The first day of school is always filled with nervous excitement and jitters. For moms and kids! Usually by the time August rolls around, I’m ready to get back to the routine of a school day. Then I sit around and wait for them to get home and tell me about their day. Lol!

We still have a couple more weeks of summer here in NJ, but I know it’ll fly by. Here are a few photo tips for capturing your kiddos first day of school.

Have everything ready! Your kids will carefully choose the perfect outfit for the first day back-to-school and you need to do a little prep work too. Have your camera battery charged and an empty memory card ready to go. It’s also a good idea to know ahead of time the photos you want to capture. Don’t just wing it that morning because there will be too much going on.

Don’t forget the details. New shoes. New clothes. New backpacks. The pencil case they picked out themselves. Their lunch bag. What’s inside their lunch bag. All the fun stuff that comes along with the first day of school. If you’re allowed in the classroom with your child, take a quick snap of their desk too.

Don’t stop shooting. If your child walks to school, stay a few steps behind and snap some pictures. If they ride the bus, grab a shot of them piling on. Maybe even their cute little face in the school bus window.

Start a tradition. Choose something to do the same way every year so that you can document the big changes that happen over the course of a school year. We always took a picture on the same set of steps in the front of my house (until we moved!). You could do the same. Or, make a sign for the kids to hold that says the year and the grade they are entering. Caitlin from The Mama Notes has a great roundup of ideas for back to school traditions. Things like having pizza after the first day at the same spot every year (take a picture and watch them grow) or maybe ice cream is more your jam.

One year I drew little red hearts on each of our hands. If they got sad or lonely, they could look down at their hand, see that little red heart, and know that I was thinking about them.

The idea is to take pictures that tell a story from beginning to end. Kids love to look back at pictures and remember certain things about their childhood. While writing this blog post, my 12 year old was looking over my shoulder and said, “I remember that backpack!” And don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy DSLR to take pictures. Your cell phone will be fine. Just remember to print the pictures once you’ve taken them!

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Sometimes all you need is a plastic bin from Target for a little summer fun.

All I did was fill up a plastic bin that is normally used for under bed storage with warm water and brought out a basket of bath toys and she had a blast. No expensive water or sensory table. Just simple summer fun.

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August is finally here which means the Back to School push has already begun. I’ve even started thinking about holiday sessions for my photography business. Yes, you read that right. Christmas! Don’t act all surprised. I’m sure you’ve seen the pumpkins and fall decor in stores. Nevertheless we’ve still got 5 more week of summer sun to soak in.

Here are a few of my favorite finds in July.

Want to know how to get more done?

I loved this blog post from Allie Casazza about how you can motivate yourself to wake up early in the morning. It’s not the first time I’ve heard people attribute an early wake up call to being a happier and more productive mom. I set my alarm at 5:00 a.m. for 2 days this week to give it a try and turned right back over and fell asleep. Lol! I’m not giving up though. I’ll let you know how successful I am in a week or two.

Do your kids have a ton of toys?

I came across an instagram account called @literacyforlittles and there was a great post about toy rotation. If you’ve got a little one who has a room full of toys, but doesn’t play with them. Or is more interested in dumping baskets than playing with the toys inside (um, yes!) then toy rotation might be the answer. I’m going to give it a try! So the post claims that toy rotation encourages more independent play, increases attention and focus, simplifies and creates less clutter. What do you think?

Cute shop alert!

Construction is so close to being finished and I’m having so much fun decorating my bedroom and the baby’s. My favorite places to shop have been Target, Home Goods, and small shops online. I’ve been looking for the perfect piece of art to hang on the wall over Olivia’s crib and I’m counting the days until @huntandgathergoods opens their doors again. I also love @ohsweetskye.

And finally …

One thing I was really excited to get done in July was my 3rd tattoo. It’s my dad’s signature. I copied it from letters he used to write to my mom when he was stationed in Vietnam. I’ve been meaning to get it done for a while, but the timing was never right. An opportunity finally came up and I went for it. I LOVE looking down at my arm and seeing my dad’s handwriting.

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I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I’ve seen a bunch of bloggers sharing their favorite things for the month so I’m totally jumping on the bandwagon. There’s no rhyme or reason for the items I’m going to share, just things I’ve found helpful or inspirational this month.

Your Summer Story Photo Challenge

I had to lead with my summer photo challenge, of course! We’re just getting started so it’s not too late to join. Just click this link and sign up! In our next lesson we’re going to talk about how you can take photos that tell a story so that you can capture your summer in a way that is memorable.

Hand Lettering Practice for Kids

I stumbled on this fun activity from Prairie Letter Shop while browsing Instagram and bought it for the girls and I to do together. It’s a super simple thing to do when you’re looking for a way to get the kids off their devices. It’s a downloadable packet with 18 pages that include simple handwriting, shading, cursive and doodling. I’m going to print the pages and probably use tracing paper over them to start. You can also stick them in a sheet protector and use a dry erase marker as well. Here’s a screen shot from a sample page.

DIY Sidewalk Chalk

Another Instagram find! @poppyspreschool has a great recipe for DIY sidewalk chalk that I can’t wait to test out. In fact, she’s got a ton of great ideas for play. Check out the highlight called DIY Kids on her account and you’ll find recipes for homemade play dough, finger paint, bubbles, and more.

Free Design Ebook from Sarah Joy

Now that the addition on our house is nearing it’s completion, I’ve been soaking up all the design inspiration I can get. I love following Sarah Joy for all things home decor and was so excited when she put out a free e-book with her top 5 design tips. She’s got paint recommendations in there, tips for buying faux greenery (which I have a ton of because I can’t keep a plant alive to save my own life!), and more. Follow this link to snag your copy!

If you end up loving any of these things like I have, leave a comment and let me know. Can you believe we’re headed in to July already?!

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Do you ever feel like there’s a ton of pressure on us moms to make summer absolutely amazing? Like every day has to be full of fun celebrations and unforgettable memories? I hope I’m not alone in this! All I can think about are the long days with no set schedule and the inevitable, “Mom, what are we going to do today?”

If you’re like me and you’re looking for some simple ways to enjoy summer without totally losing your mind, I want to share a few ideas with you. 

First, some friendly advice …

Try to avoid over the top expectations. Instead, think quality over quantity. You don’t have to do it all!! The goal is to be present in the time that you do have.  

Create a Summer Bucket List

This might actually be anxiety inducing for some of you – coming up with a list of activities that you feel pressured to check off. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Think of a summer bucket list as inspiration. The fun part is coming up with ways to connect and finding activities that you and your children will enjoy doing together. 

The items on your list don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Less is more sometimes. Here are a few examples. 

Wear pajamas all day long.
Go for a family bike ride
Have a backyard picnic
Pick flowers
Host a lemonade stand
Chase fireflies

Have Dinner Together


I feel so terrible admitting this, but we don’t eat dinner together a lot during the school year. It always seems like someone is running off to a game or activity or I’m heading off to work. It’s something I wish we did more and I think summer is a great time to start over. I know some of you are just as busy during the summer with sports and activities, but try to make it a priority to have one night that is just yours. A simple way to make family dinners memorable is to play a game. Fill a mason jar with questions that help spark conversations to keep you at the table longer. Here are a few ideas for you. 

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What is something you love about the person sitting next to you?
If you could have any pet in the world, what would you choose?
When was the last time you had a lot of fun? Who were you with?

Family Movie Night


My girls love this because it’s something we can do together after the baby is in bed. The hardest part is deciding on a movie to watch though! Here are a few of our top picks.

The Parent Trap
Cheaper By the Dozen
Daddy Day Care
Jumanji (old & new)
Harry Potter 
The Karate Kid (old one)
School of Rock
Zootopia
Grown-Ups
The Sandlot
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
The Princess Bride
Goonies

Take Lots of Photos


You knew I’d have to work in a photo related idea didn’t you?! There are actually tons of really fun photo opportunities in the summer. Besides vacations and holidays (4th of July!), summer is the perfect season for bright, colorful props. Think ice cream, ice pops, straw hats, sunglasses, bubbles, fruit, sparklers, lemonade, etc. Props can add to your summer story without making it look overly staged. Plus, it gives your kiddos something to do without noticing that they are having their picture taken. Water is a fantastic prop in the summer. A pool, the ocean, a sprinkler, the lake, a water slide, water balloons – the possibilities are endless!

I hope this inspire you a bit to relax and enjoy your summer without feeling like you have to be supermom. Remember – quality over quantity!

p.s. If you’ve made it this far and need a last minute gift idea for Father’s Day, check out this adorable printable from Declaration & Co. 

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