through documentaries, movies, field trips, and walks. We already garden, bake, have a sandbox, watch PBS, read books from the library about solar systems and dinosaurs, we do ABCMouse. He’s been homeschooling for years. It’s all in play and fun.
It’s all free too. ABCmouse cost $59 a year when I do the specials. PBS is free, sort of. The school gives me all the support, curriculums, and $500 in tokens each semester for local vendors such as Karate, Theater Arts, Music, Sports outside the school. The library is free. You just can’t beat this. And I don’t have to take my kids to school, have them separate from me all day. For me personally, 7 hours with my children away from me and not having any way to control what they are taking in or surrounded by, what they are learning…it doesn’t work for me. Homeschooling is a huge piece of mind for our family.
I have hundreds and piles of ideas, tips, and tricks that I’ve learned from years of gleaning from books, YouTube videos, articles, and documentaries on everything from frugal living, simplifying, decluttering, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, and urban farming. I’m still learning more each day. Most of it is right here in this fantastic book.