{ a day in the life of ME }

Today's {a day in the life of ME} guest blog post is by Kristina - she is married to my cousin Blake. They are raising 3 wonderful children (with what appears effortless ease) and have found creative ways for Kristina to stay home with the kids (and did I mention she runs EVERY morning before the crack of dawn for some ME-time)? Welcome Kristina!

On Who I Am- I am a stay at home mother of three. I have been home full time with my three children- Britton 6, Abby 3, and Maycee 1, since Britton was 14 months. At the present time Britton is in school full day, my husband travels 2 weeks out of the month (sometimes more), works from home (in our bedroom) when he doesn't travel, and I run a preschool from our kitchen/living room 2 mornings a week. Sound crazy??

On Our Typical Day-
Life with three children is busy. Our day starts very early, for me at 5:30 am. I haven't always been a morning person, but about a year and a half ago when I couldn't find any time to exercise, I decided to become a morning person. 4 days a week at 5:45 am, I run between 4-7 miles. I am lucky enough to live near two friends who also love to run early in the morning. This makes getting up much easier- when I know someone is waiting on me. We run all year round, which means running in the dark and also means running in the cold. The best thing about making this commitment to run in the morning is that 1) I don't have to worry about finding time to exercise during the day and 2) I come home awake, energized, and happy. From the moment I get home, it is pretty much non-stop. The kids are awake and it is time for breakfast, baths, getting dressed, etc. and getting Britton to the bus stop by 7:50 a.m. I must say that my husband is an active participant in our morning routine. He travels quite a bit for work, so when he is home he is very helpful before he starts his work day. Two days a week I teach preschool from our house. After Britton is off to school, I have an hour to shower, make last minute preparations for preschool and 5 extra 4 year olds arrive at my house at 9 am. On non preschool days, Abby has dance/tap one day and gymnastics on another. Because I am her preschool teacher, I feel like she needs to get some instruction from other adults, so she is in three classes. They are only 5 minutes away and I carpool with a friend to save on the amount of "trips" I have to make. Our mornings are pretty busy with either preschool/or classes, so every afternoon we spend at home. This is time for naps for both the girls and time for ME. I have somewhat of a schedule for myself during this "free time." Mondays (which also include our weekly shopping trip) and Thursdays are cleaning days. These are the days I clean bathrooms, mop, laundry etc. I found that I could clean every day, but I make myself only do it two days during the school week. Sure, we do the dishes and things like that every day, but the deep cleaning is saved for those days. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I use my free time to do the things I like: scrapbook, read, work on unfinished projects, etc. I also use this time to make phone calls for preschool, appointments, calls to family. After naps, I try and play with the girls until Britton is home at 4 p.m… Our nightly routine consists of homework, dinner time (we make a huge effort to sit down together EVERY night for our meal) and then everyone (including all three children) helps with the cleanup of kitchen. Sundays are church/family days. I am so thankful for Sundays!! After we attend church as a family, we make a huge effort to only spend time with family- this means no friends over, no errand running, and no eating out…Only family time. It may seem like we spend enough time together during the week, but Sunday is different. It is more quality time (playing games, watching movies, talking, etc.) Sunday does also give me the opportunity to nap and make homemade dessert. (More reasons I love Sundays!)

This is pretty much our schedule during the week. But, Blake does travel, so throw that in there, or a surprise throw-up fest in the middle of the night, teething, or watching kids for a friend - then the "typical" schedule becomes tweaked.

On Teaching Preschool from Home-
I decided to do this a couple of years ago and finally put it into actions. I have a teaching degree and I figured this was a great way to use it, earn some money, save some money (by not having to send Abby anywhere for preschool), and full fill my need to do something other than being a mom every day. It has worked out great. I hope I can do it for a few years.

On Our Budget-
I have always wanted to stay at home with my kids. After we first had Britton I went back to work part time as a Special Education teacher. After one year of teaching and paying daycare, gas, etc, I decided the little I was making every month wasn' t worth it. So we decided to live off of one income. The hardest thing about living off of one income is the stress it puts on Blake to make all the money to provide for a family of 5. However, he is completely supportive of me being home. I have always tried to do little things to make extra money to take a little stress off of him. I have watched kids part time for working families, sold things on eBay, substitute taught, etc. Now I am teaching preschool. Staying home is a financial sacrifice. But it was important to us. We have learned to live with less and we have always had enough. I am a coupon cutter, sale watcher, I consign most of my kids clothing, shoes, toys, etc. for extra money. I have a garage sale every June. I try to be creative with what we have. We live in an area where it is pretty easy to find fun, FREE things to do with children. We don't have money to have a padded savings account, our summer vacations are to Wyoming, I drive a van with 150,000 miles on it... But again, it was important to US for ME to be home and we have made it work. I realize it doesn't work for everyone. Our plan is for me to go back to work when Maycee is in school full time. Then we will hopefully have more money to save, travel, etc…

On getting time for ME-
As any mom knows, it is important for all of us to get time away from the house, away from the kids. Sometimes this means a trip to the store alone, dinner with friends, or a date with Blake. I make time every week for ME time. Blake and I go on a date every month. This isn't always easy to plan- but we do it because WE need it!

On things I have learned as a MOM-
Shortly after becoming a mom, I realized that there were things that I was really good at, and then things that were more of a weakness for me. I made the decision early on that the best things I could do for my family were be really good at my strengths, and while not dwelling on my weaknesses, try to become better and/or learn more. I try very hard to live in the moment and realize that what I have is such a huge blessing. It is easy to look around and see that really, things could be much worse. I try to not dwell on what I am not, but what I am. I have also learned as a mom that I have to be flexible. What our family struggles with this month is different than what we struggled with last month. Our kids are changing and as a result our strategies on how we teach and deal with them must be evaluated constantly. I try really hard not to wish away this precious time when my kids are little. It is so hard sometimes to be a mother of three little ones, but I know that there will be a time when I long for the days when they were young. I have also learned that when I put my mind to it, a really can do anything. Two years ago, I never would have thought I would get up 4 days a week and run in the dark. I also would have never thought I could "handle" a husband who travels. But I have learned that through determination, optimism, and lots of prayers, I can handle a lot more than I thought I could.

Blake and I both realize that we aren't perfect parents. We have made lots of mistakes that we look back on and say, "Wow, we probably could have handled that better." But we can say we are doing the best we know how. We are truly proud of the family we have created together. We rely on our faith that our life on earth has a purpose, to be the best we can possibly be, to give service to others and to build an eternal family. This is what makes US truly happy.


debbiem said...

Great post Kristina! It is great that you've been able to be home with your kids and figure out a way to make $$ too!

LobotoME said...

Thanks for guest blogging Kristina! Your days sound full of love & laughter & quality family time...just the way they should be!

xo, jenny