balancing series: Kirstin

My next guest is the ever-beautiful Kirstin of Kalanag... I don't quite remember how I came across her blog, but I am so glad I did. I am regularly inspired by her devotion to live a simple, faith-filled life, her thriftiness, taste in literature, soup and pastry-making exploits, and of course, her incredible knitting skills... 

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your family
We are a little family of three living in Chicago. My husband is a coffee roaster for a local roastery, while I teach and care for our tenacious but incredibly sweet two year old boy, Julian. As a family, we really value our time together, and place creativity and resourcefulness as priorities in our daily lives. 

2. What things in life inspire you most?
Out of all of the things that inspire me (which is quite a list) I would have to say that social justice inspires me most. The idea of everyone having a fair chance, equal opportunities and a hand up out of what ever ditch one has found himself stuck in. This has really transformed the way I look at basically anything else that inspires me. When it comes to my favorite craft, knitting, knowing that the fibers I am holding are from a social and environmentally responsible source really means so much to me. The same goes for the food I try to prepare to nourish our family, the weekly trip to the farmers market, the fair exchange of goods for time, sends me home with a mind simmering with ideas and recipes. Second to that I would have to say nature, creation in itself inspires me in the way that it keeps going, relentless in its purpose to simply be itself, which is beautiful. 

3. How do you currently manage mothering, home, life and working on personal (and or) work projects? 
Here is an interesting question indeed. Our situation is perhaps quite different from those who do not live in a bigger city, or maybe those who have family around. The term "it takes a village" to raise a child never really made sense to me until I was left with a tiny new baby with out that village. Our families live quite far from us so for the most part, we have no help with things that family would normally help with, like when you are sick, or even having a family member to care for a child while a parent works, so we are in a difficult situation at some points. Thankfully, there have been a few relationships with other families with children that have been rewarding and enabled us to start to form that village. With that said, having a pretty structured day and week helps to give me time to myself or to devote to certain tasks and projects. I try to wake up early while the baby is still sleeping, or use nap time efficiently, and same goes for the hours after he has gone to sleep. Some people do well with out that routine, but it really works well for me. 

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
The routine is quite predictable, and there is actually a lot of freedom in that. I know that everyday I will have at least an hour or so to myself to work on my knitting, or do a blog post, or try out a new recipe. I also really appreciate the fact that I am able to stay home with Julian. It has been my observation that most women in the city I live wait until after they reach their career goals to start families. I have done the exact opposite! At this point, it makes more sense financially for me to stay home with Julian rather than work away from the home only to give a good part of the pay to someone to care for him. Sometimes I get restless and feel like I can not contribute, or miss the independence that working supplies, but I am daily reminded in the small moments, the twirl of my hair in his little fingers before nap time, or being able to actually have the home in order and a delicious meal ready to enjoy with my husband when he gets home from a hard day of work. This is a season of my life that probably will not last for ever, so I want to try and soak it all up while I can. 

5. Are there things you'd like to do differently/better?
I actually would like to have more structure haha! With Julian getting older, I can see that he really needs a structured day to keep from getting antsy and bored, which equals naughty! I have been trying to figure out ways to plan little projects for him, or ways to involve him in the daily tasks that I need to do, like doing dishes or laundry. I hope to keep track of his moods during the day for the next few weeks to get an idea of when he will be able to focus the most, or when I should let him have time to himself to do what he pleases. In all honestly I would also love to get better at cleaning as I go, especially in the kitchen! I tend to get so excited about whatever it is that I am doing that I end up with a sink full of 20 valuable minutes of washing dishes that could have been used while the onions were browning!

6. What is your favourite part of the day?
There are several favorite parts of my day! My cup of coffee and breakfast with Julian, are very special times to me. We eat together and he takes little sips of my coffee, we make faces and talk about the day will look like. The afternoon is a great time of day because I get that good cuddle before nap, the treasure of time during the nap, then the excited squawks of a freshly roused toddler calling for his momma and the look of excitement as I open his door! Then of course, when we hear the keys in the lock and my husband opens the door, seeing Julian excited to see him never gets old. 

7. What advice, if any, would you give other mothers about finding a good balance?
My answer is going to contradict itself. My first bit would be to ignore the "advice" that everyone else has to say to you. Find what is right for your family, for your life together, not what a book says, or your aunt, or best friend with out children suggests. My second bit, which is where I am going to contradict my previous answer, is to view your time as currency. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes I struggle with the idea that I do not contribute financially to our family, but when I view my time as currency, I realize that the time I am contributing is very valuable. That means that unless you are willing to pay the price of time for something, you should ease it out of your life. There are weeks when I am unexpectedly blessed with an excess of richness in time, those weeks I get to post more often on my blog, or finish a knitting project faster. Weeks or days when my balance of time gets low, the the frivolous things take second chair to the basics. I keep off of the computer during most of the day, and try to leave my phone in the kitchen or bedroom, having those distractions is like having a hole in your pocket, and watching the small coins slip out.