Why Baby’s First Year Portraits Are So Important

Like most new parents, I was a little naive. When I was expecting my first baby, people told me, “your life is about to change so much, it will never be the same after the baby arrives,” I thought that maybe they were exaggerating a bit. After all, my husband and I didn’t party, or travel, or really do much of anything. We were homebodies. We grabbed takeout and watched movies or read books together. So we very naively, thought, we would just have a sweet little one to join us quietly hanging out and watching movies.

Lifestyle Newborn in Crib by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

But, as some sort of cruel punishment, we got the complete opposite of that. We got a colicky little girl, who would cry and cry and then cry some more, for seemingly no reason and there was not much we could do about it. For the first six weeks of her life, any time you attempted to place her in her bassinet after she had fallen asleep, no matter how gently or carefully you did it, she would immediately wake up and start crying until you picked her up again. So, for those first six weeks, we took turns holding her while she slept throughout each night.

Lifestyle Newborn with Mom in Nursery by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

We were both miserable, and I felt like a failure. I had read every book on new babies and thought I was prepared. Instead, she arrived and I felt lost and helpless. It felt like we were messing up from the moment we arrived home with her. Eventually, things got better. We started feeling like we sorta knew what we were doing and that at least we knew our little girl. She got a little easier as she got older. (Well, maybe not easier, at 9 she is still difficult, I mean, “spirited.”) But her fussing, complaining, and crying got more predictable, and we knew what to do for her. As that first year rushed by, the days felt so long. I now knew exactly what people meant when they talked about “surviving” the first year of parenthood, because we just barely made it through.

Lifestyle 4 Month Baby with Mom Portraits by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

I learned how incredibly difficult, and sometimes completely miserable, the first year can be can be. Like when they decide they are done with their carrot puree so the dump the rest of the bowl onto their head. Or when they start screaming and crying in the middle of a trip to Target, and nothing you do calms them down, so you just have to just abandon your shopping cart to get them out of there. Sometimes you just feel a little bit like you’re drowning and there is no one to throw you a life preserver. But I also learned how truly magical that first year can be. Like when they smile at you for the first time, the way they are absolutely amazed by peek-a-boo, or when they start to crawl and you feel so proud.

Lifestyle One Year Old Session, First Steps by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

Sometimes the magical times can get a little lost in the difficult times. So when I realized that I could use photography to catch those magical times with my daughter and save them forever, I knew I wanted to do the same for other parents. There is nothing wrong with remembering the difficult times too, especially when they make you laugh in retrospect. But I hate the thought that the pure magic of that first year can be obscured by the sleeplessness, the fear, and the overwhelm. We are all better parents than we think, and I want every parent to remember how happy they made their little one, and how happy that little one made them.

Lifestyle 4 Month Baby with Mom Portraits by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

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Busy Mom Tips: 10 Ways to Reduce Stress

All moms are busy working moms, whether your job is outside of the home, staying at home with your children, or like me, a hybrid of working from home, with your kids home for a part of your workday. And we all feel the stress that comes from balancing our time between our work, children, spouses, homes, and especially taking care of ourselves.

As my business grows I spend more and more time thinking about this balance, and how I can take care of my business, my family, and myself without burning myself out. I recently asked my facebook fans for their favorite tips for busy moms, and I’ll be featuring the answers in upcoming blog posts. For today I thought I’d focus on my own favorite tips for reducing stress, and taking care of myself!

1. Know and Respect Your Limits! As much as we like to think we can, it really isn’t possible to do it all. Learn to recognize how much you can handle on your plate at one time and stop taking on new tasks before you get to your breaking point. You know, where you scream to your family that you will murder them if you don’t get some quiet and then you go sit in the car just to get away for a few minutes! Is that just me?

2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate! Don’t think you can finish that project you took on for the PTA? Ask a friend for help! Can’t finish the dinner dishes and fold the laundry in time to get to bed at a reasonable hour? Then why is your husband on the couch playing video games? Kids made a mess and you’re stuck cleaning it up? Kids can clean up after themselves too you just might need to supervise! Just remember, you are not alone. You have friends who want to help you and your husband and kids might not want to help with household tasks, but it’s their home too and that makes it their tasks too, not just yours! And if you can afford it, hire some help, whether it’s a nanny or babysitter to take the kids to the park one afternoon a week or a housekeeper to do that weekly cleaning you just can’t find the time for.

3. Take a Break Once in a While. I know this is a hard one for many of us. This one is almost impossible for me. If I’m awake I have to be doing something! But every once in while we need to stop and recharge so that we’re ready to handle more. This break can be different for everyone, some need to get away from the house and the family, some want to spend it just playing with their kids, some need dinner alone with their spouse. I need a quiet house for an hour or two once a week to watch Grey’s Anatomy on Hulu while my hubby takes the kids with him grocery shopping. Whatever your break is, try to take it on a regular basis. Once a month, once a week, whenever it is, just make a commitment to do it!

4. Exercise. It’s good for you. It makes you happier and healthier and better able to handle everything on your plate. I know that you are tired and it takes time and you already have so much to do, but believe me it is worth it. I’m crazy busy but I try to fit in Pilates classes 3-4 times a week, because it makes me feel amazing. Find the time! If I can, you can too!

5. Eat Well. By this I mean two things. One, eat healthfully, cut out the excess sugar, fat, and processed foods! No more fast food! But two, eat something really delicious that you love once in a while! Whether it’s your favorite ice cream or that entree at your favorite restaurant. And if it’s not healthy, just make sure you don’t do it too often! Just as with exercise, eating well will make you happier and healthier.

6. Make Your Bed Every Day. I learned this one from The Happiness Project. It’s quick and easy to do each morning. And you would not believe how nice it feels just to have that small part of your life looking neat and tidy. And it also makes it look that much more welcoming come bed time.

7. Get Enough Sleep. This is probably the hardest for me. I have so much to do in a day and it’s so much easier to do once the kids are in bed. And it’s my only alone time of the day with Josh. So, I like for that time to be as long as possible. But I always pay for it big time the next day when I’m feeling terrible. It may seem worth it, but over time it really isn’t. Sleep is vital! Spend time with your spouse and get that extra work done on the weekends if you have to. Set a bedtime and stick to it. You will feel so much better and have the energy you need to conquer your days.

8. Have a Creative Outlet. For me, that’s kinda my job. I get to be creative all day long whether it’s with my photography or just in finding creative ways to market or run my business. For you, it might be cooking or scrapbooking or rebuilding classic cars. Whatever it is have one and make a little time every day to do it.

9. Spend Time With Your Friends. Especially the friends you’ve had since your pre-baby days. They’ll help remind you that you’re not just wife and mom, but you’re that punk rock girl who dyed her hair pink and ditched high school to thrift store shop in Hollywood.

10. Have Your Hair Done. This is one of my favorite things to do. It’s two hours for me to be away from work and family. I get to read a magazine, and have some girl talk with my stylist Stacy. It’s heaven!

While I attempt to follow all of these I don’t do so often enough! But I try and you should too!

Take care of yourself Mama! Your kids deserve a happy, healthy Mom! And You deserve to be that Mom!

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