About two months ago I was at the end of myself and decided to reach out to the folks on the Permies forum which I figured might have a better idea of what I was going through with managing pregnancy and a Permaculture homestead at the same time. This line that I wrote sums it all up quite well: “I really want this homesteading and permaculture thing to work, but just so overwhelmed at the moment with the amount of things to do.” I left the post feeling even more disheartened having everything written out, but it couldn’t have been a better thing for me to do. The amount of support I was given through the kind words of other folks helped me overcome those feelings and move forward with a much more optimistic outlook.
Just recently, with due dates looming and time moving along quickly, some of those feelings decided to come back, so I’ve taken the time to read through the posts’ replies again. Below are responses that really helped me then, and once again now (all quotes belong to their owners, Read the full thread with everyone’s replies on Permies.com by clicking here):
Let go of what you can’t control, and focus on what you can, as well as what you’ve already done, and embrace the wonderful new life you’ve created
The reality is you don’t have to get it all done – especially not ‘right now’
One of my favorite things about permaculture is that it’s not the end of the world if you can’t tend a garden for a year
I would let slide what you can, and focus on what you can do and what brings you peace
The nesting urge you have is normal. It’s okay! It’s also okay that you can’t get it all done. Relax for you and baby, and do what you can. Things can wait. It’s okay.
Try to make as much peace as possible with giving up as much as you possibly can, lower your expectations (then lower them a wee bit more), and focus on your health and your baby
Be kind to yourself, and also enjoy that baby while it’s small. Before you know it you’ll have little feet running along with you in the garden. In that year and a half or two, put your energy toward keeping your livestock alive and maintaining your own health. And don’t let yourself feel bad about it.
Following a promotion, my new boss walked up to me and told me that each day I was to schedule 10 things to accomplish. As he walked away, he turned and said, “and if you accomplish 2 of them, consider yourself successful.”
Letting others help you now will create more joy in your community in the long term. Autonomy is great but we are social beings that need community too. Without any real effort on your part, you could be the center that brings your neighbors together.
Make a list of what needs to be done when to accomplish those bare minimum goals and break it down into one step at a time.
Focus on real needs (people, animals, long term already-installed plans like trees and perennial beds) and THEN focus on optionals like a nice looking eating space and annuals, flowers, whatever.
You do need to take some time out, forget about things for a while and just let your body heal and have a healthy child. Nothing else matters as much. Once you are feeling better, it won’t feel so overwhelming.
An aunt once told me with any kind of big projects, take it a day at a time, or an hour at a time, one room at a time or one section at a time and don’t think about the rest. Grandmother told me to do it like the cat who ate the grinding stone, a lick at the time until it was all gone.
Just take care of yourself first right now and relax. It will get much better and a year from now when your little one is cuddling in your arms you’ll look back and smile at yourself for feeling the way you did.
Just try to focus on getting the home reasonably comfortable. You need to be able to live at a comfortable temperature, in a cosy feeling environment (small is fine), that is dry (no mould) and feels healthy and settled. If you can get that happening before the baby comes it will be a big help.
The thing with permaculture is there are always so many things you can be doing….. and it’s easy to feel like therefore you SHOULD be doing it all. I have to make a big effort to change my thinking so I don’t fall into this trap.
Take heart and take time! You never know, it could end up being a real benefit to take a couple of years observing your place and designing, rather than doing.
A mentor of mine says that she sits in her garden areas, whether they are built or dead or growing, and just breathes. Enjoy your space and the time and a tea, watch the shadows, walk through each area and see if the heat is a little tough on the perennials, or if a resident creature is positive or negative for the yard.
Slow your mind and enjoy this time, because kids grow like weeds and time flies by.
At the end of the day if everyone’s belly is full and they have a warm/cool place to go to sleep then that day was a success in my book.
I’ve had 3 kids and I can tell you from experience, the garden can wait, sweet mama. Give yourself grace. The baby will only be little for the smallest blip of time, plant a whole mess of green manure/living mulch, and let the garden wait for you to give birth and get thru the first year of motherhood. Birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation will take a toll on your body. Heed that and rest and enjoy your little one.
I think being pregnant and overwhelmed are synonymous. I blame the nesting syndrome for that. Do what is most important for that day and don’t feel guilty for leaving things undone. You have a precious life growing inside you who needs you most of all.
If anyone is giving you pressure about how you are doing things, remember that there are verrryyy few people to whom you owe explanations. Find a way that seems comfortable to you of setting boundaries for those who may be pushy, whether it is answering your phone less frequently or gently reminding them, “gosh, pregnancy is such a miracle. I am growing a human in here and I am just going to focus on that for now.”
Just collecting those quotes, and I’m feeling better already. Mr BirdCat, baby, and I have got this, it may be a challenging time, but we’ll make it through. My body may not let me do much at the moment, but I can do little and pace myself and work forward in tiny steps toward my goals, and then once baby is here and down the track as she gets older and we get used to our new life, we’ll be able to work on little things and grow stronger together.
No matter what point in life you’re at, and what you’re going through dear reader, remember to take care of yourself during this season. Even if it is only through tiny steps at a time, you can get through it too 🌿