by Loren Braunohler | Feb 1, 2016 | 2016, Europe, Stay-At-Home Parent, Work, Working Mother
Think your intellectual and creative juices take a dive when you become a stay-at-home parent? Think again.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post for World Moms Blog about my decision to become a stay-at-home parent. Prior to staying at home, I was a U.S. diplomat for nearly ten years. Resigning to stay at home was not part of my plans. I planned for a career in the Foreign Service and never really considered doing anything else. When my son was born, that all changed. I wasn’t ready to leave him, so I decided to stay at home. Fortunately, we were at a place financially where I could choose to do this.
While I was happy that I could stay at home with my son, there were times when I mourned the loss of my professional life. With the decision to stay at home, I thought that it was downhill professionally from that point; that I wasn’t really qualified to do anything else other than be a diplomat, and thus I would likely move on to lackluster opportunities when the kids started school (I have remained a stay-at-home mom after the birth of my two daughters, as well).
But here is the good news: I was wrong. Completely wrong. Leaving a career that I knew I could not easily go back to opened up a whole new set of opportunities for me. Ones that I was not previously able to explore because I had boxed myself in to a specific career path.
Ones that allowed me to stay at home with my children and continue to work at my own speed, on my own time, and discover new things about myself and my talents.
Shortly after I became a stay-at-home parent, I took up writing and started my own blog to preserve some of my sanity amidst the at-home chaos. The writing not only allowed me to let our family back home know what we were up to (we lived in Thailand at the time), but allowed me to continue to do something I loved. While I often wrote about adventures in parenting and travel, writing time was my time; my chance to unplug from parenthood, reflect, and continue to challenge myself creatively and intellectually. I began to write with a purpose to help families new to Thailand learn where to go and what to do. I learned that I could be a valuable resource to others while getting my “me” time. This was fulfilling and exciting, but became even more exciting when I got a call from Travel & Leisure Southeast Asia to write for their family travel issue. The thought of being a freelance writer had never occurred to me. I had resigned to be a stay-at-home mom, so you can imagine my surprise when I received a job offer for something for which I had never applied. I was up for the challenge, but also nervous about trying something completely new.
Luckily, my article was well-received and I began to write for T&L on a regular basis during our time in Thailand. The opportunity also encouraged me to test my talent. I reached out to other major online and print publications and, within the year, had written for the New York Times, CNN Travel, and others. Developing and pitching stories, writing for large audiences, and working with different editors was both challenging and exciting.
Each day I could give my undivided attention to my children, and each evening I learned something new about myself and abilities.
In addition to the freelancing work, reading to my children a good hour or two a day inspired me to delve into the world of children’s literature and pen my own draft of a children’s book. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and learned how to write for a young audience (note: writing for little ones is not as easy as it seems). I joined peer review groups, learned to give and take editorial criticism, and began the process of contacting publishing houses and sending my manuscript out for review. It was nerve-wracking to try something so new and unfamiliar, sure; but it was thrilling. Would I have ever done this had I not become a stay-at-home parent? Not a chance.
I began to challenge myself physically, as well. In addition to writing, running is another source of “me” time; one I use to recharge my batteries and reflect on my parenting, my relationships, and our transient lifestyle. After the birth of my third child in 2014, I trained for and ran two half-marathons. When arriving in Krakow this year, I formed a women’s running group. As soon as the kids start school full time, you can bet I’ll be training for my first full marathon.
All of these things – the freelancing, the children’s book, the running – they grew out of my decision to stay at home with my family. My assumption that becoming a full-time mom would inhibit me from succeeding professionally was false. On the contrary, letting go of my career and becoming a stay-at-home parent opened up new opportunities for me that I surely would not have explored otherwise.
Have you thought about what other talents and abilities you might possess? How does spending time with your children inspire you creatively and intellectually?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mom to three and writer in Poland, Loren Braunohler.
The images used in this post are attributed to the author.
by Michelle Pannell | Dec 8, 2014 | 2014, Interviews, UK, World Interviews, World Moms Blog Writer Interview
Hi all, I’m really pleased to have been invited to become a contributor to the World Moms Blog and I look forward to being able to share my British parenting perspective and getting to know you all. Mich x
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
I currently live in East Sussex, which is in the South of England, a couple of hours from London. I have lived in England all my life and mostly in the south. I love it here as I live in the countryside and am surrounded by beautiful green fields but it is only a 20 minute drive to the nearest beach and I adore walking by the sea.
What language(s) do you speak?
Sadly I only speak English. When I was at school I found learning languages very difficult so I have never pursued a second language and this is something I regret.
When did you first become a mother (year/age)?
My son was born in October 2003 when I was 30 years old and then I had twin girls in July 2007 just before my 34th birthday. I am really glad I waited to have my children as it meant I was able to pursue a good career without any guilt about the hours I worked and I also don’t feel I missed out on any opportunities to travel and have carefree fun with my husband.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?
Last year we moved from a large town to live in the grounds of a large Christian conference centre in the countryside. I resigned from my job as a staff trainer at a university and now I undertake some freelance writing. In reality most of the work I do is unpaid and I enjoy volunteering for a local food bank, at my children’s school and also here at the conference centre where I live. I’m also passionate about campaigning and being an advocate for those living in poverty.
Why do you blog/write?
My blog started as a way to update my parents on the funny tales of life with my three children. Gradually I found more and more people reading my blog and then I realised I was bitten by the blogging bug and started to share more regularly and on diverse subjects. I also felt compelled to demonstrate that Christians are just regular people too and we live imperfect lives, so I try to tell the story of my life through the lens of an imperfect Christian mother of three. I’m known for being very honest and I blog about the good, the bad and even the ugly of my life and it is through this honesty I have connected with many people who have related to my posts on compulsive overeating, miscarriage and imperfect parenting.
What makes you unique as a mother?
Every mother is unique; I do not believe I am anything special. We all travel our own distinctive journey and for me it is following my instincts and the beliefs of my Christian faith that mean I parent the way I do. With blogging I always tell newbies to find their own voice and not to imitate and I believe the same is true of parenting. Each mother knows what is best for her child and she needs to stick to her beliefs and parent with kindness and consistency.
What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?
As a 41-year-old mother today I am travelling a different path to the one my own mother trod. Never before has there been a time when there was such easy access to information, instant gratification and technology. Trying to ensure that my children are in-line with their peers without becoming old before their time or addicted to being online is a constant battle but one I think is worth fighting. Our move to the countryside last year has reminded my children of all the fun they can have by getting outdoors and playing together.
How did you find World Moms Blog?
In October this year I was privileged to attend the ONE #AYASummit in Washington, D.C. and there I met many inspirational women including Jennifer Burden, Cindy Changyit Levin and Nicole Melancon. After a few conversations it was clear that I had much in common with the values of World Moms Blog and Jennifer invited me to become a contributor. I’m super glad she did.
Welcome to the World Moms Blog Family, Michelle. We look forward to reading your posts.
Photo credit: Michelle Pannell.
Michelle’s tales of everyday life and imperfect parenting of a 13-year-old boy and 9-year-old twin girls and her positive Christian outlook on life have made her name known in the UK parenting blogosphere. Her blog, Mummy from the Heart, has struck a chord with and is read by thousands of women across the world.
Michelle loves life and enjoys keeping it simple. Time with her family, friends and God are what make her happiest, along with a spot of blogging and tweeting, too! Michelle readily left behind the corporate arena but draws on her 25 years of career experience from the fields of hotel, recruitment and HR management in her current voluntary roles at a school, Christian conference centre, night shelter and food bank.
As a ONE ambassador, in 2012 Michelle was selected to travel on a delegation to Ethiopia with the organisation to report on global poverty and health. Then in 2014 she was invited to Washington, DC, where she attended the AYA Summit for girls and women worldwide. When asked about her ambassadorship with the ONE Campaign, she stated, "I feel humbled to be able to act as an advocate and campaigner for those living in poverty."
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