Are you the kind of parent that can’t keep up with the amount of toilet paper you rip through?
Do you buy anything you need, and sometimes put the wrong recycling thing in the wrong recycling bin?
Take a deep breath. You need to hear about neo-peasant parenting.
They hunt, ferment and homeschool their kids. They give their children knives to let them work out danger for themselves. And they think more people should make changes to the way they parent and live.
Meg Ulman and Patrick Jones from Daylesford in regional Victoria are neo-peasant parents living off the grid as much as possible.
They also blog, Facebook and Instagram, the computer they use probably hand-woven from dead tree branches and powered by the sun.
Meg talks to Holly and Andrew on This Glorious Mess about how they come by everything they need to survive. Article continues…
So what’s it like raising your kids the old-fashioned way?
“We don’t have a car so if the kids want to get anywhere they have to walk, they have to bike ride or if it’s further take public transport. And because we’re a walking/biking family we try to spend as much time as we can outside.”
Meg says family holidays avoid any sort of air travel. Their most recent holiday was a 14-month bike riding trip from Daylesford to Cape York, stopping to collect edible plants and herbs along the way, some fresh roadkill and spending time with Indigenous communities who taught them all about bush tucker.
And the dogs came with them.
As for life back home, the family live as part of a neo-peasant community who enjoy strong ties, share their produce and embrace everything about the lifestyle. The community also participates in educating the children.
Oldest child Zephyr, 14, was home-schooled and is now at the local high school. Younger son Woody, four, is still being home-schooled, with his parents preferring to use his natural curiosity as a guide to how to teach him about the world.
She says it's not so much about "unschooling" or home-schooling but more about community schooling, with multiple community members participating in the education of the kids in an unstructured way, as well as regular travellers who stop by and stay with the family, sharing knowledge about their lives.
"He's a kid who's interested in learning," Meg says of Woody, saying one of the reasons they took him out of the classroom because his teacher was always having to tell him to sit down.
"And so he's a real hands-on learner. You can't tell him things. He has to figure them out himself. I think that's going to be one of his struggles, having teachers tell you things when he really needs to go out there and experience it."
Listen to the full interview with Meg on This Glorious Mess. Article continues...
The family didn't just stumble across neo-peasant living overnight. Meg says it was a gradual process that began when she and Patrick decided to attempt a more self-sufficient way of living.
Meg says their lifestyle isn't about shunning modern technology but about adapting it to fit into their lifestyle, like their solar-powered washing machine that is filled with water they have heated themselves, caught during the rain. Then the water that washed the clothes is used to water the garden.
"You know, we make our own bread but instead of hand-grinding we've got an electric grain mill. And we do have gas as well so in summer when it's really hot like it is today if we want to have a cup of tea then we can do it with gas."
"But for heating we only have the wood heater."
The kids haven't ever eaten sugar or packaged foods ever, and don't watch TV so aren't influenced by ads. Their clothes come from donations and op-shops with the family following a "no clothing labels" rule, although oldest son Zephyr is already rebelling.
"We're already seeing that [rebellion] with Zephyr. So he's 14 and - we have a no labels, like no branding policy in our house and he's already into the brands and puts them on as soon as he steps out that front door."
Teenage rebellion, neo-peasant style.
Click through these incredible photos of Meg's and Patrick's neo-peasant life, and find more on their Instagram account @artistasfamily.
Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess.
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