Makers

Creatives. Founders. Parents.

Interview: Taryn Whiteaker, Stay At Home Mom and Interior Design Blogger

Taryn and I had a weight lifting class together in High School and I’ve been intimidated by her ever since 😉

I was impressed by how quickly she grew her blog and following so I reached out to see if there was something I could learn. Of COURSE there was…

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Read on if you’re into interior design and need some inspiration

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Taryn! I am the author of Design, Dining and Diapers, a home & garden and interior design blog that covers everything from DIY Projects & Tutorials, Home Decor, Seasonal Crafts, Entertaining, Food and Life with Kids! I live in the greater Seattle area with my husband of (almost) 7 years and our two kids (soon to be 3)! We recently moved into our dream home out in the country, so as of late my blog has been focused on decorating our new home and making it our own.

Portrait of Taryn Whiteaker, creator of design, dining and diapers

Portrait of Taryn Whiteaker, creator of design, dining and diapers

 

Why did you get into interior design? What made you decide to start your blog?

I’ll try and keep it short but there is a story behind it! It really has been a combination of things that led me to where I am now. The saying really is true, ‘everything happens for a reason’. I have always loved the arts and being creative. I learned how to sew at the age of nine by watching my mom make my clothes and before I knew it I was making most of my own wardrobe in middle school and high school. I always had plans to go to design school but in the end I decided to attend The University of Arizona and get a major in Communications and minor in Sociology & French. After I got my degree, I was lucky enough to land a great job doing Public Relations for some amazing companies around the world. It was right around this time when blogs and social media started to make their way into mainstream media and companies started to see the value of having an online presence. I found myself working with bloggers on behalf of my clients and learning a lot about the industry.
Fast forward a few years….In 2011, our daughter was born and I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to be at home but it was a hard transition going from the corporate lifestyle to being home all day. I needed something to keep me busy (as if a newborn wasn’t enough). During nap times I started reading DIY blogs and found myself digging into my creative side again. Instead of making my own clothes, I channeled all my creativity into transforming our house into a home and I was loving it! I felt like I found a piece of me again. It wasn’t too long after that I decided to use the knowledge I gained in my professional career and take a chance on starting my own creative blog! I literally had no idea what I was getting into….or what it would become.

How did you juggle your time in the beginning?

In the beginning it was actually much easier to juggle my time than it is now! I started my blog when my daughter was just 3 months old, she took 2-3 (2 hour) naps a day and slept a good chunk at night. It gave me all the ‘free time’ I needed to get the blog rolling and work on projects. (Wow, that amount of work time sounds heavenly now!)

In terms of growing my business, there is so much to learn in the beginning and it can become overwhelming very quickly. When you are starting and running an online business there is always something to work on and the to-do list is never checked off. Ever. It can consume your life if you let it. In the beginning, I focused on building my site i.e. creating good content, networking, and developing a site that represented me. Once I felt good about that, I slowly started to learn about the business side of blogging.

Taryn Whiteaker with her 2 kids

Taryn Whiteaker with her 2 kids

 

How do you manage your time now?

I won’t lie, time management is a huge struggle for me now. I’m sure all of you with little kids can relate, but right now we seem to be going through a lot of different phases rather quickly and with each phase I have to manage my time differently. As soon as I get a good schedule down, it changes. I have always put my job as a ‘stay-at-home mom’ before my job as a ‘blogger’ and with some phases I have more time for work and others I have less.

Thankfully after blogging for 4 years, tasks that used to take me hours now take just a few minutes and I can manage my time a little better and focus on higher priority items like brand partnerships and larger home decor projects for the blog. Even though my to-do list seems longer than ever, over time the priorities on the list become more clear and I’m thankful to have people who now manage some of the backend work for me! At some point you have to think about “what things do I do best” and “what tasks could other people do better than me and save me time”. Delegating is not something I do well, but you have to do it if you want to grow a business!

How has your method of getting things done changed going from 1 kid to 2?

I actually didn’t see a huge change from 1-2 kids, the real change came when my daughter stopped napping! Ah! There went a huge chunk of my work time. Like I mentioned above, I’ve always had to adjust my work hours with the different phases I go through as a mom. Fortunately, my daughter is really awesome and the older she gets the more she loves to ‘work’ with mommy. When my son goes down for his nap my daughter and I get to work. That generally means creating new recipes for the blog together, setting up photo shoots, or working in the garage on new DIY projects. She LOVES setting up her painting station, it’s adorable. Then, after the kids go to bed I’m back at the computer editing photos and writing posts.
I will say, as the blog continues to grow the time I do have never seems to be enough. I try to have a babysitter come over once a week for a few hours so I can power through a few big projects and I am in the process of hiring a few virtual assistance before baby #3 arrives!

Do you feel your creative DIY projects and blogging help you be a better parent?

YES! 100 times, YES! My husband and I actually talk about this often. My blog is a huge outlet for me and I am very fortunate that I get to do something I am passionate about for a living. And I LOVE that I get to share that with my kids. There are times when I actually feel guilty for ‘working’ because it feels more like play time. But in all seriousness, I think it is really important for both moms and dads to find a hobby they really love and make time for it. I have always loved the scripture, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10. It’s a great reminder to use the talents God has given you and make time for them!

What changed from how you worked before you had kids to after?

What I do for a living now is very different than I what I did before having kids, so it’s a little hard to compare. I went from working 14 hour days and never being home to working from home and being with my kids all day. I will say, experiencing life through their eyes has really changed my priorities in my own life. I seem to enjoy the little things in life more and focus on my family.

 

How did having kids change your perspective on what you do?

Having kids actually helped me clear my head and helped me focus more on who I am and what I wanted to do for a living. One of the many things I love about my husband is that he has always encouraged me to pursue my own dreams and do something that I’m passionate about. After becoming a stay-at-home mom, it gave me the chance to forget about climbing the corporate ladder and think about what I am a truly passionate about and how to turn it into a business. It’s something I still think about every day.

What’s something funny or embarrassing that’s happened to you while doing your blog or interior design?

Oh gosh. I feel like I do something embarrassing every day. A few years ago I shared an easy Halloween craft to do with your kids. My daughter and I made spiders out of egg cartons and I only put 6 legs on them instead of 8. I was SO embarrassed when a reader pointing it out to me. Maybe I need to take kindergarten again with my daughter!

(You can view the post here)

 

What’s your favorite tip for being productive?

One of these two options tend to work great for me:

1) every so often pull an all-nighter (flashback to college?)

or

2) hire a babysitter for a day 😉

 

Is there anything else you would like to promote or any upcoming news to share?

Hmmm… I have a lot of fun things in the works but I can’t share them publicly yet! You can always follow along on my crazy adventures on The Blog, Facebook and Instagram!

 

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 Here are all of the other places you can follow along with Taryn’s life and interior design:

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

Google+

Here’s a great quote to share:

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2 Comments

  1. I totally forgot that we had weight lifting together! haha! Thanks for having me over today!

    • bradenhamm

      June 18, 2015 at 6:21 am

      I did spend a lot of time tanning outside gym class ha!
      Thanks for the chat. I got some great tips, so stop by any time.

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