Are Professional Photos worth it?

Photography has come so far since we were children. The photos of my childhood are not few, but they are limited and curated in a way the photos of my own children are not. My parents might have taken shots when we were at the beach, or on Christmas day, or in the bath, just as I do now. Except I can take dozens and immediately view them and chose the best, or not and keep them all – too lazy to cull and too enamoured to delete. The cloud stores millions of photos of children, documenting their every move and every milestone.

Photo by Valeria Zoncoll on Unsplash

Yet, despite the ability to photograph our children ourselves with ever improving cameras in phones and at our fingertips, professional photography of babies and children is a booming business. A once virtually unheard of market, the newborn photo shoot is now almost ubiquitous. Parents can choose from a myriad of photographers and pay anywhere from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars to create and capture some newborn twee on film (Or not, as it were. In fact, the change from film to digital is partly responsible for the newborn shoot’s rise in popularity; now that photos of otherwise wrinkled and smudged babies fresh from birth can be smoothed and beautified on screen.).

Photo by Laura Garcia from Pexels

But is it worth it? For my first child I thought: no. For my second I decided I may as well (jealous spats in the future as one has photos in a nest and the other does not?). Obviously, I saved a lot of money the first time. But now I do have some special photos of my second baby (and the first as a toddler) that will be treasured, always. Of course, you can try and take some photos at home, and there are plenty of tips on how to get the best out of your child and save your money. But, there is clearly more to it than simply plonking your baby on a rug and snapping away.

Take a look at these newborn shoot ‘fails’ and try not to laugh out loud, I dare you!


A professional photographer should have skills you don’t, in the art of photography, in the knack of posing and settling babies, and in the tricks of editing. It’s tough wading through all the options and knowing who is best, so try and ask around and trust word of mouth and recommendations. Look at their portfolio and make sure the style suits you. Ask about their prices and have a clear budget set. Don’t be afraid to turn down an option that costs too much. There are plenty of photographers out there and there is bound to be one that fits your style and budget.

And if you decide to skip the professional photo shoot and do it yourself, please laugh out loud if it all goes wrong. The photos of us as babies likely weren’t styled, or edited, or planned, and we all turned out fine!

Share your newborn photo shoot story with us in the comments!

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Social Media and your children's photos

Do you put photos of your child on social media?

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

Someone close to me said they were not going to put photos of their newborn child on social media, for safety. But this isn’t what happened. Photos of child are on social media all the time, as are photos of mine.

There are disturbing stories about children’s photos being shared without permission, sold or used for profit, and being collected by those who would do them harm. Yet more and more parents are sharing photos of their children on their personal and public social media.

There are concerns for the child’s privacy and right to consent. Concerns about the focus on image for children’s self esteem, and for the way these photos can be shared, and who owns them.

But there is a desire to connect with other parents, with friends and family who may not see the children any other way. And there is a normalising of the personal being made public. This normalisation may not be a problem for those raised and becoming adults in that climate as much as it seem to those from a more private period in history. But we also cannot know what the children growing up on camera now will think when they are the grown ups.

Photo by samer daboul from Pexels

So what can we do?

How do we balance sharing photos and maintaining privacy? How to we make use of social media to connect with others through our children’s stories while still protecting our loved ones from being exposed in dangerous ways?

Personally I have a few ways I try to contain my children’s images on the internet.

No nude photos. Ever. Same goes for anything I’d consider “private.” That means no sharing photos on the toilet, even though I have some really funny ones with a toddler and their gumboots. If my children choose to share naked photos of themselves that should be their business.

The vast majority of photos of my children are shared in private invite only groups, open only to my family and real life friends. Some photos are shared to my wider online friend community and a minimal amount are shared to my public social media. Sharing photos is mostly, for me, a modern way of sharing a slide show with friends or passing around snaps at a family gathering.

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

This mentality keeps my children’s images on the free internet to a minimum. And the photos that are there show them always fully clothed and are not embarrassing or private.

Do you put photos of your child on social media?

If you do, have you have any rules for yourself?

If you don’t, how do you share photos with those who wish to see them?

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Guest Post: Best Holiday Gifts for Grandparents.

This week’s guest post is provided by Libby. As a 60-year-old grandparent of seven, Libby prides herself on successfully spoiling every child with minimal complaints from her daughter, son, and their respective spouses. Even with chronic back problems, she is determined to earn the title of “World’s Best Grandparent” and spends every afternoon loving on her kids’ kids, one child at a time. Libby created Grandparenting.info to share what she’s learned as a grandmom and to help new grandparents make the most of every second with their grandkids.

There’s no doubt that you love your grandparents, and this holiday season is a great time to show them just how much. When choosing a gift, you can make their day by getting them something they’ll truly cherish. They might be extra appreciative of gifts that they can use to make their lives easier or more comfortable, such as tools for their favorite hobbies or a senior-friendly phone. Here are some ideas.

Sentimental Gifts

Letting your grandparents know how much they mean to you is always appreciated. The holidays could be a great time to gift them some sentimental gifts that will remind them they’re always in your thoughts. According to Personal Creations, personalized gifts can hit the right spot. They can combine sentimentality with function or add a great aesthetic to a room. Your choices can include daily use items like clothes, bowls, mugs, and jars. Decorative gifts like photo albums, throws and pillows can really brighten your grandparents’ day. 

If your grandparents are like most, they like to talk about family and the great, big family tree. Why not get them a gift that will showcase these interconnections? Family tree frames can be used to house pictures of a family tree of varying sizes depending on how large you’d like to make it. You can even get creative and combine more than one of these frames. 

Tech-Based Gifts

Yes, it may seem that technology and older adults aren’t always a good match, but you might be surprised by the number of senior-friendly technology devices out there. According to Gear Brain, some tech gifts your grandparents might appreciate include robot cleaning devices and a truly simple Wi-Fi product that your grandparents can have set up in no time. If you always want to send pictures to them but they’re not that tech-savvy to use email, consider getting them digital photo frames that you can update with pictures at the touch of a button. 

If your grandparents need a new mobile phone, then consider checking out some flip phone options like the LG Exalt LTE or the Kyocera DuraXV LTE. Both of these phones work well for seniors, but the Kyocera phone is great for those who love the outdoors. Where tablets are concerned, you should definitely check out a few Samsung devices which feature large display screens and are easy to use.

Companionship Gifts

If your grandparents aren’t close by and you don’t get a lot of time to visit, it might be good to consider getting them a gift of companionship. There are numerous health benefits for older adults who have pets, but there are also quite a few responsibilities involved with taking care of an animal. In this case, it might be good to strike a happy medium where your grandparents get to interact with animals but aren’t completely responsible for their care. 

If your grandparents live in a location that is frequented by birds, then a good birdhouse might be just what they need. When it comes to birdhouses, Gardener’s Supply Company suggests paying attention to the material that it’s made of and where you intend to place it. Make sure to find a birdhouse that is the right size for the kind of birds you expect to visit. A recent companion invention may also be of interest as a gift. The companion pet is a robotic pet that behaves very much like a cat or dog, but your grandparents won’t need to clean up any messes or make visits to the vet. 

Hobby-Friendly Gifts

Depending on your grandparents’ activity level, they may have certain hobbies they enjoy, so you can get them gifts that support that. For older adults who love fishing, you can choose from gifts that match their level of expertise. Whether your loved ones are just starting out or have been doing it for a while, you can definitely find gifts that can help them enjoy their hobby even more. 

If your grandparents are more sedentary and have a knack for knitting, then how about getting them some tools for their craft? They may appreciate items like knitting needles, storage tote bags, and a yarn ball winder. Finally, for the gardener in your midst, they may be interested in trying out bonsai trees. If they have the patience for growing the trees from scratch, consider getting a good starter kit. Otherwise, you can get them a bonsai tree seedling that they can start tending to immediately. 

The gift options for older adults have broadened over the years, and you can pick out quite a few gifts that would mean a lot to your grandparents. You can get them sentimental gifts that will keep their memories close at hand or get them technology-based gifts that they’ll find easy to use. Whatever you choose, your grandparents will certainly be appreciative that you put so much thought into it.

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How many presents ?

How many presents do you buy for your kids at Christmas?

In my family, amongst my friends, between the parents I speak to online, there are very different approaches to Christmas presents. Some people buy a lot, some buy little. Some place a lot of emphasis on Santa’s gifts, some less, some not at all. Everyone wants their kids to have an amazing Christmas experience, and all the kids get exactly that! But which approach to gift giving is best? Which suits you and your family?

  • How much to spend?
  • How many gifts to give?
  • More presents or bigger presents?
  • Who gets the credit, parents or Santa?
  • How to make sure the kids appreciate their gifts?

How much to spend?

How long is a piece of string? This really is a circular question. Family finances are so different that measuring your spend against another can never be helpful. Different incomes, different budgets, different priorities make this an impossible comparison and one that can only make you feel bad. Bad you aren’t spending enough or bad you’ve spent too much. Or you feel smug you’ve done just the right thing and then you should feel bad for feeling smug.

The main thing is to spend what you can afford only. Going into debt or having to cut back too much to afford a lot of presents isn’t going to pay dividends. Your kids may love those toys but soon they’ll want to go on fun outings you can’t afford or need new shoes you can’t buy and the toys won’t make up for it.

How many gifts to give?

This is where you can save money when you have little ones. They won’t know how much things cost so if you want to give a lot, go for lots of cheap gifts rather than one or two expensive ones. If you have more than one child make sure they have the same number as they’ll probably compare. Even if you spent more on one child they are more likely to see the fairness in how many gifts they can count. But giving too many gifts can make the opening become a factory line and the shine of getting a gift can be rubbed away. Too many presents and you run the risk of an ungrateful child who keeps expecting more and more. Plus there’s only so much they can focus on and some of the toys are likely to gather dust, at least for a while. Where’s the sweet spot? That’s up to you, of course, but just remember not to compare to the other parents! There’s always someone giving a number wildly different to you and making you second guess your decision.

Bigger is better?

There are some big items that are often given as Christmas gifts. I mean large! Like cubby houses, trampolines, swing sets, play kitchens, bikes….. This big presents often come with a price tag to match and can be an excellent option for a group gift, to all the kids/all the family (maybe not the bike!)

Large toys can be impressive and give a lot of bang for their buck as they aren’t always matched by their price. Young children, just as they will see a lot of toys as a big haul, are likely to see Big toys as impressive. A large cheap toy might create more excitement than an expensive small one. But the long term value is worth considering, if the cheap toy becomes just more for the toy box and eventually landfill. Small toys can be used to fill a stocking. Little hands reaching in again and again to reveal yet more tiny wonders might create more joy. How big is your home? I know I think hard about just where I will keep each item once it’s a part of our lives and homes before I buy it. If you can’t think of an obvious place to keep it, maybe it’s something best to avoid!

Who gave the best gift, you or Santa?

This one really gets the mums groups to disagree. On the one side is the argument that Santa is magical and special and kids should believe the best comes from that magical place while they still can. On the other hand is the position that parents put in all the hard work so they should get the credit and appreciation they deserve. Also to take into consideration is that the biggest and best present means very different things to different families. Some have hardly anything or nothing to spend on Christmas and some have limitless funds and means. If Santa is attributed with the most extravagant present, yet this varies from one child to the next, will the children see this and feel like Santa has been unfair or doesn’t care as much for some children? This a very personal question and your family dynamics and the personality of your child will sway the decision. How likely are your kids to discuss their gifts with other children? Some countries have school close to Christmas and some do not, does this affect the likelihood of comparison discussions? Do your children appreciate you usually or do you feel they need to see how you work hard to get them the things they have? Is the magic of Santa especially important to you and to them?

How much will they appreciate their presents?

We all want to give our kids what they want, but we try to give them what they need as well. And maybe sometimes they need to appreciate what they’ve been given a bit more? I know my toddler can begin to expect gifts around present giving time. For a month after his birthday he would come home from daycare asking, “Have you got a present for me?” There were even tears sometimes when the answer was no. I think the toddler may be old enough to begin learning about giving his toys to those who haven’t as many. This year I’d like to have him pick something new to give to a children’s Christmas gift program and also to agree to pass on some of his own toys. Getting him involved in choosing and wrapping gifts for other family members also makes sure he understands that presents are a two way street and to help him grow his own joy in giving.

How do you and your family approach presents for your kids?

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How to cook soup, a busy parents’ guide

Find a whole cauliflower in the back of the fridge you forgot about. It looks a bit sad but it’s still good, surely.

Leave it on the bench for 6 hours while you keep thinking you’ll get to it “in just a minute”

Break the cauliflower into large florrettes and tip onto an oven tray. Spray with oil and put in the oven while the toddler’s dinosaur nuggets cook.

Ignore for about half an hour and congratulate yourself for remembering to take it out before it burns. The crispy edges are, in fact, exactly what you were after and not a mistake at all. Leave tray on top of the stove while you put the baby to bed.

Chop some onion and/or leek and/or celery and/or whatever you have to hand and throw in a large saucepan with plenty of oil and garlic. Keep the temperature fairly low so you can leave the veggies to sweat and not burn while you put the toddler back to bed.

  1. stir the veggies.
  2. put the toddler back to bed
  3. stir the veggies.
  4. resettle the baby.
  5. stir the veggies.
  6. put the toddler back to bed.
  7. forget the veggies but that’s ok because you had the temperature low.
  8. put the toddler back to bed. and this time you mean it!

Add the roasted cauliflower and any stock you may have (that half a box in the fridge says use within three days but you can’t remember when you used it so best just throw it in now). Top up the liquid with approximately 2 paw patrol drink bottles worth of water.

Remember you were meant to add spices earlier. Add them now! A dash of this and a shake of that. Cumin coriander and tumeric maybe? Don’t have those? Thyme and oregano? None of that either? Forget the spices, it’ll taste good as it is!

Turn the heat up now and let it boil then simmer while you pack up the toys and the dishes. Move the laundry that needs folded to a different area, to be done “later”.

Now your soup looks cooked. It’s certainly hot and it’s time to watch the next episode of your show so let’s say it’s done! Get out your stick blender and whiz it up. Add plenty of salt and don’t worry that it tastes like you tipped in a bit too much tumeric.

Your soup is now done. The kids are asleep. You a wonderful chef and parent combination.

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