3 Things for Busy Moms to Do this Spring

Spring is almost here, in spite of the chill in the air here in NYC. So we’re sharing a new approach to Spring Cleaning, tailored for busy moms like us.

This spring, we’re finding ways of celebrating the every day, because “every moment matters” is more than how we describe our work, it is how we live our lives.

Stop asking "how was your day"

Avoid this question if you really want answers!

To really connect with your kids, and to get the conversation going, try some of our tips from the start of the school year.

Are these strategies working for you? What are you doing to start quality conversations with your kids? And how are you finding the time?

Choose one simple way to connect with your kids

You don’t have to be Mary Poppins to create special moments for your kids. And you don’t have to plan elaborate vacations or custom play spaces to enjoy some time together.

In fact, even small interactions like cooking a meal together, sitting around the table (it doesn’t have to be a holiday!), watching their favorite TV show with them, or listening to them describe something that they love - a hobby, sport, art project or video game) - can go a long way.

Take some time for self-care

Remember the advice they give on planes to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others when things get hectic.

Photo by  Becca Tapert  on  Unsplash

The spring season is often full of family events and major milestones (Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings). In all that excitement, and during all that preparation, the small moments that matter can get lost, especially if you’re not finding little ways to remind yourself that you matter. Practice self-care when you’re busy, not just when you feel like you have the space to carve out “me time.”

Teach Kids Gratitude during the Holidays

Teaching kids gratitude during the holiday season can be a challenge. Sometimes it feels like we spend all of our energy on creating memorable holiday experiences, decorating things just-so, and finding the right gift (a few times over) for our favorite people. Then, as the season draws to a close, we realize that there is a lot of giving but not a lot of gratitude.

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But it’s about more than gifts. As parents, we don’t need our kids to bend over backwards telling us how grateful they are for the things we give them. What we really want - the reason we jump headlong into the holiday craziness and wait on hours-long lines - is to make memories that our children will cherish. To start and continue traditions that make them happy, that remind them, and us, of how grateful we are to have each other.

We’ve gathered a few of our favorite posts to help you teach your kids about gratitude this season, and to keep the grateful vibes well into the new year.

Start a Daily Gratitude Practice with your Kids

I try to use gratitude in my home as a regular on-going conversation with my son.  When we focus on gratitude, it can create good feeling and closeness. Sometimes I will ask my son during dinner what happened in his day that made him feel grateful.

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Other times as I am tucking him into bed, I will tell him the 5 things about my day that I am grateful for and ask him about his.

There are a lot of other ways to introduce gratitude into a conversation, to make it into a game and to keep it present.  I find that talking about what we are grateful for shifts things.  It makes the mood more positive, lighter and gentler

Introduce Gratitude Games and Table Activities

I’m thinking of something that begins with the letter…

We all know the popular road trip game, where you work your way through the alphabet, guessing something that begins with each letter of the alphabet while the person who is “it” provides clues to the guessers.

Customize this game for your table. Take turns going clockwise around the table (or starting youngest to oldest). The first person who is “it” says “I’m grateful for something that begins with the letter A.” Each person around the table guesses what that is based on hints.

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This is a fun, easy, and interactive way to share what you are thankful for. It is also a natural way to start a conversation around gratitude, and to teach you what little things matter to your loved ones.

Turn Your New Year’s Resolutions into Gratitude Intentions

Rather than list out resolutions, ways we want to be different, things we want to change about ourselves or our circumstances, we are choosing to focus on intention.  All of us at Portraits that Move are committing to living and working and observing with intention. 

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Rather than a resolution to be more, to do more, to change this or that in a quest for a goal, this year, we are listening to that voice that reminds us to stop, to look at our life, at our work and at our goals and to determine how they align with our intention to find joy and to be grateful

How are you practicing gratitude with your kids during the holiday season? Share with us on Facebook!




Top Parent Questions and Answers about Family Video Making

We’ve rounded up some of the questions that parents ask about Portraits that Move film shoots, and collected them here to help give you a feel for what the filming experience is like for kids and parents.

Here, we walk you through how to prepare, what to wear, and what kinds of questions we ask to help kids share their stories. See more on how to work with Portraits that Move and explore our complete Frequently Asked Questions list from parents like you.

How to Prepare and What to Wear for a Film Shoot with Portraits that Move

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To kick off holiday card video season, we assembled this list of tips that includes colors that stand out on film, setting the stage at home, and the most important thing to remember heading in to a family film shoot.

Location, Location, Location

Parents often want to know about scouting locations for their family film shoot with Portraits that Move. From capturing the ideal location for holiday video cards to choosing the right place to document your Bar Mitzvah video or Portrait video, we offer simple guidelines for choosing and creating spaces to document your family story.

Is My Child too Shy to Appear on Camera?

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Our professional filmmakers have seen it all, and a little shyness will not prevent your family from getting the quality family video you deserve. Here, we walk through some of the steps we take to help kids feel comfortable to share their worlds with us - and with you - on film. It’s all about creating a safe, inviting, and creative space to document life. That’s what we do best!

Peek at the Process

Take a behind the scenes peek at our process as we share some of the questions we ask that get kids talking, and some of their adorable - and insightful - answers!


4 Self Care Tips for Bar Mitzvah Planning Moms

Bar Mitzvah planning is a hectic, often overwhelming process. You are likely to find yourself second guessing, worrying over details large and small, and wondering if you are doing enough to support and celebrate your child. Basically, it's a microcosm of parenting.

There are so many decisions to be made, from the Bar/Bat Mitzvah planner to the venue, to the theme, to the Bar Mitzvah montage video, to the guest lists and seating charts. It is a recipe for stress, especially for already busy moms.

Original Photo by  Lonely Planet  on  Unsplash

Original Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash

Work with a Planner and Delegate

Do not attempt this on your own! Hire a Bar Mitzvah planner that you trust, who understands what you want, from the vibe to the budget. When you hire a planner, you are bringing in an expert who will connect you with Bar Mitzvah vendors that save you the stress of feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel, or manage the entire world.

Here’s the catch, though, and it is essential to self care: delegate. Let your planner do what he/she does best and do not stress over whether or not they will do what they say. If you hired the right person, they truly understand what is at stake, and they will not let you down. After all, their business, and their reputation, are on the line.

Delegate to your family, too. Involve your child, who will no doubt have ideas of his/her own. But be sure to come to them with calmness and with appropriate sized jobs and reasonable expectations, otherwise you compound the stress for both of you. Use the planning (and delegating!) process as time to talk with your son or daughter about the experience, and to encourage self care - for both of you – as you prepare.

Be Confident in Your Decisions

Once you make a decision, whether it is about the venue, the Bat Mitzvah dress, or who to invite (or not invite), check it off the list and move on. Nothing is more exhausting (and less productive) than second guessing yourself. Now is not the time to add more exhaustion to your days and nights - you will be busy enough moving on to the next Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning details.

We have seen too many parents about to crumble when they are picking images for the Bar Mitzvah montage portion of our videos. As a parent in the midst of this process, if you don’t take time to slow down and practice a little self care, suddenly, you can’t make a single decision without fearing that it is the wrong one. Remember the advice you got when you brought home the little baby that’s now not so little and nowhere near a baby: you will know what’s best.

You know what’s right for you and for your family. You know the moments that matter most to you and to each other. Those are the moments you want to include in your video, those are the moments that have led to this one. Be confident in all the right decisions that you have made and are making. They are what brought you and your child to this point, and they are what you are celebrating.

Check in with Friends

Way back when you were a new mom, you met a group of friends that were your safe space to ask questions about diaper blowouts and how many times to check on the baby once he finally fell asleep. Guess what? Those same moms are going through the Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning process, too. Rally your group of moms, whether you have been in touch on a daily basis or not. Meet for a drink, have a few laughs, and talk about the ups and downs of this process in a way that only other moms going through it will understand.

Photo by  Becca Tapert  on  Unsplash

Listen to their recommendations about DJs and party supplies, but also ask them the questions you can’t ask anyone else. How am I really going to feel? What happened to my baby? What can we do to support each other from the party details to the new reality of parenting older kids? Just as you supported each other in your early days as moms, you will see the value of supporting each other now – of being heard and understood by people who really get it. There is no substitute for the energy we get from other supportive moms. It’s the perfect way to restore our sense of balance at this time (just be sure this is a circle you trust – we’re talking about collaboration, not competition!).

Step Away and Spend Time with your Child

Let this be your mantra: "this is about my child." Do not lose sight of the reason you are doing all of this Bar/Bat Mitzah planning. This is a time to celebrate your child, and there is no better way to do that than to spend a bit of time with them. Listen to what your son has to say, not just about his Bar Mitzvah theme ideas, but about what the preparation process feels like for him. How is he growing and changing? Does he have any fears about the day? Ask your daughter to show you what she is reading, and how she is preparing. Talk with her about what her Bat Mitzvah experience means, and how it is preparing her for her next steps in life.

These conversations ground us, they restore us. When we take a moment to talk with our children we not only remember what the Bar Mitzvah experience is about. We have the opportunity to practice self care and model that for our children, and we get to move from feeling overwhelmed to feeling excited, and grateful as the day approaches.

- Elizabeth Eames, August 2018

Elizabeth Eames is a professional communicator, a parent, and a member of the Portraits that Move Team.

Overcoming Shyness: Tips for Working with Kids on Camera

People often ask me what happens if their child is shy or does not want to participate on the day we arrive to film their Portraits that Move video. I always respond with complete sincerity that this is not a problem at all.

Our main goal for the film shoot is to create an open, loving space for the child to be who they are. If they feel pressured, pushed or coerced in any way, it will not work.  We want your kids to know that we love them exactly as they are.

working with kids on camera tips

We recently did a holiday shoot for two girls, Savannah and Derby. For the second year in a row, we documented the sisters for their family's Holiday Video Card. We had spent time with them last year, we cherished them and the entire family loved their first video.

Still, when we arrived to shoot the video the next year, one of the girls, Derby, was not into us being there. Initially, she refused to talk to me. She did not want to do anything we asked of her and, at one point, she even hid from us.

tips to overcome shyness on camera filmmaking tips from kids director

I showed Derby love at every turn, letting her know that her feelings were normal.  I assured her and made her feel comfortable with the filming process in the following ways:

  • I let her know that she could show us and tell us what SHE wanted. All of her answers were up to her.
  • We loved her and smiled at her even through her protest. It is a weird situation to have a camera there - we acknowledged that, and we acknowledged her feelings.
  • We encouraged anything that would bring her comfort. You will see a purple stuffed snake throughout the video. She wanted it close to her, and we agreed.
  • When she said it was over for her, we wrapped it up. There is no reason to push a child beyond the point they are willing to go. Safety and comfort are most important.  Children need and deserve to feel in control of their own experience. After all, how can our kids show us their best selves if they feel uncomfortable?

Ultimately, the film captures Derby’s spirit beautifully. She is sparkly and loving and filled with fun. I loved spending the afternoon with her. I hope she felt the same. 

Activities with Kids that Spark Conversation

Engaging our kids in activities that make them feel comfortable, creative, inspired and open encourages them - and makes them feel comfortable  to have good, honest conversations with us.

Because celebrating the real voices of our kids, their insights, dreams, observations, and joy is so much a part of our mission as filmmakers, we have come up with some ideas for fun activities that create conversation.  These are great things to do over summer vacation and throughout the year.

Play Outside

The outdoors is full of inspiration for kids and adults. As stimulating as the out of doors is, it is free of the distractions of home.  You won't be tempted to try and put away all the toys in the playroom or check your email "just one more time" when you are outside, immersed in nature. 

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Playing a game of catch, going on a nature walk, collecting shells, or searching for the perfect shady spot in the park all provide opportunities to ask and answer questions about the world around us and to get insight into what is on our children's minds and in their hearts.

Go For a Walk

Again, you are limiting the distractions that try to steal attention away from our kids, and you are limiting the distractions that prevent kids from focusing on their thoughts and engaging in conversation with us (it's pretty difficult to answer a question fully when they are indulging in some screen time).

take a walk together stop and smell the roses

Walking together gives your child the chance to fill you in on his or her day.  If possible, walk home from camp or from school.  Ask a mixture of precise and open-ended questions to remind them of different moments in the day, and to get a sense of what they enjoyed, what they didn't, and what those moments made your child think about and feel.  

Questions like "what was the best part of your day" or "who did you sit with at lunchtime" are easier for kids to answer than "how was your day."

Build Something Together

When we work on something together we need to communicate and to focus.  All of this helps to create a comfortable environment for conversation and for sharing.  We feel connected when we are working on a project together and kids gain confidence and feel proud when they are able to build something from start to finish. 

build something together

Get out some puzzles, look through craft books and science experiments and find a project that is challenging but not intimidating, that is collaborative and fun.  Talk with your kids first and let them help you choose what project you want to do together.  Talk about why you are choosing that project and talk, as you go, about what comes next, how the steps connect, and who should do what to make your project work.

Learn Something Together

It's good for our kids to see that we can still learn something.  Kids feel less shy when they see that we also need to go step by step and they feel excited, right along with us, as we make progress to learn something new.  

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Learn simple sign language, or try another new language (especially if your child is taking lessons in school or through an afterschool program).  Discover facts about animals or regions of the world, try out some new dance steps, or go to a music class together.  Learning something new together gives you a sense of shared accomplishment.  You can practice together and discover together, all the while nurturing an environment of communication, trust and support.

Cook a Meal

Integrate conversation and special time with your kids into your daily life.  Cook breakfast or dinner together.  Let your child help you choose what to make and include him or her in the preparation process.  Reading recipes and measuring ingredients helps younger kids build literacy and math skills and making a meal together sets the stage for good conversations.

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If you are making breakfast, talk about your plans for the day.  If you are making dinner, talk abut your favorite moments of the day.  Talk about ingredients, flavors, and family traditions.  Preparing and eating food is a time honored way of connecting and sharing with others.  Using this time intentionally with our kids passes along traditions and infuses an everyday task with joy.