Girls Weekend! 5 Easy Ways To Be Great With Kids | Fort Macon, NC
It is no secret to anyone that I absolutely love being "Auntie" to two beautiful nieces and one handsome nephew. I cherish every conversation, every snuggle, and activity I get to share with them. From the moment my oldest niece was born my heart was so full. While my husband and I are trying to have our own I find these days spent with them are memories I will have forever and can share later with our future children.
A few weeks ago I was able to have a girls weekend away to hang with the most fun mini BFFs in the world. We were asked to help with the launching of a friends' super cute site, iliandadi.com, as well as stay in an awesome beach house and hang at the beach all weekend. As I'm learning more and more about photography I love every opportunity I get to show off my new found skills and these girls are in no way camera shy so we decided it sounded like a fabulous weekend. Chloe is the oldest, tall, smart, and cautious but also the nurturer. Hannah is the little blue eyed, curly blonde haired adventurer and twin to brother Mason. I love how these sisters are like a yin and yang of each other because they balance well and I can tell they're going to grow up to be best friends.
I was a tiny bit nervous taking them on vacation by myself because, well that makes me in charge of two more little humans. I've never been uncomfortable around children but I know a lot of people who can be because they don't have larger families or don't care to be around kids as much. Growing up my mom used to babysit neighborhood kids when I was a toddler and was an amazing Montessori Preschool teacher once I went off to school. She can literally make a game out of sticks and leaves and make it the most fun you've had all day. Learning from her and being around such a large family of kids of all ages like mine, I've stayed with these simple yet important rules when being in charge of little ones. Whether it's just babysitting a few hours, or spending a weekend away, stick to these rules and you'll have the kids talking about you well after you've given them back to mommy and daddy.
1. Plan all meals ahead
I always plan it out not by the days that I will be in charge of them, but by the meals. Food is ALWAYS a good idea to have around when watching kids. It can turn any emotional downward spiraling child into a happy go lucky angel. So I always think about what I will need to have prepared or on hand while I'm in charge. For example, I knew our weekend away was going to start by me taking the girls around 3-4:00 in the afternoon on Friday and we weren't going to be back until before dinner on Sunday, so I planned a snack for the car ride, dinner Friday, breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner on Saturday, breakfast and lunch and snack on the ride home for Sunday. Hungry kids = cranky kids and auntie ain't got time for that!
2. Small Goody Bags Are Fun But Must Be Equal
I love surprising my nieces and nephew with little things, but rule of thumb is ALWAYS make sure what you're giving equals out among all kids. The quickest animosity to break out always stems from "well why does he get that and I don't?!" So when we were going on our trip, I made the girls little Dollar Tree goody bags and made sure each one was equal with pens, paper, brush, games, etc. It keeps them busy for a while at least. :)
3. Everything Is The Most Exciting Thing You've Ever Heard Or Seen
This is something not every adult understands, but the more enthusiasm you give a kid, the more you can convince them to play more, do more, explore more. Every discovery, every story, no matter how miniscule it seems to you, it's probably the first time it's ever happened to them, so the more excited and into it you are, the happier they are. I love how my nieces share a love for the beach just as much as I do and when they discover every little shell that they think is beautiful, even though they've already brought me 10 of the same one, it's exciting and a great discovery every time. I can only pray they show their future cousins the explorative ways and stay curious. In between wardrobe changes and scene changes the girls played in the sand and found crabs and all kinds of shells along the shore. Again. the more you are into it, the more they will be.
4. When All Else Fails The Fort Prevails
Mother nature gave us some issues on the main day we were planning on shooting a lot of the swim wear so we had to improvise a little and do some product shots around the beach house and keep the little ones busy. Young ones are the worst for getting cabin fever the fastest but the simplest solution always is making a fun blanket and pillow fort. Something about feeling like you're hidden and playing pretend under the blankets layered over couches and dining chairs can keep kids busy for hours. It lets their imagination run wild with what the fort is to them. The theme of that fort was "No Boys Allowed" so Ili's daddy had to stay away even though he was the one that built it. :) Oh well, Girl power man. lol.
5. Use Technology Only To Document, Not To Distract
I often feel so sad for this generation because of the way technology is now. Yes I understand it's way more advanced and can do so many things, but sometimes the simplicity of having a tech free childhood was the most important part about the way my brothers and I were raised. But that is a topic for another day, let me stay on course here.. I love to take pictures and videos every chance I can when I'm around the little ones. My parents always had a camcorder/video recorder as we grew up, you know, the kind that you had to load the small tapes into the side and change them out once they had a couple hours on them. Some of my favorite memories with my family are rewatching old home videos in the living room laughing at each other and reminiscing. Kids these days don't really get that experience. This is something I'm so passionate about, the lack of sentimentality there is today, but I try as much as I can to document even the smallest of moments to compile for them for when they're older. Make sure the phone or camera doesn't become a distraction. Kids can easily escalate into wanting to use the phone and it's ok if they want to take pictures or videos themselves as this invokes the creativity in within, we just don't want them to sit and play games or watch shows on it all day. My favorite home video is the time when my older brother and I took my parents camcorder and shot an hour long video of us doing nonsense (making faces, stupid noises, and talking to each other) in the living room with our toddler little brother laying on a blanket off to the side of the frame. I think I was 9 or 10, he was 11 or 12, and our little bro was maybe 2. It is just so funny to see yourself in that way and to have that memory of your childhood with your family. Plus the kids get a huge kick out of rewatching the videos because they feel like they're on TV. An even greater activity (depending on the kid) is to challenge them to create their own show. The oldest, Chloe, has had "The Chloe Show" for years now and I cherish watching those every time as I hope she will too someday.
And there you have it. My main rules to live by when watching over little ones. The biggest thing is to keep them active and you will be just fine. What are your go-to rules when keeping kids? I would love to hear some ideas in the comments! Hanging out around Morehead City and Fort Macon NC was such a blast and way too short of a weekend. There's so much to do and experience there we will definitely be revisiting soon!
Also, all of the outfits are available now. I've linked each look below as well as clicking the picture will take you there. There are some great deals going on right now so don't miss it! Thanks for reading guys and stay tuned for some awesome DIYs coming up! Can't wait for you too see!!
Shop Chloe's looks:
Shop Hannah's looks:
Shop Illi's looks:
Pink and White Floral One Piece (SOLD OUT)
Shop Ashley's look:
Shop all looks at ili & adi