As many of you know, Kyle and I found out I was pregnant before we gave up everything to move to Alaska. Starting a homestead from scratch while pregnant was not easy (post here). We didn’t want to try starting from scratch with a toddler though. Luckily for us, our daughter Bellamy is what I would call an easy baby. She slept through the night nearly from day one, doesn’t have many fussy spells and is easy to comfort. That’s not to say life with a newborn baby on the homestead hasn’t been challenging, especially as new parents.
When you homestead with a baby, everything changes. Good luck getting two person projects done in a timely manner! Especially if the project involves anything loud. By the time you don’t feel the need to nap every time they do, baby will be sleeping less. Babies like attention and distraction, so having both Kyle and I out of the house often leads to yelling to figure out where we are and “why aren’t you playing with me right now!?” from Bellamy. And of course I hate leaving her to cry while working on projects, even if they are necessary.
Speaking of getting things done, sometimes baby needs so much time nothing else happens. Sometimes you need time just for yourself so the dishes pile up and the floor doesn’t get swept. Personally, I was hit pretty hard with postpartum anxiety and was almost completely non-functional for a little while. Let me tell you, spending all day stressing everything is not fun, and there is no way to progress on a homestead like that. Thankfully Kyle is understanding and has been amazing at picking up slack, and giving me slack when I need it. Figuring out what I needed from him took a lot of honest communication and airing of frustrations. Luckily we have always had an amazing relationship when it comes to being open about our wants and needs. Having that foundation has made it a lot easier to ask for space, even living in a tiny house!
(read more about living together in small spaces here)
Learning to be new parents while learning to homestead has thrown some real curve balls, especially since it’s winter. I might be okay outside for an hour at 10 in just a jacket but the baby is not! And since we live off road our access isn’t always reliable, like when we were snowed in for a month. It takes us an hour to get from our homestead to the road in good conditions. And in bad conditions it can take over 2 hours. Bellamy doesn’t go to town unless we can bring the truck back because it’s just to cold! That means one of us (cough cough, me) is nearly always stuck at home. We do live close to an oil connex with a helipad in the event of an emergency though, so that is a little bit reassuring.
That said, there are all kinds of things to worry about with a newborn living where emergency services are delayed. A fever after vaccinations, a bump from rolling off the couch, throwing up an entire jar of banana baby food after having it for the first time….. The list goes on and on. Bellamy is our first child, so we get the extra apprehension that comes from not having experience. Then throw in no running water and dogs dragging home bones from dead things. Sometimes I wish we were doing this back in town where things at least feel safer.
Town would also have one other vital thing that living out here doesn’t: a support system. Living off road means it’s hard to come by a baby sitter on short notice. Or a homestead sitter for that matter! If we get stuck in town (it has been known to happen, like here when I wrecked the 4 wheeler) there’s no one to ask to check on our animals. And if we get stuck on the trail (like we did this time, and this time, and this time), there’s no waiting to flag down help or calling AAA. Luckily we have quite a few numbers for cabin owners here, so if we get stuck on the trail we can call for help. And people out here have been nice enough to come help us when we needed it.
On the plus side:
Homesteading with a newborn has given us some opportunities that we otherwise wouldn’t have. While we are both looking for work, having both of us here in the meantime has been important for our developing relationship as parents. Having a baby has changed our dynamic, and spending time together has given us more time to understand those changes. We are also both enjoying Bellamy experiencing firsts. First times with new foods, toys, and exploring things. There is so much wonder in watching a child discover the world, even if a lot of that discovery involves shoving things in her mouth!
We are so excited to watch Bellamy grow, and we hope she loves living out here as she gets older!