24 Hours With … Photographer Jenn Hopkins

Many of you have probably already heard of Jenn. When she isn’t capturing her handsome boy Sawyer, Jenn is making babies and brides all over the Southeast shine on the other side of the lens. As a mother and small business owner, Jenn juggles a lot every day and does it beautifully. Here is her 24 Hours:

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Do you work inside or outside of the home? If outside of the home, what are your hours? Inside and outside. As a professional photographer I spend about 8+ hours a day editing, answering emails, coordinating photo sessions, marketing, advertising, promoting sessions, networking and other admin duties. I also work outside when I’m shooting. Every Saturday I photograph weddings all day, away from the house, and my sweet son 10-12 hours at a time. My hours are all over the place. I worked hard to find a good routine for my baby, and I use his nap times to work as quickly as possible! Then into the wee hours at night if I have a lot of deadlines.

What is your childcare/schooling situation? I have an amazing, angelic, perfect, sweet, kind, loving sitter. Shes Sawyer’s 2nd Grandmom. He hangs out at her house which is just down the street 2-3 days per week so that I can get in a full days work uninterrupted or so that I can go on photo shoots. I wouldn’t be able to run my business without her. They sing and learn songs, they’ve even done some arts and crafts as gifts for me. I cannot get over how lucky I am to have her.

What is breakfast, lunch and dinner like in your family? I am a single Mama so I hate to admit it but my nutrition usually comes 2nd to my son. I am constantly picking up things like bananas and avocados for him and forgetting to get myself some grown up food! Meal planning is something I try very hard to do, but after my baby, and running my business its hard to squeeze it in. I tend to eat out too much!

Do you meal plan or wing it? Do you like that? I am working more on meal planning, but winging it lately has been the theme in our house.

What is the most challenging part of your day? Day times. It is so hard to try to balance being a single mom, spending amazing quality time with my son, AND run a business. Before I had my baby I used to work about 10-14 hours per day. No way that’s happening now, so I am trying to keep up with my clients’ needs as well as my son’s.

What is the easiest part of your day? Night time! I love my bed time ritual with my son. It calms and centers me just as it does him.

In terms of running a house with a family, what do you feel like you have figured out? I feel that I have our “schedules” figured out. My son’s routine is pretty predictable right now, so I know that at certain times of day we play together and spend time just us. Because his routine is pretty set I know that Ill be able to get to all those pressing phone calls and emails and deadlines in just a few hours or minutes, and it allows me to really focus on our time together. I don’t feel as pressured knowing that at say, 12pm when he goes down for a nap I should have at least an hour to get back to my clients, and that I don’t have to do those things when my son and I are having “our time.”

Does anything still stump you? Every day I juggle my business and my baby. It is hard for me to sit down and work when he’s just a room away napping. I feel like I should be doing laundry, or sterilizing something! I try to save all the daily home tasks for the evening.

How do you take care of yourself and recharge? That is a good question— I am still learning to do this. I do take some evenings for myself once he goes to bed for the night. I snuggle up with all the terrible reality television that’s been stacking up on my DVR or I take time to chat with my girlfriends or bury myself in my kindle. I try to do this a few nights a week. I turn off my computer so that it doesn’t call to me, which is a struggle when your office is in your home. I instantly feel like I’ve taken a part of my life back. I feel recharged and ready to tackle anything new that pops up the next day.

If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
A bubble bath!!!!! That sweet indulgence has gone by the wayside now that my boy is here. Who has time to fill up the bath tub!?

Any other organizing tips you’d like to share?
My to-do list is essential. Every night I rewrite my to do list while I’m sitting in bed decompressing. On pretty little paper with my favorite pen.  Pressing matters go on top, and non pressing matters on the bottom. I start the items that MUST get done the next day, all other items can happen as I have time. That way, when my son goes down for a nap I can work through each item. Crossing them off. It also makes me feel accomplished to write a new to do list each night. I start fresh the next day, not with a list covered in scratches and check marks. It keeps me efficient as I only get little bursts of time each day to really work.

What does a usual 24 hours look like in your house? Because of the nature of my job I never seem to have a day like any other day. I work weekends out of the house mostly, so on those days I wake up with the baby, get him fed and happy then leave him with my wonderful, kind, selfless mother who watches him while I go off to photograph families and weddings. On weekdays usually, my son wakes around 8am, we spend about 2 hours playing and off to nap time he goes for an hour or two while I check things off my to do list. Usually answering client emails and phone calls. When he wakes up its time to eat again, more play time, although this is the part of the day that if we have errands we run them! Back down for a nap, and I edit and work on client images. After this nap he is usually up for the day, so we get dinner ready, do household chores together, etc. After dinner comes bath time then bedtime! For my son, not for me. I usually work for another 2 or 3 hours before I go to bed as well :-) Then we start it all over again!

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