Welcome to Meet the Working Mum Interview. Today we meet Chantele Cross Jones. Chantele works as a wedding and newborn photography with her husband as well as running her blog Two Hearts One Roof.
If you have missed any of the previous interviews, or if you are new to this series, check out all the other Meet the Working Mum’s.
An intro and a little bit about you, your family and where you live.
Hello everyone, I’m Chantele Cross-Jones from Neath, South Wales. I’ve been with my husband Jon since we were 17 and were lucky enough to get married 6 years ago. And it’s pretty much taken us until now to figure out what we really want to do with our lives. We have recently bought our ‘first home’ together, have a crazy cocker spaniel called Opie and our baby boy who was born last June.
What do you do for a job? Is it what you have always wanted to do?
I’m a professional photographer running 2 companies with my hubby. We specialise in weddings and newborns – www.crossjonesphotography.com. We kind of fell into this. I wanted to be a fashion editor! A long time ago! I have a journalism degree and still wanted to pursue writing (I am fashion editor for a local mag called The Bay though!) but we started getting into photography a few years ago, and then got a bit better, and someone asked us to do their wedding after we did their promo photos and CD cover and that was the start of it. Can never imagine doing anything else now though.
What was your motivation to return to work?
I had no choice, when you run your own business you can’t just stop. Our clients book in up to 2 years in advance, before any baby plans were made, so you just have to keep going. I took 10 weeks off working weddings (just 4 off newborn photography) so Jon had friends who are also professional photographers cover me on the weddings I missed. Even though I am back shooting I’m not really back full time as I used to run the admin side and the blog/website which I don’t have time for with the little dude at the moment.
How many hours do you work a week?
This varies greatly, sometimes I only have 1 newborn and maybe a meeting or 2 which would be 7/8 hours and other times we will have 1-2 weddings and other shoots booked in, so could do 50!
Do you have to travel far from where you live to where you work?
Umm, from my bedroom its about 25 steps to my office (its in my living room!) and about 60 steps to my studio (its in my garden!) Obviously when we have weddings we travel all over the UK so I could be anywhere.
What do you do for childcare? Does this work for you?
Grandparents are wonderful things! Both my parents and Jon’s are usually on call in regards to childcare. Luckily my mum only works for a few hours on weekday afternoons so is available to look after Elian weekdays and weekends, and Jon’s parents are around on weekends too. We have been very lucky so far and not had any major childcare issues. If we can’t get childcare for a studio shot though Jon usually just does it without me, or Elian will sit in on it with us, we did this often for our Christmas minis
What does your morning routine look like? What do you do to get you all out of the house on time?
Whats that! Lol! luckily one of the perks to running your own business is that you set your own schedule and time table a lot of the time. Obviously if we have a wedding its very different, and if it’s an early start Elian spends the night before with his grandparents so we don’t have to wake and fuss him too early. He likes to sleep in till around 9 luckily. On a regular work day, he will strive around 8:30 and I will breastfed him in bed for a while. Then get up around 9:30 and get him his breakfast. Jon will check emails and see what we need to do/whats on for that day. after breakfast its clean up the mess he will no doubt have made and get dressed whilst watching Octonauts or the Furchester Hotel. Then I usually have activities planned with Elian and Jon gets stuck into some work, usually editing or setting up meetings or updating the website.
What do you like about being a working mum?
I love my job and I can’t imagine not doing it. Working with tiny newborns and creating memories for mums and dads is such an amazing thing to do, and capturing weddings can be huge fun. Plus we get to meet people during the happiest time in their lives.
What don’t you like about being a working mum?
The guilt I have from not taking a normal maternity leave like other mums and having to go back to working when he was only 5 weeks old. Lots of his friends have never spent a night away from their parents yet, but at 7 months old he has spent lots due to our wedding bookings. I do feel guilty but on the flip side, other mums go back to work full time (or close to it) and their babies go to day care or childminders, but due to us running our own business and the nature of our business I’m going to be with him the majority of the time, I don’t have a normal 9-5 and can often pick and chose when we work (except wedding dates obviously) so our work/life balance is far more flexible.
What would you change? Hours you work, commute you have to make etc.
We could do with a PA or someone to help Jon out on the back office stuff now I can’t do it. But that’s all really. During busy wedding season he is tied to the computer editing like a crazy man to get our galleries out to couples in the time frame, so it means he can get a little stressed with the work load, someone to help with that would be the only difference we would make. We love our life and our business gives us so much freedom most of the time.
What three tips would you pass onto a mum about to start back at work?
My working life is so different to most other mums I’m not sure I have any tips that would help, other than maybe spend as much time as you can with the little one when your not working, worry less about a perfectly clean house and have fun instead!
For fun show us a picture of your work handbag – what make is it and what’s the most unworkable thing in it I.e. Kids hair accessories, toy cars etc.
Well mines a little different to other mums I should think. This is 1 of 2 ‘work’ bags (this is technically Jon’s but I don’t have a picture of mine, its just a smaller version really) Its a Lowepro and there is nothing unworkable in it! Although in mine there is probably a red lipstick and breastpads!
Thank you so much for taking part in the Meet the Mum interview series Chantele. It looks like to me that even though you are busy with your job you have managed to find a nice balance and spend quality time with your son.
If you would like to be featured in my Meet the Working Mum series send an email to:- firstname.lastname@example.org