Take great photos of your family indoors

How to get great photos of your family indoors

This probably won’t come as a surprise to you, but I love taking photos of my family.

What I don’t always love though, is taking photos of them indoors.  Our house can be really gloomy at times, and it makes it challenging to get the kinds of photos that I have in my head.  I’ve learnt a few things though, over the years, that have really helped me get some great photos of my children inside our house.

So if you want to improve your indoor photography and get some gorgeous photos of your children without having to drag them outdoors, keep reading!

 

Look for the light

Photography is all about light.  And when you’re taking photos indoors it can be harder to find good light than when you’re outside, surrounded by natural sunlight.

If you’re serious about taking pictures in your home, then it’s really worth taking some time to look for the light.

Grab a notebook and walk round your home at different times of the day.  Make a note of what time of the day the light is best in each room.  You might find that your bedroom is full of beautiful morning light, while your kitchen is flooded with warm, evening light.

Once you know where the light is in your home, you can set up photo opportunities with your children in the spots with the best light, depending on what time of day it is.

 

Play with the light

Once you’ve found the light, you can start to play around with it.

For beautifully lit portraits you can position your children in front of a big window, looking out.

 

Or you can get some gorgeously hazy images by backlighting them.

 

Go for black and white

Sometimes, no matter where you look in your home, there’s just not quite enough light.

When this happens your best bet is to push the ISO up on your camera, and accept that your images will be a bit noisy.  What I find works well for these kinds of photos is to convert them to black and white.

Monochrome images just tend to look better with the grain than colour images!

 

Use flash if you need to

I really love natural light, and will try to use it in my photos as much as I possibly can.

Sometimes though, I have to make my peace with using my flash.

If you know you’ll need a flash for your photos quite a bit, then it’s worth investing in a speedlight that you can swivel round.  This way you can bounce the light off the ceiling, or the walls, which produces much nicer results than when the flash is pointed straight at your subject.

 

Get in close to cut out the clutter

Another issue I sometimes have with taking photos of my family in our home is all the ‘stuff’ everywhere.

We are definitely not a minimalist family, and I don’t always want my photos to be cluttered with that stuff.

One way round this is to get in close and fill the frame with what I DO want to be in the photo – my children.  This might be their faces, or it might be focusing in on their hands playing with toys, or their grubby knees at the end of a long day.

On the other hand, embrace the clutter

Sometimes though, I like to include the clutter and the stuff in my photos.

I think we’re in danger of editing our lives so much in our pictures that we lose something in the end result.  There is something about the bits and pieces in the background of photos that takes you right back to when they were taken.

The books that are on the shelves, the mug you always drank from on the coffee table, all the baby paraphernalia that you’ve long passed on to friends.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to delete it all.

Embrace the clutter and the stuff that will tell so much of the story of your family life right now when you look at it in the future.

Play with your angles

If you feel like all the photos you take of your family at home end up looking the same, then mix things up with different angles and perspectives.

Get down low, get up high, move around.

Step to the edge of the room for a wide shot, and then zoom in close to get the details.

Get in the frame

To really get great photos of your family, you need to be in them too.

Set everyone else up in the lovely light that you’ve found, put your camera on a timer or use a remote trigger, and then get in the photo with them.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you get some gorgeous photos of your family in your home.

What tip are you going to try first?

Boost child's self esteem

3 ways to boost your child’s self-esteem

When our children start school they’re suddenly introduced to a whole new world.

There are new social expectations to learn about, new relationships to navigate and new challenges to face.

For a lot of children these things can give their self-esteem a bit of a knock, and leave them feeling a bit down on themselves.  If you’re worried about this with your child, then here are three things you can try to help give their self-esteem a boost.

 

1. Help them develop a positive mindset and positive self-talk

When you talk to your child about their day, encourage them to focus on the positives.  And if they faced any issues, talk them through with them and work together to come up with solutions and ways to move forwards.

Be careful of the way you talk about your child too.  Let them hear you describe them in positive terms.  Talk to them about how strong they are, how hard they work, how great it is that they’re kind and thoughtful.  The way you talk to them will play a huge part in how they talk to themselves.

You also need to be very careful of the way you talk to yourself in front of them.

If they hear negative self-talk from you, like ‘I’m useless at this’, ‘I look awful’, ‘I can’t do this’, then they’ll start to think that it’s ok to talk to themselves negatively too.

 

2. Keep an eye on who they spend time with

There’s a saying that you become the average of the five people you spend your time with.  And while I’m not sure how true this really is, I do know that most of us are influenced by the people we hang out with.

So keep an eye on the friendships that your child is forming.

Encourage them to spend time with people who are positive and who build them up, rather than knock them down.  Teach to stand up for themselves and to walk away from friendships that don’t feel healthy and supportive.

 

3. Encourage them to try new things

One of the best things we can all do to boost our self-esteem is to try new things.

It’s scary at first but we get so much out of realising that we’re improving and making progress with something as we learn more about it.

So encourage your child to try new sports, to go along to different clubs at school, to have a go at a new craft activity.  Groups like the cubs are also great for giving them the chance to try out all kinds of new activities.

Work on developing a growth mindset, so that they learn to think about challenges and new things in a positive way.  It’s all about them realising that they can’t do something YET, but with time and effort they’ll crack it.

When they realise what they’re capable of their self-esteem will get a real boost, and they’ll find it easier to step out of their comfort zone next time.

 

Which of these things do you think would have the biggest impact on your child’s self-esteem?

What’s interesting to keep in mind is that our children are all different, and what will really help one child won’t have anywhere near as much impact for another.

I think trying new experiences will help Nerys develop a good sense of self-esteem, while encouraging a positive mindset and positive self-talk will be really important for Rhys.  If one approach doesn’t seem to help much with your child, then move on and try something else that might work better with their personality and their nature.

Build resilience in children

5 ways to build your child’s resilience

As my children get older I’m so aware of them taking more and more steps away from me, and out into the world on their own.

It’s wonderful and scary and bittersweet.

I hope that I’m doing enough to give them the skills they need to cope out there.  One of the big things that’s on my mind lately is resilience.  It’s such a key skill to be able to cope with all the knocks and troubles that life can throw at you.

So I’ve done a bit of research and found these 5 things that we can work on to help our children become more resilient.

 

1. Encourage a sense of humour

Laughing can be a great way to relieve stress, and actually has a lot of the same benefits as exercise.  As well as reducing stress it boosts our overall sense of well-being.

A study carried out in 2011 found that people in a ‘humour’ group showed a significant increase in self-efficacy, optimism and perceptions of control, compared to those in the ‘social’ group and the control group.

So having a good sense of humour can help us feel more in control of things, as well as being more optimistic about everything.

Make a point of joking with your children, tell them silly stories, laugh at their made-up jokes to encourage them to keep telling them.  You can also lead by example and find the humour in potentially stressful situations.

Laugh with them about how ridiculously long the queues are at the supermarket (and the fact you always pick the ‘wrong’ one!).  Tell them knock knock jokes when you’re stuck in traffic, rather than being stressed about being late.

Being able to take a step back and find humour in a situation is a great tool for children to learn to use, and will be a big help in boosting their resilience.

 

2. Let them explore and express their feelings

Emotional awareness is a big part of resilience.

If you’re feeling sad or stressed or disappointed, it’s really important to be able to understand what those emotions are, and why you’re feeling them.

So make time to talk to your child about their day, and how they felt about different parts of it.

Name emotions for them, and discuss times that you’ve felt the same way.

As they get older you can encourage them to write in a diary or journal regularly to express their feelings, to get them out on paper and to work through them.

 

3. Get them moving

There are so many benefits to regular exercise, from improved sleep to lower stress levels.  But exercise also makes us more resilient.

Studies have shown that exercising regularly boost stress resistance and our ability to cope with stress.  It’s mainly thanks to the feel-good hormones that are released when we exercise, but there might be even more to it than that.

Regular exercise reduces our baseline levels of stress hormones, like cortisol.  It also lowers our hormonal response to sudden psychological stress.  So when something happens that would normally send our stress levels through the roof, we don’t react in the same way.  Our bodies would normally release a load of hormones like norepinephrine when something suddenly startles us or makes us feel scared.  This hormonal response has been found to be reduced though, in people who exercise regularly.

So encouraging our children to move around, to run, to practice yoga, to swim, will help them have a more controlled response to stressful situations and make them more emotionally resilient.

 

4. Help them develop an internal locus of control

We all naturally tend to have either an internal or external locus of control.  Meaning we either believe that we are in control of our lives and what happens to us, or we believe that most things are out of our hands.

What’s good to know though is that you’re not stuck being one way or the other.

If your child seems to naturally feel that things are out of their control then you can help them develop an internal locus of control.  This way they’ll learn to believe that they are in control of their lives.

People with an internal locus of control tend to be happier, and feel more free and less stressed.  They know that they have control over how they react, even if certain circumstances are out of their control.

 

5. Encourage the right attitude

The way we think about life, the world and everything really, is incredibly powerful.

Working with your child to develop an optimistic view of life is a great way to help them cope better with whatever life throws at them.  An optimistic world view will help them see difficulties as challenges, rather than problems.  They’ll face them with ideas and actions, rather than feeling defeated and helpless about them.

Talking with your child about how strong they are, how capable they are, and generally encouraging a growth mindset will really help them become more resilient and better able to face anything.

 

There’s a quote that I read ages ago that really stuck with me, about how the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.

When it comes to resilience I think one of the best things we can do is talk to our children.

Remind them often how strong they are.  Discuss problems together and encourage them to come up with solutions and actions they can take to make things better.  Talk about your feelings and let them know it’s safe for them to talk with you about theirs.

 

Do you worry about your child being resilient enough to cope as they get older?

What do you think would have the biggest impact on boosting their resilience?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
The best vehicles for your family

Getting around for less: The best vehicles for your family

Getting from A to B becomes increasingly difficult when you have a family.

If you have children or pets, sometimes, it can seem like a logistical operation just to get out of the door. When searching for a vehicle that will tick every box, it’s wise to consider your lifestyle, as well as your financial situation before you decide what kind of car or van to buy.

If you’re on the hunt for a new vehicle, here are some options to explore and some tips to help you get around for less.

Family cars

There are several different types of cars on the market today, and there’s a host of models that are geared towards families. In the past, family cars tended to be large and more functional than funky, but today’s models deliver on style and size. You can choose from estates, spacious hatchbacks, SUVs, and MPVs, and there’s a vehicle for every budget. If you’re looking for a new car, but you don’t want to spend a fortune, consider buying a used vehicle, or explore finance options. If you’re willing to go for a nearly new or a used car, for example, you could save a significant sum. Paying monthly makes it easier to afford modern vehicles, and you can switch every few years to ensure that you’ve got a vehicle that is suitable for your family. 

 

With such a vast range of makes and models available for families, it can be difficult to determine which car is best. When you’re visiting showrooms or looking at private listings, think about your priorities, set a budget, and search for features that will enhance your individual experience. Safety is always a concern for parents, and you might also be keen to consider boot size, the number of seats, and fuel efficiency. 

 

Vans and trucks

If you plan to use your car for work and play, and you need plenty of space, it may be worth considering in a van or a truck. With this option, you can pop to the shops, as well as being able to store and transport tools and equipment you need for work. As with cars, there’s a raft of vans and trucks available, and some will suit your needs better than others. If you are interested in buying a van, or you think a 4X4 truck would be the perfect addition to your driveway, take a look at https://www.tradervan.co.uk/ and compare makes and models. This option might not work for every family, but it may be an ideal choice if you don’t want to use separate vehicles for work and leisure time, or you’re looking for a vehicle that is predominantly used for work purposes, but can serve both. 

 

Getting around for less

Buying and running vehicles costs money, and it can eat into your household income. If you’re looking to save money on getting from one place to another and keeping cars and trucks on the road, there are some steps you can take. Consider opting for more fuel-efficient, greener vehicles, compare insurance quotes from different providers, and shop around for the best car finance deals. It’s also a good idea to compare petrol prices and to take advantage of rewards schemes and loyalty bonuses and vouchers at your local petrol station. For more tips, check out https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/cut-your-car-and-train-costs.

 

If you’re looking for a new family-friendly vehicle, and you’re on a mission to save money, hopefully, you’ll find this guide helpful. 

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Fun weekend ideas

Fun ideas and getaways for the weekend

When life gets busy, it’s easy to forget that everyone needs a little downtime.  It doesn’t have to be much, but a simple change of pace on the weekend can help you reset and be ready to tackle the forthcoming week at hand.

Here are some fun ideas and getaways for the weekend, so you and your family can enjoy some quality time together.

Getting situated

In preparation for your upcoming weekend, you should get all your errands and appointments taken care of ahead of time. Be sure to schedule any vital appointments early in the week. Being able to have the service technician from https://joshuaspestcontrol.com/ take care of your home pest prevention routine on a Tuesday or Wednesday, checks that off of your to-do-list. This way you can ensure your home is protected from nasty bugs and vermin, so you can have fun during the weekend in peace.

 

Even if it rains

On the off chance there is rain scheduled for the weekend, don’t let it drag down your spirits. Just be sure to plan some alternative rainy day activities you and your family can enjoy in a pinch. You can get in the kitchen and make some tasty desserts, such as cupcakes or rice cereal treats to eat.

Another great option would be to dig into your movie collection and find something everyone can enjoy, pop some popcorn, dim the lights and watch. It might be super simple but it’s a quick and easy way to spend time together as a family. If all of your movie options are exhausted, maybe it’s time to dust off those board games in your closet. Monopoly, Scrabble, Catan, Mole Rats in Space, and Sorry are great for multiple players. For the younger audience members, you can bring out Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, or Catch the Fox. Just because it’s raining, doesn’t mean you can have fun.

 

Make the best of a sunny weekend day

If the sun is shining on your weekend, go outside! There are lots of things you can do as a family, and many cost little to nothing for the fun. Plan a family bike ride or a scavenger hunt where kids look for interesting things around town. Visiting public parks, gardens, or taking in a local sporting event are fun and fantastic ways to be outdoors and be with family. Going for a leisurely bike ride can provide you with fresh air and lots of photo-taking opportunities depending on your route.

 

If you’re looking to explore further, plan a weekend getaway you can experience without having to travel thousands of miles. Getting out and soaking up some local culture, eating fabulous food and grabbing some photos of the occasion, will make the weekend both fun and memorable. And, when the weather permits, do be sure to head to the shore for a glorious day in the sun with your feet in the sand. It’s an easy way for you to unwind after a busy week.

 

As you look to set your weekend plans in stone, remember that things can change and you need to be flexible. An alternate plan is nice to have in your back pocket, just in case something comes up. Another thing to consider is the fact that you can have a good time with your family with little to no money invested.

Spending time in the park kicking around a ball or tossing a frisbee can be great bonding time. And, if you do have some cash to burn, by all means, do expand your weekend options further. Just don’t feel limited by your situation. Because in the end being with your family and having fun are all that matters.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Preserve your summer memories with a photobook

Preserve those precious summer family vacation memories with a photobook – Everything you need to know to create one

As summer starts to wind down and the kids prepare to head back to school, it’s only natural to look back at all the great family memories that were made this year. Summer is typically that time of year where families escape on a holiday, if only for a couple of days, giving everyone a chance to enjoy the great weather, fresh air, and share some special times together. 

With that said there’s also no doubt that you snapped quite a few photos over the course of the summer holidays. So what happens with all of those photos? Sure you can keep them on your phone or send them to the Cloud, but you’re taking your chances there as there are no guarantees your digital files will remain safe. Not only that but it’s hard to enjoy them when they’re stuck on your phone. This is exactly why photobooks are such a fabulous and popular idea.

 

Photobooks allow you to pick and choose all your best memories, moments, and photos from the summer holidays and make them into a lovely and permanent picture book that everyone can enjoy. If this sounds like a project you’d be interested in but don’t know where to get started, then this guide to photobooks is a must-read.

 

Choose a theme

Typically the best place to start is to choose a theme for your book. Sure you can go ahead and fill it with random photos, but it just won’t feel as cohesive and complete. Instead, choose one theme, idea, trip, memory, and build the book around it. If you packed a lot into this summer, then it may be necessary to make a number of photobooks and start your own library of memories.

 

Decide what type of book you’d like

The next step is to think about the actual book, meaning the physicality of the book. What kind would like you? Do you want a softcover or hardcover, how large should the book be, what kind of binding do you want, what about the material used, how about the colour and finish? Then again, maybe you aren’t really particular about the details, which means you’ve got a lot more options available to you.

 

Use a comparison tool

Another great tip is to use a comparison tool to help you choose the best photo book provider out there. Take for example this website, which provides people with photo book reviews, detailed descriptions of the various photo books, the features and tools offered, a listing of all the big brands out there, and even access to a photo book voucher code, which can save you money. 

Photo Book Deals does more than just look at the surface, it goes into detail on everything you need to know about creating your own photo book.

 

Start to go through your photos

This step is the one that will end up taking you the longest time, but you want to be sure you have a chance to go through all your photos first before you start to create your book. If you’re finding it hard to narrow down the photos, try using three categories – yes, no, and maybe – you can then dwindle your list down from there.

Try to keep your main photo book theme in mind as you go through the photos, as this will also help you in the selection process. If it doesn’t fit the theme, then it is an automatic no. Keep in mind there’s nothing to stop you from creating additional photobooks, so there’s no need to feel restricted in the number of pictures you choose.

 

Be picky about the photo quality

As you browse through your photos, it’s also important to think about the photo quality and how that particular image would look blown up and in a photo book. The image should be sharp and clear, but also visually intriguing. 

 

Give thought to the layout

Next comes the actual layout, where again you want to take your time and really think things through. Just like with any book, a photobook should tell a story so there should be an order in which the images are presented. In terms of your summer family vacation, it makes sense to go in the order of the events that took place rather than skipping around from day-to-day. This will help the book to have flow and feel cohesive.

It’s also a good idea to be a little bit creative where the actual layout is concerned, not using images that are the same size each time, and using features like a bleed or border.

 

A lovely memento from summer holidays

So before you start to feel too nostalgic about the many memories that have occurred over summer holidays, go ahead and create a lovely photo book for all to enjoy all year-round.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

How to keep organised with a busy family life

Keeping organised with a busy family life

It’s no secret that the introduction of children can complicate home life. For the most part, naturally, this complication is welcome. But it can make it a struggle to impose order.

If you’re not careful, you can easily find that the problem runs away from you: allow chaos to reign for too long, and it can be a bit difficult to persuade the rest of your household that getting things organised is possible – or even desirable. 

With that said, there are a few steps you might take to keep even the most hectic home grounded and organised. You needn’t take all of the following steps at once: each of them, even in isolation, can help to keep a busy family home organised.

Work rota

Just a few children will generate mess at an astonishing rate. If it falls to one parent to clean it up, then the task will seem endless and a bit soul-crushing. Nip this in the bud by entrusting everyone with cleaning their own room, and, on occasion, some of the communal spaces, too.

Things like vacuuming and laundry can also be divided between the household. Set up a formal rota and stick it up somewhere public, like the fridge. That way there’ll be no ambiguity about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

 

Set aside work time

It’s easy to put off household chores until the weekend, where they can chew up hours. By setting aside a fixed time every day to get work done, you’ll ensure that the work gets done. A single load of laundry can go in immediately after dinner. While that’s being done, another person can load the dishwasher. Of course, the person who actually did the cooking can put their feet up!

 

Fix mealtimes 

Sit-down mealtimes can provide a day with a much-needed structure. Fix breakfast and dinner at specific hours: 7am and 7pm are as good as any. This predictability will make it easier for everyone to turn up to dinner on time. For example, if your eldest son is midway through a bout of Fortnite, they won’t have to let ninety-nine other players down just because you’ve summoned them for a lasagne. 

 

Don’t go to bed when things are messy

Mess escalates when it’s ignored. You might take a look at a cluttered dining table and decide that it’s a task for another day – but this is almost always a mistake. Get that stuff tidied away, and then hit the hay. If you have a  extendable dining table, then make a rule that you need to fold it back up at the end of every day – no matter how much stuff is piled on top.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post