Living on a farm is pretty amazing, but I put a call out to my lovely Instagram friends the other day, asking if they had any questions about rural and regional life, and I received a few really great questions. Kelly from Be a Fun Mum asked me about how we foster opportunities for kids with what are sometimes limited resources, which is so relevant to our current life that I couldn’t help but jump on here and answer!
While rural life can offer some pretty big bonuses, it can also have some huge drawbacks, and one of them is definitely the opportunities our kids have. So many kids are heading to boarding school and leaving our communities, because their parents want them to have the chance to play what ever sport they want, take up hobbies and join clubs that they often do not have the chance to take up in small regional and rural towns.
I know I sit and talk to my friends around the area and we often talk about how much we would love our kids to learn music, or a language- which is simply not something or tiny school can offer at the moment, and there aren’t many (or any) options for out of school tutoring in that regard either sadly.
But it’s not all bad news- my kids can walk through their school and know every kids name, they play together at lunch time with 11 year olds and even the older kids that have left for high school are loved and remembered in a way I never had in my larger regional schools.
In rural areas we take up every opportunity we possibly can. We petition our government bodies for swimming lessons and are eternally grateful that they provide these in the Christmas holidays, for a ridiculously cheap price too. We ask the coaches of our kids Saturday sports to come out- and they will often oblige. We use the skills we have in town and make the best of what we have- and often the best is actually the best, so we know we are pretty lucky.
We also work out butts off to provide as many chances are we can to our kids- we take up roles in the few sporting clubs there are around, so that the team can keep going for another few years. We drive in to town for weekend sports (which costs a bomb when you add fuel, car costs and the expenses of a day away from home), so that our kids can take part in hobbies or lessons that aren’t available in our tiny town. And we campaign for and support any sport that does make it’s way to our doorsteps- like the tennis lessons starting this week.
We definitely pick up a lot of the slack ourselves- we try to take time to teach them things, or give them the chance to learn things from us that they might otherwise have the chance to learn in a more formal lesson, but I know my family is lucky, we can take our kids into lessons like dancing, gymnastics and cricket on a Saturday because we live close enough to a regional centre for it to be affordable and ‘doable’.
I hope our kids don’t feel like they are missing out, though sometimes I feel like they are. Max asked me yesterday if he could take up martial arts (he already does 3 sports) and I told him I couldn’t take him into town on a school night, but he could do whichever sports he wanted when he went to boarding school for high school (only 5 years away!). In some ways rural kids will miss out on some opportunities, but I firmly believe that the things they get to experience greatly outweigh the things they miss out on, I believe they are among the privileged few that get to live on a farm in rural Australia, and that is a gift they will have for life.