By Jaimie Bauer
Being a mom can be quite demanding! If you are a mom, I don’t have to tell you that feeding, clothing, and caring for your children can often stretch you more than you ever imagined. Combine that with keeping the home, homesteading, homeschooling, and perhaps working from home and it becomes even more demanding. So, how in the world do I do all those things while living off the grid? I am frequently asked that very question. I realize that moms ask because they can’t imagine adding one more thing to their already busy lives. I also realize that they are looking at me with a certain amount of hope—hope that if I am able to manage the demands of off grid living, they can as well while living with all the modern conveniences.
I myself marvel at moms with large families because the demands of my two kids can keep me on my toes. But I have discovered that their answer to how they manage their lives is the same as how I manage living off the grid. They have a schedule. It is absolutely necessary. I have a tried-and-true schedule that works for me. It has evolved over time and looks a little different today than when my youngest was a baby. I scheduled my entire workload around his nursing demands and nap times. Schedules can adapt and change as families grow and change, but I have found that they are so important to a well-functioning household. Here’s what my typical day currently looks like.
A Typical Day of Living Off the Grid
7 to 7:30 a.m.: Wake-up. Oh, how I wish I was one of those moms who can get up at the crack of dawn and accomplish an entire day’s work before the kids begin to stir. I’m not. And no amount of effort will help me become that way. Really, I’ve tried! I’m just not a morning person and I’ve found that the extra amount of sleep is so worth it. I do try to get up a little before my kids do, just so I can get dressed. I also put on comfortable shoes, make the bed, and tidy the bedroom.
8:00 a.m.: Breakfast. We eat eggs over-easy every morning. Yes, every morning! Our chickens provide us with eggs and we love them fixed that way. My husband helps me with breakfast because sometimes our 2-year-old (who is also not a morning person) can be quite demanding. Sometimes we also include sourdough toast (toasted in a cast iron skillet) or muffins for the kids. I always clean up after breakfast by rinsing the dishes and wiping the counter and table.
8:30 a.m.: Kids get dressed and make their beds. They often wear their clothes for a few days in a row, especially in the late fall and winter. It really helps to cut down on laundry and saves time on choosing what to wear. I don’t let them stay in their pajamas. Getting dressed and ready for the day shows them that they have work to do too.
9:00 a.m.: Homeschooling and inside chores. My oldest son works on subjects that don’t need as much hands-on instruction from me like math, writing practice, reading comprehension, and English grammar. I am available for questions, but I use this time for my inside chores. Water is a daily chore since I have to get it from our well. I fill our Big Berkey water filter, shower bag for showers at the end of the day, pitcher next to the bathroom sink, and pots to heat water on the stove. I have a rotation for other weekly chores like cleaning the bathroom, dusting, milling flour, baking bread, and filling our lanterns with kerosene.
10:30 a.m.: Outside chores. I do all our laundry by hand (think washtub and wringer) at least twice a week. It generally takes me about an hour from start to finish. I empty our potty buckets into our humanure compost bins. I pump our daily water (around 10 to 15 gallons) and carry it into the house. The kids are outside with me even in the coldest months. Arkansas can get pretty cold at times, but it’s not Minnesota! Running around outside and helping with chores is so important for them.
12:00 p.m.: Lunch. We keep it pretty simple. Sometimes it is leftovers from the night before. Sometimes sourdough bread and cheese with fresh veggies from the garden, or raw milk yogurt mixed with a little homemade jam and fruit. I spend very minimal prep time for lunch. And of course, I always clean up when we are done. Clean counters and table mean that we can move on to the next thing.
1:00 p.m.: Nap-time and homeschool. My youngest takes his nap and my oldest does his schoolwork. We need the quiet time to focus on more teacher-involved subjects like science, social studies, and spelling quizzes. When time permits, I write homesteading articles or work on home decorating projects—me time!
4:00 p.m.: Fix dinner, wash dishes, sweep the floor, and bring in the clothes from the line. I generally spend about 30 minutes fixing dinner, but we do have a more involved meal about once a week. I wash all my dishes from the day while dinner is cooking. It makes cleaning up from dinner a lot easier. I also sweep my entire house daily. It’s a necessary job when living on an off-grid homestead. I love my small house because it only takes me about 15 minutes to sweep. I always fold the clothes as I take them off the line and put them away as soon as I come inside. No piles of clothing lying around.
5:30 p.m.: Dinner. We eat together as a family around our farmhouse table. I cook one meal for everyone and the kids have to eat it or they will go hungry. I don’t have time to fix a lot of options. My 8-year-old does very well with this, but my 2-year-old is still learning. He’s a little stubborn and many times has finally given in and eaten his cold dinner as bedtime got closer.
6:30 p.m.: Family time. I like to be done with chores so I can relax and spend time with my kids. It is their responsibility to make sure their room is completely picked up and ready for bedtime. We like to read in the evenings or have a family movie night once a week. As the sun begins to go down earlier in the fall, we enjoy our lantern light more and more. Sticking to the schedule certainly pays off at the end of the day when the work is done.
7:30 p.m.: Get washed and ready for bed. I heat water on our wood stove during the cooler months of the year. I know the exact amount of boiling water to mix with room temperature water to make the right temperature in our shower bag. After almost three years, I have it down to a science. The boys get their “shower” first, using about a 1/2 gallon of water. My 2-year-old may be the only kid in America who has never had a bath! After showers, it’s off to bed and time for my husband and me to take our turns with the shower bag.
8:00 p.m.: I’m in bed with my feet up! My husband and I often work on our website together, or take time to have a special meal after the boys are in bed. We make it a point to have regular date nights at home because going out can be such a chore. So … what’s better than a picnic in bed by candlelight? I usually start to nod off by 10 p.m. It’s just really hard to stay awake without electric lights.
So, that’s my life. You may have noticed that certain homesteading things like gardening and taking care of the animals are missing in my schedule. I am blessed that my husband loves to garden. He and my dad also take care of our animals. I do the majority of our food preservation during the summer and fall, with some help from my mom.
Homesteading is a group effort for us. When the garden is in full swing and we are harvesting, my schedule often goes out the window. But I try to plan ahead and prepare for canning days so that I can devote the entire day to it. Once in a while we take trips to town or have family fun days at our local watering hole. There are only so many hours in a day, but time enough to get everything done if I am intentional. If you feel pulled in too many directions and struggling to keep up with your busy life, try sticking to a schedule. I’d be lost without mine.
Jaimie Bauer is a homesteading and homeschooling mom of two boys. She enjoys cooking, organizing, and reading stories to her family by lantern light. She and her husband write articles for their website, anamericanhomestead.com, and make videos for their YouTube channel sharing their adventures in homesteading and off-grid living.