Newspapers, Motherhood & Change

mom, son and daughter under an oak treeHave you ever had that one day that changed everything? I did. A lot of you know that I was a newspaper reporter for many years, and now I’m not. Here’s why.

I haven’t said this publicly, in part because I know she might be reading this, but I left work in 2016 because we had to fire our nanny. It happened because she didn’t buckle Clara into her car seat before driving off. She didn’t forget, she just didn’t do it. And we caught her doing it in public, driving from one errand to the next with two-year-old Clara and her own toddler son just plopped down freestyle in the back seat. This wasn’t just some random teenage babysitter either – this was a grown woman and mother-of-two (of her own kids) who had cared for Clara since she was 3 months old.  And it was devastating. 

Call it a sign, call it whatever, but the day she did that was the day I left the newsroom to be a stay-at-home mom. 

The Tribune signStepping away from 12 years at The Tribune was one of the hardest things I’ve done.  I’d been thinking about leaving for a higher paying job like a lot of my thirty-something newspaper friends were, but I wasn’t ready. Bowen and our kids are everything to me, but, at the time, so was that newsroom. All the people I’d ever interviewed and the hundreds of stories I’d written, not to mention the dedicated writers I worked with, had taken up residence in my heart. Those things weighed on me. They lifted me up. They made me who I was. 

But then the nanny thing happened. And it’s the stuff like that shift the way you look at things.

It’s been four years since I resigned. 

Baby crying with laundry on floorMy heart in all of this isn’t an ungrateful one. But coming from a place where staying home wasn’t the original plan, the shift of sudden change was hard. Really hard. I missed my freedom. I missed being recognized for my efforts.

I missed … writing.

Not just in a journal to myself or whatever, but for people. To me, writing represents pieces of a puzzle – scattered. And it’s up to me to use everything I’ve got inside myself to collect and assemble those pieces into something that’s informative or inspiring. It’s the chase. It’s the deadline. It’s not just a creative exercise – it’s a challenge. And I was good at it.

So, I reinvented myself. After Wyatt’s 1st birthday, I launched Two In Tow & On The Go. 

I “traded days” with Bowen so he’d take the kids on Saturday and I’d take the kids the following Sunday. I did that most Saturdays for months so I’d have 8 hours straight (minus using the breast pump) to build a WordPress site using YouTube tutorials. I started an Instagram page, researched the best posting times and downloaded all the photography apps. I repurposed my Facebook and Twitter accounts for blogging. I designed a logo and a tagline and posed for pics. I started categorizing all the places we’ve been to and outlined stories for them. The prep-work took three months.

Then, I put myself out there.

I emailed my former newspaper sources looking to find new kid-blog ways to connect, secretly hoping they’d take a chance on me branching off on my own.

They did.

I sat with the publisher of a local magazine over coffee (too nervous to drink it) and pitched him my blog as a family adventure column.

I got it.

I wasn’t writing for a newspaper anymore. I was writing for me. And, hopefully for some other parents who needed inspo to get out of the house, too.  Everything I’ve achieved thus far is the result of something that I’ve applied for, pitched for or reached out for in some way.

Back then, the basis of the blog was simple: to write what I know. That’s all I could do. Interviewing people was out, because there was no time. I couldn’t professionally interview someone with my two-ring circus in the background. I didn’t want to give parenting advice or cooking advice or cleaning advice. Because one, I don’t like those things. And, two, who am I to give advice on them? All I knew was that getting out of the house made everything better. The kids seemed happier. I seemed happier. I liked watching them smile when the wind touched their little faces and when their eyes lit up at the sight of birds or bugs or leaves.

So that’s what we did. The blog became about day trips and play-places we went to in and around our community – not because we’re avid travelers or that I’m some outdoorsy extrovert who always needed to be doing something. It was – and still is – “because sometimes you just need to get out of the house.” That’s my slogan and my #momtruth. Always.

It also didn’t hurt that we’re extremely fortunate to live in an exceptionally beautiful pocket of California’s Central Coast where almost everywhere is a tourist destination. Since I covered those places as a reporter for so many years, I know all sorts of fun facts and history about each place. I have a connection here; to the land and to the community. And that made the posts fun for me to share.

Sometimes the trips sucked. They ended with a skinned knee or someone crying about not getting ice cream. And I wrote about that, too. I wanted each post to come from an honest place. A perspective that, yeah, things might go wrong but at least we tried. At least we did something. We went somewhere. We saw the thing and took a picture of it, and I could blog about the whole thing one-handed from a nursing chair back home.

Writing while the baby naps
Writing while the baby naps.

Two In Tow isn’t just my blog, it’s how I made stay-at-home mom life work for me. It’s me finding confidence in a new path by making the journey my own.

Through all of this, it made being a mom fun again.

Plus, I know my kids are happier with me being home. I can’t imagine going back. In my heart,  my instinct to leave the corporate world was right. Nanny problems or not. My kids needed me, my love and all my quirks. And I needed theirs.

Mom and babies at the beachTo end this post, I’d like to say that being a stay-at-home mom and a blogger has opened me up to so many more experiences than I could have ever imagined. It’s super cliché, but it’s true. I feel like Instagram in particular, and the unexpected journey of becoming an influencer, has completely changed my life. The friendships I’ve made, the places we’ve been to, and the bonding moments with my kids – those are what fills my heart now. Not the stories of others; but our stories. Thank you for reading them.



About Tonya Strickland

Tonya Strickland is a journalist and Instagram influencer in the family and travel niche. A former newspaper reporter, Tonya shares unfiltered #momlife content about places to go with kids. Her family moved from California's Central Coast to Washington state in August 2020. Their adventures now continue in the Pacific Northwest.

7 thoughts on “Newspapers, Motherhood & Change

  1. I love so much about your journey to becoming a successful blogger- I’m sure everyone who reads this will be inspired to have courage to make a change, or follow their heart ❤️

  2. This! My husband jokes that I need to be walked twice a day like a dog and it’s so true. I couldn’t stay home with my kids if we didn’t take local trips often. The early stages of the pandemic were so tough when we didn’t know how to protect ourselves and others by wearing masks and reframing activities.

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