With three kids and 20 years of writing, editing, social media, and content strategy behind her, Whole Family Happiness’ Lola Augustine Brown couldn’t have been more suited to the role of Managing Editor for the project. After writing an essay for WFH in the the early days, she accepted an invitation to manage the WFH’s Facebook Page, eventually taking the lead on all things editorial.
Originally from the UK, Lola has been living and working in Canada for more than 10 years, most recently with her husband and three kids — 10, 5, and 2 — in rural Nova Scotia on a homestead with 12.5 acres, two dogs, a coop full of chickens, garden, and nearby pond. When you’re as busy as Brown, it can be hard to fit purpose into your everyday life, so having the opportunity to be part of WFH is something she really appreciates.
“It makes me really happy. I feel like I’m doing something worthy,” says Brown. “The Parents with Purpose profiles are bigger than just one mum’s story, they are stories that resonate with all of us. Stories we’re all learning from, me especially. And I’m getting to talk to these incredible women from all across Canada and that is really inspiring. In fact most of the women I talk to could be my friends. I really enjoy meeting these women and that, on its own merit, brings joy to my life.”
How long have you been freelancing?
I’ve been freelancing for 20 years. I write about all kinds of stuff — parenting, relationships, lots of travel. This project has been really amazing because I feel that creating these profiles is helping change minds about really important stuff.
How did you get involved with the Whole Family Happiness project?
I was approached by Catherine Connors of Her Bad Mother to start running the WFH Facebook page after I wrote an essay for the project about connecting with my kids in the garden, and soon after I got on board. The project changed many times over the first few months before we found our groove and really hit our stride. We realised we could use this project to profile the amazing moms who are doing something to help others in their communities, or beyond. Women going above and beyond while raising kids, and managing all the other stuff we do day-to-day.
Why is the WFH project important?
I think the project is important because there are messages that are not getting heard. There’s a big divide between environmentalists and everyone else, when really I think that there are more similarities than differences. But we’ve been painted into corners. On one side are the hemp-wearing hippies who pick recycling out of the trash, and on the other side Hummer-driving folks who seemingly don’t care, and I don’t think that’s reality. There are far more similarities between ‘sides’, especially when we’re united in raising our kids and caring about the world our kids grow up in.
What does this bring to your life?
It makes me really happy. I feel like I’m doing something worthy and meeting some incredible women in the process. In fact most of the women I talk to could be my friends. I really enjoy meeting these women and that, on its own merit, brings joy to my life.
You have three kids. How has parenthood affected your work life?
I have certainly been able to share my personal life more through sharing my parenting experiences. I write a lot for Today’s Parent, for example, about parenting and my most intimate feelings about it. And they aren’t always pretty to be honest. I write about the hard bits as much as the good. I feel like becoming a parent made me more authentic as a writer, and probably as a person. It cut through all the bullshit and it made me more real and less able to tolerate other people’s drama. I’m just too busy to deal with it, and I think that’s reflected in my work.
Besides this project what are the other purposeful things are a part of your life?
One of the things I’ve been involved with for the last year or so — I’m involved with Project Hope — a sponsorship group in my community which has helped bring several Syrian families to rural Nova Scotia, and helped them build their lives here. I’ve also sent a package through Koreyan Peterson’s Northen Birthday Box project with my kids a few months ago, which felt hugely fulfilling. And I do a few other little things, like the Shoebox Project. I actually just packaged up my shoeboxes for this year, which get delivered to women’s shelters filled cosmetics and other daily essentials. So I do little things wherever I can. I’m definitely environmentally conscious, although I do drive a big SUV that carries around my family and my dogs. I try. It’s hard, but I try. I just opened a package from Amazon, and Amazon deliveries are not eco friendly. But the package had a set of 8 metal drinking straws for my kids to use. So I’m kind of like everyone else, I’m trying to do it but I’m not doing it as well as I could.
What do you have in common with other moms?
I’m exhausted. Every. Damn. Day. When I post on Facebook about exhaustion or any parenting or mom issues these are really all things that are going on in my life. I’m really tired. There are days when I can only get going thanks to Timbits and coffee. It’s not the best solution, but that’s how I’m getting through.
What do you think is the hardest thing about doing what you do?
Juggling three kids and and working (pretty much) all the time is pretty hard. There’s no time for me. I feel like I’m disappearing into motherhood and all the fun, exciting bits of me were left behind long ago. But I’m trying to do something about that. I joined a fitness challenge at my gym — I’m trying to get out to workout three or four times a week and I’m feeling a lot better about that already. It’s just that I feel spread so thin between the kids, my marriage, my work. Where do I fit into it?
The other challenge I have is I’m from the UK. I don’t have family around to support me, and my husband’s from the UK too. We have no childcare that we don’t have to pay for. Nobody phones me and offers to take my kids for the night, or the afternoon, or to do anything, and I feel like I have a real lack of support. Once you have three children there’s far fewer people who are willing to help you out, anyway. I feel like I really shot myself in the foot with having three. Not that I would trade any of them in, of course.
What other moms do you admire?
I think — I know a lot of moms that we’ve profiled have said this — but it’s the moms who keep it real. These are the people I choose to have in my circle. I love Lauren, who we profiled. She wrote for us a few months ago. The mommy group she runs really resonated with me because it’s a group of women who are upfront about the struggles they’re going through. I also admire my friends who are there for me, who I can text day or night and say “Oh my God I’m having such a hard time,” and they immediately text back with, “What’s going on?” They’re people I can relate to. I feel like none of us has got it all together, and the people who say they do are probably lying. So I like knowing everyone else is going through the same stuff. Keeping it real is important.
How can readers help Whole Family Happiness grow?
I would love to hear about any women — that anyone reading this knows — that we should profile. I would love to feature more women from other areas — backgrounds — in Canada. We’re a hugely diverse country, and I want WFH to tell stories all moms can identify with. If you know someone doing something bigger than themselves, and doing it while rocking motherhood, I want to know about them!
The Whole Family Happiness Project is a group of moms exploring our connection to our individual purpose, our family happiness, and the happiness of the world around us. Come join us on Facebook.