Kimberly has been homeschooling her four beautiful daughters since 2008. She loves to organize and find awesome tools to help make life simpler for others. Get 100’s of Tips on Organizing your Homeschool, Family and Business on her website at http://OrganizedHomeschool.com
Here is the conversation we had over e-mail in the “fringe” hours of our days:
I’m so glad to be able to introduce you to my readers. Tell us a little bit more about you and your family.
I married my high school sweetheart 22 years ago and we have four beautiful daughters ages 14 down to 1 years old. Before our first daughter was born I worked full time as a Controller of Finance for a large company and travelled extensively. When my daughter was born, I wanted to be with her ALL the time so I decided to start my own CPA Accounting firm and was able to have somewhat of a flexible schedule. So I basically have always worked either full-time or part-time while having small children, but when my oldest was finishing up her private Kindergarten program we took in small foster children in addition to my 2 biological daughters and life became very hectic. I decided at that time to scale back my accounting practice and only keep a few clients while homeschooling my oldest for her first grade year. I absolutely LOVE the flexibility homeschooling provides so here we are 8 years later with a high schooler, middle schooler, Kindergartener and toddler.
I was able to focus mainly on homeschooling for most of the past 8 years until March of 2015 when the oil prices plummeted and my husband found himself out of work. We had just built our dream home on 14 acres of land 3 months prior to that and now we were looking at no income at all. I had started blogging a few months before the layoff just as a hobby and soon realized it could be a source of income for us, but it takes time.
My husband has always wanted to own a business and be self-employed but really never knew what business to start. A close friend of ours from church was actually dabbling part time selling on Amazon and he asked if we wanted to learn how and we said YES! We bought the Proven Amazon Course, learned all we could, and here we are a year later making a full time income selling on Ebay, Amazon, our online store at http://shopkbinnovations.com and also by blogging.
We really have enjoyed running a family business and being at home with our children. Our oldest daughters make extra money by helping prep our shipments and also help me with the blog graphics and some writing as well.
Not many families have even one parent working from home, let alone two. What does a typical day look like with Mom and Dad both working from home?
Well it hasn’t been easy. We have tried many different routines and schedules to see what works best. We really have to be flexible each week and just determine what is going on in our lives in each season and adjust.
For instance, right now our second oldest daughter made the competition dance team for next year. She is in the middle of mandatory dance workshops all summer long each day of the week for 6 hours a day. We live one hour outside of town so that is a 2 hour round trip drive each day for dance. So depending on what we each are working on that day, and if it can be done away from home, that person will take her to dance and go to the library and work or my husband likes to go to our church and use the quiet offices there to get work done while waiting for dance to finish.
We also have our 2 youngest daughters in a Mother’s Day Out program on Monday and Thursday. It is a good friend of ours from church who runs it out of her home so the little ones get to do crafts and play with others their age during that time while we both can get work done.
We also utilize early mornings and several late nights when the children are asleep to get work done.
Each Sunday night we come together and look at the week ahead and adapt our working hours around appointments and activities that are taking place.
You have high school students nearing graduation and a few preschoolers. How do you manage to homeschool such a wide age gap?
I am very thankful that God led me to teach my oldest 2 daughters early on to be independent learners. After about the 3rd grade, I started handing them a planner each Monday morning with their schedule of what to do and let them work through the day’s work and check them off as they finished the tasks. Of course if there was a new concept that I needed to teach, I would explain it to them first.
At this point with my 9th grader and 7th grader, I don’t even schedule out their work each week. At the beginning of the year, I pick the curriculum we are using and figure out how many lessons they should be doing roughly each day to finish the course by the end of the year and let them know how many lessons or pages to read each day.
We also tried something new last January and kept it going through May. We focused on only one subject per month for 3 hours each day PLUS one hour of math each day. They actually finished most of their courses within that month and felt so happy that they didn’t have to touch a science or history book for a few more months. I also saw that their grades improved as well since they were intently focused on that subject. It also helped me on the grading. I only had to grade one subject at a time!
My oldest daughter has just started the Dual Credit at Home program so she is working on studying 2 subjects at time in six week increments and then will take the CLEP test for that subject to earn college and high school credit at the same time. This is our plan for next year with her schooling.
As for my soon-to-be Kindergartener and toddler, I haven’t done any formal schooling yet. My 4 year old periodically want to “do school” so we use a few workbooks I bought for her age. We also learn through everyday life what sound letters make when playing with toys, such as “Doll starts with the letter D” and make the sound. She also learns through crafts and board games played at home and at her daycare.
How would you describe your homeschooling style?
My style is definitely eclectic but orderly. I don’t use a boxed curriculum. We have tried several different curriculums throughout the years and liked some and disliked others. I tailor it mostly to each child’s learning style. Some like textbooks and other children like a more hands on approach. Right now a big driving factor of which curriculum I use depends on how much teacher preparation is involved. Since working full-time is a must in this season of life, I choose curriculum that doesn’t take a lot of planning and grading time on my part.
What would you tell a mom that was interested in starting her own blog or Amazon business?
Do it! If you love to learn and need that fulfillment, then do that for yourself. We pour out so much energy and time on our family, and we must, but we need to do things for us as well. I feel like a part of me dies if I don’t have my “own thing” or goals that I am working towards. It is so rewarding when someone reads my blog and comments, or I sell products on Amazon that helps my family income.
I would also advise moms who want to work to be realistic and always keep your priorities in check. God first, then marriage, children, and then work will fall into place. Without this order, you will be working in your own strength and will burn out quickly. God gives us enough time to complete the tasks he has given us each day.
You have probably heard the “how do you do it all?” question more times than you can count. While we all realize that no one mom can “do it all” nor always perform perfectly, what are some things that help you juggle your responsibilities?
No one can do it all. I really had a hard time with the Proverbs 31 woman for years because I felt like I was struggling trying to do it all and she seemed to accomplish that. I did a study one year though that shed new light on it for me. All of these things might be “good”, but that doesn’t mean you do it all in one day or even one year. You have to have a lifetime perspective.
Also the elusive work/life balance that we read so much about can be obtained in different ways. It looks different for each of us. I love how Crystal Paine at The Money Saving Mom blog stated it once. She said she might put in a lot of hours in her business one week to get a big project done and not have time to clean the house or cook healthy meals, but the next week when she is finished, she can focus on her housekeeping duties. It is balancing your time by weeks and months sometimes instead of every day.
What do you struggle with most as a mom, teacher and business owner?
I honestly really struggled with the culture of homeschooling that we hear so often that says our children belong at home, we are the best teachers for them, and moms need to sacrifice “me-time” and take care of the children in this season. I really bought into that for many years and thought that is how God intended it. I wasn’t judging others who worked or put their children in public school, I still don’t. But I really put a lot of pressure on myself for some reason about adhering to this strict philosophy that only I can teach my children and that my needs have to take a back seat.
Recently, I spent a lot of time in prayer and searching scriptures to put this “Mommy War” inside my heart and head to rest and actually wrote a blog post about it on my blog. My conclusion was that as long as my priorities are in order: God, Marriage, Children, Work/Others, then I am operating in His Will and I can freely pursue my dreams and passions of running a successful business and homeschooling at the same time.