Living "off-grid" isn't exactly in most parents' big dreams about raising a family. After all, most people want secure housing, a steady source of income, and at least somewhere clean to lie their heads.
But people who live off the grid are used to dealing with harsh environments, wild animals, rudimentary living conditions, and lack of housing, and sometimes even food. Of course, it's usually done by choice, but that doesn't mean it's easy.
And when it comes to raising kids? It's even more difficult because there's so much out there that modern parents are wary of. The cool, if not intimidating, thing about off-grid parenting is that it's vastly different from most modern parents' approaches to raising kids.
First, off-grid kids are usually risk takers, whereas the edgiest thing a suburban kid does is skip riding the bus in favor of a concrete footpath to school. In the wild though? Kids are more likely to not attend school at all.
And that's not the only way off-grid parents parent differently. Lots of moms who move out of the big city in search of a simpler life sort of 'downgrade' their parenting, too. Here are 20 parenting styles we'd only see from moms living off the grid.
From pocket knives to hand saws, today's kids are pretty sheltered from even basic tools. Hand them a cell phone, of course, and they can navigate it within seconds. But kids in the bush, or elsewhere off-grid? Their parents hand them these rudimentary and potentially dangerous tools and let them have at it, encouraging kids to figure things out on their own.
The upside is that kids learn to handle potentially harmful tools and become more skilled because of it. The downside is they might get hurt in the process, which isn't exactly ideal when you live in the middle of nowhere.
Sure, baby goats are cute, but that doesn't mean they're built-in playmates for the littlest tykes off the grid. In most wilderness living families, the animals are there as a resource, and that list of resources might just include dinner. Although even the youngest kids are expected to help take care of the family's animals, they're still not pets.
After all, at the end of the day, when the family is hungry, the easiest thing to do is grow their own food. Fruit and vegetables are great, but there's a reason human beings turned to raising livestock, and it's not because they wanted more furry pets around the house.
Although helicopter-free parenting is becoming the next big trend for modern moms and dads, the off-grid parenting philosophy that kids are practically unbreakable is a big departure from the norm. Some off-grid mamas maintain the attitude that most injuries are not worth worrying over, and ouchie prevention isn't exactly a top priority.
After all, most off-grid moms are likely busy handling the homesteading, so there's not much time to follow after little Timmy to be sure he handles his pocketknife properly or applies ice to his bumped elbow. And most of the time, there's probably no first aid to be had. They'll just walk it off, it's fine.
Free range parenting is another trend that's becoming popular, but with off-grid moms, it's basically a way of life. Since most wilderness moms are busy managing the home and potentially smaller kids, older kids sort of get to set off on their own. They might have chores and responsibilities, but they also have plenty of time to get in trouble.
An overall hands-off approach to parenting is one of the ways off-the-grid moms can free up their schedules and their hands. There's only so much one mama can handle, so cutting her older kids loose to wreak whatever havoc they feel appropriate is kind of the only option sometimes.
While most parents are guilty of buying their kids too many junk toys, off-grid parents don't usually have the luxury. If you're living in Alaska, for example, importing anything is extremely expensive, so it's not worth ordering a toy or two for the kids! Plus, most off-grid parents are of the opinion that kids are more than capable of making their own fun.
And of course, most of those parents aren't hovering over their kids and worrying about them. So that means kids are free to entertain themselves, including getting into trouble sometimes. Then again, they'll learn from getting carried down the creek without a paddle., right?
Most parents recognize this already, the fact that kids can make anything into a toy, but off-grid parents live by this motto. Instead of handing their kids toys or giving them ideas to roll with, off-grid parenting can involve a deliberate step backward. But at the same time, living off-grid is usually more of a lifestyle thing than a parenting thing by itself, meaning these parents might be more environmentally conscious.
So instead of throwing stuff away, they might hoard, say, hundreds of toilet paper rolls and let their kids use them as building blocks. Cheap and easy for sure. Good for the kids? Well, the parents think so.
This one is true in big families no matter where they live, but especially in off-grid scenarios where there's less parental supervision, someone has to make sure the toddler doesn't wander off. But if the family includes kids who are all pretty young, it's likely the eldest will be designated the leader, if not the supervisory body, too.
It's kind of sweet that kids learn to look out for each other from a young age. But it's also a little intimidating for most parents to imagine handing the responsibility for a younger sibling over to an eight-year-old, or even younger.
Sure, off-grid parents aren't stocking up on the latest Disney toys or memorabilia. And though parents may provide their off-grid kids with raw materials, what they're really providing them with is creativity. After all, a kid who wants a phone will find a way to make one, even if it's just a whittled piece of wood he can talk into.
The same goes for non-toy objects, too. Kids of off-grid parents have to learn to innovate and find solutions where they didn't think any existed. Parents have to do the same, so this is actually a good lesson to pass on. Of course, using scavenged materials to build a house is a different scenario than suburban parents jerry-rigging the toilet to stop it running...
A lot of modern kids are a bit spoiled in the sense that they expect an allowance for helping out around the house. Off-grid, though? Helping out is not only an expectation, but it's often a necessity. Kids aren't earning cash for doing their chores though.
Instead of payment, they're getting a warm meal, a clean bed to sleep in, and maybe some fresh water to bathe in. It's one of the coolest things about living off-grid but probably also one of the most frustrating, since you have to do everything and nothing is done for you. And is backward as it might seem, it's a good lesson for kids to learn!
Most people who go off-grid downgrade their living quarters. It might be a camper, a yurt, a shack, a tent, or even a tiny home, but there won't be a lot of room to spread out. Kids might sleep two or three to a bunk, mom and dad might have no privacy at all, but everyone will eventually find somewhere to hunker down for the night.
Then again, depending on the weather, it's possible the family may not see each other for the entire day. What's more likely, though, is kids squabbling over the indoor space or fighting for blankets all night. Sounds dreamy, right?
Just like there's no Amazon Prime delivery service off-grid, there are also no Walmarts or other shopping centers. That means if families have more than one child, they're hanging onto every item of clothing their eldest outgrows to keep for the next kid. And while there's nothing wrong with hand-me-downs, plenty of off-grid parents adopt it as the norm.
Sure, your child might be wearing clothes that are 10 or 20 years old already, but isn't that just a testament to how high the quality is of whatever garment they're mucking about in? Besides, toddlers don't know the difference anyway.
Most parents want a comfortable home or apartment to raise their families in. It's one of those big dreams people often have growing up. So to move off-grid, parents have to drop the ideologies they have about family and home and come up with something new.
The cool thing is home doesn't have to be a house. It can be a camper, a yurt, a log cabin, a tiny home, a trailer, a hand-built straw bale or dugout home, or something else entirely. To parents who go off-grid, it's less about what they live in and more about how they live.
Now, let's say little Timmy isn't as careful as he should be with that pocketknife (or his rudimentary hammer or his hand saw...). In that case, there might be a bit of first aid required! But most of the time, first aid kits in the more remote places of the world don't contain individually packaged alcohol sanitizing wipes and bandaids of all shapes and sizes.
Now off-grid, you're lucky if you have some kind of herbal salve to slather on, and mom will probably have to scrounge around for a spare piece of fabric or even a clean cloth diaper (they're burp cloths and all kinds of other handy things, too!) to clean everything up and get Timmy back out and sawing again.
Part of the free-range attitude of some off-grid parents is likely due to the fact that kids who live outside cities where everything is safe and convenient are just more mature. But they're not necessarily born that way. Kids who live off-grid probably don't frolic in the blackberry patch all day as most people believe.
Instead, off-grid kids are helping their moms around the abode, foraging for food, helping care for animals, and even learning how to do laundry and cook the old-fashioned way. All of this requires a certain level of maturity, especially when the household tasks involve water or a stove.
Clearly, there is no fast food out in the wilderness, so these mamas don't have the option to order up a pizza (unless they're on set at Alaskan Bush People, right?). So even the family's food has to be old-fashioned, something that a lot of mamas strive for but can't seem to make happen (thanks, Pizza Hut).
Off-grid, though, either you're grabbing a snack from the garden or you're digging into some freeze-dried provisions that mom and pop have stored up for the winter. There's no running out for a burger or even opening a jar of baby food. But you might wind up with enough homegrown tomatoes to last the winter.
Most suburban parents are wary of germs at the playground and sharing toys, but off-grid parents are more likely to encourage their kids to be licking stuff in the great outdoors. After all, they've got to learn somehow what is safe and tasty and what is not. And what better way to learn that than with their own senses?
Plenty of off-grid moms encourage kids to forage, and hey, it's one less snack they have to prepare! Of course, teaching kids what's safe and how to obtain food without unnecessary risk is a smart thing to do. But overall, off-grid kids are likely encouraged to nibble on what they find in the woods.
When you live in the middle of nowhere and have to pump your water by hand, collect rainwater and siphon it, or trek to a river or lake for reserves, there is just no easy option. So when it comes to the basics like drinking water and cooking (plus washing the dishes), those become the priority.
Which means personal hygiene can fall by the wayside. True, most kids don't need a bath every day, but the off-grid kids who spend their mornings making mud pies and their afternoons mucking goat stalls probably do. The thing is, they probably won't get it.
For women who become moms once they move off-grid, it's likely second nature to keep the new baby close. After all, you recognize that the kiddo is safer with you than crawling around on the ground. And while babywearing has been a mothering practice for eons already, it's much more common to see an off-grid mom wearing her baby than it is to see her pushing a stroller like city folk.
Babywearing might be a novelty for parents in suburbia, but out in the wilderness, it's quite literally a necessity. Even if parents have older kids, keeping the littlest close is a good idea for warmth and safety. The free range stuff comes a few years later!
Obviously, a lot of families who live off-grid also homeschool. And while there's a wide range of homeschooling styles and ideologies, you can be sure that kids in the wilderness aren't sitting at a computer for their lessons. That means the outdoors becomes the classroom, save for maybe a few books at home.
Of course, that doesn't mean everything is all Little House on the Prairie. But in general, off-grid kids are spending more time outdoors learning about the outdoors (or other subjects) and probably not brushing up on their math facts or learning grammar. Parents might run some formal lessons, but it's not a six-hour school day for sure.
Times are changing and Wi-Fi is practically a global amenity these days, but many people who go off-grid do so to spite technology. They often want a simpler way of life and want to get rid of their families' excess. So, of course, that means very little to no technological influence on the family and the children.
Instead of iPhones and laptops, off-grid kids have sticks and rocks. They may not know how to navigate YouTube or sign up for social media, but they probably know a whole lot about the other subjects that directly affect their lives. Basically, it's a tradeoff, and who's to judge but the kid themselves when they reach adulthood.