Connect with Janelle Online!
Janelle, we are so grateful you decided to share your story with us. Let’s start with who you are both personally and professionally. Give us the 30-second elevator pitch that you would give when asked to introduce yourself.
I’m Janelle, a wife, and mom of four daughters.
Our family of six is currently traveling around the world to 50 countries on a continuous journey which will probably take us about 3 years. We work and learn as we travel in a lifestyle called “worldschooling.” We share our journey on our YouTube channel and blog, both called Adventure Family Journal.
I’m also the founder of Adventure Clubs, which is an educational platform for kids ages 4 – 10 years old and their families.
Together with a talented team of Adventure Leaders, I create small group experiences for kids which are led live on Zoom from various parts of the world.
There is no classroom environment, rather, they are ADVENTURES for kids. Imagine, together with your child, going live on Zoom with a child-focused, English-speaking tour guide to climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or taking a walk in a traditional African village in Tanzania, or doing a pre-flight check on a vintage Stearman biplane with a pilot.
I love seeing kids connect from all over the world over these experiences and seeing so much learning happening in this unique format! The adventures are all on the Adventure Clubs app, which is a free download.
What does “As Strong as the Mother Next to Me” mean to you?
I depend on other moms, and they depend on me. When I meet or read stories of other moms who are making their lives thrive in the midst of surprising odds, I am inspired to become more than I am, to keep on learning, and also, to be vulnerable with my faults and failures and struggles. In doing so, we all inspire one another toward greatness.
How important is it to you to surround yourself with other moms both professionally and personally? Essential, of course! I have a close group of five moms who I am in a chat group with and they are my “team” through anything that happens. They aren’t work colleagues or family, they are my closest friends. They pray for me, brainstorm with me, lend an ear when I need one, and give advice and support as needed. I can’t imagine my life without them and I hope that every mom builds a team around her like this.
I’m balancing a lot (as all moms are!) I am educating my four kids, running Adventure Clubs, writing for various blogs and magazines, producing, filming, editing, and marketing 500 Films for Families on our Adventure Family Journal YouTube channel, and more. Every day is jam-packed with learning and growing together with my kids.
And on top of all that, we are traveling full time. This means we are in a new country every month and in a new housing situation every 3 – 6 days. And did I mention how Covid complicates all this?
How did you get started with your current role? Tell us more about your day – to – day life in business? Adventure Clubs started when I was living in South Africa as a young mom. I wanted to be with my kids while they were young (not put them in preschool early), and I wanted to experience the world with other moms and kids of the same age.
I started to plan adventures for six days a week for myself and my kids and invited my friends to join when they could. And they did! Within a few months, the “group” was hundreds of families, so I decided to build an app to handle all the adventures and bookings and chatting with the groups on each experience. We had such fun!
With Covid, we have switched to adventures now being offered live on Zoom, and the wonder this affords us all is the ability to experience live AROUND the world with child-focused leaders doing incredible things. This has been amazing. One day, the group of kids/parents is live with a vertical farmer in Dallas, another day the group is with an opera singer in South Africa, another day the group is touring the floating market in Bangkok. It’s the most dynamic, exciting, educational learning environment.
My job is to find and train leaders, co-create the adventures, and let the world know about them. How much fun is that?
What piece of advice would you give another mom who is struggling with balancing work/home life? Or is thinking about starting her own business? You CAN have it all, just not at the same time. (I gave up having a home and sold nearly all our things, but I gained a life of traveling the world with my family. I gave up a career in international development, but I gained entrepreneurship and a job that fits with our dreams and our lifestyle.)
Choose your priorities and dreams together with your partner, and then design your life around those dreams.
Your children, their schooling, your pets, your debts – these are things that should not define the design of your lifestyle. YOU can design it with intentionality, focus, and discipline, and it doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing. Think outside the box, and design your best life.
Tell us about a challenging time in your business and how you overcame it? There was a time when I had over 50 people on staff, all part-time moms who were working with Adventure Clubs. I loved the community of it all and the collaborative nature of what we created together. However, as a new company that was just staring, our revenue did not match the expenses of the business and we couldn’t sustain the track we were on to match investor expectations. I tried many business model changes, but it was taking a toll on my mothering with four small kids and my family was suffering financially and emotionally in ways that could have become detrimental.
I pulled the plug. I literally shut everything down for one whole year! I felt I needed to be fair to my family AND I needed to reassess everything and take some space to step back and rethink it all. It was brutally hard, and I lost over 100,000 people I had on my app. My investors were not happy. Why would I do that?
But it had to be done. I’ve never regretted it either.
The truth is, Adventure Clubs wouldn’t be where it is today if I hadn’t. After quite a few months, my family had recovered from it all, I had time to refocus, rethink, reimagine, gain new ideas, and dream again in a different direction.
Sometimes in business, you have to be brutally honest with yourself and do what is most in line with your most important priorities: the health and well being of you and your family. In time, the other things will be added back.
How did you build your community of moms around you and how have they impacted your life personally and professionally?
– My mentors (2 specifically)
– My support group of five
– Adventure Clubs moms
– Family: six sisters-in-law, my mother-in-law, my mother
– San Diego Moms Collective community
– Facebook groups – especially the We Are Worldschoolers group
– My staff and Adventure Leaders
– Podcasts and books by other moms (I feel like we are friends and they support me so much)
– Book club (monthly with six other ladies)
All of these moms have been invaluable resources to me, but more than that, they have been people I can give back to as well. I’m a mom of 3, 6, 8, and 10-year-olds, and I’ve learned a lot about being a mom. I love mentoring other moms as I have been mentored (and continue to be!)
Tell us about a cause or project that you are passionate about and why. As you can see on my Adventure Clubs website, I am passionate about:
– Invigorating a Love for the Arts (visual and performing arts)
– Encouraging an interest in STEM everything
– Inspiring the Stewardship of Our World (natural resources and animals)
– Stimulating a Celebration of Cultures
These are passions that have developed out of my own life experiences: being a ballet studio owner/teacher, building my own tech company (app), travels to over 40 countries and experiencing diverse cultures, and witnessing devastation on our planet such as endangered species going extinct, natural resources being exploited, etc. My work in education is not in the classroom, it’s showing kids the REAL WORLD in relevant learning experiences. My job is to create inspiring adventures around these four causes.
Would you like to share a special offer with our readers? Yes! If they download the free Adventure Clubs app, and email me at [email protected] to let me know they heard about Adventure Clubs on San Diego Moms, I’ll send them a code for a free adventure on the app ($10 value).
“As Strong as the Mother Next to Me” was built on the principle and belief that with the right community and sisterhood you can move mountains. Founder Niki Jones is a single mother and entrepreneur who understands that leaning on her circle doesn’t make her weak; it makes her unstoppable.
Research supports that by doing good or paying it forward, in ways big or small, not only feels good, but also does us good.
MOTHERHOOD IS HARD ENOUGH. San Diego Moms wants to provide an experience and community that is inclusive, uplifting and supportive to ALL moms. By empowering and lifting each other up, we become better women, partners, leaders, and friends.
Janelle, in the true spirit of “As Strong as the Mother Next to Me” please MOMinate a strong mother next to you!
“I am MOMinating Melissa because she is the most amazing mother and business woman!
She is a vibrant motivational speaker who engages audiences and inspires them to take action as they build confidence. She’s had 20+ years of business experience in more than 30 countries, and she coaching mothers as they navigate the complexities of working in international, high-profile, high-pressure, and virtual working worlds.
Moms have SO much to learn from Melissa and I would love to see her featured!”
“I MOMinate Jeanne because she is a mom who truly cares about the moms around her and invests in them deeply.
She is a film actress who is also an advocate for Anti-Human Trafficking efforts. Jeanne played the lead role of “Jill” in the film “Faith Like Potatoes (2006) and since then she’s played various roles films including “The Deal” (2008) opposite Meg Ryan and ‘William H Macy’, “Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove” (2010) and various German, British and South African films and TV shows. She also played the leading role in a family drama, “The Heart of Christmas”, which tells the extraordinary story of a young American mother and her terminally ill child.
Jeanne is the most incredibly faithful friend, and mother, yet she is fiercely committed to her craft. I know she will inspire many other mothers to do the same!”