Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Jenn Callahan
Jenn Callahan is a resource for all expecting moms in the Des Moines area. Jenn holds the role as Manager of Childbirth Education and Doula Services at MercyOne. Jenn’s role is an important one and she is helping expecting families daily. Learn more about Jenn’s ‘passion hobby’ and her five parenting tips.
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?
First and foremost, my title is “boy mom.” My boys are Colton, age 9, and Carter, age 6. I graduated from the small Iowa town, Montezuma, and we have lived in Grimes for the last 10 years where my boys attend Dallas Center Grimes Community School District. We have two Papillon dogs, Herky and Wrigley. I love scrapbooking and I’m a hobby baker. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Health Education and Coaching from Iowa State University in 2009.
After graduating from college, I taught 7-12 grade Family and Consumer Sciences at Van Meter Community School District for 3 years. During this time frame, I became the Executive Director for Iowa FCCLA (Family Career Community Leaders of America), which was formerly known as FHA (Future Homemakers of America). I pursued a new adventure in 2012, teaching 10-12 grade Family and Consumer Sciences at Waukee High School for 3 years while continuing to serve as Iowa FCCLA Executive Director. Within my education background and involvement in FCCLA, I always loved leadership and knew I wanted to continue my education journey! In 2016, I received my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies/Administration from the University of Iowa. I wanted to become a high school principal, but couldn’t give up my love for teaching.
The perfect opportunity came along for me to use my passion within the family and consumer sciences education and teach childbirth education classes at MercyOne Medical Center in Des Moines. I realized my passion and calling in life was to support the work of childbirth education professionals by presenting evidence-based research to expecting families in a safe and interactive environment that is student-driven by providing leadership tools for our instructors to incorporate technology, develop higher order thinking skills, and demonstrate real-life connections by building relationships with families to develop their birth plan and give them the best birth experience possible.
Other credentials I hold include: Certified Professional Childbirth Educator through ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association), Certified Professional Doula through ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association), Maternal Child Health Specialist, Count the Kicks Medical Advisory Board Member, ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association) Board of Directors – Director of Education, and Outpatient Breastfeeding Champion Certification.
What is your business, and what do you do?
I took over the Childbirth Education and Doula Department officially in November 2016 as the Manager of Childbirth Education and Doula Services at MercyOne. In this role I am honored to develop curriculum, teach childbirth education, help train and hire staff by teaching certification workshops, event planning, marketing/promotion of our services, community outreach presentations, providing day to day administrative and leadership duties for my department, along with serving as a doula offering continuous hands-on labor support to our families. When my schedule allows, I take private clients as a certified professional birth doula! I support women and their partners during pregnancy, labor, and the birth of their baby by providing continuous physical, emotional, and evidence-based educational support. I am different than most business owners, as I consider myself to have a “passionate hobby” in which I am trained and certified for…and, not a business! My passionate hobby is called “Doula Services with Jenn Callahan”.
I love being able to truly get to know the family throughout their pregnancy and develop a relationship with them. I feel like I become a best friend that they can count on for hours during the process. By the time labor happens, it feels like we have known each other for years and helps momma relax even more in the calm atmosphere I have provided for her – (birthing balls, peanut balls, candles, music, essential oils, massage, visualization, along with help in breathing and movement). Being the Manager of Childbirth Education and Doula Services at MercyOne is always my priority and having a full-time job limits the number of private clients I can commit to, so I mostly do more volunteer birth doula work with my staff.
My work schedule is flexible so I am blessed to be able to help out friends and family in this role. I am blessed to have such a rewarding career by helping educate families, support them during one of the most important times in their lives, and seeing everything come full circle.
Why did you become a small business owner?
I developed my “passionate hobby” truly by accident. When I began teaching childbirth education, I had several families I connected with and they wanted me specifically to be their doula because they said they couldn’t imagine going through a birth without me. At the time I was only a certified professional childbirth educator, so I became a MercyOne Volunteer Birth Doula! I volunteered for so many families as I worked on my certification. (I’m always looking to hire and train doulas! If you are interested, learn more. During this time, my only career was a part-time childbirth educator and I decided to pursue this passionate hobby of mine and take it to the next level for extra income. I was fortunate to help so many amazing families and still thankful I am able to watch their babies grow even today. I have been blessed helping my families welcome their second and third babies into the world. I never thought I would then train and hire doulas in my program at MercyOne!
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play indoors?
My boys love playing at Skyzone in Grimes! They could spend hours there if I let them. It’s perfect for cold, rainy, or extremely hot days. They enjoy learning new tricks on the trampolines and their favorite – jumping into the foam pit! I love that I am able to put on my own sky socks and go out to jump with them too! Groupon always has great deals for jump time prices. We have had several birthday parties here too and love the clean atmosphere and staff!
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play outdoors?
During the spring and summer season, you can always find us at Adventureland, specifically Adventure Bay! We buy season passes so we never feel like we have to spend the entire day just to get our money’s worth. We always go right when the park opens so we can beat the crowds. By taking multiple, small trips, we can always focus on something different and it never gets old! We do, however, always go to the water! As we walk through the park to get to the waterpark, we stop at their favorite ride – The G-Force! As with many of the rides, this ride has been around since my childhood and was always one of my favorites too. It’s so much fun watching them create memories as I relive my childhood! We start at the Wave Pool and Pirate Pool, then move to the water slides and lazy river. When we are finished, we always bring our reusable Adventureland cups to get an ICEE…they definitely make sure I don’t forget!
Parent’s day/night out. Describe your perfect parent only day/night out in Des Moines.
Perfect date night in Des Moines for me is your traditional dinner and a movie. My favorite is Chicago Speakeasy! They have the best steak deburgo in town (although Simon’s has a fantastic steak deburgo too!) I would also never say no to a walk around the lake at Jordan Creek mall followed by some cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory to end the evening! When I also get a chance, I love having drinks and listening to music at Blue Moon Dueling Piano Bar and laughing hysterically at the Funny Bone!
What are some tips on juggling parenthood, working, and personal life?
One of my favorite quotes is “Love the Life You Live, Live the Life You Love.” You cannot be stressed out from work, parenting, or relationships to the point you cannot love and enjoy your life. It can be a challenge some days, or even weeks, to juggle and balance it all. I am very much a planner and organizer, so I make sure to find time to treat myself. This helps me energize and become ready to tackle the next day! It’s important to prioritize tasks and for me, that is making multiple to do lists, printing off calendars and setting reminders in my phone to not only track work meetings, but activities for the kids and other family events that are taking place. I have learned that it’s okay to take a break when you need it. Reflect on your day and how to improve next time when something doesn’t go your way. Some of my best ideas come from times when I am unplugged and can simply sit and just “be.” Self-care is so important not only personally, but professionally too!
What is your number one parenting tip?
As a boy mom, I have learned so many things that I cannot pick one piece of advice. While I have only experience infancy, toddlerhood, preschool, and school-age children so far, I have come up with my top five pieces of advice for you.
1. Don’t compare yourself to other moms – Yes they may come up with the best crafts, Valentine’s Day boxes, and school snacks off Pinterest, but you don’t have to!
2. Make memories with your kids – kids may never remember specific things you say to them, except my boys will tell you Mom always says, “I love you to the moon!”, but they will remember special times spent together like our game nights, making smores around the firepit, movie and cuddle nights, Christmas baking with Grandma, and even just going on walks. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or expensive vacation to make memories together.
3. Love your children the same, but treat them uniquely as yeah are individuals – They may like similar things when they are younger, but as they grow, that may change. Take a real interest in what they like and show that you care. Words of affection and encouragement can never be overdone!
4. Kiss and hug your spouse in front of your kids – your marriage is the first example of what an intimate relationship looks like, feels like, and sounds like. It’s so important to model the kind of relationship you want your children to have when they grow older and have a family of their own.
5. Have patience and remember parenting isn’t perfect – There will be days that parenting feels “easy” – the kids aren’t fighting and they are listening so well. The next day you are in tears because you feel like you’ve tried everything, don’t know what else to do, and learn to pick your battles! Ask for help – don’t try and be supermom. Take a deep breath and remember, “it won’t be like this for long.”