It’s been a while, but I am super-excited to be able to bring you the second in this series of interviews. This time, the spotlight is being shone on a lady who I first encountered on The ‘Gram, cos her feed is dope (and her son is super cute *heart eyes*), then witnessed work her magic IRL at a Motherhood Reconstructed event and realised that she’s only human (cue Rag ‘n’ Bone Man earworm) too. Then I *kind of* started stalking her and I found and watched her powerful Tedx Covent Garden Women Talk titled “Reclaiming The Stories That Define Us”, which she ended with the following plea
“despite all of those stories that you may tell, the most important story you will tell is the one that you tell yourself. So don’t let anyone ever define that story for you”
Come on now! I saw that she was so damn real, which, for me, made her even more bad-assy.
May I introduce you to Jendella: a wife/ mother /writer /filmmaker /photographer who thinks and speaks a lot about faith, art and culture, race, identity and mental health; who has curated a truly fascinating project that seeks to contribute positively to the ongoing narrative around Young Motherhood; who has had her work featured in publications ranging from The Guardian and The Voice Newspapers to The Huffington Post and Mumsnet; who has been broadcast on radio and television and who has exhibited her work across the UK and internationally.
When I tell you that this lady has lived! And she’s still only in her twenties! W. T. actual. F, right? Time to gain some insight into how the hell she does it all? I think so…
Thank-you, Jendella, for allowing me to share a little snippet of your story.
Hey! Please tell us a bit about yourself…
I have an 18-month-old son, Amari, and we live in Croydon. I’m married but, due to circumstances, we’re living apart at the moment, although my mother is currently staying with me. I work as a freelance writer and creative with a bit of social media management work thrown in the mix as well.
What time do you get up on a typical weekday morning?
Between 6am and 6.30am. I don’t use an alarm clock, my son wakes me up by climbing on my head most mornings.
OK and also OW! So, what’s the first thing you do (after peeling Amari off your head, obvs)?
I’ve stopped checking my phone first thing in the morning! I’m really proud of that and I hope it continues… I usually read a morning devotional, then psyche myself up to go downstairs and start getting breakfast ready for Amari and I. I’m really not a morning person so I need time to boot up.
So, you’re fully booted and you and Amari are fed, watered, washed and dressed. Then what?
Depends on the day of the week, sometimes it’s swimming, sometimes we have play dates or are going to see my husband. But if we are going out we tend to leave the house by 9.30am. Right now we’re on public transport which is bloody exhausting.
Alot of your work is home-based. How do you fit it in around Amari?
Right now I work around Amari’s timetable. So I tend to do work while he’s napping (like I’m doing right now haha) or later on in the evening when he’s asleep. Sometimes he does get distracted enough with a task or a toy so that I can do bits of work in 15 minute bursts, lol. And, now he’s started feeding himself, I’ll leave him to eat while I quickly type out an email or read over something. Long story short, there’s no set timetable when it comes to my work, it’s just fitting it around Amari’s moods and habits. So, basically, it’s breakfast, get ready, go out if we’ve got something planned or just play, read books, have second breakfast (lol), naptime around mid morning, then I do a bit of work, then naptime’s usually over by midday.
Ah! Midday aka lunchtime. Do you stop for lunch?
Lunch happens anywhere between 12 and 1.30pm. Amari loves ewa (Nigerian beans) and cheese and, if I remember (!!), I’ll give him some fruit. For me, I make a toasted sandwich or mackerel and couscous or just leftovers!
Gah! I love ewa! Never tried it with cheese though…*stares vacantly into the distance, smiling* Yum! Ok, what’s next?
If we’re at home, it’s just more play and mania. I’m trying to get into the habit of taking him out more to the park and other kid-friendly places now that the weather is warmer, but, by then, I’ve usually given up trying to work unless Amari takes a rare afternoon nap. I do try and relax a bit and watch some TV while he’s running around though. Sometimes he’ll stop and sit and watch it with me lol.
If you have been out during the day, what time do you head home?
Since I’m not driving at the moment, I try to be home by 3pm. Getting around is really exhausting and I can’t deal with rush hour antics.
I hear ya…#lesigh I’d be tempted to pick up a Maccie D’s for dinner as my reward. What do you do?
I make dinner and it’s always at home. Usually around 6pm. I’m trying to get into the habit of eating when Amari does because it stops him from trying to have a second dinner (he loves food and will always invite himself to eat whenever anyone else is) and it also means I tend to go to bed earlier if I’ve eaten earlier.
Liking the early to bed strategy. Does that mean that Amari goes straight to bed after dinner?
Amari gets a second burst of energy and is running around some more, but I try and get him to wind down. Maybe we’ll read a book or something. But by the time he’s in his pyjamas and has brushed his teeth he knows what the deal is. Bedtime is anytime from 7pm onwards. Any earlier and he’ll be up at 5am, but I try to get him to sleep by 7.30/8pm latest. Then I’ve got an hour or so to do any last minute bits and piece before I go bed.
Wow! Relatively early bedtime for mama, then?
Some evenings I’ll be working late doing social media work for clients, so then I’ll be up until around 11.30pm/midnight. If it’s not one of those nights, I try to be in bed by 9pm, even if I’m not asleep and I’m just reading.
And do you get a chance to relax at all in the evening?
I’ve been consciously trying to do this more because before I wasn’t. I was just using up every spare hour to fit in work, which made me kind of miserable and anxious. So now I try to watch some Netflix or read a fiction book before bed.
Be honest, how heavily does social media feature in your day?
Well, before it used to be the constant thing going on in my day. Whenever I’d sit down, or just have a moment of idleness or waiting for something my thumb would flick to Twitter or Instagram. I’m trying to combat that because it felt like I literally had people shouting in my head all day long and I’d be so hyper aware of what others are doing or not doing and how that made me feel. Now I’m restricting checking social media until midday, and I’ve hidden all the apps off screen on my phone. If I want to go to them I have to make an effort to scroll to them, so that does make me think twice.
Jendella has her own blog over at The Life and Times of Jendella . She also writes a column for Media Diversified about parenthood, relationships, and family life called ‘You’re Doing It Wrong‘. And, if podcasts are more your thing, she delivers a very honest, funny and thought-provoking monthly podcast with her friend Tols, simply titled Tols x Jendella. She’s prolific on Twitter and her beautifully curated Instagram feed…well you would expect nothing less…