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Children…A Homesteader’s Retirement Plan

A beach on a Pacific island where I grew up.
A beach on a Pacific island where I grew up.
Sometimes when I’m having trouble sleeping, my husband reminds me to “go to your happy place.” What is my happy place? I’ve tried to imagine myself sitting on a secluded beach as the sun goes down and the tide rolls in. I’ve imagined myself in the cool of the evening laying on a hammock in the shade of two beautiful oak trees. Most of the time I imagine that I’m laying on the couch at the end of the day. My feet are up. The house is perfectly clean and completely quiet! But no matter what the location, all of my “happy places” have one thing in common. Solitude. Oh…how I cherish my alone time. I often crave moments alone. Without them my introverted brain crashes and my family experiences the effects of withdrawal along with me. I need my solitude “fixes”. It seems that I am constantly busy, with family in and out of the house all day long. Undistracted and uninterrupted moments are rare.

“I have to have my ME time!” I’ve heard that phrase (or something similar) declared by parents for a long time. I never use it myself, because for me that phrase strikes of our culture’s love affair with the “almighty self”. It gives the illusion that selfishness is okay just because we need something. It seems that there is an epidemic in our culture to concentrate solely on self, to raise ourselves to the highest level of importance. MY needs above everything. And our kids pay the price. I’m a mom. Believe me when I say that I get overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated. Children can bring that out of us in ways that nothing else can!

But our culture has decided that children are an inconvenience. We wait to have children until we are “ready” and have experienced everything life has to offer. When we do decide to finally have them…IF we decide to have them, we send them off to be raised and taught by others. We work hard in the working world. We save and invest in order to have a fun retirement. When we finally get sick or too old, we use our hard earned money to pay people to take care of us before we die. In the meantime, the kids that we also paid someone else to take care of are now caught up in the same self game and working for the same empty rewards. And they probably never call mom or dad. That may be an exaggeration in many cases, but it seems to be the epitome of what our culture believes that a successful life looks like.

Joshua-sheepHomesteading has become such a popular buzz word today. It means different things to different people. It certainly doesn’t require that someone live off grid like my family. Everyone has a different take on what homesteading means to them and even that may change as circumstances change. But I believe there is one thing all homesteaders have in common. We desire to learn to be self-sufficient. That’s a completely different kind of self! Taking care of ourselves and our families by learning to grow gardens, raise animals, and preserve our own food is not for the selfish at heart. We all have the desire to let go of a consumerism mentality where everything is immediate gratification. We see the importance of building and growing things that can be lasting and permanent, providing our needs now and in the future. Children fit that equation perfectly. They are the reason we work so hard to provide in the present. And they are the reward we will receive as they use what we have built to provide for themselves and us in the future.

I’ve learned many things from going back in time and living an off grid homesteading life. People used to be a lot hardier than we are today! There were strong! They knew how to work and raised their children to know how to work. Children were a blessing, but more than that they were the only retirement plan. Homesteaders had large families because they needed all the helping hands they could get. The picture below was taken in 1940. It shows my grandmother (7th from left) with her parents and siblings. She was born in 1913 and grew up on a farm in Nebraska. It’s hard for me to imagine my great-grandmother’s life as a mother to so many children. I imagine that she would have been extremely grateful when her oldest children were finally old enough to help with the work of the farm. From infancy they would have watched the work of their parents and learned what was needed and expected of them. My great grandparents would have never been able to imagine a time when people would spend hard earned money on a trip to the Caribbean just to lay half-naked in the sun, while leaving their kids behind to be cared for by babysitters. You may call me old-fashioned and I certainly am, but I believe that my children are mine and mine alone to teach and raise. And just like my great-grandmother, I need them to carry on the work when I am too old to do everything that I do now.

Cary Family-1940

As I sit here in the the complete quiet and enjoy my morning coffee in blessed peace, I know that my children will wake at any minute and the hustle and bustle of the day will begin. Can I will them to please sleep a few minutes longer!? But then I look down at the table and see the stack of my son’s homeschool books and remember the privilege I have of raising them. I give of myself to my children every day. I get to teach them, mold them, feed them, and yes… even discipline them. They are mine. I pour myself into them now and pray my hard work will be rewarded in the future. They are my retirement plan.

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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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18 comments

  1. Jeannie Partin

    beautifully written! You’re right…children are given to parents by God. I am thankful we still live in a time we are able to homeschool our children….but I am afraid that right could easily be taken away. Love this article, Jaime!

  2. I liked your article and it was just what I needed today. My children are yet young, oldest one will become three in September and my second daughter became one in May. Today I was thinking how much I have to do each day. In the morning I wake up, tend to my goats and chickens, feed my children, clean, rush around with all all other stuff – some more cooking, some more cleaning, tending the animals in the evening- and yes its again evening. Because my oldest isnt yet the schoolage, I go easy on the homeschooling part. I do have a plan for her but somehow there are days when I just cant get a moment to sit down with her and go over our studies. I then try to teach her while doing other things but that isnt the same. So I blame myself on these moments. And so it was today. But your article gave me some more faith that I am not alone there. If I allow myself to take it easy for couple hours, take that me time, then I will regret it later, because I have to work twice as hard later. Thank you for your article and good luck with everything.

    • I’m so glad that you were encouraged! I’ll encourage you a little more and tell you not to stress about homeschool at this age. 🙂 Your oldest is still so young. Formal studies are just not needed at that age. Read to her when you have time and keep a stack of her favorite books handy. I really believe that is all that is necessary at that age. Formal schooling (actually sitting down with a plan of things to teach) doesn’t need to happen until at least Kindergarten and probably more like 1st grade. Your children are learning so much just by being with you. Blessings!

  3. I have enjoyed hearing and learning from you all! I came across this site just a this week and have recieved a such a blessing. We live in Waynesboro, MS. and are preppers too. I homeschool my 2 children ages 9 and 13. I often get overwhelmed myself but I know that Abba above blessed me as a mom to teach my children. Shalom and may Yahweh bless ya’ ll and keep you in his will! Melissa

  4. Dearest Jamie,
    You are 100% correct except for one thing…..we as mothers have to have our alone time….it is the only way we can be what are family needs. It is not selfish at all to take that time ….like you said the family feels the effects of it if you do not have your own time. You have the hardest ,most tiring, frustrated,most rewarding and amazing job on earth! Yes we mother s feel guilty for taking that time because we always think of THEM. But it has to be done so we can be what our children need us to be. Your doing a a great job! Whomever runs into town should take the kids….then sit back with that cup of coffee and ahhhhh
    Have those boys shovel poop and feed the animals…they are old enough……YOU ARE NOT SELFISH

    • Yes, I absolutely need my alone time! Alone time is not selfish. My intent with this article was to explain that there is a difference between that and our culture’s increasing demand to see children as a burden and inconvenience. They were given to us to grow and teach, not to pawn off to others to take care of. If we shirk that responsibility, we will one day pay the price when our children are doing the same thing and forgetting their responsibility to their aging parents. I believe that one of the reasons that families are suffering today is because children are no longer raised at home. Never fear…I DO get my alone time. 🙂

      • I enjoyed your article. I do not believe that alone time is selfish. I believe once or twice in the Bible Jesus himself went to the desert to find peace and answers. I have 12 siblings, and I remember just craving 30 minutes to myself to sit down and read a book. It has carried into my adulthood as well. I enjoy a few hours a week to watch HGTV, or episodes of your show or Zach’s videos on New2Torah, I watch them and fold laundry. I am still doing something, but it is more enjoyable to do the laundry along with some entertainment and its usually enough to fulfill my need for alone time.

  5. So much wisdom here!

    My husband and I have 5 children. Those are words I NEVER thought I’d say!! haha! Our lives are eternally blessed and enriched by these little souls that God has entrusted to us. I can honestly say that they have made me a better person. God has used them to refine many rough spots in my character and personality…and I would certainly be a different kind of woman without them. My oldest is 8 and is just now becoming old enough to help out with some “big boy” things around the house and out in the gardens. He even asked me if I could get him a bee suit so that he could help me with the beekeeping chores! I love that we’re able to work together as a family. Even though my husband does still work fulltime outside of the home, through homeschooling and homesteading, I think we spend so much more quality time together than would be possible if both parents worked and we sent the kids to school. I’m truly grateful for that.

    But yes, I’m also an introvert. I’m a much more peaceful mama if I can have a few moments here and there to myself to read a book, weed the garden in peace and quiet (save for the darn mosquitoes), or even ::gasp:: take a shower without interruption.

    P.S. We need to do repairs to our bathroom this Summer, and I’m almost excited to warm up water on the stove and try out our shower bag while our bathtub/shower is out of commission! It’ll feel so “An American Homestead.” 😀

  6. Great picture of your great grandmother. It reminded me of my husbands. She had 21 children. Amazing. Years ago when our older 4 were little. I just didn’t feel that need for alone time or find it important. But then I was many years younger & several children ago. Haha. Now that we have 8 children. Alone time with Yah. Well that’s a must! I do cherish it & it recharges me. I too need to steal a few quiet moments to keep my introvert mind clear & able to think. Thanks for the article. Even a mama of 8 homeschooler of 20 years. Needs encouragement. 🙂

  7. I was just wondering do you all have health insurance and what are your thoughts on vaccinations? My child is two and has vaccinations, but I don’t give her the flu shot. My sister is a nurse practitioner and doesn’t even recommend the flu shot.

    • We don’t have insurance but have come to the conclusion that if Congress doesn’t repeal Obama care, we will have to get it because of penalties imposed on tax time. And no we don’t use vaccines for us or our children. Religious exemptions apply.

  8. O these are sweet words from you in this post. I praise the Lord for the opportunity I had to stay at home with my 3 boys. I am a first grade teacher now and see most moms not understand the blessing of being present for those priceless moments. I would love to know about the curriculum choices you have made for your children.

  9. Jaimie, what a great article. I can really relate to it, even though my children have aged out (left the nest, well…mostly). My husband and I raised 5 children, and though we did not homestead, I sure applied a lot of self sufficient techniques without even knowing it. I quit working and we survived on one income for almost 15 years…frugal was my middle name. I, like you, never needed “ME” time….my children WERE me…they were the culmination of all that I invested in them and I am today reaping the benefits of that time…5 out of 5 graduated high school and went on to at least some college, 5/5 had no teenage pregnancies, 5/5 abstained from drugs and alcohol, 5/5 (even those that live miles and miles away now) frequently call just to say I love you and 5/5 are grateful they had a mom who was at home.

    Keep up the great articles, I so enjoy them.

  10. Thanks Jaimie!! Well said. My family is on the move to be self-sustaining while my husband finishes his military career. Until he retires in about 5 years it’s just me along with my children ages 2,4 and 13 years. I love it. We are only just starting this last year and its been hard work and some days its way late before I get to bed and early to rise again. Its a lot of hard work but so much more rewarding than anything else. We are not off grid yet like y’all are…but one day hope to be able to provide our own needs on our own. Thanks “American Homestead” for all your videos and how inspiring it is to watch them. It’s actually motivated my husband to kick it into gear and do more. Y’all are awesome, keep it going!

  11. I have been homesteading here in the Ozarks since 1991. I raised two daughters by myself while doing it. Homeschooling was not an option for me since I have to make a living also. Both of my daughters are the products of the public school system. My daughters have grown and left the homestead to seek employment oppurtunities else where. As beautiful as the Ozarks are, there just are not many oppurtunities for young people here that have any ambition in life. Things changed drastically when my kids left for college. Everything downsized after they left and I realized there is only so much one person can achieve in one day. As much as I would have liked for my daughters to stay on the homestead, they have to follow their own paths in life. Both have told me they credit their success in life to growing up here. They are both no strangers to hard work.

  12. This is too funny! My mother in love has been saying this for years! She buy something for us or do something and say ” that will cost you a week on the retirement plan”. Thank you for sharing!

  13. So refreshing to hear another family viewing their children and time with their children as gifts. Well written.

  14. Just wanted to give you all a thumbs up ! I appreciate the channel ! I have been at my homestead start for years still stuck in the grind but getting closer and really look forward to watching and learning from channels such as yours.
    Respectfully,

    Rob Williams

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