]With the kids back in school, there’s no better time to act on your resolutions—like “What do I want to do when I grow up?”
For many stay-at-home moms, the careers we had pre-kid aren’t feasible or appealing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take time today to explore a passion and perhaps transform it into something workable. After all, one day those kids will be out of the house, and you’ll want to wake up that morning with a plan. (See our empty nest article if you’re already there.)
Market your green thumb
If digging in the dirt is your passion, why not explore landscape architecture. The Chicago Botanic Garden is in your backyard, offering a wealth of adult education classes. There are single-session classes and courses covering everything from horticulture to floral arrangement to landscape design. Students can follow a set curriculum to earn a garden design certificate of merit, and there’s even a 10-week on-site University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program. Courses are listed online.
Get on stage
If you’ve always yearned for the spotlight or just want to hone your presentation skills, why not take an acting class? Chicago hosts some of the nation’s finest independent theaters, many of which offer adult classes (for a comprehensive listing of acting courses and schools, visit Chicago Artists Resource online.
Explore your creative side
Itching to paint more than your bathroom? Why not take a class in figure drawing or metalworking, and you may unleash your inner artist. Check out the myriad of options at The Art Center of Highland Park, The North Shore Art League, or Deerpath Art League, or Evanston Art Center to name just a few.
Learn to cook for someone who actually appreciates it
If you yearn to serve more than spaghetti, try a cooking class that will teach you the techniques and tricks used by the pros. Now We’re Cooking offers a wide variety of classes geared for the novice chef, and don’t forget the one-timers offered by your local William-Sonoma and Sur La Table stores.
If you’re looking to go pro, check out Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, or start small with their MasterChef enthusiast cooking classes, taught by the same chefs instructing students on the professional track. You can sign up for one, a series or whole year of classes.
Become a yoga instructor
Beyond the workshops and retreats offered by yoga studios near and far, there are local teacher training options to move you from practice to instruction.
“Start by asking the instructors you know and respect where they trained,” explains Ilse Sidles, co-owner of Sanctuary Yoga in Highwood. “You also want to decide which style of teaching and philosophy most appeals to you.”
Sanctuary has partnered with Daren Friesen and the Moksha Yoga Center, to offer 200- and 500-hour teacher certification programs. Most instructors need only complete a 200-hour certification program to begin teaching.
Continue your education
Chicago has a wealth of post-secondary institutions, all offering a wide variety of continuing education programs in everything from art therapy to mediation training, to philanthropy and environmental policy. Whether it’s Northwestern University, Oakton Community College, Lake Forest College or College of Lake County, each has certificate programs and professional development tracks geared toward the adult who’s finding herself.
Follow your passion
Remember, it’s never too late. “I wanted a plan for when my kids left the nest and decided to pursue what had always been something I loved,” says Anne Flannery, landscape architect who started on the gardening certificate track at the Chicago Botanic Garden and ended with degrees in Horticulture and Landscape Design from CLC. “Taking the first step toward reinventing yourself is often difficult, but there isn’t a day that I regret it.”
Not sure where to begin? Re:Work III is a one-day seminar for women considering re-entering the workforce.