All too often I hear of people who are running their dream self-sufficient home, but it’s become a nightmare.
They’re working around the house and garden more than ever, are stressed out, and what was fun and exciting when they started out has become a chore and a big weight on their shoulders.
In this post, I’m sharing my best advice on how to build a self-sufficient home that affords you maximum freedom and flexibility (and don’t worry; this advice can be applied right from the beginning, or be used to tweak things if you’re a bit further along the path but your self-sufficient home has begun to swallow you whole).
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I don’t know about you, but I crave a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle, yet I don’t want to be a slave to my home or the little (and big) people in it.
I really want to live a simpler, waste-free life, but I certainly don’t resonate with being a 1950’s housewife.
I’m as passionate about educating girls and supporting women in the workforce just as much as I believe in men and kids pitching in and sharing the load at home.
Because creating a self-sufficient home is a team effort and self-sufficiency happens by design, and not by default.
As I write this our chickens are laying eggs, organic veggies are growing in our garden, our food waste is slowly being transformed into nutrient-rich compost for our veggie patch, a bulk-batch of soup is ticking over in the slow cooker, and my freezer is stocked with healthy home-cooked meals to carry us through the busy weeks ahead…. BUT (and this is the important part!), I still had time to go to my jazz, tap and hip hop dancing lessons last night and make it to my regular yoga class this morning.
One of the questions I’m asked the most by friends and my students is how do I find the time to run a self-sufficient household and be a mum, run a business and have several hobbies?
Remember what they are?
Hobbies are important yet so many mums especially, farewelled their hobbies shortly after they welcomed their first baby. There’s always washing, cooking, cleaning, organising and running around to do. Let alone trying to make a living and keep in touch with friends and family!
So when someone like me comes along and flies the cooking from scratch, cloth nappying, veggie gardening, and even sewing flag, all in the name of living lighter on the planet, it’s no wonder I can be met with sheer looks of panic.
But I’m not asking any of us to work any harder. I’m asking for us to work smarter so we don’t have to work as hard.
Here’s six simple strategies I use to create a self-sufficient home that’s not a nightmare
1. Ditch Perfectionism
Firstly, you don’t have to do everything that’s associated with self-sufficient living. And you certainly don’t need to do everything at once. You don’t need to have chickens, start a garden, worm farm, keep bees, try aquaculture, make all your clothes, or live in a commune!
We all live in the modern world with modern pressures. Let’s keep it real here.
Choose one aspect of self-sufficient living to work on at a time, and perfect that. Hell, don’t perfect it, just be happy with it being good enough. Then try your hand at another aspect.
I’m a gun at some aspects of running a self-sufficient household and terrible at others. I’m not tidy, I hate ironing and I’ve killed my fair share of plants in the garden. But I love cooking, especially with produce from our garden and I thrive on reducing our household waste.
Find what aspects you enjoy and are good at, set your expectations for yourself and your household, and swim in your own lane.
2. Become the CEO of your Self-Sufficient Home
When you shift your thinking about how you manage your home, it can transform your life.
You can take a leaf out of the business world here…..
In my small business alone I need to create regular, quality content, run a functional website, write and film my training programs, market and deliver my courses, have everything looking nice graphically, edit and transcribe my podcasts and upload them to the blog and who knows how many social media platforms, support my students in my course forums, respond to emails, advertise my services, coach my business coaching clients, complete my BAS statements….. and that’s the tip of the iceberg.
If I did every single one of these tasks, progress would be slow and mistakes would be common. And I would be a shaking mess.
Instead I have a small but talented team of employees and sub-contractors, namely Bec my PA, Linda my bookkeeper, and Lis my graphic and web developer, who share their zones of geniuses with me to keep the business growing and performing.
When it comes to running my household and family I have a small, but talented team as well.
We have a cleaner who comes once a fortnight to help us keep on top of the cleaning (and who is 100% on board with my home detox cleaners… thanks Sue!), our fresh produce and pantry staples are delivered once a week from a small organic business (thanks Anna!), and my boys attended two days a week of care between the ages of 2 and 4 years before they started kindergarten / school (I officially love you Roxby Early Learning staff!).
Being the CEO of your household may involve you managing some external help like a cleaner, chef, ironing person, childcare, buying some healthy ready-made meals or getting your groceries delivered to your home. And that’s totally okay.
It takes a village to raise a child and manage a home, and modern mums need a village too.
Get some help where you need it and step into the CEO role with pride.
You totally have my permission to outsource where you need to.
3. Insource, Insource, INSOURCE!!
Just as you have my permission to outsource, you also have my permission to insource. In fact, I strongly recommend you do!
Insourcing simply means to use the resources you have on hand to get the job done. So obviously, this is your partner and your kids, if you have either or both of course!
An over functioning CEO leads to an under functioning team.
If you’re over functioning and doing all the household jobs, you’re doing a major disservice to yourself, and your kids. Under functioning kids leave home without adequate life skills, and having an under functioning partner can lead to massive resentment and relationship issues.
Young kids are more capable than they’re given credit for. They can wipe down tables, feed chickens, collect eggs, pack dishwashers, take out recyclables, turn off lights, hang out washing, and even cook basic dishes.
It’s not mean to expect your kids to pitch in. It’s smart.
Sure it may take a bit more time initially (and create more mess) but the effort is totally worth it!
As for your partner? It’s their home too. They can be co-CEO. You can be a team. Heck, you need to be a team!
Get in the habit of insourcing and your home will not only become more self-sufficient, your life will be so much more enjoyable.
4. Systems Are Your Friend
Lift the lid on any efficient business and you’ll find efficient systems. The same goes for a self-sufficient home that’s not a nightmare to run!
Household planning systems (they can be as simple as a wall calendar!), a cleaning or housework roster with all of your insourcing team included, or your weekly meal planning system, are all great tools to use to run an efficient, self-sufficient home.
5. If it’s Worth Making, it’s Worth Doubling (or Tripling!)
If systems are your friend, then batching is your bestie.
Now I’m not a fan of rework. While I love cooking, I don’t want to be preparing a separate meal every single night. Instead I cook a big batch of one meal and freeze the extra meals for a night off. Or I have one afternoon a week when I batch cook several meals and stock the fridge and freezer.
This means I end up reheating meals on more nights than most and we have a chest freezer stocked with homemade meals. For us, take away only really happens when we travel… and even then I usually do a smaller batch cook on holiday to see us over a few days.
Environmentally, batching saves energy, creates less waste and reduces the likelihood of packaging-intense takeaway meals. Benefits for you include saving you cash, freeing up your time and improving the health of your family.
Oh and by the way! Batching isn’t just reserved for cooking!
We batch our laundry, shopping (buying in bulk) and even gardening! Just two weekends a year is all it takes to grow a flourishing home organic veggie garden.
6. Free up your time – learning to say no.
Back in last week’s post Where To Start Your Self-Sufficiency Journey I chatted about the importance of reclaiming some time. Reclaimed time is time that you can put towards becoming more self-sufficient and creating a healthier, more sustainable household.
Or it’s time you can divert to you, to ensure you’re a fit CEO of your household. I’m not sure I know anyone who wouldn’t love an extra hour of sleep every night!
Getting organised and becoming more self-sufficient isn’t just about reclaiming time, it’s about reclaiming lost time. And the no.1 strategy for reclaiming your time is learning to say no.
Try it and see how you go!
So, that’s it in a nutshell! Six strategies to create a self-sufficient home that’s not a nightmare.
Start putting one or all of these into place and you’ll not only get all the wins of running a self-sufficient household (more money, less waste, better health), you’ll reclaim some time to divert to your long lost hobbies. Tap dancing anyone? 😉
P.S. A final reminder too that I’ll be deep diving into some of the “hows” around creating a self-sufficient home later today on a FREE, live training event. Specifically, I’ll be sharing how to ditch the supermarket and save time, money and improve your family’s health. You can join me here.
What do you think? Do you have any more strategies to add? Please share below!