christine mosler

Mother Writer Interviews: Chris Mosler

Chris Mosler

Chris Mosler describes herself as an ‘over stretched, thinly spread mother of 4 writing, teaching, tutoring and parenting’. She is also a blogger (Her popular blog Thinly Spread is a finalist in the Mad Blog Awards), professional photographer and copywriter.. She was recently asked to travel to Mozambique with Save the Children and is now a digital ambassador. She lives in Somerset, UK with her family.

Tell us about your family Chris

I have four children aged 5 (boy), 11 (girl), 13 (boy) and 15 (boy) and a gorgeous husband who I met 23 years ago and have been married to for 17.

You are a teacher, blogger, writer, and professional photographer and copywriter, as well as raising your family. Does it get…erm…busy. How do you juggle everything?

It’s very busy but I now have time during the day while they are at school which has made things much easier and means I don’t (often) have to work into the night. I’ve had to learn to be organized and have a wipe clean whiteboard in the kitchen where I jot down what everyone has to do during the day otherwise it could all go horribly wrong! The older ones are pretty good at organizing themselves now and the oldest one of all organizes me!

What is a typical day like?

It varies. I’m not supply teaching this year while Bonus Boy is in reception and I’m taking the opportunity to try to launch my writing career so I don’t have to teach. (Supply teaching is a bit thankless and I can’t see me going back to full time teaching with four kids and a desperate urge to write!) Most days I write all morning and up until about 2 when I rush about like a mad thing trying to sort the house etc before the kids get home. It’s then kids and clubs until I collapse in a heap at about 9 o’clock. My teens are still around so I can’t really write in the evenings (although I do if I really need to!)

Tell us about your blogging and writing, your blog Thinly Spread, is gaining recognition among parenting blogs and you also write fiction.

The blog has been a revelation to me, I’ve only been at it for 16 months and it has gone from strength to strength. I started it to showcase my writing but I’ve enjoyed writing it so much it has quickly gone beyond that. I did get copywriting work off the back of it (I wrote the Timberland Family Club website) but it is the sense of community in blogging and the sharing of ideas which has brought me most joy. It is fabulous getting an instant reaction from readers and having a dialogue with your audience! I am a finalist in The Mad Blog Awards for Best Blog For Family Fun which I am really chuffed about. I was blogger of the month on Tots 100 and Blogger of the week on Britmums last month which was really lovely. I love writing using my parenting and teaching experience and people seem to like reading about it!

My fiction work has taken a bit of a back seat as I strive to set up a career which fits around my children and earns a bit of money. I have run writing workshops in the past but I’m not at the moment as I find it stifles my own work a bit while I’m trying to encourage other people’s creativity! I write short stories, some poetry and I have 35000 words of my first novel marinading under the bed!

As if your life wasn’t full enough you were recently chosen to go as part of a team to Mozambique with Save the Children, how did that come about and what was to be your role there?

I was asked! I have gained some recognition in the parent blogging community for ethical blogging and I attended the Save the Children blogging conference earlier this year but it was a complete surprise when I received an email from them asking me if I would be interested in travelling with them to follow a vaccine along the cold chain from city warehouse to rural community and into the leg of a child. We went to raise awareness ahead of last week’s GAVI pledging conference where world leaders were deciding how much money to invest in the vaccination programme. My role was to blog like mad and whip up a social media storm to get as many people as possible to sign the Save the Children petition to persuade them to save 4 million lives in those 4 hours…and it worked!

It must have been an amazing and emotional experience, what were the key moments of the trip?

It was incredible. Meeting the women of April 7th clinic (I arrived by motorbike following the vaccine) was life changing. Vaccinations literally mean the difference between the life and death of a child living in those circumstances. If a child gets ill with measles the mother would have to walk back along the rough track it took me 20 minutes to travel by motorbike carrying her child before she even got to a road. Then she would have to wait for an overcrowded (jammed to bursting) mini bus to take her the long distance to the nearest hospital (at a huge financial cost to her). When they reached the hospital there is no running water and the chances are if her child survives what s/he went in with they will come out with something else. These are killer diseases, we take vaccination for granted in this country but 1 in 5 children worldwide receive no protection at all and they are, in the main, the children living in the poorest, most difficult circumstances. The women I met were just like me, with the same dreams and hopes for their children. They shared their children with me (I blew bubbles with them and played, it was lovely) and I showed them photos and videos of mine on my Iphone. We didn’t speak the same language but the language of motherhood is universal.

I saw children dying in Mozambique, I was a shouter before now I am yelling and, thankfully, it is now possible to be heard. Social media is a wonderful thing!

When you returned from Mozambique there was still more to do, tell us about the GAVI vaccines conference and meeting some famous and influential people there.

I met Bill Gates when my fellow travellers and I were asked to sit in on the telephone conference he held with Justin Forsyth and Natasha Kaplinsky. He is an amazing, understated man who is incredibly passionate about helping poor children. Best quote of the day was ‘Vaccines are cool, cooler than writing computer code’

I visited the Department of International Development and had a meeting with the Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell to talk about my trip and show him photographs and also some of the letters written and pictures drawn by children in support of our campaign. I met him again at the press conference when the vaccination funding announcement was made and he thanked me for all the work I had done, which was very nice!

I went to Downing Street to deliver the petition ahead of the conference.

I was on telly a lot…the ITN lunchtime news, Daybreak, Local TV and Radio and the Politics Show and in the press.

On a personal note I was delighted to bump in to Alan Titchmarsh very early in the morning at the Daybreak studios and to have a cuddle with him and a photo taken. I love gardening, write about it a lot and have watched Gardener’s World avidly for many years. If I could now meet Monty Don my life would be complete!

Chris' children

How do you think your experiences will feed back into your life now as you return to the bustle of daily living and how did your children relate to your trip?

Settling back in to life in the UK has been hard. The excess and advantage is deeply unfair. I have tried hard not to over burden my children who have been staunch supporters of the campaign and waved me off with pride but it is hard not to say ‘You have no idea how lucky you are’ all the time. I have come back with a deep respect for the women I met and I shall be writing about them in one way or another for many years to come. I am now a digital ambassador for Save the Children so I am maintaining my links with them which I am delighted about.

Is there any message you would like to give people based on your experiences?

The written word is a powerful one and with the enormous potential reach of social media and the internet there are enormous possibilities for social change. We reached nearly 30 million people with our twitter campaign. Never think that your voice doesn’t matter, that it won’t be heard because it can be…it’s astonishing!

And what advice would you give parents juggling life, writing and other work?

Do what you enjoy. Make time for the bits you love and let the other stuff go if needs be. I rarely iron, my house is a mess but we survive!

Thanks so much Chris for talking to us, and for a really inspirational interview. If you enjoyed this interview, click here for more.

Where to find more on Chris

Chris’ regular blog Thinly Spread is an excellent blog on parenting with regular features such as Silent Sunday, Something for the Weekend, fabulous recipes and things to do with the kids.

Follow Chris on Twitter

Chris has also been blogging for DfID (UK Department for International Development) over the last couple of weeks

The Gates Foundation featured one of her posts from Mozambique which was very exciting she tells us. 

She also vlogged on In the Powder Room while she was in Mozambique.

Mother writer interviews: Humanity and the imaginative hunger

Paul's Himalayan Musk flowering in my garden

And Breathe. I’ve been delighted at the interest in my series of Mother Writer interviews and how you have found them relevant and inspirational . The mothers featured are determined, hardworking, often having a wry sense of humour. They suffer guilt and it’s not always smooth. As a mum of four kids ten and under, with several writing projects on the go, I really wanted to hear from other mums as to how they coped with the juggling of their joint passions, their children and their writing careers. There are practical tips but what has stood out for me is the attitude of the mothers, their persistence, their readjustments to the reality of life’s pressures, their generosity towards not only their families but to others in the writing community when it would have been easy to be selfish, to make their writing more important than anything or anyone else. Success often is said to require singleminded determination but what I admire is the interviewees ability to pursue their writing dream while also dedicating themselves to the welfare of their children, the difficult job of physically & psychologically preparing them for the world, the day to day caring and minding that revolutionizes the life of the child and the person they become into the future.

Which brings me on to my next interviewee Christine Mosler. This particular series of interviews was to run from March to May including today and my final interviewee for this series is to be mum of four, writer and blogger, Christine Mosler. However I elected to give her the day off and to wait until she returns from an amazing trip to Mozambique with Save the Children. As Christine explains here this trip takes her out of her comfort zone but is something that is profoundly important to her to raise awareness about the lack of vaccinations available to the children there. It is bound to be an amazing but very emotional trip and it will be fascinating to hear from her when she returns. In the meantime her wonderful blog about and for families is nominated for a MAD blog award which she richly deserves, so if you care to browse her blog and vote for it in the awards that would be wonderful.

The series of twelve interviews has been wonderful and I have been asked to crosspost them on the Irish national writing resource website where I have a guest blog. So if you missed any of the interviews you can catch up with them there or else here.

I will continue to run interviews on the blog but not every week as I am focussing on finishing the first draft of my next novel The Feeling of Being (about motherhood, identity and memory). There is also a family wedding coming up which I am looking forward to tremendously.

Future interviews will be from a variety of people, not only mothers (I know some writer fathers wanted to be represented!) and on a variety of topics. Since they will be more intermittent you may want to sign up to the blog to receive notification (only if you want!) .

So time to pause and breathe and refocus. Time to be present with family, with the writing, with the causes that are important, to sit in the sunshine for moments and realise that we are pointed the right way, that a calling to be a writer is a wonderful thing.

I was listening earlier to an old interview with well known Irish writer Brian McMahon at the Listowel Writer’s Festival many years ago. He talked about the ‘obsession of being a writer’. He said that there are three hungers ‘the spiritual,  physical and imaginative hunger’. These three hungers combine at a wedding he suggests, which makes the ceremony and occasion powerful (I will soon bear witness to this!). The writer has that imaginative hunger, this desire to create. As Brian McMahon said, the writer possesses ‘a wonder in the face of humanity’. As I listened to Brian McMahon, I felt at home, as if I had found my place. He says we need to keep striving to ‘perfect ourselves as the instrument’ of this telling about humanity. It is something once we know we have to do, that we cannot give up on. What the mother writer interviews show us is how to preserve and develop our own humanity and to dwell in the thick of it alongside our writing ambition.