You know how you follow someone on social media for a while and read their blog, and at a certain point you kindof forget that you don't actually know them know them? That's how I feel about Jaana. I love keeping up with her posts about clothes, sewing, her son Stevie, and her complaints about the heat in SoCal (just kidding, I'm so jealous of the weather she gets!). She has a great sense of style and keeps it totally realistic for a mom/casual lifestyle, which is really relatable to me these days. She's also completely hilarious - just read her recent blog post about going on the Price is Right. She's also a photographer and I wanted to ask her about the juggle. I love how she feels like Instagram is a full time job (me tooooo!), that she's finally found a mom tribe, and that she's allowing herself to feel a little of the extra space she's gotten since her son started school. Enjoy! ---Dacy
Q: Introduce yourself, your family, what your creative work has been in the past, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your child has grown.
A: I'm Jaana (pronounced Yawn-a) and I'm a vacation photographer living in Burbank, CA. I've been married to my Paul for 10 years and together we are raising our challenging, but sweet-as-pie-kiddo, Stevie. My creative work in the past has mostly consisted of photography. It was a hobby of mine for many, many years, but I made my money in non-creative fields until I officially started my photography business in 2009. My work evolved so much when Stevie came around. Before he was born, I took every photo job I could get my hands on to build my client list and get more experience under my belt. But when Stevie was a baby, we found out he had a heart condition and I took a year off to care for him. As he has grown, I've had spurts of insanely busy times, as well as long bouts of down time. I've added more responsibilities to my plate, like virtual assisting, but there are ebbs and flows with that as well. When I'm not using my creativity for work, I channel it into writing for my blog, Instagramming (which weirdly feels like a full time job) and learning to sew.
Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?
A: Now that Stevie is in school, I obviously have a lot more time on my hands. When I imagined sending him off to 1st Grade, I thought that was my chance to do more creative work. I thought that was what I wanted. I figured I'd start to hustle. Tap into that creativity and build something amazing, whether it be with photography or influencing, I thought I was ready to rock and roll! But... come to find out, I honestly don't mind being less busy. With all the work it took to get Stevie where he is, the quiet time is such a relief. Plus I think I still need to decide which direction to take my creativity, and I have felt very conflicted about that. So I still just dabble in a little bit of everything. I enjoy so many parts of the process, and I'm timid about going all in to one thing.
Q. Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?
A: Focusing on motherhood has definitely affected my financial and career goals from the get-go. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. That was my life goal. Therefore I never focused on a career. I am lucky that I fell in love with photography and that I had a husband who has supported every venture that's crossed my mind.
Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?
A: I am happy to report that we have family close by who have been lifesavers when it comes to helping out with Stevie. His grandparents and aunt are totally hands on and love spending time with him. We honestly can't ask for more than that. But then I was also very lucky to find mom friends that I've connected with. It took me a long time to find them. Stevie and I didn't seem to fit in anywhere because our journey has been so different from everyone else's. But over the last 1-2 years, I feel like I've found my people. And to say that it's changed my life would be an understatement. We went from the two of us having long lonely summers to a fantastic group that includes us for pool parties and birthday parties and museum days. I don't know if Stevie has found his tribe, but I have found mine. And when mama's happy, everyone else is too.
Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?
A: The lines were definitely blurred in the earlier days. I would try to work from home with Stevie hanging off me and demanding my attention and I used to get so angry. Like why can't he just let me finish this one thing?? It's still hard some days, but I've had to learn boundaries for myself as well as my son. He's just not capable of playing alone and doing things for himself yet, so I really do work around his schedule. There have been times where it overlaps. I think that's unavoidable. So I either hire a sitter, send him to grandma's, or give Stevie coping mechanisms (hello, lollipops!) when I need to wrap up a project.
Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?
A: On a typical day, we wake up around 7 to drink coffee and get Stevie off to school. After a quick workout with my husband, I do the usual house cleaning, catching up with emails, getting ready for the day, shooting and editing photos, and then once I pick Stevie up from school, we move onto his schedule -- swim class, therapy, play dates, etc. On the few days a month that I get called out for a job, I try to schedule them in the morning so that I can go in early and be home in time to pick Stevie up from school. If I really have so much to do that it can't wait, I'll work after Stevie goes to bed too. But I typically like to reserve that time to hang out with my husband.
Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?
A: Write them down. That's about all you can do!
Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?
A: I probably echo a few others when I say DON'T. Don't do all the things. I mean, if you are the type of person who thrives in that environment and can do all the things, I really really respect that. But I'm a much more sane person and a better mom when I prioritize and don't try to do it all. When I try too hard to squeeze everything in, it comes crashing down at some point. These days, I find that self-care and doing things for my mental health often outweigh things that I used to think were really important career-wise. I want to say it's about balance, but I definitely still struggle to find that. I'm just taking it a day -- or hour -- at a time.