November 24, 2014

Overwhelmed: Tips to step into your power (part 2)


Last week, Buffalo, NY received over 7 feet of snow in under 24 hours.

People were trapped in their homes by the unexpected mount of snow.  Roofs buckled under the strain and people could barely leave their homes because of the height of the snow at their front and back doors.  The idea of it was extremely scary and even life threatening.

It was scary and beautiful and terrible and incredible.

How often do you feel those similar feelings in your own life…sans the 7 feet of snow?

Feeling like you’re trapped in a routine or schedule, as though your life feels like it’s runny you instead of you running it.  You stress over things that are either out of your control or lists that feel like they’ve bested you before you’re even out of bed.

With the holidays coming, those feeling may be increasing.  You may be dreaming of familyness moments, beautiful music playing in the background, smiles all around, and no one fighting.  Then the reality hits you that things may not play out in real life the same way they are in your mind.

It’s ok if it doesn’t play out like the dream in your head.

You don’t have to be limited to that one beautiful way for your life to be lived.  You life can be lived in so many incredible, amazing, and depth filled ways that go way beyond the expectation you’ve created.

Let’s get you out from under your pretend 7 feet of life you feel buried beneath.

Quick Tips:

1.  What you really want is already in your life right now.

It’s just a matter of seeing it.  Believe that you already have it…because you do.

Whatever you’re dreaming of, no matter what it is, is already in your life. You just may not be seeing it.  Practice opening your eyes in new ways.  Let yourself see ways you already have ‘the family that gets along’ or ‘the money to pay for it’ or ‘life you want.’

A lot of it is just telling yourself to see what you’ve been missing, to see what you’ve been looking past or beyond.  There are opportunities in your life right now to have the life you want.

If you wish you had more time…you have the time.  What you want is already part of your life, you just have to bee willing to see your time differently.

2.  Look at how you’re contributing and connecting rather than what you’re checking off.

If can be so easy to make a checklist and then judge your day by how much you did or didn’t check off of said list.  Measuring a day like that can get pretty discouraging.  Trust me, I’ve done it!

There’s a way that just feels better and helps you to see the way you’re actually changing the world.  How many things do you do in a day that aren’t on your list but are powerful moments of contributing (sending a client their slideshow and adding more life to their day) and connecting (spending time with your daughter in the car talking about the clash of feelings that are coming up for her with her sports team)?

Contributing and connecting are the things that make our lives rich and beautiful and deep and meaningful.  We all have contributing and connecting moments through out our days.  They aren’t things that generally make it to our checklists but they are so much more worth acknowledging.

3. Take care of yourself and have fun.

Most often, when we feel overwhelmed the first thing we stop doing is taking care of ourselves.  We stop exercising or eating healthy foods and we immediately go into production mode saying things like, “I know I’m supposed to exercise right now but I could get an hour more of editing done if I just get started right now.”  Do what you have to take care of yourself and you’ll be more productive and creative.

Build fun into your day!  I love crossword puzzles (as I’ve mentioned before) and I know they make me sound like an old lady (when a puzzle asks you the name of musician Bono and the answer is Sonny, you know you’re enjoying an old person’s pasttime) but I love taking a few minutes’ break and doing a crossword puzzle in the middle of my day.  I also purposefully make myself leave my house (I know you’re laughing right now because you know exactly what I mean)!

4.  Give more life to yourself and others.

Instead of thinking about how these ideas are adding to your checklist of things to do, think about how you can infuse more awesome life into yourself.  Figure out what would make you, personally, feel more alive.  And do that.  Today.

Then consider how you can give more life to one other person.  How can you inject more awesomeness into the life of someone else.  Right now.  Today.  Go do it.

5.  Laugh.

When we are overwhelmed we are taking ourselves and our life pretty darn seriously.  It’s time to get over ourselves.  Laugh.

If you can’t bring yourself to laugh watch an old Seinfeld episode.  Look up the laffy taffy jokes.  Give yourself and your brain a break and permission to be silly.  Laugh like a cackling witch.  Like right now.  It doesn’t matter who is watching.  Just do it.

See.  You’re laughing and feeling silly.  And it feels pretty good.




October 20, 2014

Dinner Time Connecting: 5 ways


Dinner Time: 5 ways to familyness

Over the years as I’ve photographed your family in your homes, spent time with you, and also heard so many of your stories via email.  I’ve seen that familyness can look and feel so many different ways.  I love getting to share with you my stories and what our familyness looks like and I’ll, of course, keep sharing.

For you

I wanted to get more of your stories out for all of you to see, share and experience.  Not just because it’s awesome to hear what others are going through but also because I’m hoping that you’ll feel less alone, less like you aren’t measuring up, less like wondering if everyone else has it together but you.

Each of these women who have shared their answers today are incredible women!  They are filling a house with love and running businesses.  They have things they haven’t figured out and things they’ve totally figured out.  Each of them has figured out different ways to make what they’ve got happening work for them.  (Today is a glimpse…you’ll definitely be seeing more of these 5 women in the months to ahead.)

The spectrum

Some of us handle messy chaos with a relaxed easy nature.  Some of us crave structure and organization in order to run a peaceful home and life.  No matter where you fall in this spectrum I hope you’ll see some of yourself in the women featured here and and also discover the courage and inspiration you need to keep making awesome things happen and to…

Keep Being Awesome.

One Question:

What is dinner time like at your house?  What do you do to make connection happen?

Five answers…


davina_kudishDavina’s Family

(different, super incredible Davina)

Right now I am the sole creator/provider of food for our son, as he is exclusively breastfed. Following his bath, we have one final, quiet feeding and my husband then holds him for a few minutes before he puts him to bed. It’s a simple routine that we really cherish. I love being the one that gets to feed him and spend this time with him. After he is put in his crib, he usually goes to sleep pretty quickly on his own and my husband and I have our time alone to have our dinner. He often starts cooking while I am feeding Max, and we eat and spend this time alone together – often for the first time that day. -Davina Kudish (new mom with 5 mo. old baby boy, full-time photographer)

tara_mcgovernTara’s Family

We cook dinner. I try to precook a couple of meals for the week on Sundays to give myself a break on the particularly hard days. Pizza is a reward for good grades for the month. I usually do the cooking by myself while homework is attended to in the background. I would love to say that I get to sit down and eat with my kids every night, but usually it is the two of them sitting and eating while I juggle 20 things or eat the leftovers when they are done and I realize that I forgot to feed myself. The boys always eat together though, and they love that time together. -Tara McGovern (photographer and single mom of two boys, one with special needs)

paula_playerPaula’s Family

Dinner time is fun! So over the last year I developed a great system to help me be organized at dinner time and eating healthy food too. I “meal prep” my meals for the week. Typically I’ll make enough for 20 meals, which for us lasts us the whole week. I will cook things like Lintels, brown rice, brussels sprouts, quinoa, asparagus, sweet potatoes, etc. Because I grew up in Colombia { South America } I was exposed to all these ingredients, so our boys are used to eating home cooked meals. Doing this meal prep, allows me to grab a meal and go, and re-heat for dinner time. I place them in tupperware containers and they stay good thru the week.

Usually on Friday, my husband will buy a cheese pizza in the frozen section and will add a few toppings, so we allow ourselves fun, delicious meals during the weekend. We tend to prefer to eat in, it’s been a hard challenge cooking, but worth it! -Paula Player (photographer mom with 2 kids)

louise_rodgersLouise’s Family

We have a very fussy eaters so the children tend to eat together and then we will have a meal once they are in bed. We both cook so it just falls upon the one who is least tired! We eat a lot of comfort food, pasta, risotto etc. We also like traybakes as it’s so easy to just throw all the ingredients into the tray. We don’t go out for dinner much but we occasionally have a takeaway – if we have friends over or something.  -Louise Rodgers  (photographer mom with 2 kids)

 audrey_1Audrey’s Family

My oldest son is living away from home {yet nearby} in college he is only home one or two nights a week, my teenage kids have practice in the evenings and are all on different schedules. Sometimes I spend from 4-8 pm in the car … seriously! So dinner time is sort of grab a bite when you can and hopefully you are eating with another family member and connecting with them. We do not eat out much, we try and eat really healthy, and dinner is usually the 5-10 minutes between one practice or another. We share the responsibility of making dinner fairly equally. I hate to cook, he loves to [cook]! But we both do it. I try and have something figured out before the chaos begins so that it can be accessed and eaten. At the end of all the practices usually we all end up in the kitchen with those that have not eaten yet, even if we have. Just to be together. -Audrey O’Brien (full-time floral designer mom with 6 kids)

Thank you!

Thanks so much to each of the women who contributed their ideas today!  I’m so excited for you to hear more from them about business, being a mompreneur, and their own familyness.  So much great insight ahead!


davinamikeengagement007bDavina Fear is a Familyness Adventurer. Dinner time is one of her favorite times of day as long as she doesn’t have to make dinner by herself.

She is super excited about her upcoming familyness road trip to Florida and Washington DC! If you’d like to get your familyness photo shoot scheduled contact her HERE right away!

October 13, 2014

When Overwhelm Strikes


Dear Davina, This time of year makes me crazy.  Everyone does such a good job of keeping it together and I feel like I’m falling to pieces.  There’s so much to do between my business and my life, how do I keep from feeling overwhelmed by it all? -Kara


Hello Kara,

I absolutely know understand what you mean.  You are not alone.  In fact, the way you’re feeling is pretty normal.

#1:  Please believe that you are not the only that doesn’t feel like you’ve got it together!

This is the time of year when everything begins to amp up even more so than it’s already been.  Halloween is coming and kids are thinking about costumes and you’re wondering when you’re going to fit in the time to make something awesome (free yourself and buy one off the rack at Walmart or Target…I give you permission, I promise, it doesn’t make you less of a mom).

Each day it seems like the school is sending home another request for your child to do the school fundraiser (send in your own donation if you want to contribute and don’t worry about fundraising). More and more activities are finding their way onto your calendar between school, friends, church, your spouse’s work, and your work…

Most days, you’re feeling like you’re just hanging on by a thread.  And that thread doesn’t feel super strong.

I get it.

I’ve been there.

And today.  I’m with you.  My ‘to do’ list feels pretty long.  I’ve felt overwhelmed, too.  It’s a stinky feeling…one of those that, the more attention you give it, the worse it feels.

Here are some little ways to tweak that overwhelmed feeling.

1.  Act like you LOVE what you do.  On a day when you want to just throw in the towel, I know this can be pretty challenging.

I’ve given this advice to mompreneurs very often!  We start a business because we love it but often we don’t ACT like we LOVE it.  We let the words we say about our businesses around our kids and our husbands make it seem like our businesses and being a mom are the noose around our neck or the ball and chain fighting to pull us to the bottom of the lake.

We forget to ACT like we LOVE our business and our life.

I’ve done it, you’ve done it.  We’ve all done it.

Even lately, I’ve had moments of not acting like I’m loving what I’m doing when I’m talking to my husband or my family.  And it’s not that I DON’T love it!  It’s that I let overwhelm get to do the talking for me.  That kind of talk affects my actions and my attitude.

How I Act Like I Love What I Do:


Smile at your computer screen.  Smile as you type.  Smile as you write an email.  Smile as you look at the photos you’ve taken.

After you’ve been smiling at all of the things you’ve been doing, say out loud to yourself, “I am so lucky I get to __________” and fill in the blank of something you’re genuinely glad you get to do.

For example:  “I’m so lucky I get to sit here and work with my feet up on my chair and no one is going to come by and tell me to take my feet down.”

I know these two things FEEL silly but they work!

It’s super simple but it can help you be filled with gratefulness that you get to do what you’re doing right now.

They also open you up to the possibility of a lot more great thoughts and insights.  And we love that when it comes to our life and business!

So, Kara, what’s one thing you feel lucky about?  Say that out loud right now.

Do it regularly

Set a 20 minute timer and each time it goes off think of one thing to put into that sentence, “I’m so lucky I get to _________.”

It takes practice to Act Like You LOVE What You Do.  Keep doing this little exercise everyday.  Insert something into that blank that you sincerely LOVE and pretty soon your actions are going to be your reality.

You can also stand up next to your desk and give a yell about how awesome it is to get to be you, doing what you’re doing.

2.  Talk about the good stuff.  Especially when talking to other people.  I don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed, I just just want to go chat with someone about it.  I want to tell them how bad it is and how horrible I’m feeling and I want them to just help me wallow in my overwhelmedness (probably not a word).

I want to stay there for awhile and just feel bummed.

It doesn’t help me feel un-overwhelmed though.  In fact, I usually feel more overwhelmed.

If you’re going to talk to other people about being overwhelmed, give yourself a time limit.  When your time limit is up, ask them to help you create a plan of action so you can get moving.

Sometimes, you just need to steer clear of talking about overwhelm at all.  Staying focused on the genuinely good stuff that’s been happening or looking at how far you’ve come and sharing that with people will be enough to get you re-energized about what’s ahead and your ability to manage it all.

3.  Get in action.  Usually, when we are overwhelmed it’s because we are afraid or we aren’t taking steps to move forward.

Action cures fear.

Get in action.  Look at your list of things that are overwhelming you and create some small, doable, 20 minute tasks for each of them that will help you to move forward.

Action, even baby steps, will help you to feel less overwhelmed and closer to your goal.

Sitting around talking about how overwhelmed you feel just makes you feel more overwhelmed and more fearful about the future (believe me, I’m speaking from experience).

Getting your power back

Kara, doing these three steps will help you to feel less overwhelmed and create a more empowered you.  When we allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed we are giving away our power and hoping that someone else will rush in and save the day for us.  When we decide that we are going to take action we feel our power come back to us.

Ultimately, it’s a pretty awesome feeling in every area of our lives to feel like we are moving forward…familyness, business, adventure, spiritual, relationships…all of it.

Staying in overwhelm is a pretty miserable place to be.

Tiny steps matter

Deciding to take steps-even really tiny steps-puts the power back in your corner and gives you the confidence to keep moving forward.

Doing these steps one time isn’t going to solve all of your problems from now and forever going forward.

These steps are a practice.  They are something you have to do everyday.

Everyday, practice acting like you LOVE what you do!  Soon it will become second nature.

What are some of your ideas for days when you’re overwhelmed?  What do you do to get yourself through the day or out of overwhelm?

bedtime_davinafear_2Davina Fear is a Familyness Adventurer. She is expert at building forts and is excited about her next familyness road trip to Florida, Maine, and New Jersey! If you’d like to get your familyness photo shoot scheduled contact her HERE right away!

She blogs at and believes in the non-cheesy smile.

September 19, 2014

Dear Davina: The Labyrinth


Dear Davina,

I know that you sometimes feel like you’re in a trap-a mind trap-a mind labyrinth.

Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night unable, but desperately wanting, to go back to sleep.  You are racked with torment over whether you photographed something correctly, all the images you may have missed and you immediately start running a mental checklist, your mind goes crazy thinking of all of the ways you’d like to be a better mom, the people it’s been too long since you’ve talked to, you wonder if people will like your photos you’ve taken, you remember all of the things you should have already done and the many things still on your list begging for your time, you begin considering the possibility that you may never make money again.

You spiral.  At 2am.  And you’re miserable.  And when the light of day comes you are already bugged at yourself for what you haven’t done and at the day for making it start off on such a rotten, already-behind-the-8-ball/haven’t-even-gotten-out-of-bed-yet-note.

You are normal!

Having all of those negative thoughts are frustrating and exhausting.  I get it.  And I want you to know you are not alone.  You are not the only one who makes mental lists of everything you’re not and all of the ways you don’t measure up.  You are normal.

Yes.  You.  Are.  Normal.

Your mind is just trying to help you.  “What?!?” you say.  It’s true though!  Your mind is just trying to help you.

Your brain is doing it’s job

The truth is, your mind wants to keep you safe.  When you do things outside your comfort zone it kind of freaks out.  When you try to become a better mom or a better photographer you’re changing the homeostasis of your body.  Your changing your status quo. Your brain doesn’t want that!  Your brain’s job is to keep everything running just as it is running.  It’s main goal is to always keep returning everything to a balanced state.  If an infection gets in your body…it attacks it and brings your body back to functioning as it always is supposed to function.  It’s a good brain.  It’s doing what it was designed to do.

Except when it’s not being very helpful.

This information is good for you to know.  That way, you will be able to notice that your brain is just trying to protect you.  Yay! For your brain!

At the same time, I don’t want you to be miserable while your brain desperately tries to keep you safe.

Try a couple of these games:

The “Thank you, brain” game: When your brain starts giving you the run around and desperately trying to keep you from believing you can change or accomplish things today, just say, “Thank you, brain! Aren’t you sweet for trying to keep me safe?  I appreciate you, but…I’m going for this anyway!”

The “What if…” game:  Most of the time our brains want us to go into the ‘what if…my clients totally hate all of their images’ or ‘what if my kids never stop fighting? After the day we’ve been through, it’s very possible.” or ‘what if…no one ever books me again’ -mode of thinking.  But what if we ‘what if-ed’ the other direction?  ‘What if…my clients LOVE their images?” (because if we’re honest…they always do) ‘What if…after today my kids will be friends their whole life because we learned how to talk to each other?’ (because if we look at it differently…they really only have days like today once in awhile and you do teach them a great life skill) ‘what if…I get so many opportunities I have to begin turning things down?’

“Before you go to bed” game: Instead of making a list of all of the things on your list that you didn’t get done and transferring them to another new list for tomorrow…make a list of all of the things you DID get done.  Also, keep a running tab of all of the money you’re making!!  Keep it as a running tab on your phone.  Start with the number that you wish you could make over then next 6 month.  The goal you want to reach.  And each week tally out all of the money that’s come in.  Look at your bank account/Paypal account/wherever you run your business money through.  Look it over and minus every bit of money that comes into your account.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’re getting to that number you want to reach.  The truth is, we are always looking at the amount that’s actually in our account.  We say we want to make $10k, $30k, $60k, $100k but our account never actually has than much in it at one time…so we believe that we are always so far from our goal.  It’s pretty exciting to see that the TRUTH is that you’re reaching that goal much more quickly than you thought!!

“What did you contribute?” game:  At the end of the day, ask yourself, “What did I contribute to the world? Your contribution could be to your own life, your family, your business, or the world.  I have a feeling if you take an honest look, you’ll see that you’re contributing in beautiful ways everyday that you’ve been missing.  Keep a little book about your contributions.  You’re adding value to lives and the world everyday…it’s time for you to see it.

“See your day” game: Before your feet hit the floor, instead of laying in bed thinking of all the things on your list waiting for you to get your booty out of bed, take time to day dream about your day.  Envision what you’re going to notice today, how you want to feel today, let some wonderful idea of what today could hold for you and give it space to grow, give it light, let it fill you.  Imagine how things go well for you or how you take things that don’t go well in stride.

You are doing amazing things, Davina!  Let yourself see them.

::The Dear Davina series is new!!  All of the posts from this series is from a journaling exercise I started where I tell address myself as I would talk to a friend.  Giving myself more grace and understanding and tapping into the part of me that is love, kindness, and sees possibility.  We all have both of these sides to us.  I wanted you to know that you are not alone if you’re  struggling with some of the same things (if it helps, replace my name with your name).  We are all normal!  If you have something that you’d like me to write about in my Dear Davina series, please feel free to let me know via email at davina (at) davinafear (dot) com.


davina_bio_photo_3_squareDavina Fear is a Familyness Photographer and Adventurer. She photographs Day in the Life sessions for families while she road trips around the country and has plastic sword fights at QuikTrip at 4am (see those adventures on her instagram feed @davinafear ).

She blogs at Are you struggling in your business? Sign up for a Discovery session with Davina here.

September 1, 2014

Back-to-School for 13 years


What I’ve learned after 13 years

This year is Emmett’s Senior Year.  It’s big.  And I can’t believe it’s here.  I know it’s cliche but…the time goes way too fast.  Some days feel like time is creeping by but when it gets to this moment it feels like the years are a blur more than anything.

Why this one is different

Like every year, I’m torn with feelings of letting the lazy summer sleep-in mornings (even if it’s busy we rarely HAVE to be up by 6am) go to the wayside for the next 9 months and being grateful for schedules and life being back into some kind of order.  This year I was especially wishing for the summer to go slow and the school year to remain at bay.  This year marks the end of having Emmett at home all of the time and means next summer is the beginning of prepping for college and our family dynamic changing dramatically.

To celebrate 17 years of seeing Emmett start his last first day of school (let’s all agree that college first days of school are much different) here’s a list of things we’ve learned.

Over 17 years we’ve found:

No one sleeps well the night before school starts.  Miriam said it’s like the night before Christmas.  The anticipation makes it impossible to sleep.  The kids are wired, summer sleep hours still haven’t worn off and no one is tired at the school bedtime hour.  And to top it off Emma can’t stop bouncing around, saying stuff that makes no sense, and being completely happily funny…until 11pm when we just want her to go to sleep because 6:30 comes way to early.

Brand new clothes on the first day of school are unnecessary.  For many years we went back-to-school shopping.  Until we realized that the weather doesn’t suddenly change on the day school starts.  It’s still 1000 degrees!  So now, my kids just pick out their favorite summer time outfit to wear to school instead of dying of heat from the fall time outfit we purchased for the first day of school.

Back-to-school clothes shopping happens, for us, sometime in October/November when it’s time to wear the winter clothes that are in the stores.

Wearing a great outfit that gives you confidence is a must.  “It is better to look good than to feel good.”  Billy Crystal had it all wrong (for any of you who grew up in the 80s).  What kids really want is to feel great on the first day of school.  They want to feel confident…not sweaty.

I remember a few of my first days of school…getting a new outfit when I was a kid and not wanting to wait until the weather was cooler to wear it.  I couldn’t get home fast enough to peel off the sweater I had worn, that was now dripping in sweat, after walking home from the bus.  Choosing something to wear that looks great AND feels good for the first day of school is a key for day one of school.

The first day of school is a social event.  No school work actually gets accomplished.  There’s nothing to stress over.  You get to see all of your friends you missed over the summer that didn’t live in your neighborhood or that went away for them entire 3 month break…or most of it.

One full tree is harmed per kid that goes to school. The stack of papers that comes home from school is usually enough to make sure that one tree was used per child in order to make sure all said papers could be signed and brought back to school on the second day.

Thankfully, there were a lot less papers this year.  There were so few papers my kids didn’t even remember to get my signature stamp from my studio.

Cleaning the house 2-3 days before school starts is a great idea.  This is my favorite.  A lot of people have spring cleaning.  We have end of summer cleaning.  Everyone goes through their drawers and pulls out everything they out grew over the summer, we go through closets, and we clean all of the stuff that we ignored during our summer bliss.

It feels great to have the house clean a few days before school begins.  It feels fresh and in order.   And then we get to put all of our energy into having fun for the last 2-3 days of our summer break.

The story of back-to-school starts way  before the picture on the front step the morning school starts.  I see lots of creative ideas on how to take pictures of kids on the first day of school.  The thing is…the first day of school story starts long before the first day of school starts.

We shop for school supplies, we get the house clean, we play, we have a back to school dinner, etc.  I try to remember that our back to school story starts before the front steps at 7am on the day school starts.  I talk more about this one here and here.

Kids grow out of being followed into school getting their picture taken. I only have one child that lets me follow her into school.  So I’m savoring it.  I think I’ve only got one more first day of school to walk into her class with her.  When 6th grade ends so does the walking into school….even if your friends think it’s cool that your mom is photographer.

After 6th grade all bets are off and the first day of school is not the day your mom says hi to your teachers or sees your friends in their first day of school outfits.  These days are super close to being over (this link made me gasp at the years that have passed).

Everyone likes to talk when they get home from school the first day.  Good questions are key when they walk in the door or at the dinner table that evening. I love hearing the stories of seeing friends, what teachers said, who they predict to be their favorite teacher this year, and all of the conversations that are bursting to be had at the end of the day.

I always think the first day of school is going to be so awesome for ME!  I always think I’m going to get a boatload of work done that I’ve put off because I’ve been playing for the last 7 days before school starts or I’ve only been half doing because I’ve been trying to be half mom/half business woman.

It never happens.  I try to work.  I get some stuff done but I’m not nearly as productive as I imagine I’m going to be.  Part of it is because I am anxious to here first day of school stories.  And part of it is because I hope that I was a good mom over the summer.  The other part is realizing that another year is here and it doesn’t seem real.  Another part of it, this year, was because it’s Emmett’s senior year and I realized there’s still so much to squeeze in before next year at this time.

It seems like I should be hanging from the rafters in complete and utter joy now that I have the house to myself again.  Instead, out of nowhere, I cry at least once.

It doesn’t get easier as they get older.  It seems like the first day of school should get easier each year.  It doesn’t.

Summer is awesome but routines are a sigh of relief…for everyone. As much as the first day of school means the end of summer randomness I do love that it also means getting back to routines.  During the summer it’s much harder to stick with our nightly reading (which we all miss).  It’s so nice to get back to the things that keep us connected in the school year.

Leave the 2 days before school begins open for playing and making the best of the last bit of summer (with a clean house).  I love getting to play knowing that everything is in order for the first day of school!  As much as the kids don’t want to admit it, they do, too.

Back to school dinner is a great time to talk about what’s about to happen this year (eat out or eat at home).  We’ve done our Back to School Dinner at home where everyone helps to get dinner made and we sit on our back deck.  We’ve also gone out to dinner.  There’s no right way to do it but we love the chance to sit around the table and talk about what’s ahead and what the first day of school is going to be like.

Get your class schedule before school begins.  I have three kids that are no longer in elementary.  Emmett gets his schedule from the HS and the girls get theirs at back to school night.  Having everyone’s schedules opens up discussions about what to expect.  Our middle school lets everyone practice their schedule…they get to actually change classes together with their classmates.  It’s a great way to get ready for the first day of school.

Buy school supplies at least 7 days before school starts or you won’t be able to get them all.  Trust me on this one.  I may or may not be admitting to knowing how many school supplies are available at midnight the day before school starts.

You don’t need all of your school supplies for the first day of school.  This one we learned because of what we know from the previous thing we learned.  No one needs those supplies on the first day of school.  The most anyone needs (unless you’re in elementary school) is paper and pencil.

Notes in lunches are a great way to start the year.  They can be funny or encouraging.  Notes are a fantastic way to give my kids support and fun on the first day of school.   I like Nacho and Napoleon quotes and include a little of my own tip for the day.  A note I sent to school: “Be grateful, Juan Pablo, today is especially delicious.  TIP #327:  It’s best not to have beans come out of your nose on the first day of school.”

It’s wayyy harder to get up for the 2nd day of school than it was to get up for the 1st day of school!  It’s true.

I really can’t believe I’ve already done 13 first days of school.  Life is so full and so fast and so crazy.

What lessons have you learned about the first day of school?

davina_bio_photo_3_squareDavina Fear is a Familyness Photographer and Adventurer. She photographs Day in the Life sessions for families while she road trips around the country and has plastic sword fights at QuikTrip at 4am (see those adventures on her instagram feed @davinafear ).

She blogs at Click here to learn more about familyness or The Familyness Photo Workshop.