Wednesday, July 27, 2011
My friend, Sarah, gave me one of the greatest ideas to do with my son - weekly photos. Every Tuesday (he was born originally on a Tuesday) I would set up the boppy in the beginning and then just clear the couch, write with black marker the number of weeks my child was, and set the paper near my child as I took picture after picture, waiting for a good one of him looking at me, ideally smiling at the camera.
Sarah did this for 52 weeks, until her son Eli turned a year old. She encouraged me to do it with Owen, saying it was one of the best things she had done that first year. I decided I would try it, being a photograph lover and all. However, I told everyone I would probably just do the first month, if that, thinking there was no way I'd have enough time, memory or energy to do it for an entire year.
Well... I did make it a whole year. I have 52 pictures to prove it! It just turned into something I had to do, something I enjoyed every single Tuesday morning. It was a bonding experience, too, for Jared, Owen and I. We loved trying to get Owen to smile at us. Now when I look back at all 52 of the pictures, I'm so incredibly happy I spent that much time taking them. I intend to put them all into a book to see his growth over his first year.
To look back on his first week's picture, I get teary eyed every time! It is totally true what everyone says, it does fly by so fast. It was nice through these photos to stop time every week and capture the rapid growth that first year.
However, I acknowledge that it was not easy and that I don't blame others for not wanting to commit to doing this. It is one of those things that once you start it you are not going to want to stop taking the weekly pictures.
After Owen turned a year old I knew I didn't want to do the weekly photos anymore (despite everyone on Facebook begging me to continue to show them cute poses from my son!), but that I wanted to track some of the growth (even though it totally slows down in the second year, does not compare to the first year). So I take a monthly picture now... which are trickier than ever since he's moving everywhere now as a toddler. It's still fun though!
If you are interested in doing this project, here are a few tips that may help:
1. LOCATION - You can take them in the same spot every week like I did, or you can change it up and take a weekly picture some place that your child just happens to be, like my sister did with her weekly photos.
2. PILLOW - Using the boppy pillow in the beginning was helpful, as babies aren't too good at holding up their heads or staying upright well.
3. TAPE or BLOCKS - Once your child starts moving and trying to eat things it gets trickier... so that's when I needed to tape the paper above my son's head. I also have seen people using blocks to spell out the weeks, those are really cute. I wish I'd thought of doing that ahead of time!
4. BLOOPERS - Keep the mess-up pictures, you know, the ones you take trying to get that perfect cute one of the baby looking at you. They will be cute in an album when you put the pictures all together.
5. ALBUM - Putting the weekly photos all together in an album is the cutest. It's like a flip book of your baby's first year, all the cute phases and growth and chubby legs they showed over the course of 52 weeks. I loved posting them to Facebook each week, putting in a small note about what was going on that week - sicknesses, celebrating somebody's birthday, etc. I had the idea to put them together into a sort of guest book for people to sign at Owen's first birthday party... but I didn't get to doing it. Perhaps you can take my cute idea and actually get it done! I wish I had started the album early though. It took me weeks to find all the weekly pictures in my files on my computer, so long that I did not have the album ready for his first birthday like I planned. I wish I had uploaded the pictures every week to an album in Shutterfly or Kodak to start it early.
6. DISTRACTIONS - Have something around to distract your child while taking the pictures once they get moving. It's really tough to keep a new crawling baby sitting still. I had to wait for my husband to help me when we got to those phases. Two people was better than one in this case. We also always had some toys around to let him play with or to at least look at.
7. CUTE OUTFITS - One of my favorite parts of the weekly photos was showing off Owen's adorable outfits at each stage. People gave us so many cute outfits that it was nice to every week show one of them off as a sort of thank you (not that I recalled who gave us which outfit each time, but still it was nice). I would pick out Owen's outfit the night before sometimes just to have it ready. I know, lame, but these are the crazy things you do when you're a new mom!
8. REMEMBER THE REASON - When you get to week 27 or 41 or when you are running out of cute outfits or your child is totally sick of this weekly picture ordeal, don't forget why you started it in the first place. You are doing this weekly photo project to capture the rapid growth of your little one, who will never be little again. It's a fun thing to do, but it is also memorable. You honestly will be so happy you kept up with it when it's over and you flip back through the pictures.
9. BE FLEXIBLE - There were times that I took Owen's picture on a Monday or even on a Sunday, a couple of days ahead of time, and other times when I took it a day late because that's just how the schedule worked out or because Owen was sick on the weekly Tuesday photo day. It's OK! There were times he was dressed in just pajamas because no cute outfits were clean. There were photos of him just staring at us like he hated the process because we tried for 10 minutes to get him to smile but he was teething and did not feel like appeasing his parents with the camera. It is going to be what it is. Let it go, don't have expectations, just have fun with it.