I was joking around with my best friend’s husband a bit ago about how blessed I am to be able to stay at home with my kids. I don’t get that Sunday night pit-in-my-stomach thinking about going into “work” the next morning. I am so thankful for the freedom and ability to create my own days and spend all my time with my children. But there are moments, days, or even weeks that I struggle. And right now, I feel like life is a battle. Meals are a battle. Naptime is a battle. Getting buckled into the car is a battle. Fun activities are even a battle. I find myself just wishing for naptime and just plain worn out by the end of the day.
It is hard to keep my focus as a mom when the kids have been screaming all day long and I am just tapped out. But when I sit back and think about it, they are just kids with a sin nature (like me!), and it is my job to teach and to train them how to become responsible adults. What an overwhelming thought! When I get into a funk when I feel like I just can’t win, it is hard to get over it. What I have come to realize is that it is just as simple as my perspective.
Knowing myself, my first response to a tough situation would be to get mad, overwhelmed, frustrated, or anxious. I get down on myself because I need to be doing a better job. Instead of thinking those negative thoughts, I need to be proactive with the kids and find a way to counteract the whininess or attitudes. Instead of feeling defeated, I need to focus on the blessing it is to have these wonderful and unique children in my life. I need to reflect on the fact that I am so blessed to be able to stay home and spend my days with them. In those moments when I am wishing I had a job outside the home, I need to take a step back and thank God that I have the opportunity, no- privilege, to stay at home with my kids. (Not that there is anything wrong with working outside the home, I just know that right now I am called to be at home with my kids.)
I hope you know that you are not alone. You are not the only one that struggles or has bad days. Staying at home can feel isolating at times, even if we have a community built up around us for support. This phase of life is exhausting, overwhelming, and oftentimes thankless. Even if you work outside the home, it can be just as tiring. Do the best that you can; you are probably doing a better job than you think. You are fighting the good fight and it will be worth it. You are doing a great thing. God created you to be your children’s mother, not someone else. Keep at it. Keep fighting. We are all in this together.
Family pictures. It makes me sweat just thinking about it. Between picking out outfits (sorry to all my friends and family for the incessant outfit approvals…), picking the right time of day, making sure everyone is fed and not tired and happy…ugh. It can be overwhelming! I am not great about getting good quality non-phone pictures of my family, so our yearly family pictures have become very important to me. I have learned what NOT to do the hard way, so I figured I would share to hopefully help you out in the future!
Don’t have your family pictures done in the heat of summer, if you can help it. For whatever reason, last year I thought it would be a great idea to have our pictures done in July. JULY. Granted we live in Connecticut so summer is mild compared to other states, but still. It was one of those days where you could not escape the heat and my makeup was melting off, nevermind my hair was flat by the end. So learn from my mistake. Choose a mild temperature month.
We just had our pictures done in October, and everyone was so much happier across the board. The sun wasn’t intense, we could layer a bit (which looks nicer in pictures anyway!) and the kids could run around and play without having heat stroke. Win.
Time of Day
We chose to have our pictures done at 10. Usually, this is a great time for us. The children would be well rested, but be awake enough to not have the morning crankies. The morning of, I checked the weather. It was 47 degrees at 10. Crap. That is really cold! I mean, I had a four month old (at the time). Thankfully our photographer is awesome and was flexible, and we agreed to change the pictures to 11. It was only 5 degrees warmer at that point, but I would say it was worth it! I was a little nervous moving it later in the morning, fearing we may have entered hungry/tired/crazy mode. But I took the chance. And we survived! Mainly due to the next point…
Overfeed Your Children
We try and feed our kids balanced meals and teach moderation. But on picture day, anything goes. You want an extra side of cheese in addition to your cheesy eggs? Sure. Quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for some munchkins? You got it. Because a kid with a full belly is 100% happier than a hungry kid. And we all know a hungry kid is a disaster to work with.
Now listen. I am firmly in the do-not-bribe-your-child camp. However, rules do not apply on family day. I purchased that box of munchkins with not an ounce of shame and would kindly remind my child that if they smiled for the camera, a nice sugary treat may await them. You can bet my kids smiled their faces off!
Short and Sweet
You know your kids, and every kid, no matter how well behaved, will have their limit. They are like little bombs, just waiting to explode. Don’t twaddle (did you know it was spelled that way? I had no idea. Ha!)- take those pictures like you mean it. Get everyone into their position as fast as you can, and then move to the next spot. I am no photographer, but I know I need to be as efficient as possible for the best success. Plus, you will keep your kids on their toes. It sounds silly, but if they are moving around and being stimulated, they may not have time to think about whining.
Kids have lots of energy. Keep that in mind when choosing a location. If at all possible, choose a place where they can run and get some energy out. They will be so much happier and pleasant! If they are contained inside, it will only cause them to get stir crazy. And on the plus side, candid shots are amazing. Get some of them running and having a good time. The smile on their face will be so much more genuine!
Plan and Prepare Outfits in Advance
Think simple, comfortable, and coordinated. Please, oh please, don’t have everyone in jeans and a white top. You are capturing a glimpse into your life at this time, so wear something that you might normally wear, just a little more polished. I know there are tons of resources out there to assist in pattern mixing and what not, but if you are stuck, just don’t overcomplicate it.
And now, onto our pictures!
OK I know that was a lot, sorry (not sorry). I am so glad we had the opportunity to take pictures this year and am beyond ecstatic with how they turned out! (Shout out to Greg for the great pictures and managing to get the kids to all look/smile! Make sure you check him out if you are in Connecticut and tell him I sent you!)
I hope you can learn from mistakes of what not to do, and hopefully you can have a successful family photo session. I know how important it is to document these times! As we all know, time is fleeting with these kids at this age, and I want to remember every moment.
Did you have family photos done this year? How did it go? While ours was 99% successful this year, some little boy (not naming names, but it wasn’t Marcus) had quite the blowout at the end. I’m talking out of the pants and shirt. Everything. Safe to say that our session ended then… Do you have a story that can top that? Let me hear it!