Mrs South Africa semi-finalist Pearl Osa is a speaker and an author of three books on marriage, dating and raising children.
She has a YouTube channel, and along with her husband, John, she runs an African fashion label. The pair are also professional musicians.
And somehow they manage to parent – and homeschool – no less than 10 children. "We are a very close knit family of 12," the South African mom of all 10 biological children tells Parent24.
"Having so many children offers no shortage of entertainment or friends," she assures us. "It's like having a number of multiples at the same time; every one talking or singing simultaneously."
An only child
One thing Pearl says she really enjoys, is having a child in almost every stage of development.
"So I never miss the cute baby and toddler phase, but I can also enjoy stimulating conversations with my more mature children," she explains.
Somewhat surprisingly, considering her large family, Pearl grew up as an only child.
"It's a really interesting dynamic to witness and be part of," she admits.
So, what made the couple decide to homeschool their children?
Pearl says she and her husband figured no one knew the children or their specific needs, personalities and interests as well as their own parents, and because they wanted a "tailor-made education" for each child they settled on homeschooling.
Pearl says it is a privilege to spend quality time with the children, to help shape their minds around their own uniqueness and individuality. She adds that inevitably impacting their future is an incomparable blessing.
'I can do it'
"I remain conscious that I am not training them just to get good jobs but to be leaders, pioneers, team players and contributing members of society who will leave an indelible mark on the nation for generations to come," Pearl says.
It certainly helps that homeschooling is a fraction of the price of a formal school education, and Pearl says she doesn't have to worry about some of the things that keep parents in the formal school system up at night.
"I can do it, so I have embraced the opportunity with two hands. I know there are many parents who just can't, so I don't take it for granted," she says.
We asked Pearl how she draws the line between the roles of being a mother and a teacher to her children, and her short answer is "I don't really".
She explains that every interaction is an education and she is conscious of teaching them emotionally, socially as well as academically.
"I think mothers are innately teachers, and humans are intrinsically learners. So as long as we're living, we're teaching and learning; and that goes for mother and children alike."
Nine boys and no nanny
The couple have certainly faced their fair share of challenges, what with managing a family of 12, but Pearl says their biggest issue is having to be deliberate about carving out time to relax.
"There are nine boys, so there is a lot of testosterone and adrenaline flying around," she says.
"We chose to do away with nanny services for a season, so being everywhere at the same time is not easy. Also, our social life has adjusted accordingly. However, with the lockdown, that has become somewhat of a non-issue."
Pearl tells Parent24 having a large family is like a piece of heaven to her.
For her, some of the differences require some adjustment in her personality, which was formed by growing up as an only child.
"But, adjust I have. I get to enjoy hugs, hugs, hugs, more hugs, warmth, laughter, fun and everyone rooting for the other," she reveals. "I enjoy having a large cheerleading squad and support system.
"Everyone is interested in and supportive of everyone else's developmental goals and achievements," she adds.
So where does Pearl find the energy to be mom, teacher and still enter Mrs South Africa?
"I establish routine. Children thrive with order and routine," she says. "I have also empowered them with the skill sets to live productive and independent lives. I encourage them to take active responsibility."
The older ones enjoy cooking and baking, Pearl tells us, and the kids have learnt to use the washing machine and dryers and can clean up after themselves.
"So that makes life easier."
'A family journey'
She also assures us that she makes it clear to the children that they are her number one priority and their care, daily lives and education are a non-negotiable.
"But I also make sure not to forget my dreams and aspirations. I am playing to an audience of 10. I never want them thinking they put my life on hold and I want to be a physical demonstration of grit and determination to them," she explains.
"So we all get involved. It's a family journey."
The family's day is also well scheduled.
"School is in the morning and from mid-afternoon I get on with YouTube work, pageant-related business, singing in the studio or writing my books," she says.
"I just make sure not to tackle too many projects at once. I believe everything must be done, but not all at once. So I live my life in a very seasonal pattern and try to engage projects in the same arena simultaneously, thereby taking advantage of synergies."
Everything in its season
"When it is the season for something, it naturally blossoms. Outside its season, it's a forced mess. Finally, I plan, plan, plan. I'd rather spend more time planning so that I need less time executing."
One last insider tip, Pearl reveals, is that for the children "you would be surprised how one tiny gesture that is a special 'thing' between you and that child can make their whole day".
"The nature and quantity of attention required will differ per child, and at family time, twice a day, everyone gathers together and just chills, catches up, and loves."
Do you have many children? Let us know how you cope with a large family!
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