As a working mother of two boys who is married to a farmer with an 80-plus-hour-a-week job, I am instantly drawn to the articles or Ted Talks that promises to deliver the secrete to work-life balance. I’m always searching for it, wondering if I’ve made it and then, sadly, realizing I may never find it.
For me, work-life balance is taking advantage of the slow days to run errands with the boys and putting the laptop away a few hours early for an afternoon of fun. But work-life balance takes on a whole new meaning on the farm. Farming isn’t a job, it’s a way of life. For may families, it’s a tradition passed down through three, four or even five generations. The type of work isn’t 9-5 and if you have animals, the work doesn’t stop for the weekend.
This week is spring break for my boys but we’re not headed to an exotic island or snowy mountain resort. Instead, my boys started their Monday helping their dad tag new baby calves. They spent the morning ridding around in the Gator, learning a little more about raising calves and caring for animals and, the most important piece, getting some quality time with their dad.
It’s not always possible to let the boys tag along with my husband or father-in-law but on the days it is, I almost always try to make it happen. I’m not the mean mom who wants to make a 5 year old work, instead I see these as unique opportunities to begin teaching valuable lessons and skills that I hope my boys will someday use on our farm, and sit side-by-side with their dad, who can’t always be home for dinner or catch the Saturday morning basketball practice.
My husband has so many stories of life lessons learned while squeezed into the middle seat of the farm truck or riding down the highway with his grandpa hauling cattle. In farming, time together doesn’t always mirror what the books tell us it should be. But I’m a firm believer that anytime with the kids- be it driving to a meeting or eating supper on the bed of a pickup during harvest, is well spent.