I did a post on this before nearly two years ago now. Then I had just the two kids and I actually think that I felt like it was more challenging to get my chores done. Go figure. Whether it be continued maturation or better coping skills, I am now in a better place with keeping our tiny homestead going on a daily basis. Yes, my dad sometimes beats me to watering the horse, but other than that, I am pretty on top of things!
First of all, I have changed my mind set a tad. This isn't just my homestead, it's our family homestead and I fully expect my kids to participate as they grow and are able. I'll admit, frequently I shoo them off to play while I focus and 'get'r done', but when my time constraints are a bit more lax, I try to take the time to teach and let them help. This is simple things like letting my three year old daughter scoop her tiny hands full of soil and spread them on a new garden bed, my seven year old collect and count eggs, watering plants or just tagging along while I work. They are sponges at these ages, give them good things to soak up (not their mother's frequent use of a certain word that is interchangeable with 'dung'. Guilty).
But, what about the baby?? Um, well there is something called nap time! I get 1-2 naps out of the little mister. During his morning nap I usually take Mini and Puzzle Boy out with me to play and get fresh air and I get the majority of my garden and barn chores done. Extra projects like weeding a large area, cleaning out the barn, etc. gets done during an afternoon nap where both the baby and three year old are napping. In this case I have my oldest "babysit" for me. Now, I am right outside and I check in frequently, and really all I am requiring of him is while he takes his afternoon down time is to yell out the window when one of his siblings wakes up. When they do, I come right in. This has worked great! He feels important and so big and I get some fairly distraction free time to get my work done. If things need to be done between naps than the stroller or Ergo baby carrier get used. And, Cherrios. Lots of Cherrios!
Another thing that I have started doing is having a 'mother's helper'. Poetically the girl I have help me is the girl who I watched when I was her mother's helper! Isn't that just the cutest? She has been awesome and while I don't have her every week, it helps tremendously when I have something big to do like move the horse's fencing to fresh grass or get all the cleaning that I have ignored forever done.
And, lets be real for a minute. Do you think any of us with young children that homestead get everything done in a day that needs done? The correct answer is... of course not!! I will openly admit that I ignore my housework a lot and then have a nervous break down at the state of things an play catch up. Sometimes I only wash my eggs once a week right before I sell them (which is safe as long as they are dry and at room temperature). And, sometimes, all I do for chores is chuck feed at the chickens and water them and the horse. Yep, I don't even collect the eggs on those days. You know what though? That's ok. I am not perfect and neither is my homestead. Let's give ourselves a pat on the back for getting what we get done regardless. As long as everyone is healthy and cared for, the weeds and dust will be there tomorrow.