Back to school: an easier approach to first-day photo shoots

My sweet girls went to school last week. My oldest started fifth grade and my youngest started kindergarten. Last year, I took no first day of school pictures since we were virtual. This year, I more than made up for it.

I may have gone a bit overboard- I ended up taking over 70 pictures, but I got some awesome shots. Today, I’d like to share some tips for getting some great back to school pictures.

1. Don’t wait til the actual first day of school

We put on our school clothes and back packs and we pretend it’s the first day of school. This year, we sneaked over to the school the day before the first day.

If you’re anything like us, you will be in a hurry on the first day and you won’t have time to get any good pictures. And if you are in a hurry and forget to take them, it won’t matter.

2. Wait until sunset

If you don’t wait til sunset, chances are really good you’re going to get lots of pictures with squinty smiles. The sun will be too bright.

3. You need a prop

Find a sign, find a wall, find a bus, make a sign.

Find a staircase and do this:

Whatever you can do to make it interesting.

4. Take a lot of pictures!

Because the more pics you take, the more likely you are to get some good stuff!

But most of all, don’t wait until the day of. Take a lot of pictures but have fun with it. You aren’t just taking photos, you’re making memories. And if your kids want to strike a silly pose, let them.

I hope you have an amazing school year.

Five things to do for a smoother start to the school year

School is just around the corner. As a teacher, I feel like we only just left school for the summer. As a parent, I am looking forward to the kids getting their routine back. While we are busy squeezing the last little drop out of summer, I have begun to think about what we can do to make our back-to-school transition go more smoothly.

1. Organize your children’s closets

Does your kid’s closet currently resemble an avalanche? If so, that’s really going to stress you out when you’re trying to get everyone dressed but their closets are insane.

Just grab a sheet of plywood, a saw, a drill, and some wood screws and build yourself a closet organizer.

2. Teach your children to prepare the night before

Pack your lunches, lay out your clothes, and get your book bag ready the night before. There’s no point in scrambling to find what you need in the mornings. This will only stress you out and make you feel rushed.

3. Establish bedtime routines and after school routines about three weeks before school starts

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Don’t wait until the week before school starts to begin going to bed early. Make sure kids know what you expect them to do when they first get home from school and what times are bath time and bed time. We start working on this a month to three weeks before school starts to get it ingrained. We also use a checklist similar to this one to help:

Source: Pinterest

4. Go back-to-school shopping early!

If you wait until the last minute, items may be sold out. Get your back to school shopping done sooner rather than later and you won’t have to worry. Also, if you forget something, there is plenty of time to get it.

5. Take some time off

Rest. Don’t jam pack your schedule the last few weeks before school. Take one to two weeks to relax and prepare for school to start back. Spend time together and just enjoy one another. For the days are long, but the years are short. Someday, back to school time will be a distant memory.

Have a wonderful weekend.

How to create a capsule wardrobe for your children

I don’t know about you, but we fight two frequent battles at my home: my kids wanting to wear things that don’t match, and my kids having a closet full of clothes they don’t wear. Each year, we seem to buy so many items of clothing, and some of them are outgrown before they are even worn. This causes us to waste money and waste space, as you are storing clothes you clearly didn’t need.

Enter the capsule wardrobe.

Capsule wardrobes are not new. If you do a Pinterest search, you will find hundreds of blog posts and graphics about capsule wardrobes. Since kids outgrow clothing at an alarming rate, it makes sense to spend less on more versatile pieces. Capsule wardrobes involve spending less, less clutter, and more outfit choices. So how do you create a capsule wardrobe?

1. Take stock of what you have.

Clear out your child’s dresser and closet. Make three piles- one to keep, one to donate, and one to throw away. If clothes are stained or too worn, throw them away. Don’t donate anything you wouldn’t buy from the thrift store yourself. Once you have finalized your “keep” pile, look at what items you have, what items you need, and what colors you have.

2. Decide what you need

Think about your lives, your kids’ activities, and the climate where you live. We are in the mid-atlantic, and it gets hot here in the summer. We go to school and church and are in dance class. Therefore, they will need church clothes, work out clothes and enough outfits for the school week. We try to follow the 4-6 rule: have four to six pairs of pants- two pairs of jeans, one pair of dark colored pants and one pair of light colored pants; four to six dresses (sundresses are OK because you can wear a jacket or sweater over them); two skirts, four pairs of shorts, two swimsuits, 4 to 6 long sleeve shirts, 4 to 6 short sleeved shirts, three sweaters, one casual jacket and one dressy jacket. Don’t forget about underwear and socks.

3. Choose a color scheme

What colors do you already have? What colors do your kids absolutely love? What colors look best on them? My little blonde, blue eyed girls look great in blue, green, and hot pink. They also love wearing these colors. I make sure to include plenty of neutral colored pieces to tie the wardrobe together. Children’s boutiques often stick with a color scheme when they release new seasonal lines. This makes color scheming your child’s capsule wardrobe easy! Retailers like Gymboree and Carter’s are known for this.

4. Hand-me-downs and thrift stores are your friend!

I have two daughters and while I don’t save everything from my older child’s wardrobe, I do save gently worn items and big items like coats. If you don’t mind second hand items, you can save some big bucks reusing items from other children, or thrift shopping. We love ThredUp online consignment shop!

I’ve created an infographic for you. Feel free to print this off and use it as a checklist.

Here is a sample capsule wardrobe for my littlest child:

The above clothing items are all from OshKosh. Except for the romper, do you see how each piece coordinates and can be worn together? You only have a few clothing pieces, but you can create several different outfits from the pieces. All of the items go together so there is little chance of her creating a “Tacky Day” outfit that doesn’t match. How many different combinations do you see that will go together and be cute?

Feel free to hop online and start creating your own capsule wardrobe! Have fun and happy shopping!

Creating a calm, orderly space for homework and studying

Creating a calm, orderly space for homework and studying

homework spaces

 

My third grader has just started back to school, and we usually have a little homework to do each evening. While the homework is not difficult, what can be difficult is finding somewhere in our home where there are no distractions.

She has a desk in her room where she sits to complete her homework.

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There are a lot of things I like about this set up, but there are also a lot of things I would like to improve upon.

Her desk is actually pretty neat.

We are currently using a repurposed shoe box (covered with pretty paper and embellished with a book plate) and a crate to corral her desk items.

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I also created this super cute French memo board to hold her pictures and papers for school (more about that later).

So what more does her desk need?

1. Lighting

Emorie’s desk currently has no lighting. I am looking for one of these little gooseneck lamps, preferably one with a USB charging port for her tablet.

desk lamp

Walmart.com

pb kids lamp

Pottery Barn Kids

2. Pencil/pen/art utensil storage

Right now, Emorie’s pens, pencils and other writing odds and ends are housed in this white crate, which is more suited for reading books and magazines.

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This is simply too much in that white crate. Instead, I’d like to do something like this:

hanging pen storage

Shelterness

 

I  have both a dowel rod and curtain hardware, and an extra towel bar. I also already have buckets. I could easily use either one of those things to create this for her desk. Plus, it’d be super cute and she’d be able to find things soooo much easier.

3. Comfy seating

desk-chair-cushions-c

Pottery Barn Kids

Emorie’s chair isn’t uncomfortable, but it could be better. I love these cute, comfy cushions from PB Kids.

Have a wonderful week.

Back to school: tips for a smoother first day of school

How to have A better, more smooth

My sweet girl returns to school on Thursday, and my own first day of school is just around the corner. While the beginning of a school year can be really stressful and difficult, it doesn’t have to be. Like in many other situations, a little planning ahead goes a long way.

Please enjoy the following tips for making your first day of school run more smoothly…and please comment and add your own!

1. Go to sleep early

girl sleeping on bed
Photo by Sam K on Pexels.com

Studies have shown well-rested kids perform better in school. A week or two before school starts, make sure your kiddos are back on schedule- early to bed and early to rise. It’ll make fighting that “morning wake up” battle so much easier.

2. Organize early, as much as possible.

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Don’t wait til the last minute. Buy everything you need and get it organized a few weeks before school starts. You’ll be glad you did, and if you forget anything, you’ll have plenty of time to get it.

3. Involve your kids in your planning process

girl wearing red tank top
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Take your kids back to school shopping and help them choose their supplies. Do whatever you can to get them excited about going back to school.

4. Practice your routine

back bus education school
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Get your kids prepared for their new routine by practicing their bed time and get up time a few weeks before school starts. Discuss when homework will be done and when chores will be done. Talk a lot about what a school night will look like so your child will know what’s expected once school starts.

5. Keep calm and…keep calm

adult air beautiful beauty
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

I’m being just a little facetious with that picture of course 🙂 But it’s true. First days of school, or just mornings in general, can be stressful. Your child is probably already a little anxious or worried about their first day. The calmer you are, the calmer they are likely to be. Don’t stress- take a few deep breaths because it’s gonna be ok.

6. Prepare the night before, as much as possible.

adult blur books close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Keep things simple in the morning by laying out clothes, packing lunches, packing back packs, and anything else that is needed the night before. Then, focus on having a fun and restful evening. The more you can prepare ahead of time the more you can relax and enjoy your morning the next day.

7. Don’t be late!

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue
Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on Pexels.com

When you’re late, it stresses you out. Leave the house a little early if you can- no one wants to be late for the first day of school!

8. Do something unexpected

black love text on white background
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Kids are crazy about surprises, so anything unexpected that fills their love tank is great. Maybe it’s as simple as a sweet note in their lunch box, or a special notebook or pen in their bag. Maybe it’s a milkshake on the way home from school, or a fun and simple outing after school. Giving your kiddos a sweet, unexpected surprise will make them feel loved and valued.

And lastly, take a breather for yourself after you drop off your kids and refill your own tank. You deserve it!