When you dream about having a life and home in the countryside, what do you dream of? A home surrounded by lush gardens? A flock of clucking, contented hens? Baskets of fresh eggs, steaming loaves of homemade bread, shelves lined with jars of home preserved food?
I’ve been thinking of you lately, how you pour over homesteading blogs and follow farmer and gardener types on social media.
It’s a wonderful way to keep the fire in your belly alive as you work toward your goal! But I also think it can contribute to unrealistic expectations and even disappointments once you actually get what you want.
And so? I want to give you 4 filters today that will keep you grounded in your dreaming!
4 Filters That Will Help You Stay Grounded
There isn’t any secret. In fact, most of these filters are just plain, common sense. They made a difference when I was dreaming about country life. And I believe they can also set you up for a solid start!
Filter 1: Recognize Social Media Doesn’t Show It All
Unless I miss my guess, I’m thinking your social media feed is filled with pretty pictures of farms, gardens, barnyard creatures, canning jars and the like?
Who doesn’t love pretty pictures of country life?!
As you look, browse and dream, I want you to remember that most people put their best foot forward online! You and I never see the whole picture. Instead, we get the “pretty” 2 (maybe 3) percent of that person’s life. If you don’t have experience to help you interpret these images, the “pretties” will likely lead you to form unrealistic expectations of what country life is actually like!
Think of it this way: if a childless person formed ideas about raising children, based on what you share of your babies via social media, how real to life would their ideals be?
You post images of the smiling, angelic faces. Dirty little feet. Baby “helping” mama in the kitchen. Toddlers picking dandelions. Sibling hugs and kisses.
These moments are a part of your life. And part of the reason you share them is because they’re special and you want to let others in on the precious moments.
Do they depict even one half of the realities that come with raising children? You and I both know the answer to that!
So as you dream and plan about country living, go ahead and enjoy the “pretties.” But do yourself a favor and remember you’re seeing the best of the best, that country life isn’t always so picturesque or ideal!
Filter 2: What You Value May Inhibit Your Dream
“If they can do it, so can I.”
That’s what we often think as we watch others live the life we want. Isn’t it? I believe inspiration is a wonderful thing. And I’m grateful we have so many excellent sources of it in this modern day and age!
But something we often failed to realize is that the people who inspire us may not have the same values we do. As a result, our lives will never actually look like theirs.
You may dream about owning lots of land. But are you willing to live further out of town, where that amount of land is affordable? How do you feeling about being isolated from other people? Limiting the number of events you and your children can be involved in?
Growing your own food is a wonderful thing, but it does take time to tend a large garden! Are you prepared to have less time for your children? For your home?
Having a homestead may be your dream, but if it means your husband goes to work, only to come home to more work, is it worthwhile? Are you and the kids ok with seeing less of him?
Saying yes to one thing usually means saying no to several other things. In your dreaming, always take your priorities into account. Just enjoy the things that don’t fit you and your family, and allow the things that do aline to shape and mold your dreams.
Filter 3: Be Aware That Finances May Hold You Back
When you’re dreaming about country living via other people’s situation and experiences, remember there may be a difference between your financial situation and their financial situation.
Many of the popular homesteaders and farmers you admire aren’t living on average pay. Instead, they’ve created unique sources of income (blogs, courses, essential oils, etc) and work from home. These people aren’t the norm; they’re the exception, which is partly why they’re so popular! Many of them do very well and have 6 figure yearly incomes (shucks, I can think of one who has 7) to support their homestead life and activities.
Don’t believe me? Take some time to do a bit of research on your favorite blogger! All those picturesque farms and homesteads take real money to run!
It’s wonderful what these people have accomplished, that they have money to experiment and blaze the way for those of us who have less.
But you must recognize that unless you also create significant streams of income, you won’t have the finances you need to create a similar lifestyle in the same amount of time.
You won’t be able to buy as much land. It’ll take longer to set up your farm. Keeping livestock may not pay off. And you’ll have to choose between what you want and what you can afford.
I know it’s not pleasant to hear, but it’s the reality that most country folks struggle with. Particularly young couples living on one income!
Filter 4: Understand That This Lifestyle Isn’t Easy
If you didn’t grow up with hard, physical labor, the work load that comes with country living may take you by surprise.
It’s a demanding lifestyle. And contrary to what you may have been led to believe, it’s not an easy one. The gardens, the animals, the fences and the upkeep on the land all take work and effort. What you’re able to take on is often limited by your energy levels and physical capabilities.
And then there’s the fact that you’re working with raw, untamed life. Sometimes you work hard, only to have nature spoil your efforts. In spite of the fact that you make plans thoroughly and thoughtfully, unforeseen circumstance often pull the rug right out from under your feet.
Some days, you’re singing with the birds. Other days, you’re cursing the work load and the rain.
There are as many difficult moments as there are beautiful ones. And actually, it’s the experience of things gone wrong that make you appreciate when they do go right!
Perhaps that’s why people love this life so. It’s real. Raw. And untamed. There’s always risk. And that is what makes the reward so sweet.
A Few Thoughts in Closing
As I close, I want you understand I’m not trying to crush your hopes and dreams by writing this blog post! If you just wanna dream and have no expectation or goal of making country life a reality… go ahead and dream recklessly.
But if you are working toward a move to the countryside, if you do hope to raise country kids one day, if you have decided to start saving for land and a home, I hope this can help ground you on the journey, set you up for success and as few disappointments as possible!
All the best to you and yours,