Dec 15, 2014

Mona Shand #MomsWhoShine

#MomsWhoShine is a series about moms who have some kind of talent.  The series was inspired by Dad of Divas Dads in the Limelight.  

This week we are featuring Mona Shand.  She is a lovable gal with a great personality.  I met her during one of my appearances on the Mom Panel on Channel 4 with Karen Drew.  Her talent and passion shines through in her writing and speaking.  (And I can't deny it is AWESOME to know someone who was on Sesame Street.)  

Tell me about yourself. (For our fans, please share what makes you shine)

My name is Mona Shand, and my family and I live in Brighton. I am a journalist and have worked in television, radio, print, and online. As much as I love the news business, it isn’t the most family friendly career, but I’m very fortunate to have found a way to balance my passion for news with my family life. Today I am the Michigan correspondent and producer for Public News Service (, a nationwide agency devoted to covering social justice, economic, and environmental issues. We try to raise up the voices that are often overlooked and marginalized, and provide news segments for radio stations, tv stations, print, and online publications across the country. Basically, I am a one-woman newsroom operating 24-7 from my home (or my local coffee shop or anywhere else with wifi!). I’m also a freelance writer, and I have a blog on family life ( and issues that I consider my free therapy. While I write mainly to keep myself sane, my posts have been featured in a number of different parenting publications, including Mamapedia, BabyCenter, and Huffington Post. I’m also a frequent panelist on WDIV’s Live in the D “Mom Talk” segment, where we share views and opinions on a variety of trending topics.

My heritage is a big piece of who I am. My parents came to this country from Egypt in the late 1960s, looking for the freedom to worship that Christians have not always enjoyed in the Middle East. If you’ve seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” then you have an idea what my extended family looks like. We are big, loud, overly emotional, and unquestionably loving. I’m even the lone vegetarian married to the tall, skinny, Caucasian guy.

Along with family and faith, health and fitness are my passion. I spent much of my childhood and youth overweight, but made a commitment to take control of my health about 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve successfully lost and kept off about 60 pounds, crossed the finish lines of countless races, and even become a Beachbody health and fitness coach. I exercise almost every day, have a passion for healthy cooking, and hope to be a good example for my kids of how to respect and treat the body God blessed us with.

Tell me about your family.

After graduating from high school in 1990, I moved away from Michigan with no plans to return to live, taking up residence in places like Monterey, CA, Paris, France, and Kauai, HI. In 2002 I was between jobs and came home to get my bearings, and ended up meeting the love of my life. We were married in 2003 and have been blessed with three kids: Noah (age 7), Cecilia (5), and Eli (3), and two cats. Though I’m a wanderlust at heart, we’re content to call Michigan home for the moment, mainly because our kids are blessed to be surrounded by all 4 of their grandparents, and a large number of aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives. 

What is a normal day in your home like?

People often ask how it is possible to exercise every day while working with 3 kids... well, the answer is you have to get up early. VERY early. I’m typically up by 5am, and I either go out for a run or workout in the basement. That still gives me time for myself (translation: a shower) before the chaos of the day begins (translation: the kids wake up). Because I work from home, I’m able to drop the kids off to school and be here when they return. The times in between (and my youngest is only in preschool, so it’s only about 3 hours!) are crammed with phone calls to potential sources, interviews, writing, recording and editing audio, and other work-related tasks.

Because healthy eating is a high priority, I try to plan out our meals a week in advance, and do as much of the shopping and prep work ahead of time. We’ve made it 7 years without ever resorting to fast food (believe it or not, the kids have never even been!) so it’s paying off. Aside from the occasional night where activities overlap, we eat dinner together every night- it’s my favorite time of the day.

Once the kids get home it’s a flurry of homework, dance classes, swim practice, gymnastics, and the like, so organization is the key to keeping it all in place. When the kids go to bed around 8:30 my husband and I attempt to keep our eyes open long enough to spend some time together (translation: Netflix) but my eyelids are just so, so heavy by then...

What is the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

It’s so amazing to look at your children and see pieces of yourself (the good and the bad) reflected back. It’s incredibly humbling to know you have so much influence over the people they will become. And it’s comforting to see them carry on traditions from generations past.

What is your biggest challenge of being a parent?

While I try to constantly tell myself “I’m doing the best I can,” I still struggle with Mom Guilt on a daily basis. As a card-carrying member of the Sandwich Generation, I find myself battling Daughter Guilt as well. It can feel overwhelming to be pulled in so many different directions, but I try to remember to let everything I do come from a place of love. When that happens, it ceases to feel like a burden, but rather a privilege.

How do you find balance between being a mom, working and having time for yourself?

I’m a pretty disciplined person, and for me, that’s what works. I can’t just hope that I’ll find time to work out, I must create it. I can’t just hope I’ll get my work done- I have to buckle down and do it in the time that’s available. That often means saying “no” to things like “Girls’ Night Out” or other social activities. I have really limited free time and have to make choices. Sure, I wish I had more time for just me, but to everything there is a season. Right now, it’s my turn to work hard and to be with my family.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned since becoming a Mom?

I think that there are things we are called by God to do (raise loving children, be a devoted wife, do good in the world) and there are things we are asked to do. Motherhood has taught me that in order to say YES to my calling, I must often say NO to other things. So while I’m not always able to chaperone a field trip, or bring cookies for the bake sale, I am able to show my family love and to use my God-given talents in my career. I don’t apologize for those choices- I embrace them.

What is the best advice about being a parent you have received and who gave it to you?

Remember those childbirth preparation classes where they teach you to just BREATHE? Turns out, that’s often the key. When I feel overwhelmed, when I feel overjoyed, or even when I feel like I’m so exhausted I’m about to crash, there’s nothing quite like a deep breath.

What advice would you give to other moms?

Trust your instincts- they’re really in there! Sometimes you have to turn down the noise of the Facebook feed, the blogs, and the throngs of well-meaning but potentially misguided people who give you unsolicited parenting advice and just listen to yourself.

Have a question for Mona?  Please leave a comment below and I will make sure I forward it to her!
Thank you Mona for taking the time to answer our questions:)  Are you a Mom Who Shines or know a mom who would be great for this series?  Email me their contact info at

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer: