11 Questions with… Bonnie Way. @KoalaMomBlog #bdk11Qs
06 Jul 2020
Welcome to “11 Questions with…”. This edition’s guest is Bonnie Way.
11 Questions with… Bonnie Way
1. Elevator pitch… tell us about yourself.
Hi! My name is Bonnie Way and I’m a stay-at-home mom with five children ages 11 to 1. I’m a homeschool graduate and currently homeschool my oldest three daughters. I have two degrees (in English and Writing) and worked as an editor before becoming a mom. When I’m not homeschooling or doing housework, I blog about parenting, travel and entertainment as the Koala Mom.
2. Your spouse… tell us about him.
My husband and I have been married for twelve years this spring. We met in the first week of university and got married just after we graduated. We both grew up in Alberta but came to BC to pursue further education (third degree for him, second for me) and we’ve been here for eight years now. We enjoy live theatre, playing board games, and building Ikea furniture.
3. Your kids… tell us about them.
Sunshine just turned 11 and enjoys crocheting, cooking and baking, and reading long novels. She’s my social butterfly who loves singing and performing.
Lily is almost 9 and likes doodling and writing. She’s always enjoyed running and started playing rugby this year with a community team. She’s great at telling stories for her younger sisters and making up games for them to play.
Jade just turned 6 and plays the middle child well; she’s either the little sister who needs help or the big sister (when Sunshine and Lily aren’t around) helping her younger siblings. She loves downhill skiing (this is her second year) and math.
Pearl is 3. She’s fearless, funny and independent. She’s the first of my children to attempt climbing bookcases (more than once). She can also count to ten and spell her name.
Joey (our only boy) is one. His hobbies include climbing on the dining room table, banging spoons in the pots and pans, and sweeping the floors. He also gives great hugs.
4. Do you have any family traditions?
I’ve always felt like this is an area where we’re lacking. We don’t have strong cultural traditions like many of our friends. We’re just a typical Canadian family… I guess things that are important to us include going to church on Sunday and eating dinners together as a family.
5. What have been your biggest challenges as a parent?
You know, when you become new parents, people tell you things like “oh just wait until the terrible twos!” or “just wait until they’re teenagers” (I hear the latter a lot when people see my four daughters). And honestly, after ten years of parenting, I’d say… every age and stage has its ups and downs, its struggles and its fun, but we really haven’t faced any huge challenges as a parent.
Sure, there are tantrums from toddlers, but there are also a lot of really funny moments. There are sleepless nights with the baby, but there are also the snuggles and the cuteness. There’s the back-talking of the tween, but there’s also the independence and creativity they can show, and the chance to get back into doing things like downhill skiing and board games with your kids.
6. If you could pick any career in the world for yourself, what would it be, and why?
I’d probably still be a writer. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, always expressed myself this way. Maybe if I could go back and give my younger self some advice, I would have done a writing degree straight out of high school (instead of a decade later). Maybe I would have pursued travel writing or being an editor. But a big reason writing always appealed to me is that I could work it around being a mom. So while sometimes I yearn to be writing a novel (I have several ideas), I also know that the kids will grow up and I’ll have time to write later, and for now I can write a short blog post and then put it aside and go play with my kids, and I get the best of both worlds.
7. Growing up, who inspired you the most?
Probably the two women whom I worked for during my teen years. Mrs. W was a full-time stay-at-home mom who homeschooled her four children. I cleaned house for her for four years (that was one of my first jobs). She planned all her own homeschool curriculum and was a very gentle, loving mother.
Mrs. S also had four kids and homeschooled. I started cleaning house for her after her fourth was born, then later became her nanny when she went back to work. I’d babysit three long days a month for her, homeschooling the kids and making meals for the family and keeping the fire going in the winter.
These women supported and encouraged me, even when I made mistakes, and gave me a picture of motherhood in all its mess and beauty.
8. How do you balance work life and family life?
Because I’m self-employed or work from home and homeschool, this is a constant struggle. I’ve gone from posting on my blog three times a week to five times a week to three again and now just twice a week. I try to stay on top of deadlines and to work on clients’ projects well ahead of time so I’m not stressed and crunched (and turn into a grumpy mom).
I work while the kids are busy; one perk of having a large family is that they help entertain each other. My computer is in our living room, so it’s easy for me to write an email, then make a sandwich for the toddler, edit a photo for a blog post and then help someone with schoolwork, write a paragraph for a review and then help someone find a toy.
I try not to work in the evening (that’s family time) and I rarely turn on my computer on the weekends. I would say that time management, organization, and prioritizing tasks are key – but family is first.
9. What advice would your “current self” give to your “just about to have my first child” self?
I often think about this, actually. I’d give myself two pieces of advice: make friends and ask for help.
I was the first of my friends to get married and have kids, so while I had friends, they were still busy with their careers while I was home with a new baby. I also felt that since I was the stay-at-home mom and my husband was trying to finish his degree, I needed to do everything for the house and baby and let him focus on his education. As a result, I was very lonely and often very overwhelmed.
It took me years to realize that moms need other moms, who understand how tough parenting is (even when you just have one baby). I also came to realize that being a strong, independent woman wasn’t always a good thing, and that I should ask for help more often.
10. Has there been a piece of advice you were given about parenting that really stuck with you?
When we were first married and expecting our oldest daughter, my husband had many married friends who shared their parenting tips and advice with us. As new parents, we appreciated their insights. I remember friends who steered us towards attachment parenting, co-sleeping, and natural childbirth.
I never felt any pressure or judgement from any of them; their advice was very much “this is what has worked for us” and they shared it with us in their excitement about being parents. And we had our own ideas, and did our own research, and then did what worked for us, but I still appreciate their openness about their parenting and what they had learned.
This is what I love about my friends and my mom’s group – this sharing of advice and ideas around parenting, without pressure or judgement – and this is the atmosphere I want to create on my blog.
11. What advice would you give to new parents?
No two kids, no two families are the same. Don’t compare your child or your family to anyone else. You have to make the right choice for your family and your child, and it probably won’t look at all like the choice your sister or your best friend is making for their family and their children. That’s okay. You’re all different.
So consider your options, talk to your spouse and your sister and your friend, but do what your child needs, what your family needs. My husband and I talk about the “right choice for the right kid at the right time.” Our parenting choices may change; for example, in Kindergarten, the right choice was to send our oldest daughter to Catholic school for a year and for Grade 1 the right choice was to homeschool her.
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Thanks for reading!
“11 Questions with…” is an on-going feature. I will be interviewing parents with the same 11 questions, who like me, live in the digital world. The goal is to examine different perspectives, advice, challenges, and experiences from how people parent their children, and live a successful work / life / online balance.
With all the challenges of parenting these days, we could all use stories from fellow parents, who may have already gone through a similar experience, or were offered advice that you could use.
If you would like to be interviewed for an upcoming edition, please contact me at email@example.com.