Read more about Jenny's #teacherlife and her stunning custom invitations and stationery she creates over at Eckles Invites...
1. Tell us about your family - how many kids? Ages? Interests?I’m married to a wonderful man Matt and together we have 2 (crazy!) boys - Xav who is 6 and Parker who is 2. We spend a lot of time together as a family and as Matt is a teacher as well, we are very used to 24 hours a day together during every school holiday break! As a family, we try to centre our interests around travel and outdoors. They are two things we would love our boys to have a passion for so really, it’s just a good excuse to go overseas whenever we can!
2. I see that you are from beautiful Noosa in Queensland - I am so jealous! It must be a beautiful place to live. What does a typical weekend look like for you?We moved up to sunny Noosa from Melbourne about 2 years ago and love the lifestyle that the warm weather and outdoors brings to our family. Whilst we made the hard decision to move away from so many friends and family members, we certainly get lots of visitors, so it’s a bit of a win-win - we get to see our family and they get a holiday in paradise! A typical weekend for us probably looks fairly similar to most other families. Saturday starts off with swimming lessons for both boys and then usually just a day at home catching up on boring things like housework. On Sundays we try to get to the beach or river (usually in the afternoons) for a walk and a play in the sand. Even as it closes in on Winter, the weather rarely stops us from doing this. It reminds us how lucky we are to live here. As Matt and I are both teachers, Sunday evenings are often spent on the couch with us organising our week ahead at school!
3. So what is your teaching background and what is your role this year?When living in Victoria, I taught in Primary Schools for approximately 12 years before having our first baby Xavier. I’d completed a Masters Degree in that time and was working as a leading teacher and loving my job. I always knew it would be something I’d go back to after having our children. I didn’t see the role as a stepping stone to motherhood - it was a career I wanted to pursue afterwards as well. Whilst Xav was little I did some relief teaching and then took on a shared classroom teaching role 2 days per week. That was a fabulous, stable balance and I loved being back in the classroom.
After moving to Queensland (at 35 weeks pregnant!) and having Parker, I chose to start my business when he was about 8 months old. I needed stimulation and challenge back in my life but he had a little personality that needed me to be around full time a bit longer! My business gave me all of that and I’m so glad I made that decision.
Now that he has just gone 2, I have stepped into a role working 3 days a week as Literacy Enhancement Teacher in Prep at our eldest son’s school. Again the balance is almost perfect. My hours are 9 - 1.30 so I am able to be ‘mum’ for family day care drop off and classroom drop off, then pop on my name badge and lanyard and be ‘Mrs. Webb’ for the next few hours.
So much reward comes from teaching Prep students as their development can be so rapid. As a Literacy Teacher my role is to work collaboratively with the classroom teacher and both be in the room teaching at the same time. Often I take small groups, guided reading groups or literacy rotations. The challenge is to cater for all of their backgrounds and experiences so recently, when reading a guided reading about plants text together, it was evident that some of the students had no idea what a stem or bud of a flower was. Off we went around the classrooms to find flowers and look and touch the buds and stems. So simple but so important.
4. Can you share an example of a successful lesson or activity you've done recently?
5. When do you work on your business Eckles Invites? How did it all come about?When trying to figure out ways I could get my brain working again but not returning to teaching just yet, opening my own business seemed like a logical step. Teaching gives us so many organisational, professional and relational skills and I knew that with these I could attempt to make success of it - which I really feel I have. I wanted to work on a business which didn’t take me out of the house and also allowed me the flexibility to work odd hours. Eckles Invites gives me all of that! I mostly work on the couch with my laptop each evening once our boys have gone to bed. On my days where I’m not teaching, I try to do some at nap time (I hope our 2 year old doesn’t drop that nap anytime soon!) and answer the quick email or message when needed when my boys are around. It works quite well. At times, when I'm busy with orders, I have to be careful not to burn myself out by teaching during the day, being mum in the afternoon and working late every night. I am also very mindful of not ignoring my hubby each night - which is why working on the couch helps!
Definitely! We do a lot of custom orders for mummies looking to really have an invitation designed that matches their little one’s likes and favourite things. Since the beginning we have also added a lot of party stationery to our products as there were so many customers who wanted matching bits and pieces for their party tables - so we now do chocolate wrappers, cupcake toppers, food labels, party favour tags and milestone prints. I’m loving our variety and coming up with designs that are on trend and popular.
6. Can we see some examples of your work?
7. Do you have a favourite party theme?That’s really hard to say because I really advocate choosing a party theme around what your child loves - not what everyone else is doing. Our youngest recently turned 2 and he looooved balloons - so we centred his party all around balloons. It was lovely and he honestly had the best little party ever! As we don’t have any girls, I do love creating floral and boho designs. They have a beautiful feel to them and are certainly our most popular theme.
8. How do you juggle it all? Do you have any organisation tips?I think about this all of the time and to be honest, I have the personality that tells myself to fix something before I let it stress me out. If I start to feel overwhelmed by a working/mum/business owner life, I try to figure out what elements are causing me the most anxiety and work on fixing them. When I started teaching, we hired a cleaner once a fortnight and that is amazing. I also try to do a quick bake up on the weekend for school lunches and my work night dinners are usually leftovers, freezer meals or an easy dinner of eggs on toast! I’m happy with the balance that our family life has created and I honestly appreciate my time in the classrooms as much as my time with my little ones when I’m not at work.
9. Favourite music/movie/TV show?I don’t really ‘watch’ a lot of TV. Even though it’s on each evening, my eyes are often glued to the laptop. Goggle box is definitely one show I put my computer away for though. My hubby often teases me when we do watch a movie together, that I look for a movie where I have to think the least possible! I’m not into thrillers or dramas where I have to keep track of characters and plots! I love putting on some nice chilled acoustic music in the car on the way to school. Our boys respond to it well and it often makes for a relaxed start to the day care and school drop off routine. I really dislike starting my day grumpy as it plays on my mind all day!
10. Please share your links so we can all find you!Website: www.ecklesinvites.com.au
Facebook Exclusive Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EcklesExclusive/
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Jenny! Sounds like you've got the teacher + biz mum thing all sorted out!