5 Reasons Having Kids in 4-H is Like Childbirth

Sorry it has been a while since I have posted a blog.  The last few weeks have been pretty busy.  Continue reading to see why.  Friday was the last day of the 2015 4-H Fair for our county.  For any of you 4-H parents maybe you can relate when I say that having kids in 4-H is like childbirth.  It’s not very pretty, but worth it in the end.  Here are 5 reasons why…

1.  It sounds like a good idea at the time.  Just like deciding to have a baby, signing your kids up for 4-H sounds like a good idea.  Lots of people do it.  How hard can it be?  “It will be a great experience,” they say.  It teaches responsibility and new skills.

When we started the 4-H adventure five years ago, it seemed like a good idea.  I had been in 4-H a few years and my husband was a 9 year member.  It only seemed natural that our kids would be in 4-H as well.  We signed up for several livestock and non-livestock projects.  It presented itself as a great way to teach responsibility and for our daughters to learn some new skills.  Little did I know that there was way more to it than that.  4-H Fair isn’t just a week in July, it’s a way of life.


2.  No matter how prepared you think you are, you have no idea what you are getting yourself into.  You must learn to expect the unexpected and know that no matter how well you think you have prepared, you are never really prepared for what’s to come.  There’s so much more to it than you could ever imagine.

I had no idea that I was not just signing my child up for a few projects, but was signing away a good portion of our lives.  It was so much more time consuming than I had imagined, not just for my kids, but for me as well.  There were forms on top of forms, papers, log books, registrations, meetings, picture taking, receipt collecting, supply buying, pre-fair judging, and a week off of work to attend all of the shows they were involved in.  It was six months of prep for one week of shows and a whole lot more work than I had planned.


3.  It brings out homicidal tendencies that aren’t usually present.  As in childbirth, anyone and everyone who has a part in the process is fair game for your psychotic behavior.  The desire to hurt anyone in your path is extremely high, including the child and the husband.  Somehow, all rational thinking goes out the window.

Oh how I hate to admit it, but the fair brings out the worst in me.  Keeping track of multiple deadlines, staying on the kids to complete their books, turning in their paperwork, registering online, working with their animals, and packing everything for fair is a daunting task.  Then there is fair week…being at the fair early to feed all the animals, getting ready for shows, staying late to get feeding done, loading and unloading animals, and attending the extra events makes for really long days, even shorter nights, and very short fuses.  Come show day, it’s all I can do not to completely lose it on my children.  I can never find them when it’s time to get ready for the show.  They always seem to forget something they need.  The animals seem to realize it is show day and choose to act up, just for fun.  Emotions run high and my children get the brunt of my stress overload.  At the end of the day, I regret how I acted, but unfortunately it’s too late to undo the mess I made, let alone the impression I made on everyone who witnessed my psychotic breakdowns.  Ugh!!!  You think I would learn!


4.  You have forgotten since the last time just how painful the process is.  Even though in the midst of the process you swear you will never do it again, somehow you forget by the next time around and find yourself in the same predicament all over again.

Every year, in the midst of the 4-H process, I swear that the next year we will not do it again.  I tell the girls they can’t do X,Y, and Z projects because I am tired of having to stay on them to get things done.  They procrastinate every year and there is always last minute running around trying to get things done and turned in on time.  I get beyond frustrated after constant reminding that things need to be done and their broken promises that this year will be different and they will get things done early.  It never happens, but somehow, the next year, registration rolls around and here we are again signing up for multiple projects.  I must be a glutton for punishment!


5.  In the end, you find it was all worth it when you look into the face of your child.  Just as you looked into that newborn baby’s face, you look into the face of your child who just finished well in a 4-H project and know that you would do it all over again just to see that face and feel that pride.  There’s something about the love of a parent for their child that makes all of it worth it.

At then end of the day, when my kids have done their best and they smile with pride at a job well done, I can’t help but be glad that I went through all of that mess, just to see them smile.  I beam with pride at my child, knowing all that went into getting them to that point.  The ribbons and plaques are great, but the, “Thanks Mom!” is the best prize ever!

So when registration rolls around next year, I wonder what we will sign up for?  It’s always an adventure.  Hopefully, I will learn from all the years before and just try to relax and enjoy the ride.  In the end, it’s my kids that matter.  It’s about encouraging them to do their best and supporting them as they work to achieve it.  When my kids are grown and gone, I will look back on these years and I don’t want to look back with regret, but with fond memories.  So if you see me at the fair next year, hopefully I’ll be smiling, if not, tell me to, “Relax and enjoy the ride.”  I may want to knock your head off, but at least it will make me stop and think! 🙂


DISCLAIMER:  Sorry there is no spiritual content to this post.  It was meant to be a humorous look at the life of a fair mom.  No children, animals, or others were hurt during this week at the fair. 🙂