One of the key issues of conflict in multi-generational farm families is the farm house, the Grand Central Station of many farm operations. I have seen many different scenarios around this issue and have some tips on getting ready to move.
WHY IS LETTING GO SO HARD?
The reason that many 60-something folks can’t move from the farm home is because they haven’t moved in 40 years, and just don’t know where to start. I think the key of letting go of the farm home is creating something exciting to move toward. I also realize that some young couples choose not to live on the main yard to keep their farm life separate from their family life. One family I know lives at the lake year round, and the parents are happy to stay put on the home place.
DO A TRIAL RUN OF LIVINGSOMEWHERE ELSE
Test out living in a new location. Rent a home in town to try it out, or vacation away for a few months to learn how little stuff you really need. De-clutter this winter. It might take you two years to get ready to move!
Embrace your garbage bag. Get a marker, tape, and garbage bags so that you can start letting go of stuff.
De-clutter.com and the flylady.net websites will get you started. My sister and I started clearing out my father’s attic last year. He made many trips to the burn barrel and the dump. I had a load of things to give to others at the local thrift store.
The purpose of getting rid of stuff is to help you feel lighter and ready to move towards the next residence. You also have time to process what is really important to you in your new roles as grandparents, the hired hand, or a semiretired farm manager. Letting go of your farm home may take a few years, so get started.
MAKE THE DECISION
If you know you’ll be moving out at some point, make the hard decision and just do it. It is a conscious choice to take on something new. It is so important to think about what it was like for you as a newly married couple starting out on the farm. The physical act of taking out bags of stuff and creating more order in your life will give you energy to make new decisions.
In coaching terms, you need to let go of things and expectations, take on new learning, hold on to what is important to you, and move on with the things you can’t change or have no control over.
I know that many farm couples are stuck because the whole process of moving just seems to be too overwhelming. You really need to take the first step and keep going.
LET GO, TAKE ON, HOLD ON,AND MOVE ON
Be gracious about the need for the younger generation to have access to the main yard to raise their family and work together as a strong farm couple team. A farming son once told me a very poignant story. “Elaine , I want my wife to be holding the flashlight while I load the auger, not my mother. My wife and I need to learn to work as a farm team. Mom and Dad need to leave the main yard. It is time.”
Talk about what a good day looks like to you on the farm yard, and enjoy the new and creative things the next generation does to the farm house.
I know how hard this is for everyone. We lived in our parent’s home for 11 years before we got the title, and before any major renovations were done. When we painted the house blue in 1991, my father-in-law was very disappointed, but he survived. And the house is long since another colour.
We are now at a new stage. In 10 years we may be living in a condo in town, and coming to the farm to do yard work and odd jobs. Any renovations now might be better left to our son if he chooses to farm and live on the yard. I am still in the process of helping my father downsize his abode, as his needs are changing, and he may have to move for health reasons.
A client relayed that he has gone from “telling” to “asking.” He will always be the parent, but the roles are shifting. He is letting go of management decisions, and the right to be the final decision maker. Life is a journey of letting go, and moving on.
What things can you do this winter to start embracing the idea that someday you may have to move off the main yard and let the next generation have the fun of sitting in the middle of the action?
I enlist the help of my daughter who loves to use a labeller and is a natural organizer. I also ask for help to haul things to the dump, and I am considering booking my own personal dumpster for a week to really focus on a family purge. We will all chuck things out.
Do you need to have all that evidence junk around you? Those trophies from high school, the text books from college that you never open, and those magazines that are older than three months? Grainews clippings, OK, file them or scrapbook them. But really, some old magazines are best used for fire starter.
Find out how great it feels to simplify your surroundings, and explore the place you might like to live next. Try it out. You don’t have to tell the neighbours what you are up to, but please take your spouse with you!
Elaine Froese is a catalyst for courageous conversations as a farm family business coach. Share your thoughts atwww.elainefroese.comor call 1-866-848-8311 to book her for your association’s AGM. A book can change your life…order “Planting the Seed of Hope” and “Who wants the farm…and when?” on Elaine’s website.