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The Dreamers #100 - With Kiara Von Blanckensee

The Dreamers #100 - With Kiara Von Blanckensee

Our latest Dreamer, Kiara Von Blanckensee, is the proud mama to seven groms who love to skate and surf! Based in Agnes Waters, she homeschools her tribe so that no two days are the same. She follows a free-flowing weekly rhythm that keeps things fun for her family.




Hey Kiara, tell us about your fam.

I married my best friend Callum almost 13 years ago, and together, we have seven beautiful children.  Elsie (11) is such a beautiful soul; she is sweet, hard-working, and brave and pays attention to the little things. She loves to surf, skateboard and roller skate. She amazes me with how daring and smart she is. You’ll always find her with her nose in a book or making something incredible out of paper, clay, or paint. She’s always up for a chat and a good laugh.  

 Myla (also 11) is our gorgeous goofball; she looks exactly like her twin sister but walks to the beat of her drum. She would forget her head if it weren’t attached to her body. She’s a real dreamer but also a firecracker with plenty of sass, and she is as stubborn as a rock. She loves collecting anything she deems beautiful or interesting. She loves to longboard, roller-skate, surf skate, and also has an insane ability to make the most amazing things with her hands out of anything. Give her dirt, water and paper, and watch her make something incredible.   

 Our son Theo (9) is kind, inquisitive and thoughtful, always up for a chat. I often have people come up to me saying Theo introduced himself in the surf, and we had a big chat; he’s always cheering others on and unaware of how cool he is. The kid is a natural with surfing; he’s got such a great style and is a joy to watch; plus, he’s always beaming ear to ear doing it! He is full of life and could talk the leg off a chair. Always with something in his pocket, he loves a gadget, always pulling things apart and trying to figure out how stuff works, and he has so many cool ideas. He’s always got a sketchbook nearby drawing something: waves, machines, robots, maps. His work is incredible.   

 Percey (7) is our quiet(er) one and is the cheekiest kid I’ve ever met; he always has a sparkle in his eye. He is always trying to look after his baby sister, who he adores with all his heart; he’s such a big softy with a heart of gold. He likes to be called Chef Percey cause he’s such a foodie, can cook a mad omelette, loves getting in the kitchen any chance he can, and loves helping others out. He draws comics and loves riding his BMX and skateboard. He can swim like a fish and gets out in the surf with his older siblings, or he has a boogie board with the little kids. He’s always looking for fun or an opportunity to sit on my lap for a cuddle, like a puppy that doesn’t know his own size. He is currently obsessed with playing football and boxing with his brothers, and he has a wonderful imagination and a sensitive nature.   

 Oscar (5) is a little dude and a dead ringer for his Daddy as a boy. You’ll see he’s featured in a lot of the photos I took because he was always nearby just being Oscar; he’s either camera shy or wants the limelight; there’s no in-between. He has unlimited energy and has his theme song for everything he does. He is somehow both the most serious and hilarious kid ever. He’s always keeping up with his older siblings, running or swimming circles around the rest of us. I can never and likely will never be able to keep up with him. He believes he is invincible, and sometimes, I genuinely wonder if he is. He loves playing on his own or with his family and friends and never gets bored. He loves going in the surf, riding his bike, and skating.   

 Winnie (3) is so gorgeous she was mistaken for a doll when she was a baby. She was just so perfect. She is smart, assertive, and loves a good book and boogie board. She’s brave, strong, and deep in the three-year-old stage where we all get emotional whiplash every five minutes! We love her; she adores her siblings, and we couldn’t imagine our family without her; it’s so fun watching her grow and getting to know her.   

 Aura (1) is the happiest little person I’ve ever met. We almost named her Bliss but chose Aura instead and Blyss as her middle name, and it’s ever so fitting. She is the most joyful baby, with the biggest smile and infectious laugh. She adores her six older siblings, mummy, daddy and anything that looks like a baby. She loves music and will dance to everything. She’s just the best youngest child a family could have, and watching her grow is a joy.

Where is home? Any special gems you can share with us? 

We live in Agnes Water, a rural coastal town in Queensland, Australia. We moved here four years ago looking for a sea change. We had our hearts set on a sleepy coastal town and absolutely found it; we love it here! We love exploring the rugged coastline while being surrounded by national parks. 

Predominately a tourist town, there are so many hidden gems, paperbark forests, and gorgeous little beaches. We’re at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, with the most Northern surf beaches. We love that it only takes a short walk or drive to be immersed in nature, and the growing community is bringing some wonderful growth in local businesses, so it’s really making a living here more accessible. 

While Agnes is coming along in ways such as shops, cafes and restaurants, it still remains unpretentious and a little rough around the edges. But what it lacks in trendiness, it gains in experiences and community. You come to Agnes to escape the rat race.

Seven kids! You must be super parents. How do you manage to carve out time for yourselves/prioritise self-care? What does self-care look like for you?

No, we’re not super, just a little crazy and very tired, haha! Sometimes, a shower feels like a holiday. Nah, in all seriousness, we’re fortunate to have a life that allows us the freedom and flexibility to make time for self-care. We make a daily effort to move our bodies and be in nature. Getting a daily workout in, going for a walk on the beach, grabbing a coffee in the morning, going for a surf, journaling. I also make time for things I love, like painting, photography, crocheting, some cheeky shopping, and chatting with a friend; I check in with myself and make time for those things as needed. As a couple, date night looks like a cup of tea and a chat after the kids are asleep. Even the occasional grocery shop together feels like a date; we just love that we get to do everything together, even if it’s not always exciting. Self-care is about communicating, prioritising personal growth, maintaining our basic needs, and ensuring we’re facilitating fun.

What made you decide to home-school the groms?

We started talking about pursuing home-schooling when the twins were still toddlers. Callum randomly suggested it, and I said no way! But something drew me in, so over the next four years, I researched, explored, and challenged my ideas and beliefs about how children learn and how best to prepare them for adulthood. It opened my mind. As we embarked on it, I fell more and more in love with everything it provided. 

There’s no one way to raise your children, but finding the best way to suit your family is key, and this works well for us. I have watched my children grow in their individuality; they confidently interact with the real world daily; they aren’t restricted to building relationships with peers but with our community as a whole. They explore their interests; learning has never been a chore but a joy. They each have clear interests at a young age, and my goal is to help them apply that to their future, whether that means as a career or purely to form a strong understanding of themselves. 

To make it even better, simple things like not rushing out the door in the morning, eating all of our meals together, cultivating a strong family bond, and giving the children a strong foundation is wonderful. I am so invested in my children, so it makes sense that I’m the one influencing and guiding them through these former years.

 Another thing that motivates me is the fact that anxiety, depression, and unemployment are on the rise, and I can only imagine how much of that is attributed to the conditions of someone’s upbringing and the everyday stressors of the average Australian’s lifestyle. I often ponder what we as humans need to function and thrive well and what has been missing to produce these results. My heart’s pursuit is holistic; I strive to help my children become well-rounded individuals. 

My focus is to help them build a strong sense of identity and self-worth, support them in finding purpose, and view success as an internal measurement of character and growth, not just an external qualification dictated by status. Empowering them with the belief that learning new things is never restricted by age encourages them to never stop growing and learning and that it’s ok to be bad at something or fail because that’s where we do our best learning. Life really is the best teacher.

Can you share some tips or advice for other parents considering home-schooling their children.

My favourite quote and mantra to live by is from CS Lewis, ‘If you want to change the world, go home and love your family’. There is much to be said for just showing up for your kids with your presence. It feels like we need to provide endless opportunities and experiences for them, but over time, I’ve seen how much a simple childhood with attentive parents provides most of what a child needs. A listening ear, a person to call home, knowing you’re always there for them, goes a long way. 

If you decide to home-school, I recommend having a solid understanding of why you’re doing it, and when you’re having moments of doubt, check in with yourself and make sure that why is still relevant. Also, write a family mantra; it’s a really powerful way to help cement your family culture. Be yourself and work to your strengths. Encourage your children to do the same. I’m creative and love being outdoors, so I lead my children by doing what comes naturally to me. I know it might feel overwhelming, but don’t be intimidated; learning is an innate experience for us as humans, particularly children.

Absorbing information, comprehension, and retention comes easily when given the freedom to explore genuine curiosities and interests at a pace that is appropriate for the individual child. You can’t go wrong if you marry that with teaching diligence and commitment and provide your children with a safe and supportive home without stressing about measuring up. 

If you do end up home-schooling, know that learning isn’t linear. You’ll go through times of great productivity and times where it feels like you’re getting nowhere, and that’s absolutely ok! Be patient, and use your frustrations to problem-solve when something isn’t working. Most of the answers to our problems are simple, and remember, don’t ever try to be perfect.

How do you handle technology and screen time in your home school environment?

This has changed over time; we’ve gone as long as 18 months completely screen-free and other times where it’s a daily part of our routine. I’ve come to the conclusion that it depends on the age and emotional regulation of your children. We never use screens to distract or pacify; that’s an easy solution in the short term, but you’re making life harder for yourself in the long term. There is a cost to every convenience we choose. When I need the children to have some quiet time, I’ll put on an audiobook while they work on something quietly like drawing, lego, or a puzzle. Audiobooks are a lifeline to us! The smaller children are happy to listen even if they don’t follow the story entirely. It benefits them even when they don’t comprehend everything they hear. 

We don’t own a TV instead we keep library books in our lounge room. It’s never a struggle for children to gravitate to reading when they need a restful activity. Knowledge is infinite now thanks to the internet; it has bridged the gap, making home-schooling so much more accessible; technology is an amazing tool. On a daily basis, screen time is reserved for the older children to do research and learn. Movies, TV shows and video games are limited to rest days; I usually aim for no more than once a week. It’s clear to me how quickly a child becomes overstimulated; even with these boundaries, the younger children will still ask constantly when they struggle to regulate or are bored. 

These moments are an opportunity to be available to connect and meet their needs. I encourage parents to be patient if they are trying to change their child’s dependence on screens; it is absolutely possible, and it is so rewarding. Our family of nine can go out to a restaurant without needing a screen. We usually take pocket sketchbooks most places we go and keep UNO handy. Hot Wheels cars are perfect for keeping little hands busy while sitting, and playing Eye Spy, trivia, and other simple games are a great way to keep their attention and stay connected with them. We believe technology is remarkable, but we always want it to work for us, not against us.

We love seeing big families. What does a day in the life look like for you?

Truthfully, every day is different. Being a large family with many different ages, we have to be very flexible; our aim is to create a weekly rhythm rather than a strict daily schedule. We designate certain days to incorporate more formal sit down learning, and other days for more physical hands on experience. 

The boys are up bright and early, and the rest of us follow; we’ll cook brekky, do the dishes, get the washing out and get everything else ready for our day. I’ll squeeze in a workout, then Callum takes one of the children out for coffee. Seven children means they each get a day of the week to spend some one-on-one time with Dad. 

After that, we’ll head out altogether; seeing as it’s winter, we can head to the beach during the middle of the day. Callum and the bigger kids surf while I explore and play with the younger ones. We’ll often catch up with other homeschoolers, and then we’ll head home, where the children have some downtime and prepare for our evening routine. This is a good chance to do a lesson with the boys; the big girls will go work on something, and the little girls will play and follow me around. Callum and I will do a workout if it got missed in the morning, and then we’ll focus on dinner, bath and bed by 7:30pm.

Other days, we’ll go to the library or the skate park or set out on a little adventure exploring different local spots to see what we’ll find. We’ll sometimes split up so the younger children can go a bit slower while the older children can do things unhindered by toddlers. Once a week, we’ll have a home day where we can all get a bit more rest and have more intentional time working on projects. The children use every chance they get to pursue their interests, usually something creative. Someone is always making something. Currently, the children are making miniatures out of polymer clay for an artist market my Mum is hosting at her home this weekend. The children will organise everything to sell their creations, a fantastic way to do what they love while practising their social and business skills. 

We make a daily habit of reading. The older children read on their own or to their siblings everywhere we go. We do formal reading, writing and maths lessons a few times a week, giving them a strong foundation in these fundamentals. Meanwhile, running our home is a family effort. We include them in the cooking and cleaning. Teaching them teamwork and empowering them to know how to look after themselves and others. It also means we get our tasks done quicker so we can focus on what we really enjoy. These patterns will change as the children grow and everyone’s interests develop, but right now, with lots of little children, we take things a little slower. A freedom I am forever grateful for.

Favourite Banabae pieces?

We all love all of our Banabae pieces. Honestly, not a day goes by where one of us isn’t repping something Banabae. The quality and styles are unmatched. I love the size range of hats. Winnie can’t live without her toddler-sized Park Hangs cap, and Callum is always wearing his black Rad Dad cap. We all love retro socks, and Banabae's socks are not only so cute, but they are also really soft and durable. 

Other favourites are the Park Hangs t-shirts, the Rad Kid spliced cord shorts, the side-striped knit pants and the Rad Team knit jumper. Easily some of our favourite wardrobe stables. They are so cute and comfy.

Shop Kiara's family favourites:

Park Hangs Kids Cord Cap
Park Hangs Organic Cotton Tee - Kids
Rad Dad Black Cap
Rad Kid Spliced Shorts - AUD $49.00
Side Stripe Organic Cotton Knit Pants - Kids
Rad Kid and Little Ripper Organic Cotton Sock Pack
The Bright Side Ringer Tee - Kids
Rad Team Organic Cotton Knit Jumper - Cyan
Rad Kid Tonal Long Sleeve Tee - White
Kiara Von Blanckensee

Kiara Von Blanckensee

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