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.

How to Get Your Child to Take His Medication

boymedsWhether your child has a medical condition that requires him to regularly take medication or you’re treating a temporary illness, you’re probably aware of the lengths that some kids will go to in order to avoid taking medicine. From tantrums to evasion or downright refusal, there are almost as many weapons in a kid’s anti-medication arsenal as there are reasons behind his reluctance to take the medicine in the first place. Before you resort to force-feeding, threats or bribery to get much-needed medication down your child’s throat, consider these methods of making the process a bit less of a battle.

Consult Your Pharmacist

One of the most common reasons kids resist taking liquid medication is the unpleasant taste. Older kids who have been prescribed pills may also have difficulty swallowing them. In both cases, a conversation with your family pharmacist may do the trick. Many pharmacies keep a supply of flavoring syrups on hand to make liquid medication more palatable for finicky kids, and your child may be more willing to take his medication when he’s been able to choose the flavor himself. You may also be able to get liquid versions of medications your child is taking in pill form, but you won’t know unless you inquire about alternatives.

Use a Chaser

Just as imbibing adults tend to chase strong liquor with something that helps the brew go down a bit more easily, your child may benefit from a dose of juice to ease the nastiness of a liquid medication. If you’re in the habit of diluting fruit juice for normal drinking, providing an ounce or so of pure juice may be more effective. Cranberry juice is particularly useful when it comes to masking unpleasant flavors, but it’s tartness may just compound the taste issue for a picky child. Look for cranberry juice blends that add a bit of sweetness, if necessary. Just be sure that the medication your child is taking isn’t prone to loss of potency before mixing it with anything acidic like orange juice, applesauce or soda.

Lend the Illusion of Control

For fiercely independent kids, the majority of the medication battle can be based upon a simple refusal to take part in a process over which they have no control. Instead of using a syringe to squirt medication into your child’s waiting mouth or holding a specially-designed medication spoon for her, let your child take a bit of control over the administering of her own medication. Some kids will give up the fight when they’re able to take the medication on their own.

Explain Why Medicine is Necessary

When your child is old enough to be verbal, a simple explanation may be enough to help her take medication without a struggle. Without one, you’re simply asking her to swallow something that tastes bad for no discernible reason. Talk to your little one about why she has to take her medicine, how it will help her to feel better and that she’ll be able to start doing the things she likes again when she’s no longer sick. This approach may be more effective when it’s paired with one that makes the medication more palatable, but it’s not one you should ignore.

Think Twice Before Crushing Tablets

Unless they’re of the chewable variety, it’s not always wise to crush pills in order to hide them in food or liquid. Depending upon the type of medication, crushing the tablets may affect their efficacy or cause irritation to your child’s stomach lining. It’s best to double-check with a pharmacist or your child’s pediatrician before you take matters into your own hands when it comes to administering tablets.

Never Refer to Medicine as “Candy”

In a moment of desperation, a parent will call medicine anything other than what it is in an attempt to coerce a reluctant child to take it. The last thing you want to do, however, is tell a child that you’re giving her “candy” or a “treat” when she’s being given medication. That will only create confusion that could have tragic implications later. Be clear about what medication is, why it’s used and that it should never be taken unless it’s administered by an adult.

If nothing you try seems to have any effect on your child’s willingness to cooperate, it may be time to contact his pediatrician in order to make more reliable arrangements for treatment. She may also be able to provide you with alternatives to oral medications you can administer at home, or have other ideas regarding ways to encourage your child to take the medicine he needs.

20 of the Best Blogs Highlighting First Day of School Traditions

backtoschoolpicGoing back to school is a time that’s bittersweet, both for parents and kids alike. While you may be excited to get back into a routine, it can be difficult for kids to adjust having a set schedule again and for parents to not having the kids at home all day. Instituting a back-to-school tradition can help get everyone excited about the changes a new school year brings. Whether it’s a picture snapped right before school or a special breakfast served up before the kids head out for the day, there are many ways you can commemorate the start of a new school year. These 20 blogs will help you find a back-to-school tradition that will have everyone smiling as they head out the door.

Last Days of Summer

For a tradition that spans the last days of summer, consider taking the kids for one last hurrah in the days leading up to the first day of school. This tradition can be anything from a fun weekend away to a trip to an amusement park or to their favorite park with a picnic lunch.  These five bloggers show you how they celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.

  • Back-to-School Traditions To help the kids get used to getting up and moving early again, this mom wakes her kids up early, takes them to breakfast and then runs various errands with them during the last days of summer.
  • Back-to-School Traditions On the weekend before back-to-school this blogger let’s her child pick a fun activity to do to celebrate the end of summer and start of a new school year.
  • Oh Back-to-School Donut Tradition The day before the first day of school this mom takes her son to get donuts for breakfast as a way to commemorate another summer coming to a close and another school year beginning.
  • End of Summer Traditions To celebrate the last days of summer, do something fun with the kids, like taking them to a movie or getting them a treat.
  • Great Back-to-School Traditions This blogger takes her kids picnicking and running around doing something fun the day before school starts.

Say Cheese!

Many people snap a quick first day of school picture with the kids dressed in their new school clothes. This year dress up this tired tradition by having the kids hold up a sign or a chalkboard showing off what grade they are starting. Or do something totally different and shoot the kids with their friends on the first day.  For more unique photo choices for the first day of school, take a look at these five blogs.

  • Back-to-School Traditions Take a picture of your child holding a chalkboard with the grade that they are starting to remember the first day of school.
  • Back-to-School Photography Inspiration Try to take pictures of your kids in a way that shows their personality. If your son loves clothes, then take a bunch of model type shots. If he’s really into sports, throw in his soccer ball. There are hundreds of ways to highlight your child’s unique personality in a back-to-school picture..
  • 5 Simple Ways to Create a Back-to-School Photo Tradition To show how your kids grow and age, print an adult-sized T-shirt with your kids’ graduation year on it and take a picture of them in it each year.
  • 6 Creative Back-to-School Photo Ideas There are lots of ways you can turn a boring back-to-school picture into something fun. For instance, have older kids dress up in mismatched clothes and look silly for their back-to-school shots.
  • Priceless Back-to-School Tradition Using a simple handheld chalkboard you can create memorable first day of school pictures.

Start the Day Right

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not fix the kids something special to eat before they head back to school? Serving up their favorite foods is a great way to get the kids even more excited about the prospect of a  new school year. Don’t know where to start? Check out these five bloggers for inspiration.

  • Three Fun, First Day of School Traditions Before sending the kids off to their first day of school, make the kids their favorite breakfast or take them out to breakfast.
  • Back-to-School Traditions Each year on the first day of school, this mom takes the morning off from work and cooks a special breakfast for her kids.
  • First Day of School Celebration Check out the fabulous breakfast table in this post that has back-to-school supplies to celebrate the first day back.
  • Supermom Moment: Back-to-School Breakfast To make the first day back special, create a breakfast table that is fancier than normal and put flags in the muffins.
  • Back-to-School Breakfast Bash Make a weekend style breakfast on the first day of school and send the kids off with a home-baked goodie for a treat later in the day to celebrate the first day back in the classroom.


Just about everyone loves surprises, so send a special note in your child’s lunch box or decorate the front door before they get home from their first day back in school as a way to surprise them and celebrate their first day. You could also serve your child’s favorite meal at dinner or ask them what they want to eat that night. These bloggers have come up with several ideas for new traditions that you can start this year; take a look!