Mom Interviews

Mary Ostyn, author, "A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family"

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Raising children can be an expensive prospect, and adoption comes with a set of financial concerns all its own. Please share some of your tips and tricks for stretching the family budget!   First of all, I'd encourage people to not be afraid if they're thinking of adding to their family.   Things have a way of working out.  But we do make some frugal choices that help things along.  We drive older paid-for vehicles.   We always check thrift stores and yard sales before buying clothing.  And we do lots of cooking from scratch to keep our grocery costs down.  I spend about $900 a month on groceries for 10 people, which is comparable to what many families spend for much smaller families.

What are your favorite parenting hacks?

Hmmm.  Maybe these aren't hacks, but they certainly make life easier:

1.) Train kids to help out, both for your sanity and for the skill they gain for the future. Even little kids can contribute in real ways.

2.) Don't expect perfection in housekeeping. Pick your top three priorities and let some other stuff go.  At our house, we vacuum every day and do dishes after every meal.   But dusting and floor-mopping is done much less frequently.

3.) Organize your laundry room. when you're dealing with mountains of laundry, you need a good plan. (Mary outlines her excellent laundry organization plan on her blog.)

Is carving out time for yourself a priority? How were you able to make time to write while parenting and homeschooling and running your household?

I write late at night.  I also send the kids outside to play for at least an hour every day, which gives me a bit of thinking time, and refreshes me for the rest of the day.  And in the throes of a big writing project, I will sometimes go to the coffee shop all day when my husband has the day off.  And speaking of my husband, he and I try to sneak in a date a couple times a month.

What's next on your life to-do list?  

In June I am taking three of my sons to Korea, and am really excited to show them where there were born.  Also, in September, my second book, Family Feasts for $75 a Week, will be released. 

Who or what inspires you? 

My mother.  She raised eight kids and did an awesome job.   She has a wonderful balanced outlook on life that I try hard to emulate.  Her two most memorable bits of advice:  "Take one day at a time" and "It doesn't affect your salvation."

What do you like to do to relax? 

Well, I got an awesome new SLR camera for Mother's Day, and have been learning all the settings -- I've subjected my kids to many impromptu photo shoots lately.  I also like to play cards with my kids, surf the net, soak in the tub, or read a book.

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