Juggling entrepreneurship, marriage, motherhood and home schooling her five children (yes, all five of them!) officially has us wanting to know Dana Sue's secret to balancing the craziness of life. She's the mom behind Creative QT and is our go-to source for creative and innovative ideas to engage kids in play-based learning and she’s the heartbeat behind the mission of Creative QT. Today, we’re talking all things motherhood with Dana Sue!
Tell us what a typical day looks like for you!
I am not sure there is really anything typical about my days, but here goes! My alarm goes off between 5:30-6:00 a.m. I either hop up or hit the snooze so many times that I barely get out of bed before the kids. I workout, read my Bible, and then wake up kiddos at 7 a.m. (on a good day). If I didn’t hit the snooze button too many times, I even get a shower in before getting the kids up! (That’s a REALLY good day.) Owyn gets on the bus at 8 a.m. and the girls start homeschool promptly at 8. We homeschool for the entire morning and usually into the afternoon.
Then, I try to play or read with the two youngest ones, because I feel guilty that most of my attention was not on them for most of the morning. Real life! Usually these two are the mischief makers; constantly into everything they are not supposed to be. And then you see it: cheerios sprawled all over the floor, the smell of freshly painted three-year-old toenails, things dropped in the fish tank that shouldn’t be there, marker for makeup….yes, busy is an understatement.
We rarely eat meals on time... I would love to change this! I dream of being a meal planner, lunch at noon, dinner on the table at 5 ... all balanced meals with vegetables and correct portion sizes. But the truth of the matter is, every day around 4:50 p.m. I realize, they want to eat AGAIN. I just fed them lunch and they want not only dinner, but also after school snacks.
We spend many nights either running to activities such as, Awanas, gymnastics, Bible study, or just hanging out as a family. The kids are in bed by 7:30 or 8 p.m. and that's when Adam and I try to hang out for a while. I would like to say that it is just the two of us, but as anyone that has kids knows ... someone needs their sippy cup filled, someone needs more books, someone is being mean to the other one, etc. So we usually just go to bed, exhausted. I keep telling myself it is only a season of life, right? Exhaustion can’t be a lifestyle! I love my life, it just wears me out in the very best way and I wouldn't have it any other way.
How did you and Adam decide that homes schooling was right for your family?
Well, to borrow a quote from my favorite podcasters, Homeschooling in Real Life, “Every Kid, Every Year.” We honestly are not homeschoolers for life, we may be, but we just don’t know yet. Every year, we discuss and pray about what is best for each child. So for this year, that meant that our six year old went to public school for kindergarten, while our eight and 10 year old were homeschooled. While the kids don’t get full say, they do get to have some input in the decision. It is fun for me to be teaching again, and I love getting to experience that with my girls right now. Although, I do so wish I would have paid attention to American history the first time around!
What is your favorite “Mom Hack” or sanity saving tip?
Hmmm. I am not sure I have an awesome Mom Hack but something I do love are AUDIO BOOKS!!! While our kids get Friday night movie night and Saturday morning cartoons and other occasional movies, we try not to make it a daily activity in our house and attempt to offer as many screen-free activities as possible. So, as an alternative we introduced our children to the wonders of audio books. The kids can listen to their audio books whenever they want and it is just the calm this mama needs in the house when I am trying to get the dinner on the table.
We are able to get quite a few from our local library, but even Youtube will offer them for free. Some of our favorites are The Boxcar Children and any of the classics put out by Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre. (ex. Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) The great thing about Focus on the Family’s productions is that it feels like you are watching a movie. You will hear the klip-klop of the horses feet, the silverware clinking together, there are different actors/actress that play the different parts; they are well worth the investment!
What is your favorite book, blog or resource about motherhood that you think all moms should read?
The only thing I read daily is the Bible. Seriously, I wouldn’t make it through my day without it! I have found it to be the best resource for motherhood, marriage, business ownership, etc. ever. I also recently did Angie Smith’s Bible Study, Seamless, and would highly recommend it!
Did you always want a big family? How did you guys decide that five kids was the perfect number for your family?
Adam likes to respond when people ask this question, “ Well, I wanted three and she wanted five. So we compromised and had five.” And he's absolutely right. I grew up with five kids in my family and I loved every minute of it. I've always said I’d have more if I could ensure that it was a boy. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my girls, but goodness, the DRAMA. Boys definitely seem to be easier so far! I think we are done with our five, but we’ll let you know…
Share your favorite advice for a new Mom.
A friend of mine told me this 10 years ago and I just keep going back to it. “The days are long, but the years are short.” It kind of goes both ways: perspective when it has been a rough day, or just a reminder to soak it all up while we are in the stage of life we're in. I probably revisit this quote at least once a week.
How do you carve out time to recharge with the craziness of five kids, homeschooling and activities?
To restore some sanity, Adam and I have started trading a weeknight out. Which means every other week, as soon as the clock hits 5 p.m. I am out of the house. I don’t have to make/clean up meals, put kids to bed, or anything. I just get to go do whatever I love to do! Usually for me that is sitting at a coffee shop working on my digital scrapbook.
It is one night a week that has allowed Adam and I to each get back to hobbies and things we love doing. For small sanity time outs, I simply lock the bathroom door, turn music up high and shower. So even when a kid does come to the door and request something of me, I can’t even hear them to answer. We’ll take the breaks we can get.
Learning about symmetry is way more fun when you get to play with building bricks, especially our Pixel Bricks™! We are sharing a really fun and hands-on way to learn an early Math concept through an invitation to decorate butterfly wings.
Here are a few of our favorite April Fool's Day prank ideas we've done to our kids over the years. Most of which are last minute ideas (cause that's how we roll)!
Creative QT® co-owner, Adam Hinkle, lovingly refers toPixel Bricks™ as 'LEGO™ glitter' because they do seem to have a way of finding their way all over the floor if not properly stored. The good news is, however, we have loads of simple and affordable ways to store them all in this one blog.