Meet Xander Mom, Taryn Ulster and her three gorgeous boys. She talked to us about her blog, her work, family and thoughts on a few parenting methods and thoughts.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Taryn Ulster and I’m a wife to an amazing man, my beloved, Jonathan. We have three sons, Caleb (9), Craig (4) and Joel (almost 2). My husband is in Engeneering in the metal industry and I work for a non-profit organization in public policy advocacy, advancing biblical values in society and our main focus is on the family unit as the bedrock of society. My work hours are quite flexible and my bosses always support that my family and my kids come first, so I am blessed to be able to be work half day or from home when I need to. Which is fabulous as my three little boys keep me incredibly busy as I’m sure any parent can attest to.
Tell us about your blog
My blog is called 3boysb4thiry is very very new. I only wrote one post and have some unfinished pieces pending and the website is under construction – life of a mom hey? My work has also kept me rather busy lately and so my blog/ website development has been put on hold. I intend to launch it soon and hopefully keep it moving with a couple pieces a month at least, so watch this space!
How do you feel about using technology as part of learning?
I absolutely love the idea! Especially the convenience of it, but also because there’s an app for anything and everything! I was pleasantly surprised to come across the Xander apps, we’re still trying it out and so far my oldest enjoys Xander Afrikaans Spel Gr 3-7, and in particular the word search game. With regards to technology in general, as many absolutely great things there are about technology with smart phones and tabs, there are equally and possibly even more bad ones, so my kids ALWAYS use tech gadgets and even TV under supervision (especially with smart TV’s today). We actually have a “smart device in public areas always” rule at home or out.
What are your kids favourite apps?
There are so many! Their top ones I can think of would be, Talking Tom, Super Mario Run and Subway Surfer. I would love it if the educational ones like Xander came out as top 3 but I can confidently say, at least for now, Xander is in the top 5/6.
What do you love about South Africa and raising your children here?
I absolutely love raising my kids in South Africa, my biggest take home is that we’re such a diverse group of people, cultures and languages. But I have to say that Cape Town and surrounds is my real love, I love that we have the sea with so many beautiful beaches, the mountains and forests which include lovely day trails which are perfect for little boy adventures, spectacular vineyards and the concrete jungle too. A cherry on top is having beautiful gems just a stone throw away such as, the stunning garden route to the east, beautiful lagoons at pretty flowers to the west, ostriches and caves in the little karoo, and even whale watching a hop and skip away. It’s the only home I’ve known and I still haven’t seen it all! While my husband and I haven’t had the opportunity to take our kids all over just yet, those are just a few that we look forward to showing them like we were able to enjoy with our parents. Raising our children is South Africa is what we love, so we’ll try our utmost to shape our boys into great young men and hope and pray others do the same for their children too because our children are South Africa’s future.
TV “Yes” or “No”?
Yes. But supervised and authorized shows/ channels only which they are very aware of and abide by. They also need to share TV time and come to a decision between themselves what they’re going to watch, with the three different age groups this can be challenging at times, but we believe it builds character so we try not to get involved in their negotiations too much. All screen time is limited as far as we can though, sometimes for some sanity it does become a temporary babysitter, but always in moderation. I must admit that TV comes in handy as punishment (no TV for x amount of time/days) or reward (you may watch one extra episode of your favorite show today), when we’ve run out of ideas and really need to pull a rabbit out of the hat, this works.
What is in the lunchbox?
Sandwich on brown or wholewheat bread only, Yogurt, Fruit, Nuts, Crackers (not always all at one time but at least 3/4) occasionally a healthy muffin (usually the main ingredients are apple, carrot, banana, pear, honey, oats, cranberries). And funnily enough but thankfully so, they prefer to only take water in their bottles to school, so that’s a win already.
How do you balance it all – in one sentence?
My husband and I work as team that’s our secret, we speak in code and often in afrikaans (although our eldest is catching on on that one) we try to always be on the same page, if not one’s kids can drive you nuts, especially when they try working us against one another (you know, the trick when they ask one of us something and when not satisfied with the answer they go ask the other). My other gem at home though is my mom, she’s is an incredible asset and helps us so so much with the kids. She actually looks after my youngest son during the day while we’re at work, while the older two are in play school and formal school.
Do you children do chores at home, if so what and how do you manage it?
They do some yes, our youngest loves packing away toys, well anything actually – he has recently gotten into packing away dishes (the plastic things mostly) it’s his new hobby, with toys though, as soon as he’s done packing them away, to reward himself he swiftly unpacks again. Our middle son on the other hand hates packing his things away but does so reluctantly anyway, loves to wash dishes but he “washes” himself and the floor more than the dishes so we don’t make that a habit just yet. Our oldest though besides packing away toys does a bit more especially lately, he takes out his clothing for school and sports and packs his bags, he makes his own and sometimes his brothers’ sandwiches or instant noodles in the afternoons, and most recently he clears out the rubbish from and vacuums my car, for now he still thinks it’s fun and not a chore, so we hope this lasts. But in all honesty we’d like to get them helping around the house as much as age appropriate since we believe it builds a sense of responsibility and we’ve already found that they mess a little less because they know they themselves have to clean up as well.
What is your favourite holiday plans/ activities with kids?
Our holiday activities vary according to season and also what’s happening for kids/ families in Cape Town. It almost always involves family and friends, those who have kids and some who don’t but who love our kids and our family like their own. Picnics or braai’s or even just a bring and share at someone’s home is mostly on the cards, anything that allows all of us to get together and that’s fun for adults and kids alike. We’ve tried cable car trips up Table Mountain, visits to Kirstenbosch Gardens for picnics and the tree top walk, birthday parties at various kids venues have become quite a treat and allows us to explore new places and have fun and celebrating a birthday all in one. Some of our favorites have been Planet Kids in Muizenberg, Be Up jump park in Pinelands, Kids Shack in Wynberg, Root44 in Stellenbosch, Cool Runnings in Tygervalley, and many many more, we still have a few on the list that we’d love to go to as well. So for us holidays are always busy and fun.