Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Jamie Barry
Today we are spotlighting local mom, business owner, and photographer, Jamie Barry. Jamie and I crossed paths through FemCity Des Moines (of course) and is a regular at the monthly Fem Moms Coffee Connection. I love chatting with her and her laid back vibe. Learn more about Jamie’s business, her Des Moines loves, and her awesome parenting advice!
Give us a little background of your family and personal life! How many kids do you have? Have you lived in Des Moines all your life?
Growing up I had the opportunity to live in many different places, the two most meaningful are Des Moines, Iowa with my dad and where I attended elementary and middle school and Dryden, Washington with my mom and where I attended high school. From there I traveled a bit but landed back in Des Moines for college where I met my husband. We now live on Des Moines’ south side with our three kids of the boy, boy, girl variety.
What is your business, and what do you do?
We do several different things as a family, but first and foremost, I am a photographer. My passion lies with families and newborns. I love to document the smiling faces but more importantly the in-between moments that parents will miss as soon as their littles outgrow that particular stage. It could be a sad, sweet, loud, or quiet moment – and every single one is worth documenting. I have recently ventured into creating family films. It is a more complete way to remember your family as you can see their smiling faces along with the sound of their small laugh. It also may allow them a memory before they may be able to remember it themselves. Looking at a film showing how you held them, nursed them, wore them is such a wonderful tool for them to remember their family history. When making these films I am trying to remember this is for your family to remember five years later but also possibly fifty.
Why did you become a small business owner?
I have always been the girl with the camera since middle school. It was a natural progression of my photography as I started to hone my craft as my kids were born. I started photographing friend’s children just for fun. During that time I realized that I would love for this to be my job. Years later, once our second was born, we took the leap for me to leave my position at Wells Fargo to both stay home and work as a photographer. It has allowed me to work doing something I love, and the freedom within our family that is invaluable.
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play indoors?
My two boys, 11 and 8, have so many of the same interests, which makes my life so much easier. One thing we found this year that they love is Pokemon game night (Tuesdays, 6-8p) at Mayhem Comics. My boys are on the shy side and this space pushes them outside their comfort zone. You have to walk up, in person, and ask another player to battle. You have to spend 30 minutes talking and playing together. For a shy kid, this is a great opportunity to push those boundaries. The staff and volunteers that put it together are so great, the players are young to old, beginner to expert but everyone has been so welcoming from the first night we attended.
If we are letting off some steam, the boys (Alice is working on her courage to join them on this one) love the Ninja Warrior Gym in Urbandale. As fans of the show, they can’t get enough of all the obstacles from the show. They are always exhausted after and it is a really great workout for them. My daughter, 4, has other interests. She loves her time at the Des Moines Children’s Museum or the Science Center. If everyone has to be entertained, we will head to a playground showroom where for awhile everyone can be happy.
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play outdoors?
Our favorite outdoor park hands down is Ashley Okland park near Ewing. Every single one of the kids loves it, there is soft flooring which means no mud, woodchips, or sand so I love it! I will always support any venture that is inclusive, so I love this park is all ability inclusive. My good friend’s son who had a brain injury as a baby loved all the musical instruments throughout the equipment and was able to enjoy right along with my kids! There is also a soapbox derby racetrack at Ashley Okland park so it is a perfect place to bring a scooter or bike. At our old home, we didn’t have sidewalks so this was a major plus!
We are also quick to use our Blank Park Zoo membership. Alice (4) always makes a B-line to the flamingos (mostly because they are pink..) and the underwater seal viewing area. Asher, 8 loves checking out the birds and feeding the parakeets. Jaxson, 11 always has the best time in the maze of a playground.
Parent’s day/night out. Describe your perfect parent only day/night out in Des Moines.
With living just south of downtown our perfect date night would be enjoying one of the many events Downtown Des Moines has to offer. We try to attend as many as we can, with or without, the kids. If we are eating beforehand at the top of our list will be any local restaurant we haven’t tried yet. If we can’t find anything new, we love Aposto, Exile for something relaxed, or Centro is always an easy go to (especially on Mondays for half price pizza!)
What are some tips on juggling parenthood, working, and personal life?
I am at an advantage on this one as I am not a type A personality. I am very going with the flow, to a fault, some might say. (My husband is the opposite of me!) But this allows me to move through the day and work when I need, a parent when I need, and enjoy life when I need. If they all collide at the same time I tackle the most important one first and move to the next. Maybe it is the client email, maybe it is a skinned knee.
What is your number one parenting tip?
My number one parenting tip would be to allow your kids with more responsibility (age appropriate). As a product of single-parent households, I had to do more at a younger age than the average kid. There is no reason you should do it all when your kids CAN do it and will HAVE to do as an adult. The caveat, they might not do exactly like you. Example, I let the kids fill the dishwasher, do their own laundry (yes really), put away groceries, even follow and cook the Hello Fresh meals that we get sometimes – which for some “do it all” parents would have major anxiety that those things weren’t done right. Over time they are more consistent and correct or create their own systems, and even suggestions for our household routines, which is an important life skill in itself.
Example, my eleven years old recently came up with a new system for our chores that we have implemented this summer. Is it perfect? No way, but he is also noticing areas that it isn’t perfect too, and tweaking it as needed. We can’t be upset that our kids don’t know how, or simply don’t do, things for themselves while also upset if they do it “wrong” or slow. They need room to figure it out and kids learn best by doing. To sum it up, my advice is to let go of perfection and let them give cleaning the bathroom a go. If you have boys, I can say confidently they can’t make it worse at least.