Mom takes a mid-life 'gap year' to explore her passions, inspires others

One mom is making it clear that you're never too old to start over.

March 21, 2023, 9:11 AM

After feeling overworked and burnt out from juggling responsibilities at home and obligations in the workplace, one mom found a solution usually reserved for young adults: a gap year.

Kym Wootton lives in Colorado with her two kids and her husband.

At the age of 42, she said it was time to step away from a successful career and “reimagine” what she wanted to do.

"Today is the first day of my mid-life gap year," Wootton said in a Jan. 26 TikTok video that has since gone viral. "I'm going to use this year to, first, slow down. Take some of the rush out of my life."

Wootton told "Good Morning America" that both she and her husband have worked since her kids were young. After finding herself in a job that was not a fit, she decided to quit and not look for another job.

"Even when I was with [my kids], I was thinking about work," Wootton said. "So the idea that I could just step away from it, that I could walk away from a successful career to reimagine what I wanted to do, and at the same time, getting the opportunity to be around my family all the time, that was really exciting for me."

PHOTO: Kym Wootton pictured with her family on Oct. 11, 2022.
Kym Wootton pictured with her family on Oct. 11, 2022.
Kym Wootton

Wootton said she planned her mid-life gap year in advance by making sure her family could live solely on her husband's income.

"I told my husband that it was something that I wanted to do," she said. "We had to prove to ourselves that we could live on much less, and so we have spent the last several months living without my salary."

Wootton said she acknowledges how lucky she is to be able to take this time, which she said she is spending focused on family and following her passions, like writing.

She has documented her journey on TikTok, where many followers have applauded her for doing something different.

"You go, girl! I chose to do something similar and pair down to part time hours on a temporary basis to re-focus, balance and prioritize," wrote one commenter.

"This is amazing!!!," wrote another. "It sadly took the pandemic and belong laid off most of 2020 for me to realize how important it is to take a break and slow down!"

PHOTO: Kym Wootton is a mother of two who lives in Colorado.
Kym Wootton is a mother of two who lives in Colorado.
Kym Wootton

Many people though may worry about how a gap in their resume may impact their career.

Tessa White, a career expert known as “The Job Doctor,” said taking a pause from a job may actually restart a person's passion for work.

“It is often that very act of courageous leaving a job that puts in motion the conditions for re-creation, reengineering your life and getting to a place where burnout isn't so much the issue," White told "GMA." "Where you're actually happy again with what you're doing."

Even if a gap year is not an option, White said there are small steps that can be taken to find happiness while balancing a career.

“I think the easiest way to start would be take your PTO time and take one day per month that's a long weekend,” White said. “That's a good way to start eliminating some of the burnout.”

Wootton said she hopes her experience taking a gap year provides important lessons for her two children.

“I want my kids to find what they love and what lights them up and what makes them feel good and what makes them feel like they're contributing in a way that is meaningful to them,” she said. “And if that means that they have to leave a successful job at some point and start over and do something else, I hope that they will look back on the time that their mom did that and feel the confidence that they can do it for themselves.”