The new year is a great time for fresh beginnings and making resolutions. It also seems like a time when we say goodbye to things that are no longer working for us. In my case, that means shutting down GoWestYoungMom.com.
With a decision like this, there is never just one factor at play. I started Go West nearly eight years (!!) ago, when my daughter was still a baby. She’s now a busy grade schooler, and I found in the last couple of years that I was writing about events and activities that she had either outgrown or we no longer had time to enjoy. I’m a sentimental sort, and so writing about preschool crafting events or story times makes me a little (sniff, sniff) melancholy.
Also, despite the site’s success with readers, it was never a hit financially. Back when I was posting on the site nearly every weekday, I sometimes felt like I was working full-time for a (very) part-time income. Some of the challenges with the business side were definitely due to my own limitations (I’m a journalist by training, not a saleswoman), but as the declining fortunes of newspapers and magazines everywhere prove, it is an uphill struggle for media to make money online.
Finally, I went back to work full-time this fall, to a communications job in a stimulating environment where I’m greatly enjoying being surrounded by a bunch of smart, caring, creative people. On one side, my brain is being stretched … and yet I’m also welcoming the structure that a full-time job outside the home brings. In addition to Go West, I had been writing and editing on a freelance basis for other clients the last seven years, and freelancing can be a lonely life where it’s hard to ever step away from the keyboard. Between freelance projects and Go West (especially the demanding calendar!) there was always something I *could* be working on. Now that I’m working full-time outside the home, I want my free hours to be spent with my family and friends, away from a computer monitor, creating new memories and searching for the perfect storage container to make my home worthy of “Real Simple.” (That sentence on my “About the Editor” bio has resonated with more readers than I can count!)
But I don’t want to minimize what a hard decision it is to say goodbye to Go West, to all my wonderful readers and the sponsors who have supported me over the years. This is a decision I have agonized over … that I’ve really struggled with. I mean, I meant to publish this “goodbye note” in December, and I couldn’t make myself sit down and write it! And this now-written post has been sitting in my “drafts” folder for days until I finally had the strength to hit “publish.”
I’ve made such wonderful connections with readers and sponsors over the years, sometimes in person at events like the popular Go West Park Parties with the Wheaton Park District, the Pumpkins for a Cure Festival with the Zellmer Childhood Disease Foundation and Primrose Farm event with the St. Charles Park District. Other times those connections were online-only when readers would write with a specific request or take the time to send a note letting me know that following Go West had led to a great experience with their family. I can’t tell you how much those connections and notes meant to me! Those late nights spent on the site were often powered by the energy boost I got from such interactions with readers. I also have to thank the friends and family members who provided support and encouragement and helped spread the word. And then there were the wonderful, talented contributors who have written for me over the years, especially Rebecca Greco, who was my “calendar queen” and contributed great ideas for new posts, and more recently, April Duda and Michelle Wilson, who helped me keep the site chugging along a bit longer. Finally, Go West would not have been possible without my husband Dan, who was often my technical support, sounding board and emotional booster all rolled into one!
While I’m shutting down GoWestYoungMom.com, I do plan to keep posting on the Go West Facebook page and Instagram account whenever I see something that might resonate with young families. You should also follow my friend Annie at kidlist; she writes about activities to do with kids in both the western and southwest suburbs. Little Lake County, founded by my friend Melissa, is the go-to spot for any of you who might have family in or relocate to Lake County. And if you have a foodie in the family, make sure to follow my friend Rachell at Eat the Burbs. As always, I urge you to look to your local park districts, libraries and forest preserves for lots of opportunities for free or inexpensive family fun. Keep making those memories and pursuing new experiences with your kids – the laundry will be there when you get home, I promise!
Thank you for reading this website over the years, for passing word of it along to friends, for sending me suggestions and feedback and support. It’s been a wonderful adventure!