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How To Become A Suburban Homesteader

suburban homesteading

March 17, 2024

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There are countless reasons to strive for self-sufficiency. We could all benefit from a bit more autonomy, especially in our modern lives. But what really gets me excited about homesteading is the way it strengthens my relationship with my kids. And let me tell you, I’m far from being the only one who feels this way. Lately, there’s been a surge in interest in homesteading, and it’s no wonder why. The only issue is that many of us don’t live on what we’d consider a traditional homesteader’s plot. We’re talking about apartments, townhomes, new builds, old small builds, cities, suburbs—basically, everything in between. These environments don’t exactly scream “homesteading,” do they?

Que Brittany Gibson, podcaster, mom and wife who describes herself as a “suburban homesteader / want-to-be homesteader,” working on incorporating all of these things into her modern life. She lives on a quarter acre in the suburbs and is making the most of what she has. 

Listen Below For The Entire Episode On The Systemize Your Life Podcast

Brittany Gibson: Podcaster, Mom, Military Wife and Suburban Homesteader

Brittany’s journey began post-college when she landed a job at a national park, igniting her passion for all things natural. However, when she and her husband struggled to conceive, she delved deeper into eco-friendly practices, transitioning to non-toxic living in hopes of boosting their chances of starting a family naturally. She bid farewell to artificial fragrances, once considering herself a “Bath and Bodyworks crazy lady,” and banished scented plug-ins from her home. By eliminating harmful chemicals from her environment, she found herself pregnant and joyously welcomed a healthy baby boy.

Motherhood propelled Brittany further into the realm of natural living. As a military spouse, she navigated a move from Hawaii to Alabama amidst the chaos of the pandemic, with her newborn in tow. Feeling inspired, Brittany and a friend embarked on a self-imposed Instagram challenge to learn a new homesteading skill each week, from sourdough baking to canning. Yet, the weight of newfound responsibilities soon overwhelmed her, and she grappled with feelings of mom guilt, prompting her to step back.

Amidst her struggles, Brittany questioned the necessity of incorporating homesteading practices into her already hectic life as a mother. Ultimately, she arrived at a liberating realization: in today’s world, moms have the freedom to choose whether to adopt such practices. It’s not a requirement, but rather an option—an empowering notion in the modern age.

Homesteading, One Step At A Time

Repeatedly, Brittany hears variations of the same sentiment: “Oh, I’d love to cultivate my own garden and grow my own food,” or “I’ve been itching to master sourdough!” or “Canning sounds amazing.” These sentiments are always followed by a resounding “BUT…” In response, Brittany suggests a more tailored approach, advising individuals to pinpoint what aligns with their lifestyle rather than attempting to tackle everything at once. It’s far from an all-or-nothing scenario.

As mothers, we’re intimately familiar with the impulse to dive headfirst into endeavors we believe will benefit our children. The beauty of our current era lies in the freedom to pick and choose. Unlike our less fortunate predecessors, who were thrust into homesteading as a way of life, we have the luxury of choice. With the rise of industrialization and mass manufacturing, our food systems have been altered in less-than-desirable ways. Now, our generation is eager to reclaim the lost knowledge of our forebears. We hunger to learn the skills they took for granted—like baking a pie crust from scratch, composting, or caring for animals—skills that have fallen by the wayside in the wake of modernization.

Homesteading For Health

I once battled an autoimmune condition characterized by chronic fatigue, but I managed to reverse it and enter remission by taking charge of what enters my home. From food to cleaning products, I scrutinized every aspect, and now I’m taking it a step further by making conscious swaps wherever possible. For instance, I’ve stopped purchasing probiotics and instead, I ferment a lot of my own food—a shift that brings me immense satisfaction. Now equipped with this skill, I’m eager to explore additional changes. It begs the question: How do we harness all this newfound knowledge and apply it in our lives?

Turn Your Waiting Room Into Your Classroom With Homesteading

Brittany offers sage advice, quoting Jessica Sowards of Roots and Refuge: “turn your waiting room into a classroom.” Whether you’re biding your time until you have your homestead or waiting to actualize your home improvement dreams, there’s no reason to delay learning these skills. By starting now, you’ll alleviate much of the overwhelm later on.

Brittany recognizes the tendency we all have to try and absorb everything at once. If you’re considering starting a garden, she advises focusing on what you use most frequently. Don’t feel obligated to bake countless loaves of sourdough if your family doesn’t consume that much bread. Prioritize getting your everyday life in order before diving into new endeavors. For Brittany, Systemize Your Life was instrumental in helping her organize her affairs, enabling her to take on more responsibilities.

Begin by meal planning and compiling a repertoire of recipes that suit your family’s tastes and needs. Once you have a reliable roster of meals, start exploring gardening by identifying items you frequently purchase at the grocery store. Master growing those vegetables or herbs that dominate your shopping list. Simplify the process by planting what you already use, Brittany advises.

Suburban Homesteading Goals

Gardening has long been on my list of life goals, inspired by my mother’s green thumb. But I’ve hesitated to take the plunge. This reframe of gardening as a means to cultivate items already on my shopping list, it’s brilliant! It’s all about simplicity and enjoyment—whether that means growing cut flowers, Brussels sprouts, or whatever sparks joy for you. Ultimately, it’s about embracing what’s fun and easy. Especially while learning a new skill.

A Homesteading Investment Is A Family Investment

Brittany and I both share the sentiment that as moms, and women in general, investing in ourselves through online courses for pursuits like homesteading can be challenging. Unlike a business course where the return on investment is often clearer, the benefits of such self-improvement endeavors may not always be as immediately apparent.

Just as I’ve addressed in our “Get Your Kids to Help” Series, efforts and investments in homesteading can change the dynamic within your home. It can assist with healthy challenges for your kids and learning opportunities for everyone in your home.

Homesteading And Organic Learning Opportunities

Currently, Brittany’s children are aged 2 and 4, and while they’re not yet whipping up full breakfasts on their own, they take delight in making sourdough English muffins, a staple of their morning routine. She advises starting with discard recipes for sourdough, as they offer more room for error. Additionally, she stresses the importance of mastering a process before involving children, especially younger ones. Brittany actively involves her kids in gardening, recommending it as an excellent starting point for families. Gardening with kids is not only enjoyable but also forgiving—mistakes are part of the learning process, and plants are resilient.

This year, as a military family, Brittany is embarking on her first large-scale gardening endeavor and plans to dedicate a section of it to her children’s own garden. She envisions their garden adorned with pots arranged in a circle, surrounded by trellises supporting climbing plants like cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins.

“My favorite part about homesteading is what it does for my relationship with my kids.”

Rules Of Engagement For Beginner Homesteaders

The guiding principles here boil down to two essential rules: First, prioritize making the experience enjoyable and engaging for your children. Whether it’s gardening, baking, or any other activity, infuse it with elements of fun and excitement to capture their interest and enthusiasm.

Secondly, and perhaps equally crucial, is to ensure that the endeavor doesn’t become a source of stress for you as the parent or caregiver. It’s essential to strike a balance between involving your children in these activities and managing your own expectations and workload. If diving into a complex task like perfecting sourdough feels overwhelming, it might be beneficial to first master the process yourself before inviting your little ones to join in. By alleviating any potential stressors, you can create a more enjoyable and rewarding experience for both you and your children.

Feeling Inspired To Become A Suburban Homesteader?

What truly excites me about homesteading is the ability to create everyday essentials from scratch—whether it’s laundry soap, dish soap, or household cleaners, the possibilities are endless. Witnessing the amount my family consumes only fuels my determination to produce more for ourselves. Growing up, my mom had a washing machine that stood the test of time for 30 or even 40 years, thanks to my dad’s handy repairs. Returning to that ethos of self-reliance and resourcefulness is at the heart of our homesteading journey.

For me, homesteading isn’t just about spending endless hours in the kitchen; it’s about maximizing resources and minimizing waste. By reducing our consumption and finding ways to make things stretch, we’re not only benefiting our budget and the planet but also tapping into our creativity. Contrary to popular belief, these practices aren’t as time-consuming as one might think. Implementing small changes consistently can yield significant results over time.

For those eager to delve deeper into homesteading, you can find Brittany at The Homestead Challenge, where she offers comprehensive resource guides covering various areas of interest, from gardening and herbalism to bath and beauty, kitchen skills, homesteading techniques, and eco-friendly living tips. Her goal is to help you navigate the overwhelming sea of information and take tangible steps towards realizing your homesteading dreams. If you’re into cultivating a thriving garden, fermenting sauerkraut, or crafting your own beauty balms, Brittany is your gal! She’s all about empowering you to embark on your journey, one (baby) beginner step at a time.

Cultivate The Time To Become A Suburban Homesteader

If you’re inspired by Brittany’s story and want to explore the Systemize Your Life program, head over to chelsijo.co/syl for more information. Whether you choose the DIY option or the comprehensive VIP experience, there’s an opportunity for you to enhance your life and create meaningful changes. Your journey awaits! Don’t forget to look into our other blog posts where I highlight meal planning, healthy eating and non-toxic cleaning like What To Include In Your Cleaning Tote When You Don’t Have A House Cleaner, Fast Healthy Dinners – The Top 5 Favorite Meals I Make to Save Time & Have Less Clean Up, or 3 Tips To Put Healthy Meals On The Table For Your Family As Busy Moms.

Thank you for being a part of this conversation. Please share your successes, thoughts and questions with us in the Systemize Your Life Facebook Group.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am so intrigued by suburban homesteading, I don't know where I'd find the time to bake my own bread though…

Systemize Your Life is for you my friend! Just as Brittany mentioned in the episode, you have to have your day-to-day life in order before learning on a new (or many) new skills. Through time blocking, routine stacks, fundamental needs and a host of other tools, we will help you get from overwhelmed to organized in no time flat and you’ll be off to the races with your homesteading projects!

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