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The Dynamo Next Door


Walk into any bookstore or flip on the TV, and it's hard to miss Richmonder Hannah Keeley. With a recent appearance -- her fourth — on daytime talk show "Rachael Ray" and the April publication of her most recent book, "Hannah Keeley's Total Mom Makeover," this work-from-home mother of seven has more than earned the title of "Total Mom."

Keeley's personality reminds you of the cool aunt who visits for a spell and leaves before the nephews and nieces cramp her style. But watching her on the sidelines of her son Kyle and daughter Katie's soccer game, as she holds Kenna in a Snugli, maintains a conversation with other parents, colors with daughter Klara and motions to Korben that he can have another juice box, it's apparent Keeley's the real deal.

With such credibility comes skepticism about how fulfilling the life of a busy mom could possibly be. "Everyone has their source of joy," says Keeley later on the phone. "My joy is home and family." Her response is interrupted by uproars from Kyle, who has just discovered hair growing in his armpits. Moments like these — which Keeley doesn't hesitate to share — are why her readers and Rachel Ray find her so refreshing. She is definitely not your average lifestyle expert.

Keeley's early days with her oldest children mirror the experiences of a lot of parents: "In the beginning I was much more protective… but then I learned I could lighten up. Most of it comes from experience. I learned that my children were more capable than I perceived them to be." She rounded out her parenting knowledge with tidbits of wisdom from books and friends.

Like her first book, "Hannah's Art of Home," "Total Mom Makeover" offers more wisdom for moms seeking the most out of life, discussing everything from much needed timeouts for romance to the restorative power of meditation. Keeley says the book is creating its own buzz: "A lot of bloggers are mentioning it. It's really an underground effort. … It's spreading by word of mouth. Moms like to talk."

Keeley has been featured in Redbook, Real Simple, Organic Style and many other national publications. She was also recently seen in the TLC special "House of Twins," where she helped a mom of six bring order to her cluttered home.

Keeley is expanding her reach with the launch of her online publication Hannah's Whole Home Magazine, found on her Web site www.totalmom.com. "Our goal is to eventually be a paper magazine," says Keeley, "but we find that women love to go online and access the information immediately."

When asked one of the most important things she's learned about parenting, Keeley answers, "How to lighten up. I heard grandparents were the best parents because they understand by then what's important." HS

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