We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Van Zandt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christine, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work-life balance changed the most when I became a parent. Until shortly before I delivered, I worked long hours and wondered if I could ever be a stay-at-home mom. Then, the baby, and the only thing I wanted to be was a stay-at-home mom. My husband I decided to live on less for a while and see how that went. Meanwhile, I developed my previous side gigs as a writer and beta reader into much more.
This change didn’t happen overnight. During the diaper years, work took a back seat. I had always written, but shifted to writing for kids after I read the first five hundred kid’s books—or maybe it was because of that one book I had to read five hundred times because, “Mommy, again!”
More than a decade’s passed since I started working from home. My literary editing company is stable and growing. My first children’s picture book was published June 1, 2021. Life is good.
So, work-life balance? It’s never balanced, but ongoing give-and-take adjustments.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a writer and have always felt driven to write, keeping a journal already in elementary school where I jotted down stories. I’d also lose myself in books. During my weekly outing to the library with my dad, old-book smells and unread stories welcomed me. Authors from around the world shared their imaginations with me and I felt I belonged, lost in their words.
Now that I’m writing for kids, I’ve rekindled that childhood magic and hope my stories transport kids—at least for a few minutes. My nonfiction picture book, for ages 3-8, is about the history of underwear. I scoured reference books to find facts that are interesting and/or funny. The illustrator added another layer of humor.
But, once the giggles end, I want kids to have learned something and to think beyond the book. The Industrial Revolution propelled clothing from home-sewn to ready-made. Inventions such as synthetic fabrics brought us where we are today. But, is that good? The fashion industry creates an incredible amount of waste. The US has embraced “fast fashion”; we buy cheap clothes and throw them out, sometimes without even wearing them. Most of today’s fabrics are not compostable.
My brand, the WHY behind my writing, is to remind kids that we’re amazing with what all we’ve done and can do. But to also realize our planet’s polluted and it’s our responsibility to come together and use our ingenuity to change our destructive ways. We all need to pitch in—a concept kids readily accept, but, somehow, is lost as we age.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll imagine my trip AFTER COVID restrictions have been lifted. Let’s call it Museums, Munching, and Music!
Day One: An all-day visit to the Huntington Library to wander in the wonderful gardens, break to have a cup of tea and bowl of congee.
Day Two: Exposition Park for the Natural History Museum, rose garden, California African-American Museum, and California Science Center.
Day Three: Hit a local farmer’s market for fresh produce and wonderful baked goods. Out at night to catch a favorite group under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl.
Day Four: Visitors always want to shop and see the other Farmer’s Market (at the Grove), so a quick whirl through there, lunch, then onto the Broad. A delicious dinner before listening to some world music at the beautiful Disney Concert Hall.
Day Five: Time to pack a picnic and head into nature to enjoy one of many lovely local hikes such as around the Griffith Park area. A spin on the carousel is required!
Day Six: Back to museums with the LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits, then a wander down the street to see what restaurant tempts us. But, we won’t stay out too late, or we’ll miss tonight’s show at the Greek Theatre.
Day Seven: No visit to Los Angeles is complete with a trip to the beach! Some junk food today followed by a bike ride along the boardwalk.
Hope you enjoyed your visit, now go home and rest!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family deserves the biggest shoutout: my husband for his steadfast support of me as a mom, entrepreneur, and creative, and my daughter whose wonderful idea to write a picture book about the history of underpants caught the attention of a publisher and has since become a reality.
Photo credit: Brian Van Zandt