Life on the farm isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot of hard work, and there will be sacrifices involved, such as long vacations and other extracurricular activities. You might even be a little isolated from the rest of the world if your farm is out in the country. If you are a parent, these things might be a bit concerning. You might wonder what growing up on a farm will be like for your kids. Will they resent the hard work, and are there ways that you can make it fun for them? In all honesty, yes, they probably will dislike the hard work at times, but there are lots of ways to make farming fun your kids. And the benefits of growing up on a farm far outweigh the negatives.
Growing Up on a Farm is Good for Your Health
Today’s lifestyle is hectic and busy, even for children. They are often involved in a ton of different activities and have schedules that would exhaust even the average adult. There’s a lot to be said for growing up at a slower pace, the way children were raised back in the old days. They grow up with a lot less stress in their lives and less peer pressure. Kids that live on a farm tend to eat healthier, too, thanks to all that farm fresh food.
Kids that are encouraged to help out around the farm learn about self-sufficiency at a young age. Contributing to the family builds their self-esteem and makes them feel useful. Kids that grow up in the country spend a lot more time outdoors, too, instead of sitting indoors in front of the television or playing video games. Being exposed to the outdoors is good for their immune systems and their health in general.
Growing up around animals and gardens teaches kids about responsibility. They learn firsthand that they have to take care of those plants and animals no matter what else is going on in their life. Being around the animals, the plants, and the soil teaches them about sustainability and being less wasteful. Children who live in the country are often more creative than city children because they have to find ways to entertain themselves.
On top of all of that, children who grow up on a farm learn valuable life skills and how to do things for themselves. They learn how to grow their own food, how to preserve it, and how to cook from scratch. They are more likely to know how to build things and how to fix things. Even if they don’t choose farm life when they get older, these valuable skills will still be useful in their everyday life.
How to Make Farm Life Fun for Kids
One of the best ways to make life on the farm fun for kids is to get them involved. Yes, chores on the farm probably aren’t your kids’ idea of fun, but with a little creativity on your part, they will learn to love farm life as much as you do. Encourage them to start helping out as soon as they are old enough to follow you around the farm. Give them age-appropriate tasks to do, and don’t criticize them if it’s not done perfectly.
Young children and toddlers love to help, so encourage their enthusiasm by giving them tasks that they can complete on their own. Have them collect and wash the eggs. They will have a blast cleaning out feeders and waterers because they love to get wet. They can also help feed animals, as long as you supervise. In the garden, they can help plant seeds and pitch in with the watering. Young animals will grow up to be friendlier if they’re handled a lot, so encourage your kids to spend time petting and playing with them. If you have bees, small children can learn how to extract honey by crushing the comb with their fingers. Yes, they’ll make a mess, but they will also be having fun and learn something, too.
Although it can often be a challenge to get pre-teens interested in helping out, farm chores can offer significant rewards at this age. Have them do the watering and keep the water troughs clean. Put them in charge of keeping the feed inventory; it’s a big responsibility that will be great for their self-esteem and help build math skills at the same time. Give them their own space in the garden and let them decide what to plant and make them responsible for its care. They can also help with harvesting, preserving, and weeding at this age. You could even let them raise some chicks or baby bunnies to sell.
Teens are old enough to take on more responsibility with the larger animals and can often handle their care from start to finish. They can also learn to keep watch over the animals’ health and let parents know when there’s something to be concerned about. They can help out at the farmer’s market, too. Allowing them to sell their own handmade items can be fun for them and teach lessons about math, people skills, and self-sufficiency at the same time.
No matter what age your children are, be sure not to overwhelm them with too much work. After all, they spend a lot of time on their studies, also, and they need time just to be kids. Balance out their non-paid chores with some paid ones to help them learn about the value of money and hard work. You can offer other rewards besides money, too, like pony and wagon rides, playing outdoors, or even brushing their favorite animal on the farm. And, don’t be tempted to take over when they don’t do something perfectly because that just teaches them to give up if something’s too hard.
As parents, we all want our children to grow up to be responsible, happy adults who are willing to work hard. This can be a tough goal to achieve in a society focused instant gratification with as little effort as possible. Raising your kids on a farm can instill good work ethic and values, but still be fun and rewarding at the same time.