The Challenges and Rewards of Raising Farm Kids in a Modern World

The Challenges and Rewards of Raising Farm Kids in a Modern World

We talk a lot about farming through our social media and website since it’s such a big part of the way we live. We feel grateful and privileged to be a part of the farming community and especially a part of the greater Gallagher family farm.  

The Gallagher family has been farming the Traverse City region for over five generations. For over 140 years, they’ve been cultivating the land, growing crops, and raising livestock. It’s a beautiful way of life - full of hard work and commitment. 

Farm life is also simple. And we do our best to practice simplicity in our daily lives, especially in how we raise our children. 

In today’s modern world, parents are constantly combating the lure of screens and technology. Instant gratification has become so prevalent in our society that we don’t have to move much more than a finger to get anything you can imagine. One simple swipe or click on your phone can bring dinner, groceries, clothes, and whatever else you want, in a matter of days or even hours.  

Our family is no different. Sometimes we find ourselves feeling like we are swimming upstream against modern-day conveniences and comfort. 

Being a farmer in a modern world is challenging since farms are anything but instant gratification. And for our kids it can be even more challenging since they’re growing up between the two worlds of modern life and farm life.

Farming is a lifestyle that can feel much different than modern life since it requires 100% commitment, and ping pongs you through periods of tremendous satisfaction followed by periods of frustration and sometimes even despair. 

But between the “feast” and the “famine,” there is a rhythm to farming that brings out the best in us. That reminds us to be grateful for the day and appreciate the wonders of Mother Nature. 

These are lessons we want our children to learn and embrace.

In the modern way of life, many of our kids’ friends and their families are enjoying the wonders and perks of living in Northern Michigan during the summer – going to the beach, boating, and camping, to name a few favorite activities. It’s not that we don’t enjoy these same perks or we don’t enjoy our beautiful region because we do. 

But the farm comes first. 

And therefore, so does the work since the rhythm of our lifestyle mirrors Mother Nature and the work the farm requires. It can be difficult as a child to understand why you must spend your summer tending to a farm while your friends seem to have endless freedom to explore and play. A beautiful Saturday in July typically means we need to work and tend to our responsibilities first thing instead of going to the lake. 

Only when our responsibilities are done can we play or relax. 

It’s a hard lesson to understand when you’re small, but it’s an important lesson that will serve our children as they become adults.

Embracing a lifestyle that is in alignment with Mother Nature can sometimes feel limiting. But we have found it has enhanced the quality of our life. 

Yes, following the seasons may mean we work a lot during the warmer months, but we also get to have more freedom during the colder months. That’s when we are spontaneous and create our own adventures. And we find so much joy in the changes in weather. Our family’s favorite days are when there is a thunderstorm or any other natural event that prevents us from working outside. 

When we are having an “off” day in our home or when attitudes are crabby, our first course of action is to go outside. Going on a golf cart ride to check on the vines or cherry blossoms, hiking Rove Point Trail, weeding the garden, or taking a quick dip in the family pond are a few of the remedies we have found to cure the mental blahs. 

Our kids might resist “working” or being forced to go outside (their words, not ours), but EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. everyone is happier and more peaceful after.  

We have redefined the word “work” within our family culture, and that's an important piece to acknowledge. We actively embrace the sentiment that work is beautiful. It is how we create the life we want to live. 

Why has the word “work” become negative? Why does it create a feeling of punishment in our modern society? 

To work is to live. And it can be beautiful and hard at the same time. 

And it’s not a punishment. It’s an opportunity to dig deep and evolve. The only way to teach this to our children is to live by example. So we actively check ourselves and pay attention to our words and actions surrounding “work.” 

There is simplicity in this lifestyle we share with our children, and in that simplicity, we find peace and fulfillment. 

Having this truth be our family’s compass and showing our children that just because our lifestyle might seem a little unconventional or counter-culture, there is tremendous value in “turning down” the noise and eliminating distractions of modern conveniences.

Have you found ways to shutter the noise of the modern world for your family and children? Please share any tips you have in the comments below!

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