Break Out of Busy

The end of the school year comes with a rush of concerts, recitals, championship games, school events and graduations. It is an exciting time to celebrate your child’s accomplishments and the friendships you have made over the course of the school year. It can also be insanely busy. Like, makes the holiday season look restful busy.

So, how do you enjoy this busy season instead of getting overwhelmed by it?

Listen to Your Child

Make time to talk with your children. Ask them questions and remember to take the time to listen to the answers they give you. Do they need a break?

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If there is a party they want to skip and they can skip it, let them. Sometimes less really is more, so let your children lead you and give them the space to rest if they feel like they need to tap out and take time to restore their energy.

Stay Present in the Moment

Put down your camera. Set aside your To Do List, and engage all of your senses in the moment that you are experiencing. If your child is performing a song she has written, listen to it, look at her. Take in the moment for what it is.

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These moments are short, even though they represent so much preparation and progress. Do everything you can to recognize and appreciate them for what they are - and to encourage your children to do the same - rather than racing from one calendar alert to the next.

Celebrate Each Other

There is a reason why celebrate is our Word of the Year. It is so important to celebrate each other and the wonderful things we do together and on our own. Your children feel proud and happy when you celebrate them and the work they have done.

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As a parent, when you take the time to celebrate, you are also taking the time to slow down and savor the moment. You are giving yourself permission to enjoy things for what they are and to enjoy each other for who you are.

You may still feel exhausted at the end of the school year, but you certainly won’t feel like it was wasted time.

Change is the Constant, and So is Gratitude

My son has decided to grow out his hair- that is after we briefly dyed it purple. He is experimenting with his appearance even while he is still losing teeth. He likes to ask questions and then make jokes about sexuality which seems so grown up but then he  still sometimes wants a favorite stuffed animal to snuggle with.

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He wants to make pillow forts with me and then wants only to talk to his friends. One minute, he is doing impressions of Donald Trump at the family dinner table and the next he is moody and wants to be left alone with the dreaded video games.

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It is a changeable time and one that is uncertain for both of us. And with each new stage of parenting, I am trying to ride the wave, to take it as it comes and to sit with the moments of joy. I am deeply aware that the time is flying, soon he will not want to be with me and that will be appropriate. Soon, he will choose friends over movie nights at home. So, I cherish it all (even the moodiness.) And, I remain grateful, to have this experience, this human, this love in my life.

 And I am grateful to have documented him when I did, because when I miss that six year old smile, I can always look back, remember and celebrate him then and now.

Camp Lessons for Mom

This summer I experienced one of the great rites of passage of parenthood, I dropped off my son at sleep away camp. I had spent weeks, putting together all the things he would need. I had mailed letters to him in advance of his departure and given him tons of extra hugs. Since I felt anxious about the separation, I read a book about it, Homesick and Happy, by Michael Thompson.

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On the day we got to camp, it was a sunny, beautiful day. The weather was perfect. Music blared from loud speakers. The staff was welcoming. It seemed like a big, fun party in a gorgeous location. We got my son settled in to his bunk, made his bed, put his things away and made introductions to his counselors and bunkmates.

When the time came to leave, I had a pit in my stomach. But then something amazing happened. In an instant, my son had his bathing suit on and was making plans with his new friends to swim in the lake. He was excited and already engaged. He barely said goodbye to us.

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And suddenly, I did not feel sad anymore. I felt the relief of knowing that the decision we made to send him to camp was the right one for him. He was ready and now was his time to grow. And I guess, as his mom, I was ready to grow too.

The pace of parenthood always moves me. It goes by so fast. Yet, somehow, when we take time to stop, be present and trust in the growth, it can be beautiful.

Those are the moments we capture on film. Those are the moments we return to when we need them most – as filmmakers and as parents.

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.

Gratitude and Transitions

This time of year is always an emotional one for me. This week, my son, will have his 10th birthday. A whole decade - wow - the time has flown.

His birthday this year is on Thanksgiving. What an incredible gift to have a day meant for gratitude, family time and closeness also be the day we get to celebrate the joy of having him in our lives.

The age of ten for a New York City kid is an intense one. They are still kids, playful and curious, but in this urban world, they are just on the edge of being teenagers. They are pushing for independence and yet asking for closeness. It is a time that is overwhelming for him and for me. I wonder how do we shift into this next decade together. What will it look like?

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I find grounding in gratitude. If I stay in touch with all the reasons I am grateful for him - the way he winks at me, the joy in his belly laugh, his power of observation, the kindness he shows with younger kids, his comedic impersonations - the gratitude keeps me present and enjoying today. And then, once I am there, I have ease in knowing the rest will come as it may, in its own time.

I think this is what we are offering to parents with our work. A time for them to be present and then to look back and enjoy that presence fully. Our videos capture these moments for them so they have them to keep and to hold close.

It’s a beautiful time of year to create a Portraits That Move video, a holiday card, an annual portrait or even if you are celebrating a special occasion.

I am grateful to be able to do the the work we do, for this holiday season and for the gift of getting to be mother to my son. Here’s to the next year and next decade!

Happy Thanksgiving!

xo,

Susannah

What a Difference a Year Makes

Now that holiday card season is upon us and we are shooting and scheduling holiday video cards and beginning to book Signature Portrait videos for holiday gifts, we at Portraits that Move are enjoying one of our favorite annual traditions.  We are spending quality time with our clients, the members of our growing Portraits that Move family.

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What joy it is to make documenting your families an annual tradition.  And what amazing and beautiful changes we witness from behind the camera.  Whether it is bringing a new baby into the family, starting a new school, or sharing the observations, emotions, dreams and ideas that your children have this year, at this moment, documenting your family as you travel through life is one of the truest blessings we know.

Thank you to all of you who come to us and come back to us to document this time in your children's lives and your own.  We want you to know that, above all, we understand the trust that you put in us to reflect back to you the magic and beauty of your family as it is in this moment.  And we treasure this gift you give to us as we know you treasure the gift of your Portraits that Move family films.

We have some Holiday Video Shoot slots remaining.  Book yours now, or contact us to schedule a Signature Portrait shoot.

When Our Children Stop Needing Us, What Happens to Our Connection?

I have been lucky to have had Elizabeth Eames as part of the Portraits that Move family for the last couple years. Liz has helped me to clarify and  communicate my vision for the company with leadership and with love. We recently had a touching conversation about the bittersweet feelings that accompany our children growing older. I encouraged Liz to write her thoughts and feelings. The result is the beautiful blog post below. I am grateful for her contribution, I hope you will feel the same.

My daughter is six years old and up to this point, time has been marked by milestones that help her to need me less.  Before we head into the Big Kid Years and careen into the tweens and teens, we look at the passing of time as the gaining of independence, and the ease that comes with it.  I eagerly awaited the new things that we could do together - our conversations, the opportunity for me to hear her observations, her own stories.  I couldn’t wait for the day I could take her by the hand and walk to the subway, the two of us heading off on an adventure together.  No diaper bag, no stroller, no extras toys to keep her occupied.

The summer my daughter was an infant, I looked forward to the next year, when she would be running around in the sand.  The summer she was a toddler, I looked forward to next year, when I wouldn't have to pack diapers or plan around naps.

There were days, early on, that I admit to feeling a sense of relief when veteran moms told me how quickly time passes.  Sometimes, we lose sight of the short years when we feel trapped in the long days.

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But something happened this summer.  While she was swimming farther and farther away and I was standing, watching.  Something happened when she was snuggled up next to me listening while I was reading.

Six years old.  This feels like a tipping point.  The changes time is bringing aren’t so much making it easier for us to be together, easier for us to get through our day – our shared day – as they are giving her the chance to make each day, each experience more her own.  And that is exciting.  And it is humbling.  It feels, now, like we are not only gaining with time, we are losing.  Losing the need for constant attention, losing the need for help with little things.  All those little things that connected us.  That kept us close together, in our space and in our hearts.

Next summer, she won’t need me to read her The House at Pooh Corner, the funny book with all those Chapters.  The book that launched her into hours of playtime, and inspired her to get lost in her imagination.  Will she want me to read to her?  Will she ask me to, if she does?  Will she invite me into her imagination?  Will she allow herself to spend enough time there?

In our rush to achieve, in our desire to look ahead to the next milestones, the easier day that’s around the corner, are we forgetting the joy of the journey?  Are we hurrying to a time when we remember the past fondly, forgetting that so much of that past was spent looking to the future?

I want to remember these moments, the summer of independence that we shared.  The start of a school year that I know is pulling her away from me and towards herself and all that knowledge and friendship and imagination will help her to uncover about the world. 

I want to be present, to be present for what is, right now, for her and for me and for us.  And as we look ahead and dream together, and look back and remember, I want to find - and to honor - what connects us.  Maybe that connection is need.  The need to love and be loved, the need to find and share joy, the need to embrace the life and the time we have been given.  And to celebrate it, together.

- Elizabeth Eames, September 2016

Getting Back on the Bike and a New School Year

While on my summer vacation, I decided to do something I had not done in over twenty years. I rode a bicycle.

I am not sure why I ever stopped riding, I loved it as a kid and often rode throughout my suburban neighborhood. It became one of those things where, the longer I went without doing it, the more fearful I became. I am not clear on what I was afraid of exactly. It was not an active pervasive fear, more like something I just did not think of doing.

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In any case, I LOVED IT!!!!  The joy I felt in the freedom of coasting with the wind in my hair was immense. I felt like a ten-year-old again. It made me want to buy a bike and to spend more time feeling that freedom. I giggled and the satisfaction of overcoming my worries was powerful.

It also got me thinking about other fears that are subtle. And transitions. This time of year there are plenty of both for our children and for us. Our children may have anxieties about new grades, homework and routines. And if we are being honest, we likely have our own anxieties. How will it all go? Will the new schedule work?  Will the re-connection with friends be smooth? Perhaps we have anxieties about our children growing up too fast. I certainly do.

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We need to push through these fears, to ignore them and release them. We need to get back on our own bikes of freedom and enjoy the moment. Be present, share in the joy, be fearless. It will be worth it for them and for us.

I wish you all immense ease with the beginnings and transitions of this academic year. And if you need me, I’ll be on the bike path giggling with my son. 

What's in a Name: Why We Are Portraits that MOVE

We took care in coming up with the name for our documentary style family film business, and Portraits that Move is just right.  

Of course, there is the obvious - our portraits of your babies and your children reveal who they are in ways that photography, baby books and memory journals can't.  Because we are filmmakers, we are able to give you the gift of your children dancing, singing, telling their favorite stories, and moving through their space as it is, and as they are right now.

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But there is something more about this idea of moving.  As parents, as families, we are always moving.  Even when we stop to savor the moment, we are aware that these moments are as fleeting as they are wonderful.

As we enjoy the last days of summer, the family time, the adventures, and the discoveries they bring, we understand that we can't stop.  We can't stop our children from growing and changing.  We can't stop the summer from turning into fall and the learning and growth it will bring.  And we would never want to.

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But we can be present in these moments.  We can help you gather them, preserve them, and celebrate them, season after season, change after change.

What the End of School Year Means for Parents

There are few moments when the passage of time is felt as acutely as it is at the end of the school year.  Surely, we are all looking at (and posting) the side-by-side First Day of School/Last Day of School photos on social media and remarking at how much our children and our friends' children have changed over the course of a school year.

Likely, we are also thinking in our more quiet, private moments, about how fast the time is going, how different our kids are from when they started the school year, and anticipating, already, how much they will have changed by the end of the summer, by the end of next year...

Celebrate these moments, mark these changes.  Listen to and look at your children as they are right now, carrying with them what they learned over these past few months, hearing their dreams for vacation adventures and all that lies ahead of them. 

Schedule a Portraits that Move portrait video session today, to honor the now, to preserve this moment, this year, this child of yours.  It doesn't need to be a holiday in the traditional sense, and it doesn't have to be a formal gift to a parent or grandparent.  Let this be your time to celebrate your children, their accomplishments, this moment, right now.