Mother’s Day is coming up quickly so what better time to celebrate “Super Mom” and Knackpacker Clare Connelly? Clare has had a fascinating career path, and she is also a mom of 4 who resides on the East Coast. Today, we’re excited to share her inspiring story with you.
Clare has had multiple careers, beginning with working in finance as an investment banker. “I began my career in finance,” Clare explains, “and when I had my first child I was working at a firm in Boston. As I had more kids, I decided to make the decision to stay home with them.”
When her youngest entered first grade, Clare became a pilates instructor. She had always been an athlete, and she figured this would be a good way to transition back into the working world. Clare quickly moved up, and soon she ran a pilates studio in Rhode Island. “It was great,” she says. “I felt like I was helping people strengthen and connect with their bodies.”
As Clare worked with her clients, she began to think about what she’d do after her kids went off to college. “I had a moment where I realized, ‘I’m going to have an empty house in a couple years, so I need to think about the next chapter of my life.’”
And that next chapter presented itself to her while in the studio. “I was working with a lot of people who had pain and injuries, and as an instructor I had a limit on what I could help them with,” she explained. “I decided to go back to school to become a physical therapist.”
A New Way to Do “Homework with the Kids”
Clare went back to college and took classes while her kids were in school.
Instead of being the parent checking up on her kids doing homework, Clare did her homework alongside her kids at the kitchen table. “My kids made fun of me ruthlessly,” says Clare with a laugh. “I had my index cards and they had theirs. We studied together, and it was a good experience for all of us. My kids saw how hard I was working in school, and it was a good example to set.”
Clare graduated from her physical therapy program the same year her daughter graduated from high school. “It was really hard,” she shares. “But it was so worth it.”
Sending the Kids Off to College
All of Clare’s kids are currently in college, with one of them graduating in May. Preparing and searching for colleges can be exhausting for one child, let alone four kids, and Clare faced a college search almost every year for five years. Given her experience, we asked Clare to share some advice for parents looking for resources to help their high school students about to really dig into their college search. She says, “We found that our kids needed to pick their school. As a parent, it’s tempting to decide what school is ‘perfect’, but that’s just not how it works. They [the student] really know best.”
Clare advises doing the research, and picking six or so top schools. “I have 4 very different kids in terms of interests and what works for them. It’s important that they feel comfortable on campus and that it ‘clicks’ with them” she shares.
Graduation Gifts for College Students
All of her kids took different things to college, but Clare made sure they all arrived with “Thank You” notes. “They all packed very different stuff,” she says with a laugh. “If the Knack Pack had been around back when they started school, I would’ve sent that too,” she says.
Given the demands of school, internships and summer jobs, this past Christmas Clare gave each of her college kids their own medium Knack Pack. “I wanted to give them something they’d be excited about, and something that would be useful. It was fun to watch them explore the pockets, and talk about what they’d put in each of them.”
The Knack Pack is great for travel, as each college student is in a different state (Missouri, Massachusetts, Philadelphia and Florida). They’re great for weekend trips, and, of course, trips home to see the family.
And, better yet?
The Knack Packs will still be useful after college. “My son is starting his first job this fall, and the bag will transition with him from college to the professional world,” Clare shares.
Clare, thank you for sharing your inspiring Knackpacker story with us!
If you’re looking for a gift for a student graduating soon, be sure to check out the Knack Pack. It has a hidden expandable luggage compartment, perfect for packing for road trips or traveling by plane. Students can compress the luggage compartment to use the pack on a daily basis for class.