Balancing the Workload of a Homestead
One of the biggest problem points of any homestead adventure (and any marriage) is determining how you will share the workload in a way that feels proportional and balanced to everyone on the homestead. I know many balk at the idea of taking on a homestead because the amount of work is scary. Homesteads are a ton of work and finding time to get everything done can be a challenge. Often, one family member is concerned that too much of the work will fall on them. I know my husband and I have had conversations in this space many times. While we are far from perfect and will still get frustrated at times, we have a balance in our workload that we feel good with most of the time. It has taken us a few years to get here but we have found a system that works for us.
Here is a quick breakdown of how we balance the workload:
- Most of the indoor cleaning
- Most of the cooking
- Cat care
- Dog care
- Her laundry
- Yard maintenance
- Chicken care
- Daily garden checks
- Routine maintenance
- His laundry
Things we share
- Horse care- we try to keep this as close to 50/50 as possible
- Big projects- we mostly work on these things together (ex. painting a room or renovating something)
- Harvesting the garden- we tag team as much as we can
- Non-ordinary house chores (prepping to host visitors or reorganizing a room)
Over our years together, we have managed to work out how best we can utilize each others strengths with our daily routines. We both have chores we gravitate toward because we enjoy them or are good at them and others we do just because we have to. We both know that our homestead involves a lot of responsibility and we work hard to each pull our weight.
If you are concerned about how you might balance the workload of a homestead, check out my 5 tips for successfully balancing your homestead tasks.
1. Delegate homestead tasks
No one can do it all… especially on a busy homestead. Everyone can be guilty of the “oh just let me do it” mindset. I am horrible about this and it causes me to be stressed out and overworked. Delegating tasks means that when someone asks “how can I help?” you actually reply with a specific task instead of replying with the good ol’ “I got it covered”. Delegating tasks makes everyone on the homestead feel included and useful. It will keep the workload more balanced as well because no one will be trying to do it all.
Communication is important on an homestead. Staying in full communication with your spouse will help you to stay productive while you balance the homestead workload. Have a new project on your mind? Talk to your spouse about it. Is something on the homestead not working for you or causing you irritation? Bring it up and see if you can talk through a solution with your spouse. Generally feeling overwhelmed? Unburden your heart and share it with your spouse.
A homestead is a large undertaking and keeping the lines of communication flowing will keep everyone on the same page. It is also important to communicate about animal care or project progress. Communicate so horses don’t get fed twice and the garden doesn’t get skipped because both parties thought the other did the nightly watering. The best way my husband and I find dedicated time to communicate about everything in our lives is over our nightly dinner. We sit at the table, with phones away and spend 20 minutes enjoying our meal and talking about our life. It keeps us in the know, provides us time to talk about our plans and dreams and realign where necessary.
Always keep the communication lines open and flowing! It will make for a good marriage and a strong homestead.
3. Be adept at everything on the homestead
I think it is really important for every person (excluding young children) to be adept at the day to day running of a homestead. There is almost no task on our farm I cannot complete and same with my husband. While we do generally gravitate towards our own list of special chores, in a pinch one of us can cover the other. This is necessary in moments where one of us is traveling or one of us is sick. The other person simply picks up the slack and takes care of the necessary chores until the status quo returns to normal.
It takes mental strain off of both of us because we don’t worry about whether or not chickens get fed if Zac has a long day at work. On those days I would (unhappily because I hate birds) take care of the necessary chores to make sure our flock is fed and watered and safe. I do not think one person on a homestead should feel a solo burden for any particular task… that is a lot of mental strain and pressure. Rather, sharing the pressure of those tasks by knowing any member of the homestead can complete them just makes it feel more manageable and allows for the freedom of not feeling “tied to the homestead”.
4. Make a homestead routine
It may be the single simplest piece of advice but a routine is necessary on any homestead. For each new season, we establish a routine for the day to day chores. This keeps us on track and ensures we get all necessary things complete each day. It helps us to avoid rushing around without a plan. It also keeps the daily workload manageable because you have time allotted to each task and do not have to try to make time.
For example, when we brought the horses to the farm, we immediately set a morning routine. My husband went down before he left for work and fed them breakfast. Later when I was starting my day, I could go let them out to spend the day in the pasture. Our routine was simple but it worked well from day one because we had established that routine and it balanced the workload on busy mornings.
You do not need to make it complicated or fancy. Just make a plan for how the chores will get done daily or weekly and try your best to stick with it.
5. Have fun with it
Everything is easier when you are having fun. Over the years, I find that even the most unpleasant chores can be made tolerable by just making it fun. It can be something as simple as playing fun music or a podcast or doing the task with your partner. It just takes something small to make something a little more enjoyable.
I almost always keep a podcast going on my phone during my morning barn chores. I also tend to always have an audiobook in progress that I listen to while doing house chores. In making my chores more fun, I am more likely to get them done and keep up with my part of the homestead. By keeping up with my chores, I do not add to my husbands workload and vice versa. This keeps us moving in sync and in harmony on the homestead because everyone is pulling their weight. Not to mention, everything is a lot more fun!