Honest Mom Series – Feature #4, Kristina

Welcome to the fourth feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to read the previous interview.

Our next mom is 31 year old Kristina, wife to Bruce and mom to 3: Big Brother, T (6), Little Sis, A (almost 3), and Baby Brother Z (1). I’ve always respected that Bruce & Kristina have such confidence in the decisions they make, doing whatever is best for their family. Kristina is a very sweet friend, super creative lady, and a homeschooling SAHM.

A little about her:
Kristina is very enthusiastic about peanut butter – and ice cream. Even better? Peanut butter IN ice cream! She’s always had the travel bug, studying abroad in England and Scotland, where she’d love to return for its beauty. She would also love to go to Greece, where her grandparents are from.

When asked about her parenting style, she says she keeps these words in mind: “Love, nurture, and enjoy.” She depends on God and her own experiences, trying her best by relying on convictions from the Holy Spirit to continue or change her ways. She admits that doesn’t always happen: “A lot of times my parenting style and choices are a reflection of how I was brought up – which are sometimes good, and other times bad. I have read a few parenting books, most of which are about “Hot Topics” that have either convicted me to change my thoughts on a subject or confirm that what I am choosing for my family is right.”

Can you describe a typical day at your house? My oldest son is the early bird and typically wakes up between 6-7 A.M. and will play in his room until someone else is up. If his little sis wakes up next, he typically will play with her and/or his baby brother. I am so NOT a morning person… so it takes me a while to want to get out of bed! Once I do, we head downstairs and I make breakfast and the kiddos watch some T.V.—usually Curious George and Cat in the Hat. Afterwards, we will either do downstairs to do some school stuff, play, or head up-stairs to get ready for the day. Lunch is anywhere between 12-1 P.M, depending on what we are doing that morning. After lunch, Little Sis takes a nap and/or has quiet time for a minimum of an hour. Big Brother and I will then do some more school stuff. Afterwards, he has some play time and I get on the computer to blog, check email, etc. Around 4:30ish, I’ll start figuring out what is for dinner. After dinner, we play some more, watch some t.v. and kiddos get to bed around 9. The bedtime routine is more go-with-the-flow, because I’m still nursing our little one. Typically I read a couple of books to Big Brother, lay with him for 10 minutes, then go to Little sis’ room and read a couple to her. More often than not, I lay with her until she falls asleep. However, if I’m busy with Baby Brother, Daddy takes over reading duties! Every day is a little different, but we pretty much stick to that schedule, adjusting for everyone’s moods, weather, or special plans.

You’re a Homeschooling mama! What would you like to say to other homeschooling moms? Oh wow, this is kind of a loaded question! We’ve been homeschooling from the get go, meaning that when Big Brother was around 3ish, I started to involve more learning activities in our day. We then continued on using a literature-based curriculum for his 4K and 5K year.  And now here we are in his 1st Grade year! I still feel like such a “newbie,” however I would encourage a homeschooling mom by telling her to remember it is a journey.  Do not focus on what others are doing and/or learning—You know your children best and know their needs and what works best.  It is so easy to think of all they eventually need to know, but take it day by day.  I would encourage her that yes, the days may seem long, it may feel like your child will never learn his/her math facts, remember simple spelling rules, how to form his/her letters, etc… but when frustration strikes, step back and know they WILL learn it eventually.  And it truly is a beautiful thing to get to experience that with your child.  With Big Brother, I really feel like I made many mistakes pushing him and being hard on him by expecting too much; I suppose it happens with the first.  In this journey, I just would want them to know that YOU are indeed capable and able to teach your child what he/she needs and wants to know.  There are so many great resources out there to help you along the way—you are not alone.
Oh, and give your kiddos and you plenty of GRACE!  It isn’t always easy (isn’t that parenthood in general?!), but remember tomorrow is another day.

What is the best part about homeschooling? There are so many great things about homeschooling: being able to spend time together is huge; these moments go by so fast and I love that we are together everyday, learning and playing side by side.  I believe that homeschooling is a lifestyle and it allows us to follow the lead of my children by getting to learn what they are most interested in at the moment.  Another one is getting to experience new things together!  When learning about “amorphous solids” (aka Oobleck), Little Sis and Little Brother were able to have some messy fun, too!  It is a family affair. : )

What is your least favorite part about homeschooling? Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all sunshine and roses.  Many days I am just flat out exhausted by mid-morning! 😉 There have been many times that my son and I have butt heads and we’ve been “in the trenches” trying to get things done.  However, I think most of that stems from my unrealistic expectations. Bad attitudes and resistance to doing anything school related come and go, but that is when it is time to step back and evaluate what you are doing and why. Also, when starting your homeschooling journey, I believe there is a great deal of pressure to make sure your child is learning like his/her peers and homeschooling starts looking like “school at home.”  Playing the comparison game is a sure-fire way to kill your child’s curiosity and love of learning.  It makes homeschooling a “chore” and school time is thus fun for no one.
But then this circles back to one of the great things about homeschooling: you are on your own child’s learning schedule; homeschooling allows you the freedom to go at the pace set by your child.

I love that you turned that back into a positive! What are your suggestions to get started homeschooling? First I’d like to encourage you that if you have any sort of inkling that this is something that would suit your family, I say pray and “Just Do It.”  Some people have no desire to homeschool, but some do and it honestly saddens me when they talk themselves out of it by saying, “ I just can’t teach my child….  Or I could never do it.”  Mama- you ARE fully capable of teaching and leading your child!!
So once the decision has been made, I would check out what your State Requirements are—each State is different; some are very lax and some are very rigid, so it is very important to know.  You can check out https://www.hslda.org/laws/.
There are many ways to homeschool; another idea is to figure out your child’s learning style and YOURS!  There are many schools of thought on how to homeschool your child—Unschooling, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Eclectic, etc.  Check your local library for books and it’ll explain the different philosophies in greater detail or search the web.  You will truly be amazed at how many resources are out there to help you!
Once you have an idea, next you’ll need to find a curriculum.  They can be boxed- meaning every subject is lined out and provided for you or you may choose to pick and choose products from different companies.  Just remember to find what works for YOUR family. Research if there is a curriculum fair in your state and if so, attend one.
If possible, find other homeschooling mamas that have been there & done that—whether that is through a local Co-op, homeschooling group, homeschooling bloggers, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  We are all on this journey together!

What do you think is the biggest challenge involved with homeschooling? I think the biggest challenge in general, in ALL areas of motherhood, seems to be this ‘you vs. us’ mentality; it’s sometimes referred to as the “Mommy Wars.”  It just seems like there is always something or someone telling us we are doing it wrong: that we should be homeschooling or not, breastfeeding or not, vaccinating/not-vaccinating, eating this and not that. I think we all should just agree to disagree instead of mocking each other’s choices and telling them they are wrong. In the end we should be doing what is best for our children – and what is best for mine may not be the best for yours. Our children, our experiences, strengths and weaknesses are all different, so who am I to judge your choices?

Well said. That is part of the reason I chose to do this series in the first place!

Other than mother and teacher, are you also homemaker? Are you responsible for the housework as well? Yes, I guess. I do the cooking, cleaning, etc. Hubby deals with making the money and with the stuff outside and whatever maintenance inside. However, he is great at helping out if I need it!

How about the kids – do they do chores? Yes, but not consistently. The kiddos are very helpful- most of the time, and will help if I ask them. Big Brother is much more inclined to help if there is a reward or it is made into a game. Little Sis is a typical toddler—may help, may not help… you just never know! 

How do you discipline them? First they are given a warning. If they repeat the behavior they get time out or something taken away. Sometimes it works. Big brother can get quite sassy sometimes, so daddy usually has to have “a talk” with him. Sometimes they are effective. Sometimes, no. We just have to make sure they know that kind of behavior is NOT acceptable.

What are your nutritional guidelines? The kiddos LOVE fruits, so we’ve got that covered. Big Brother eats most veggies—it wasn’t always like that though! Little Sis is adventurous and will try new things more than the boys, but her tastes change daily! Little Brother still nurses several times a day, so I know he’s eating well. Otherwise, I try and make three meals a day from scratch. I try to stay away from boxed foods- but it doesn’t always happen, and I refuse to beat myself up over that. We don’t buy many snack type foods as they never last more than a few days and well, they just aren’t good for you anyway! I’ve taken to the phrase, “everything in moderation.”  

What about you? Do you ever get time to yourself with all you’re doing? I’m definitely an introvert and NEED time to myself! Although with a house full it doesn’t happen much. Yeah, a bathroom break involves one or more of the kiddos opening and closing the bathroom door and/or getting into the cupboards, toilet paper, or something they are NOT supposed to. This is also the time when everything -i.e. good behavior- seems to unravel and chaos breaks loose. Thus, I probably end up spending too much time in the bathroom! Ha! I will also venture to the store childless or with one… so much different and EASIER with one. Geesh! That’s always a good time!

Do you have hobbies to help you focus your energy? In the summertime, I work in the garden. I like to craft for myself and with the kiddos. I browse Pinterest a lot. And I blog, which started out more of a family blog detailing our homeschooling activities with my oldest, but it has grown into crafts and other learning activities too. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book, and while that still has yet to pass, I enjoy blogging for now. I just shared my 300th blog post not too long ago! It’s so crazy to think I’ve had 300 things to share!

I’ve seen your blog. There’s a lot of content and it looks so professional! How do you find the time to do it, what with everything else you do? I probably get a bit obsessed (okay, it’s not probably– I do. ha!) and stay on the computer a bit too long during the day. Sometimes I do it in the mornings while the kiddos play after breakfast.  Sometimes it is after Big Brother and I finish school work and he plays while Little Sis is still napping and/or having quiet time.  Sometimes it is after dinner when we are all just hanging out.  Sometimes it is when the kiddos go to bed and I stay up a little too late.  Most days it is a mix of all of those. And of course it’s always right when I’m about finished that the kiddos have gone wild! But it’s something I enjoy and is “my time” and a way for me to beat cabin fever!  As for the kiddos beating cabin fever we try to take advantage of our Rec Center activities, do field trips, or crafts.  And sometimes it means putting on a show and/or movie!

Tell us about your struggles and challenges as a mom. Time management is my biggest struggle, mostly due to our go-with-the flow, loose daily schedule. Seems like there is so much to do, that I want to do, need to do, that just doesn’t happen. Patience is another one… yep, it wears thin some days! And some days I didn’t get the memo that I need a lot of it! I need to improve at being quick to LISTEN; it’s real easy for me to see or hear something I do not like and put an end to it without getting the full story.

What is your greatest fear as a mom? That I am doing it all wrong!

What are some of your proudest moments? As I sit thinking about it, so many things make me happy and proud. That my children are happy and healthy; that they are great friends and loving playing together… to my son’s 1st goal in soccer or when Little Sis loves on her baby brother.

What is your greatest hope for your kids?  I hope for success in all areas of their life; that wherever they go and whatever they do they know God loves them and wants them to be happy and prosperous. To know they can dream big and to pursue those dreams. To know they are loved and special.

You can read more about Kristina, get ideas for kid-friendly educational crafts, and their adventures in Homeschooling at School Time Snippets.