Meet Riley: Nearly 4 Years Old Homesteading Superstar
Homesteading With Children Spotlight
Every so often we notice a post in a Homesteading group that catches our eye. Recently we came across a post that highlighted the idea of homesteading with children. There are so many people out there doing extraordinary things in their everyday lives, sometimes it’s important to highlight that to inspire our community!
Homesteading Mom Sonya Shook Has Inspired Us
Recently she shared about the tasks her nearly 4-year-old daughter completes around the farm every day. Her post was met with both praise and controversy. Reading through the comments section inspire me to share her unique story.
A Humble Question
It started with Sonya sharing an adorable photo of her very young daughter “working” on the farm. The photo included a list of tasks Sonya’s little one does at the farm each day and a simple question “Am I too hard on her?”
Homesteading with Children CONTROVERSY
That post started a swirl of controversy, as tends to happen on the internet. Some women praised her. Others criticized her for giving her daughter so many chores. Reading the comments, it was clear that there was more to the story than the aforementioned post so I reached out for this interview. Sonya was enthusiastic and got responded very quickly, giving us the opportunity to dive in a little deeper. Thank you for that, Sonya!
What Role Should Kids Play in Homesteading?
A child’s role in a homestead can be huge and it doesn’t have to be forced. This story shows that very clearly. Many are against child labor and this makes sense when you consider forced labor. But what about if the labor is voluntary? Is it really so bad for a kid to do farm work if she likes it?
We Got Sonya’s Take Homesteading with Children
How are you feeling after the feedback and controversy from that post?
I’ve had an outpouring of love and people agreeing with the way I live/raise my daughter. It made my heart happy to know so many people agreed with me.
Are you a single mother or do you have a partner?
I’m with my partner since high school. He owns his own lawn business. I’m a stay at home mom who runs the farm.
What’s your favorite thing about living on a homestead?
I love just walking outside to go grocery shopping.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Mom on a homestead?
My daughter learns new things every day. She may not even be four yet but she understands it takes hard work to make things happen. She loves seeing the babies born. She loves planting seeds, watering them, and watching them come to life.
What’s the hardest thing about being a Mom on the homestead?
Death. When you have a lot of animals you deal with it. Wildlife kills them. Newborn animals dying. Us eating them. My daughter knows more about death than a lot of children.
Do you have any other children?
I don’t. I have a disorder and my body is allergic to the HCG hormone. I lost four babies and had my daughter at only 28 weeks. I had a tubal after we lost a baby after my daughter.
Are the chores voluntary or is there some sort of penalty if she can’t complete the list?
I’m not even sure if “chores” is the right word. From the time she could walk she started helping do things around the house and farm.
She loves helping and as she got older she needs less help. I watched her become independent and actually take pride in her hard work. She has certain things she has learned to do on her own. I made a chart with all the things she does and she gets a sticker to put on it after the job is done.
How and why did this start?
We actually had a homestead in 2015 and had a house fire and lost our second baby all in the same year. We sold all of our animals. We still did a garden but missed our animals. My husband is a prepper and it just didn’t make sense for us to not have our own meat. We started with some chickens, a duck, and a goose. We now have over 40 chickens, 20 rabbits, 5 turkeys, 3 geese, 5 ducks, 3 guineas, a pig, and two goats.
How old was she when she started doing chores?
A little over a year old she started helping around the farm.
Did the list evolve over time? How do you see the list evolving in the future?
Yes, it was more of when she stopped needing my help that it became her thing. As she gets older and learns to do more things on her own we will add to her “To-do” list.
What chores does she do daily? How consistent is she with it?
She cleans her room, she feeds the chickens, feeds the pig, she fills up water buckets, she feeds the cats. She collects eggs. She also carries the basket and collects the produce that’s ready. Unless it is really cold and raining, she does it every day.
How do you motivate her on days where she’s not feeling it?
I honestly haven’t had that day come yet. She loves helping.
What advice do you have for other homesteading Moms?
Make it a game. Don’t just tell them they have to do this or that. Go out and say let’s see who can collect the most eggs. Or I bet you can pour the food into the bucket without spilling and go from there. Don’t let your kid sit in front of a screen. If you’re never outside, your child will never be outside. You go to play in the dirt, dig up worms, climb trees. Show them outside is a big playground.
What would you do differently if you could do it over again?
Honestly, I’m not sure I’d change anything. This life isn’t for everyone but it’s perfect for us. Trust me we have bad days. Days where nothing goes according to plan. You just have to keep on getting up and hope the next day is better.
What have you learned from all the feedback on your post?
Homesteading is not for everyone. A lot of people are so used to just going grocery shopping and getting things someone else grew. They don’t understand working for a job that doesn’t pay by the hour. As long as your life works for you it doesn’t matter what others think.
Again thank you so much Sonya for sharing your journey with us!
We can’t wait to check-in with Sonya and her family to see how things have evolved.
Sonya’s story just goes to show you, good ideas don’t require force. Kids love to help, and you can get a lot of help from them if you just have the patience to show them the ropes and make it fun. Kids are smarter, more resilient, and independent than some might expect. So let’s start treating them like the intelligent beings they are! Homesteading with children is literally out future!
Do you have a unique homesteading story? Reach out to us at email@example.com to tell us your story!
Want to get started on a cool DIY project with your kids? Check out this pallet teepee idea!