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Family Photos: An Odyssey

I used to spend all year planning our Christmas photo. The outfits should match but not be too matchy. The pose would be flattering but not feel too posed. The location would be unique but classic and not a cliche (cherry orchard, I’m looking at you.) Planning for the family photo was a joy and one of the fun parts about being a mom.

Then I had my 3rd baby.

If you aren’t familiar, 3rd babies are the killers of good intentions. With the arrival of that 3rd bundle of joy parents are suddenly outnumbered and everything changes. And by “everything” I mean “everything” and by “changes” I mean “becomes completely unmanageable and hard.” 3rd babies are the Armed Forces of parenthood. They break you down. . . wait for it. . . in order to build you back up into a better parent (but that comes waaaaaaaay later)

At least that’s how it was for me. My bouncing baby Ben came along and, while he was delightful and cute and loved just like the rest of my kids, with him came 3rd baby torpor and getting a family Christmas photo went the way of 3 meals a day and no TV for the preschooler and no soda for the baby and teeth brushing and showering and clothes for me that weren’t knit—Oh! And Christmas cards.
It was getting too stressful. I couldn’t plan it and look forward to it like before because I was overextended and busy. I didn’t have room for extras. What once was a fun motherhood perk became a burden that stressed me out to think about it. So—and this was wise, NOT defeatist—so, I let it go. It was not without angst that I let that first year without a Christmas card or photo slide by. But, ultimately, it felt good.

I recommend.

What started as a coping strategy became a way of life. I had another baby. All 4 of my children continued to thrive even if I didn’t shower or send out Christmas cards. Huh. Go figure. I started getting it together again at a very basic level. A few years ago my neighbor got a new camera and offered to take family photos for us so she could practice using it. “Meet me outside tomorrow at 4:30 when there’s good light.”

Something in me stirred. I wasn’t going to shop and plan cute outfits or make a giant deal out of it. There was no time to lose 20 lbs or get everyone’s hair cut. But I was excited to get a good no-pressure easy picture of my kids.

And with that, family photos became fun again. That’s the parenting arch. Hang on tight. I’ll see you on the flip side.

Do you keep your family festively stylish during the holidays? We’re giving away three $50 Target giftcards to brighten the season! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on this post with a personal tip on how you dress your children conveniently and with style—during the holidays!

A big thanks to Target for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.
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