How to Dress the Kids for School Picture Day

picturedayEvery year, photographers show up at schools across the nation to take a single studio shot of each and every student present. These pictures end up in school yearbooks and are often the snapshots that get passed out to extended family members and friends. While the school picture is renowned for being an annual glimpse of awkwardness in all its glory, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to mitigate any potential disasters with a bit of creative costuming. Before sending your child off to school in any old thing you can find, consider these tips for ensuring a great wardrobe for the event.

Consider the Color Palette

Most adults take a moment to think about the colors that best compliment their complexion and coloring before dressing for an event at which there’s sure to be a camera, and it pays to take the same approach with your kids’ school pictures. Some packages will offer the choice of a few background colors, while others will use the same backdrop for every student. Find out what colors your child’s school will be using, consider his coloring, then choose his shirt accordingly. Remember that his pants and shoes will not be visible in the photo, so focus on choosing the right shirt. As long as he matches and the pants are in good shape, let his shirt take center stage.

Don’t Choose Fashion Over Function

While it’s absolutely understandable to want a cute school picture, it’s also important to understand that an itchy, binding or otherwise uncomfortable outfit will spoil his entire day at school. Look for classic, timeless pieces that won’t be dated by the time he’s in college to avoid school photos that are inadvertently funny in a decade or so. On-trend clothing might make for a great picture this year, but trendy clothes tend to pass out of style as quickly as they came in, leaving a slew of awkward photos in their wake. Stick with the classics, and you’ll be less likely to cringe when trends change and that precious kindergarten picture becomes a time-capsule caricature of fleeting trends.

Consider School Uniforms and Dress Codes

No matter how high your expectations are for a school photo, you’ll need to keep school uniforms and rigid dress codes in mind. Your child will be expected to adhere to the same dress code that’s enforced every other day of the school year, so don’t get carried away or allow yourself to push the boundaries of uniforms. Play with the customization options available, but don’t stray too far or you may find yourself fielding a phone call from school administrators while your child is supposed to be having his picture taken.

Keep Accessories to a Minimum

A fashionable hat, a dazzling bow or a few hair clips might look great on your child’s way out the door, but unless school photos are taken before the first bell rings, there’s a good chance that they’ll end up bedraggled, repositioned incorrectly or missing altogether. Don’t get too fussy, or a small child will just remove the accessories that are bothering her without a second thought about her school photo.

Consider Kids’ Schedule and Habits

If pictures will be taken after lunch or gym class, you may want to consider sending a second set of clothes with your child to school on photo day. Food stains, sweat or splatters of tempera paint left over from a morning art class are sure to spoil an otherwise adorable picture, and a fresh set of clothing for a quick change may be just the thing to save the day. Make sure that your child understands when he should change, and that having a second set of clothes is not a free pass to destroy the ones he leaves the house wearing.

Depending upon the policy of your child’s school and that of the contracted photographers, your options may be a bit limited when it comes to dressing up for school photos. While you can make an effort to ensure a complimentary color palette and clean and wrinkle-free clothing, remember a happy child who is comfortable will light up the photograph no matter what he’s wearing.

Establishing Guidelines for Your Live-In Nanny

rulesWhile your live-in nanny is your employee, she’s also a part of your household. That unique mix can make for some challenges in the nanny/parent relationship. Establishing guidelines that work for both you and your nanny is the best way to avoid conflicts and make sure everyone has the same expectations. Here are some guidelines that are often helpful.

Setting the house alarm. Even for young nannies, nightly curfews are too intrusive to be successfully imposed by the employer. However, there is a real safety concern from the family when a nanny comes in after the family has gone to bed. When the nanny is out late, the family can’t set the alarm for the night. Plus the family often doesn’t know if it’s the nanny or an intruder coming into the home. To get around this issue, sit down with your nanny and come up with a plan that allows her the freedom to come and go as she wants to and also gives you the peace of mind you’re looking for. That may be leaving an outdoor light on to indicate the house alarm is off and needs to be set when she comes in. Or it might be a short text from the nanny letting you know she’s getting ready to enter the house. Whatever the plan is, make sure both sides follow it consistently.

Using other areas of the house. Some families are happy to share all parts of their home with their nanny. Other families want their privacy and ask that the nanny limit her use of the home to the kitchen and her quarters. This is a personal decision that depends on your preferences and the type of relationship you want to have with your nanny. Think about how opening up your whole home to your nanny will impact your family time before you make that decision. If you have an outgoing nanny, she may join you for a Saturday night movie in the family room or for Sunday dinner. The good news is this isn’t an all or nothing choice. Some families open up part of their home to the nanny and designate other parts for family only. This offers a great balance for both nanny and parents.

Visitors. Not every family is comfortable with their live-in nanny having visitors over. This is an issue that should be discussed in detail before offering her the position because it can have a huge impact on her overall happiness in the job. It can be hard to balance the nanny’s need for a social network and your need for privacy in your own home. Are you comfortable with her inviting people over? Do you want to meet and get to know them before they’re extended an invitation? Are they welcome to enjoy the other areas of your house (e.g. the family room, the kitchen) like your nanny is, or would you rather they stay in your nanny’s quarters? Think about any restrictions you want to put into place too. Some families are fine with occasional visitors, but draw the line at overnight guests, especially those of the opposite sex. Some families also restrict the length of time a visitor can stay. Coming over for a Friday night movie is fine, but staying for the weekend is not allowed. Talk with your nanny about any restrictions you’re considering and get her input before making a final decision. Too many restrictions can be a real hardship for some nannies and may make a difference in how long she stays in your job.

Food. Providing your live-in nanny with room and board is a standard benefit in the nanny care industry. That includes meals in the home, both on and off duty. However, there are lots of questions that come with that benefit. Everyone has different ideas about what’s reasonable to provide, so this is another topic that should be discussed before your nanny moves in. Some nannies are on a restricted diet or eat mostly or all organic foods. This can be expensive, and if your family doesn’t eat that way, may seem excessive. Decide ahead of time if you have a specific food budget that you’d like your nanny to stay within. Also decide if you’ll provide her with cash or a credit card for shopping, or if she should simply add things to your grocery list. This simple topic can be a source of conflict if the parents and nanny don’t have the same expectations.

Having a live-in nanny can be a challenge, but with the right guidelines in place, it can be a great set-up for everyone.

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