One More Moment for Moms

One of the most common things we  hear from moms, and a feeling that is shared by the moms on the Portraits that Move team, is that we never seem to have enough time. 

Moms are so busy making moments, or trying to document them, that we lose the opportunity to enjoy them.  We lose the chance to live these moments with our children and our families.

This Mother's Day, speaking for all of us on the team, and I venture to say, for all moms, the one thing we want, is more time.  

We want five extra minutes in the morning to sit down and talk about the coming day - or even one extra minute to give our precious children a goodbye hug. 

We want more time to listen to their stories, more time to share our own, at the end of the day.

All day, every day, it seems like we are grabbing for that extra minute, one more second to breathe in the life that we are creating - to look at our children and really see them for the wonderful, unique people they are, for the gifts they are to us and to the world.

So, this Mother's Day, I invite you to take an extra moment.  Take five minutes to look and to listen to your children, to celebrate them and to celebrate you.  Put down the camera, shut off the phone, and savor five minutes of quiet observation, of reflection and stillness.  Take it all in, and allow yourself a moment to be grateful for your life, for our lives, as mothers.

Leave the Documenting to Portraits that Move

The Portraits that Move filmmakers understand that moments matter, and all of the moms who help make those moments possible matter.

In honor of Mother's Day, our gift to you is 20% off a Signature Portrait.

Book a Portrait from now until the end of May 2017 and get 20% off when you mention the code MOM2017.

It's the perfect Mother's Day gift - extra time with your children, preserved on film.

How Seeing and Hearing Our Children Helps Energize Us

The busy-ness of professional life can leave us feeling low on energy and in need of inspiration to help us get the most out of our time in the office and at home.  Sometimes, taking a few moments to center ourselves and celebrate our family can revive, encourage, and remind us of all that we are helping to create every day.

What we notice, through this practice, is how we can create small moments throughout our days that are restorative and filled with gratitude.  At Portraits that Move, we are driven by the idea that every moment matters. It is in that spirit that we create all of our custom videos. 

tools to help work life balance

Sometimes, You Need a Moment

Parents are watching Portrait Videos while they are on business travel and even in stolen moments in the middle of hectic work days.  

Being able to listen to and see our children when we are away from them reminds us that we are doing so much right, even though the stress of managing work life and home life all too often tries to convince us otherwise.

Yes, parents love to receive Portrait Videos as holiday gifts, especially around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but the real gift is having something that to turn to every day - any day - that lets you savor a moment with your children, wherever you are.

The Power of Seeing and Hearing Your Children on Film 

Portraits that Move client Sabrina talks about the true gift of Portraits that Move, explaining that for her busy family, their Portrait Video “gave them the gift they always wanted – more time with the children.”

Other clients have shared with us that they are surprised by the final video product, and its ability to allow kids to “[share] things about themselves that we rarely, if ever, get to see.” 

As parents, we are always looking for tools to help maintain work-life balance. Our videos have become a surprisingly joyful way to do that.

parenting working parents videos

Embrace Your Moments

We salute you on getting through another busy day. And we are here for you to help document the moments that you can savor now, while things are frantic, and later, when you are looking back at this time wondering how it all went by so quickly.

Keep the Conversation Going: How to Communicate and Connect with Kids from Wherever You Are

This morning I boarded a plane for a work trip to Orlando to attend a board meeting for the Kids in Need Foundation. I was looking forward to the trip. I am proud of the work we do and I always leave our meetings feeling inspired and energized.

Still, I felt sad as I said goodbye to my son. I hate missing time with him. And even though the tasks of parenting can sometimes feel monotonous, I enjoy making his lunch, our walks to school and our evening routines.

This morning he seemed a bit quiet which made me feel that he was having similar feelings. At nine years old, he may not be able to express them, but I think any time we are separated from our children there is a slight amount of discomfort for everyone involved. And perhaps with children of divorce this may be even more so. 

It got me thinking about how to stay close to him while I am traveling. How can we both stay in tune with each other when we are hundreds of miles away? I think technology is an amazing tool we can use. I will facetime to connect with my son when he gets home from school. I will show him my hotel room and encourage him to do the same for me. I’d like to see his homework sheet, his dinner, the smile on his face. 

And we can stay close by asking some good, deep questions. Here are some questions that evoke answers that go beyond yes or no:

  • What was your favorite part of your day today?
  • What was the worst part?
  • Did someone do something for you that made you feel really special?
  • Who did you have lunch with?
  • What is new with your friends (and name them specifically)?
  • Did you learn something today that made you feel excited? If so, what was it?

I will also tell my son details about my day, the same way I do at home. That way he has a sense of where I am and what is happening. I will do the same tomorrow, all the while, reassuring him that I will be home tomorrow evening. It will be great to be reunited and in the meantime, we will stay close and our conversations will continue.

 

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.

connection parenting when they dont need us eeames

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

Things Kids Say

There is nothing like a conversation with a child, or an overheard observation, to put a smile on your face.  One of the daily joys of documenting the lives of children for their families, is getting to interact with kids and hear their take on the world around them.

Book a moving portrait from Portraits that Move. 

Talking with kids, and even more so, really listening kids, gives us a glimpse into the world through their eyes.  It is at once exciting, new, precious and nostalgic.  And occasionally, it is hilarious.

More than anything, though, it is fleeting - these observations and conversations that we so often miss in the hustle of school dropoff and shuttling back and forth to activities and balancing work and home and kids and life.  Through it all, there is this desire to hit the pause button, to freeze on a moment, to come back to that conversation you had with your son that showed you who he is, and who he is becoming.  You want to go back to that evening at the dinner table when your daughter made you laugh, really laugh, and you realized this family of yours, these moments, they are what is precious.  And no matter how long these days and weeks can feel, they won't last forever.

But maybe the memories can.

 

 

3 New Year Goals for a Joy Filled 2016

The last few weeks have been busy filming, editing and delivering holiday video gifts to families.  Parent reviews and holiday wishes are rolling in, and we are booking portrait shoots for next year.

custom video professional video family

In the midst of all the busy-ness of work and celebration and family time, it is important to enter the new year with a clear mind and a clear heart, ready to take on new challenges and to grow professionally and personally, all without losing sight of what matters most.  So often, parents share with us that they feel like time is passing them by.  They look at videos we created for them last year and compare them to the films we made this year and realize how, in what feels like an instant, their children have grown - and changed - so much. 

custom video gifts

It is in this spirit that I am outlining my 3 goals for 2016, and I encourage all of you to do the same.

3 New Year Goals for a Joy Filled 2016

1. Celebrate and document everyday moments

Want to remember how your kids are right now?  Take a moment to snap a photo.  Write down a funny anecdote or one of their favorite phrases.  Capture moving images with us and on your own.  Next year at this time, and years from now, you will be so glad that you did.

2. Prioritize family care AND self care

The adage is true, and the advice is worth taking: care for yourself so that you can care for others.  Allow yourself to take the time you need to care for, spend time with, and support your family.  This will bring you joy, confidence and comfort, and it will do the same for your kids.

family legacy films

3. Stop to acknowledge how your family is growing, communicating and connecting with each other

Instead of hurrying from task to task and moment to moment without reflection or appreciation, in the new year, commit yourself to taking time to look at, appreciate and connect with your family.  You will be amazed to see the daily changes in your children, and inspired by how they experience the world - their ideas, the stories they tell, the ways in which they open our eyes to the world around us.

What are your New Year's resolutions?  Share with us and let's be accountable - and joyful -  together in 2016.

The Perfect Holiday Gift - A Parent's Story

My husband travels all the time for work. And my parents and in-laws live far away.  Portraits That Move allowed me to finally get all of them what they really wanted for Christmas:  more time with my children.

We shot the first video a few weeks before Christmas last year.  I didn’t let anyone in the family see one of the website’s sample finished products so no one was really sure what they were doing.  Nevertheless the kids had a great time with Susannah and Rafe, who both made them feel special and managed to capture them perfectly.   They were in our house for just a couple of hours, chatting with the children and watching them go about their day. We also spent time outdoors at a nearby soccer field.  I’m sure the neighbors were surprised to see a small video crew following us to the park!

video holiday gift review portraits that move

The finished product arrived just before St. Nick, on Christmas Eve before everyone went to bed.  All the stars aligned and I was able to get the Apple TV to work so that the whole family could watch their Christmas present. And it was beautiful. The video was amazing and everyone sniffled with joy.

But the joy didn’t end there.  Everyone has continued to watch the video throughout the year.  My parents admit to firing it up when they feel far away in Florida. And my husband keeps it at the bottom of his email. At night in his hotel rooms, when he’s working though the last emails of the day, he rewards himself with a view of the video. He watches it almost every night when he’s on the road.

portraits that move review

With such success, there could be no question that we had to do another video this year.  Susannah and Rafe came back to our house, having prepped by re-watching last year’s video.  They came with new questions and new ideas about how to best reflect our household. And again they were fun and warm and the kids had a great time.  I’m certain that this year’s video will also be a delight.  And I can’t wait for Christmas eve.

Vacation Tips: Vacation is an Opportunity for Connection

When summer vacation time comes around there can be a sense of pressure to create an idyllic experience. When we think of summer getaways, we think of dining alfresco, swimming, long evenings, tons of play time, summer reading and many opportunities to soak up the delicious summer sun.

vacation tips

For many parents, this can feel a bit intense and it can be difficult to disconnect and relax. I find that once I have arrive at my vacation destination, it takes me several days to feel relaxed. My body organically has two modes, off and on and the in-between, is hard to come by, even when I am on vacation.

This year, I decided to push myself to disconnect. While admittedly, I had trouble refraining from social media, I did ignore my email (for the most part) and chose to focus on only things that brought me pleasure and joy.

cape cod family vacation

The result was incredible - my vacation has been filled with fun, laughs and closeness. Here are some tips for creating a vacation that is worth remembering:

  • Abandon the schedule:  I usually make a plan for myself everyday and this year, I had no plan, choosing to take each day as it came - it was fun and exciting
  • Listen to your body: I slept more on this vacation and ate only when I felt hungry. Maybe the slowing down allowed me to be more in tune with what my body needed, but the result was wonderful
  • Do things that make you uncomfortable, especially if your kids want you to: I spent a great deal of time swimming on this trip - something I don’t love doing - but my son asked me to and we had a lot of laughs
  • Allow for pure downtime: Although we did have adventures every day, we also spent some time, reading, resting, drawing and just chilling out. There are so many fun things to do in the summer, but vacation is about rest, not the pressure to experience.
waves cape cod vacation family

 

  • Unplug: This is the hardest and the most rewarding. I limited my son’s screen time (and my own) even more on this trip and although he protested, we found things to do and things that we both enjoyed and that brought us closer together.
  • Make it multi-generational: Having down time that includes grandparents can bring a richness to the trip. I have been lucky enough to share this trip with my parents and my son and I have treasured the time we have had together.

Vacations are about time. Time to just be together, to enjoy, to make memories and to be present. Savor the time and celebrate the memories you make.

Conversations with Kids: Transition to Summer, An Interview with My Son

The end of the school year came fast and furiously last month and in New York, the kids were in school until almost July so we are still easing into the reality of summer. June is always an intense month filled with endings and beginnings. It marks the ending of a grade, of a school year, of a class and the beginning of the carefree, fun days of summer.

My son, on his last day of school in June

My son, on his last day of school in June

Like most parental rights of passage, I found this time this year very bittersweet. I was incredibly excited for my son that he was finishing his school year and that it had been a good one for him. I share his excitement for all things summer: fireworks, ice cream, traveling, beaches, swimming, late playdates, s’mores (he really loves those!) and summer reading.  Yet all the while, I also felt a bit wistful how about fast the time is going by and quickly my son is growing up.

Much like I do when filming kids for Portraits that Move documentaries, I decided to do a quick interview with him, asking about his feelings on summer in the hopes of opening up a conversation about this transition. What I found was that he was present, thinking forward and open. He felt curious, positive and at ease. The conversation with him was brief but joyful.

talking with kids about transitions summer fireworks

Q: What do you love most about summer?

A: Traveling to places like Cape Cod and Maine because I like spending time with my family. When I go there I get to see all my cousins.

Q: How does summer feel different from the school year to you?

A: Well, I miss my friends and I don’t like learning as much as learning while you are doing something fun and summer is a way better time to do that because there is no homework.

Q: What will you miss about school?

A: That my friends are there - I miss them already - that they help me a lot and I love them and I don’t see them a lot in the summer.

Q: Do you have any goals – is there something you really want to do, learn or get better at – this summer?

A: I want to learn more multiplication. And I want to learn about rocks, and birds and nature.

Q: What is your favorite summer tradition?

A: Going to Cape Cod and s’mores, of course. 

transitions kids summer

After this conversation I felt less emotional.  Conversation and questions always soften the intensity of any moment. Our children offer us the gift of living in the present moment. It is up to us how often we allow ourselves to live in that moment with them.  I hope to do a great deal of that this summer with my son.

Speaking with our children, asking questions and really hearing their answers is such an important part of our job as parents, and my job as a filmmaker.  This summer, I want to be mindful of creating space for conversations with my son.  And I know it will make our summer all the more joyful, and memorable, no matter how quickly it seems to go.

Business Travel: How a Working Mom Can Stay Connected to Her Kids

I’ve been traveling a lot for business lately and I am reminded of how important it is to stay connected to our children when we are separated by distance and how lucky we are to have technology that allows us to do so. 

On my most recent trip to LA, my son and I took full advantage of Facetime, talking together once, and sometimes twice, a day.  It is by no means perfect, and can be difficult to get your child’s attention when you’re not in the same room together (then again, it can be difficult to get their attention when you are in the same room together).  But overall, I was so impressed by and appreciative of the way that Facetime helped us to connect while I was so far away.

Having an image and being able to look into someone’s eyes, makes it so much easier to connect with our kids.  While it can be hard to have a real conversation over the phone with my son, Facetime helped us to connect with and really listen to each other.  For him, at seven, the fact that it was digital and a little techy made it exciting and more fun than holding a phone to his ear.

More than any other time, these business trips have emphasized for me just how much of a role technology plays in keeping us connected and close.  So often, parents bemoan technology and the ways it can fragment, or separate and certainly, this can be true, but in this crazy pace of life, we really are fortunate to have this kind of technology in that it can also keep us together.


They Need to Know You Are OK

One thing I have realized as a working mom who travels is that our kids need to know that we are safe and comfortable when we are away from them.  My son needs to know that when I leave home I am not just out in the ether.  Anything that we can do to help our kids visualize where we are and how we are, anything that provides context for them, helps to ease their minds – and gets them excited about the adventure we are taking, the adventure we are sharing with them as best we can.

My colleague Rebecca sent her daughter daily photos from our set and snapped pictures of the airplane before we boarded all of our flights.  All of this helped her daughter to see that mom is not just away from, she is out doing, and she is happy to share that with her. 

I Facetimed my son from my hotel room every morning (in spite of the time difference that had me up before 5 am) and took him on a tour so he could see the desk where I was working and the view from my window. He could see what I see and know what I am doing.  We could share moments with each other.

We Need to Know They Are OK

The challenges of business travel for working moms are not limited to managing the emotions, and the expectations of our kids.  We need to feel anchored to our children, to know that they are safe and well and thriving.  Knowing this makes it easier to be fully present in our work. It provides us comfort and security. It is essential to the success of our work.

My son’s annual field day was held while I was away and I was struggling a bit, knowing I would miss it.  But his dad shot video of him jumping hurdles and playing with his friends and sent them to me.  He recorded my son’s messages to me.  I cherished all of it. 

The videos made me feel connected and helped me to feel confident that, no matter what, my son and I share a bond.  And that I can still celebrate in his joys, even when I’m not right there on the sidelines.