Jessica Hickerson Photography » Blog

I am a work at home mama, or a “WAHM” in the mommy blog world. Balancing raising the tiny human and running a small business has been SO challenging. I feel like I have a million things to say about this topic, so stick with me here as I share how the heck this even works 🙂

PSA I want to preface this post by saying this: I absolutely do noooottt have this totally under control. There are many days where we all eat and sleep and thats about it. Any parent will tell you that once you’ve finally figured out a baby’s schedule or preferences, it changes. Like instantly. BUT I want to share what I’ve been doing over the past 6 months.

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I went “back to work” with my first wedding when Dylan was 7 weeks old. Since then I have shot three weddings, a handful of at-home sessions, and about a bazillion family session (bazillion= technical term); not to mention the regular upkeep that goes along with a business: emails, social media, endless computer work, etc etc. Every wedding (600+ images) has been delivered in two weeks or less (I promise four weeks to my clients) and portrait sessions within ONE week (I promise two.) I don’t want to downplay the amount of work that goes in to editing, it is a LOT. But I’ve always been a big believer in “under promise/ over deliver” and its a big part of my business model.

Some details about our life I should mention:

  • Dylan is almost 6 months old and for the past two months has been on a pretty basic routine with her awake hours being 7am- 7pm and 3ish naps a day.  On a good day, she takes three 30 minute naps + 15 minutes of crib chill time before I come grab her. (Note: apparently “normal” 4-6 month olds are supposed to take 1.5 hour naps?!?… I can count on one hand how many times that has happened.)
  • We have always followed an EAT-PLAY-SLEEP schedule and the PLAY portion is a mix of going for walks, running errands, and actually playing. I DO NOT work during these times so I can give Dylan my full attention. Occasionally I will do housework (like the dishes or laundry) but I include Dylan in these activities as much as possible by making up cleaning songs or having her hold things + press the buttons.
  • I’m addicted to Social Media… who isn’t these days? But a rule I’ve set for myself is that I will not be mindlessly scrolling while Dylan is playing. “Zombie Phone Time” is reserved for while she is nursing & sleeping. (Honestly I’d like to kill this habit and have less screen time, but I’m picking my battles)
  • We are ALWAYS on the move. Most naps are in the crib, but sometimes they are in the car/ stroller/ etc. and we both just need to be flexible. This sometimes means I have to work at odd hours to make up for lost time. Which leads me to….
  • I have rules for when I’m allowed to work (mostly for the sake of my relationship!). 4 out of 5 weekdays I “close up” as soon as Sam walks in the door. Occasionally I need to play catch up and have him do full Dad Duty for 30 mins- an hour while I work. But once we get to dinner I’m done for the day. I also don’t work on weekends. Obviously I have photo shoots + weddings, and sometimes need to answer an important email, but 95% of the time my computer stays at my desk from Friday 5pm- Monday 9am.

ANYWAYS. In a perfectly scheduled work, Dylan’s days look something like this:

7am: Wake Up + Nurse, then go for a walk

9am: Nap

10am: Nurse, play play play- maybe run errands

12:00pm: Nap

1pm: Nurse, playtime at home

3:00pm: Nap

4:00pm: Nurse, then normally we take an afternoon walk

7pm: Bedtime

That gives me 30 minutes to accomplish something three times a day (9am, 12pm, and 3pm). The options that constantly run through my head are: emails, edit, laundry, dishes/ cleaning, eat, or relax. At first I put SO much pressure on myself by thinking I could do all of theses during one nap. Then Dylan would wake up early or something and I would be resentful. And thats not fair! So I made my goals smaller:

1st Nap: Eat, WORK/ answer emails, if theres time start a load of laundry

2nd Nap: WORK

3rd Nap: Clean, dishes, relax + EAT (no work)

^ The order can switch up depending on my energy levels and how much work I have to do, how hungry I am, if Dylan wakes up after 10 minutes…

I also have tasks I try to do weekly: On Mondays I grocery shop, Tuesdays I do laundry, Thursday I clean the living room and Fridays are my fun days!

The most important things I want to mention is this: Dylan is happy if I am happy. I am happy if I feel accomplished and fulfilled. To feel accomplished, I have a weekly calendar where I schedule my daily goals, and then check off as I complete them each day. To feel fulfilled, I give my full attention to my family whenever I can and I leave the house (walk at the beach, get coffee, run an errand, baby + mama  groups, etc.). It may seem like those take away from my work/ home time, but it actually helps me do more because I fill my cup (literally and metaphorically) and then have the energy + right attitude to do the other stuff.

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Here are some tips:

  • Multitask // Its so doable if you don’t allow yourself to stress about it. Figure out what you can manage at once. I can cook a meal, move a load of laundry, and answer emails during the same nap time, I just have to figure out my “limit” before getting overwhelmed.
  • Ask for help // I don’t know about you, but this one is so hard for me. But when I ask Sam to take over for 10 minutes before work so I can get ready, or 30 minutes after work (if he’s home early enough) for me to finish up some work, it makes all the difference. Maybe someday I’ll even let a grandparent babysit? 😉
  • Somethings gotta give // Sometimes we just can’t get to everything and THAT’S OKAY. Our “something” is folding Sam and I’s laundry. I literally bought a second laundry basket for clean clothes. Someday I’ll figure out how to do this but for now we can handle digging for underwear every morning and some wrinkly shirts.
  • And finally, GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK // There are days where I buy two coffees and eat cookies for lunch, or maybe just hold Dylan and Netflix all day long. And its okay!!! I’ll resume being Super Mom tomorrow.

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  • Tiffaney - Thank you for sharing! This was so encouraging.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - “I fill my cup (literally and metaphorically) and then have the energy + right attitude to do the other stuff.” Love this and it’s so true for me, too!

    I’m so happy to hear that sometimes you hang out with Dylan and watch Netflix. I’ve felt too guilty to watch TV while Mabel’s awake but I am sometimes on my phone. It’s silly what we make a big deal about. I remember asking her pediatrician if I had to play with Mabel every minute while she was awake and the ped assuring me that just like adults, babies need time to chill, too.ReplyCancel

Brittany and Stephen met while attending college at NYU. A few years later they made the move to Los Angeles to follow their dreams together. LA quickly became their new home and they loved sharing it with their friends and family. Stephen proposed on one of their favorite beaches, and then the two of them started planning the perfect California wedding. They dreamed of beautiful architecture, an ocean view, and bougainvillea everywhere: The Adamson House brought all those visions to life.

The wedding took place in the middle of October, though it felt more like the dead of summer. Brittany and Stephen couldn’t take their eyes off of one another from the moment they had their First Look. Their intimate celebration was truly magical because they allowed their closest friends and family into their story. During the ceremony they shared a sweet little tradition: every Valentines day Stephen writes Brittany a “Why I Love You” book and on their wedding she received a “special edition.”  Its pretty obvious that these two adore one another. And as the sun set, everyone danced under the twinkling lights and full moon until their voices were hoarse and their feet sore.

Photography: Jessica Hickerson Photography

Venue: The Adamson House

Coordinator: Wish Wonder Dream

Videographer: Cotton Love Studios

Florist: Penelope Pots

Rentals: Circa Vintage Rentals, Pretty Vintage Rentals

Catering: Truly Yours Catering

Ice Cream Sandwich Bar: Chunk N Chip

Dress: Hayley Paige

Hair and Makeup: Design Visage

DJ: Vox DJs

 

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Before Dylan was born I started looking for a way to capture her first year of life. She was bound to grow far too quickly and I didn’t want to forget any of it. There are the traditional monthly photos which we’ve been doing (and loving) but I wanted a little more… Something that would last, force me to be present, and to celebrate all the moments of that first year no matter how small.

So I decided to dig out my film camera and shoot one roll each month. Thats it. I would slow down to take one or two photos of those special moments, and then put my camera down and be a part of them.

Three months flew by and it has been such a fun experience. I have the photos developed AND printed each month so I can hold them and experience them the way photographs were meant to be. They are FAR from perfect. Honestly I’m blaming my mom brain for forgetting the rules of shooting film so the first month or so was a grainy mess. Plus the film for months one and two was expired, but isn’t that sort of fun? Its real. Its imperfect. Its our life.

This was the first photo I took, on the day I went in to labor:

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Month one // featuring Dylan’s first beach day(s), first bath, and some quiet moments at home:

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Month two // Dylan’s first camping trip, meeting more family, even more beach days, and a growth spurt:

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Our quiet days at home, just the two of us. As hard as they are I absolutely love them. Also we discovered Dylan prefers to be held “facing the world” and won’t face in any longer!

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Month three // (when I actually bought new film & improved my skill) Dylans first road trip, seeing the redwoods, first time in a pool, hanging with her grandmas, lots of “flying baby” and – you guessed it- more beach days!

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I love the bloopers, even on film. Look at Sam and Dylan with the same annoyed face hahah!
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Snuggles as soon as dad gets home from work!!

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Annnddd here are her monthly photos (one week through three months) where you can see how she’s growing WAY TOO QUICKLY

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Well, we did it. We survived the “fourth trimester”: three whole months with Dylan Bailey. I could write all day about how perfect my angel baby is and how we are completely obsessed with her. If you follow me on Instagram you already know this (and sorry). But instead I want to share an honest post about what motherhood really looks like.
To sum it up in one word: Overwhelming.
Every day is a new change, a new challenge, and a new lesson. One thing I’ve felt from the very beginning is completely overwhelmed. Mostly in a good way; with love, with joy, with this new responsibility. But at times I’m overwhelmed in the negative sense of the word, though those days are few and far between.
The first month was the happiest and the hardest. Sam and I would just look at each other and say “I’m so happy!” because our family was finally complete and we could feel it. But then he went back to work and I was all alone as a stay at home mom, something I claimed never wanted to be. (Yes I know that sounds ridiculous because every mom is a SAHM for at least the first few weeks.) I fell into a haze and that made me feel like I was loosing my identity. I hardly slept and had to feed Dylan every couple hours, but I was so completely obsessed with her that I couldn’t leave her side for more than a few minutes. That left no time for the little things that made me me, like waking up early in the mornings, going for a run on the beach, sitting in a coffee shop and editing, or even eating a meal uninterrupted.
Then suddenly I found the “Reset” button- I actually remember the exact moment it happened. I planned Dylan’s morning feeding perfectly, left the house early, and took her for a nap time walk in the stroller at the beach with a hot cup of coffee in hand. The fog in my brain cleared. I actually had a moment where I missed working and remembered to catch up on texts and emails that had been forgotten for days. Then I made it home before she woke up and needed to eat again. I had everything under control and it felt GOOD. It sounds silly but that little victory gave me so much confidence. Now there are hardly any days where I say “I can’t do this” because there is no doubt in my mind that I was meant to be her mama. Even with the constant changes (growth spurts, schedules, etc.) she really makes it easy for me by matching my newfound calm nature with her own even sweeter version.
Over the next couple of months we really found our rhythm. Most mornings she wakes up with a smile on her face. If she ever cries its probably because she is hungry, and as soon as I feed her she stares at me with those big dark eyes and everything is okay.  Sam and I have kept up our fast paced lifestyle with weekly trips to the beach, dinners out, and even a couple road trips, and Dylan is happily along for the ride. But as much as I love the “busy” times, I’ve really surprised myself with being able to do absolutely nothing all day other than hold her and watch her sleep and still feel completely fulfilled. When we have those rare rough days, something new happens (like her first laugh- oh my heart) and it doesn’t matter. I still am missing pieces of my old self but have replaced them with a new identity. Her mama.
With all of the love I have for this identity, I have to admit something: one of the first things I said when she was born was “I’m NEVER doing that again!!” I went from wanting allllll the babies, to absolutely no more ever. I’m terrified of experiencing pregnancy and labor again, though I’m told I’ll eventually forget the bad parts and only remember the good. But my biggest fear is that I don’t know if I’m capable of loving more than one baby. Because I love her so much. Like, so so much. My heart is already ready to explode. And yes its very strange to already be thinking about adding to our family but I think a big part of becoming a mama is making a lot of scary decisions. Is just one enough for us? or two, close together or years apart? putting it off for as long as possible? I still can only imagine life with Dylan. I’m interested to see how (if?) my heart changes.
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Its been a fun ride so far and I feel like I learn more every day.
Here are just a few things I’ve learned about motherhood so far…

• You should never post a picture of your baby bragging about getting them down for a nap. Just don’t. Because they are pretty much guaranteed to wake up a second later

• Mom arm is a real thing (My arms are more toned now than when I used to weight lift 3x a week haha!) So is mom bod. But I’ve learned to love & accept my pooch since its perfect for standing on- like a built in Boppy.

• Speaking of Boppys, baby items have the craziest names. Boppy, wubba nub, nosa frida, lovey, bumpo…

• Parents cheer on their baby’s poops. It’s super weird but whatareyagonnado?

• Baby things are SO EXPENSIVE. Which I already knew, but what really surprised me is that resale value on the best of the best items is almost the same as retail.

• I can function on basically no sleep and sleeping 4 hours straight makes me feel completely refreshed.

• You AND your baby will go through multiple outfits a day. Being covered in poop and barf doesn’t faze me one bit anymore.

• The laundry can wait. The dishes will be there tomorrow. Its okay to order dinner three nights in a row. What’s important is soaking in every single moment of holding that tiny human and watching them grow, because if there is one lesson I’ve learned its that babies don’t keep.

 

 

Photo by Bernadette Madden
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2018-giveawaypinthis

Its time for my THIRD Annual Wedding Photography Giveaway! My 2017 season is wrapping up (how is it mid-September already??) and I’m really looking forward to the intimate weddings, elopements, and whatever other adventures end up in front of my lens in the next year. Its going to be a good one.

Back in 2015 when I gave away wedding photography coverage for the first time, I definitely didn’t expect it to become an annual thing. However, I was so happy being able to give back to the “wedding world” that I care so much about that I just can’t stop! The couples that won were so incredibly deserving + gracious.

The first year Ari & Chase won the giveaway and I photographed their camp wedding in Flagstaff, AZ in September 2016:

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A month later I was inspired to do the giveaway for a second time, and Anna and David were the winners. I photographed their intimate wedding in Big Bear, CA this past May:big-bear-intimate-cabin-wedding-51pinthis

So if you are getting married in 2018, lets do this thing!! See the details below to find out every last detail about entering this exciting giveaway!

What do you win:

One lucky couple will receive a complimentary wedding photography package valued at $4,000:

• 8 hours of wedding day coverage by Jessica Hickerson

• high-resolution, edited images

• 10 year online gallery

Entries will be accepted on Instagram from Monday September 11th to Friday September 15th. Please make sure you are available via phone or email on the 17th and 18th to answer questions I might have (to make sure I would be the right fit for your day!). The winner will be announced Monday September 18th.

How to enter:

  1. Follow me on Instagram and “like” the original giveaway post
  2. Post a new photo of you and your fiancé and share a bit about your story + your wedding plans
  3. Tag me (@jessicahickerson) in the photo and use the hashtag #2018hickersongiveaway
  4. Email me at jessica@jessicahickerson.com with your full wedding details and contact information

The fine print:

In order to enter, you must be at least 18 years old and getting married sometime in 2018. Please already have a date + venue booked or be able to select one by the time the giveaway ends.  (And obviously it must be a day that I am not already booked!) If you have already booked OR inquired with me as your wedding photographer, you are not eligible for this contest.

While this giveaway is open to anyone in the US to enter, wedding or elopements more than 50 miles outside of Los Angeles are subject to travel fees. The winner will be selected by Jessica Hickerson and then announced on Instagram on September 18th as well as notified via email. If they choose not to accept the prize, Jessica will choose an alternative recipient.

By participating in this wedding photography giveaway, you agree to be bound by these official rules.  By entering you hereby warrant that all information submitted by you is true, current & complete. This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Instagram, Facebook, or any other website.

Thank you & good luck!!!

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