Best Dog Friendly Restaurants in Austin

Two happy dogs in a car Jessica Rockowitz

Austin has a reputation as a dog friendly city, and for great reason -- you can bring your dog to many places, including restaurants! While some restaurants are pet friendly in the sense that they allow you to take your dogs onto the patio, others have actual dog parks as part of their facility! If you're seeking the scoop on the best places around the city to dine with your pup, here are five of our favorites that we consider to be some of the best dog friendly restaurants in Austin.

Yard Bar. This incredible place is a restaurant and dog park combo, featuring a full bar and off leash dog park. There are even staff called Bark Rangers that help care for your pup while you enjoy your food and drinks! Day passes are only $5, with monthly and annual memberships also available.

Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden. Thirty house made sausages, over 100 beers on tap -- and an off leash dog park! There's even a specialty sausage on the menu made especially for dogs. Both you and your pup will love exploring this option.

Moontower Saloon. If you're a live music junkie, this place is a must for you and your dog. They feature live music four days a week, as well as beer, food, and games. They are very dog friendly, but be aware that your pup needs to be kept on a leash at all times.

ABGB (Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company). This great restaurant boasts terrific food, music, and beer -- with a fun, dog friendly twist! Not only is the pizza incredible, but there are even dog biscuits and watering stations for your pup, as well as tons of great outdoor spaces for you both to explore.

Shake Shack. Who doesn't love these delicious burgers and fries? Did you know that they are also dog friendly? Your pup is welcome on the patio, and there's even a delicious Pooch-ini (dog biscuit, peanut butter sauce, and a little custard) on the menu!

What do you think, Austin pet parents? Are any of your regular stops on our list? 


Jessica Rockowitz

About the Author:  Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

How to Choose A Doggy Daycare

Best Doggy Daycare in Austin Jessica Rockowitz

Are you considering a doggy daycare for your pup? Perhaps your work schedule is calling for some backup care, or your pet's personality seeks additional socialization and engagement. Doggy daycare serves not only as peace of mind for busy pet owners, but also as an outlet for high energy dogs to play and interact -- regular socialization is so important for dogs! Whatever the case, it is important to keep some key factors in mind when touring and selecting a care setting for your dog. Here are seven of the ones we feel are most important. They will help you choose the best doggy daycare in Austin, or wherever you reside!

  1. Health Protocols. Make sure to select a doggy daycare that requires your pet to have obtained certain vaccinations and a clean bill of health from the vet. This will ensure that your dog is around other healthy pups.
  2. Emergency Vet Care. If something were to occur with your pup, does the daycare have a vet or vet assistant on staff? Or is there a quick way to transfer your pet to his or her veterinarian? This is a great question to ask when you're touring.
  3. Proper Supervision. Just like childcare centers have ratios and levels of care to strive for when caring for children, a good doggy daycare setting will make sure there aren't too many pups to one supervisor. If you have a small dog that is intimidated by larger dogs, consider seeking a facility that separates dogs by size.
  4. Open Communication. Does the facility have cameras where you can pop in and check on your pup whenever you want to? Do you get a rundown of your dog's day when you pick him up? If there is a problem, is the staff prompt about communicating with you? These are all factors to consider when selecting a doggy daycare.
  5. Trial Day. It's always a great idea to select a doggy daycare that requires a trial day where they evaluate your dog's temperament and behavior with other dogs. This shows you that the facility prioritizes the safety of the dogs in their care. It's also a great idea to have your dog stay for a few hours before you commit to purchasing a package so you can see if there are any negative changes when she comes home.
  6. Cleanliness and Safety of Facility. When you tour the doggy daycare, make sure that everything is clean and well-kept. You also don't want any potentially harmful or hazardous materials near the pets. If your dog will be staying the night, take a peek at where the dogs stay when they're boarded. Are they in cages? Do they have a comfortable, temperature controlled room?
  7. Observe the Staff. It is important to choose a facility that employs dog lovers. If the staff members are rough with the dogs, you want to stay away. Make sure you choose a business that will love your dog and dote on her while you're gone.

Remember that every pet and pet owner are unique and will have different requirements when it comes to seeking a doggy daycare. Regardless, these seven factors discussed above should be at the forefront of your mind when you are touring and selecting a doggy daycare for your pup. Whether you are seeking the best doggy daycare in Austin or any surrounding area, it's a great idea to bring a checklist and ensure that the facility is what you're seeking.



Jessica Rockowitz

About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

Five Kid Friendly Public Pools in Austin


Jessica Rockowitz

It's no secret that our summers here in Austin are hot! If you're one of the lucky one with a neighborhood or backyard pool, they're a great way to cool off with your kids during these warmer months. If you're not, it's fun to seek out great public pools -- consider it a day trip adventure! There are some great pools to choose from around the city, and we've compiled a list of some of our five favorite public pools here in Austin. Bonus: they're all kid friendly!

1. Barton Springs Pool. If you haven't visited this gem yet, you need to add it to the top of your list. With cool features like a diving board, beach entry, and natural spring water at the perfect temperature, this pool is deeply loved by children and adults of all ages. Make sure to arrive early because the entry line can get long, especially on weekends.

Location: 2201 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX 78704

2. Veterans Memorial Pool. Complete with a water playscape, small slides, a diving platform, and a beach entrance, this pool is one of our favorites around Austin to keep kids of all ages entertained. It's basically a water park and a pool, and it's perfect for all the Northern Austin mamas.

Location: 1901 Sun Chase Blvd, Cedar Park, TX 78613

3. Lakeway Swim Center. The Lakeway Swim Center is perfect for kids of all ages because it boasts lily pads, slides, a shallow pool for young children, and a deeper pool for adults and older kids. There is also a fun oversized chess set, climbing wall, and even coin operated lockers.

Location: 3103 Lakeway Blvd. Lakeway, TX 78734

4. Scott Mentzer Pool. This quaint pool features a beach entry and the perfect area for young kids. It even has a small lazy river and is adorned with adorable slides, play, and spray structures.

Location: 901 Old Austin Hutto Road, Pflugerville, TX 78728

5. Bartholomew Pool: This great Austin pool features two large water slides for older kids, as well as a toddler slide for ages 2-4. There's also a shallow, shaded pool with a beach entrance for younger kids. The only drawback is that this pool can get crowded, and slides don't open until noon.

Location: 1800 E. 51st St., Austin


Are any of these pools on your Summer Bucket List? 


Best Public Pools in Austin

About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 


How to Choose A Dog Groomer

Best Groomer in Austin Jessica Rockowitz

Your pet is a valued member of the family, so choosing a groomer who will be around your dog with soapy water and sharp grooming instruments can be nerve wracking. Not every groomer is going to be a good fit for every dog, either! Though many dog owners are able to handle a lot of the grooming themselves, there are times when a professional needs to step in. Luckily, we've compiled a great list of tips for you to keep in mind to help you select the best groomer in Austin and beyond.

1. Go By Reputation. Use social media to your advantage and post on a local Facebook group to ask for recommendations. Check out Yelp and Google reviews, too, or ask local friends who they use and love. Hiring a groomer with a good reputation gives you the peace of mind that many have used them before and find them trustworthy.

2. Ask About Experience. Did you know that there's really no extensive training to be a dog groomer? While some groomers do attend professional programs, others don't. This doesn't necessarily mean that they won't do a top notch job, but it's important to inquire about their experience with grooming, as well as with specific breeds and temperaments that match your dog.

3. Cleanliness of Shop. Check out the grooming facility and make sure it is clean and well-kept. Inquire about how instruments are sterilized and see the facilities where the dogs are kept between grooms. You can even bypass this altogether by hiring a mobile dog groomer who can care for your pooch in the safety and comfort of your home!

4. Facility Requirements. Some grooming facilities will require your dog to be up-to-date on specific vaccinations. Consider this a positive thing that these groomers care about the health and wellness of their pets, and not as an annoyance to make an extra vet trip. Some groomers will also require owners to drop off their dogs, while others will not -- your individual comfort with these policies will vary, so choose a groomer whose philosophies align with yours.

5. Positive Communication. Were you treated kindly when you called to make an appointment? Was the shop owner able to adequately answer your questions and give you the information you requested? Choose a groomer with stellar communication skills so you'll feel comfortable leaving your pet with him or her.

6. Pricing and Services. This one's a no brainer, but it's important to choose a groomer with a price point you're comfortable with, as well as who offers the services you're seeking for your dog. Each dog's coat is different, and some groomers might have more experience than others with specific breeds and temperaments.

Do you have another tip that you'd like to share with us? 





Tips for Introducing Your New Baby to Pet


About The Author:

Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 


Five Kid Friendly Parks in Austin

Best Parks in Austin Guest Blogger

Summer is upon us! For families with young children, summer is typically a time meant for ice cream, playing, sunshine (and sunscreen!), swimming, and PARKS! Living in Austin, we have so many parks because they can thankfully be used year round. If your kids are anything like mine, though, they really benefit from “mixing it up” with parks. The park that is down the street from your home is certainly convenient, but children benefit from different environments, textures, activities, sounds and smells. Before you head to your usual park, consider checking out some of our favorites below for something new and exciting!

  1. Mueller Lake Park

Located downtown and convenient to shopping and The Thinkery, Mueller Lake Park has a lot to offer! Their playground is large, fenced in, and has play options for all ages. There is also a lot of nature around for your children to be amused by -- ducks, lakes and ponds, geese, large fountains, and more! I was impressed with how natural everything felt despite being in a very suburban location. Their total span of 140 acres encompasses trails, open spaces, and the park, itself. For more information, check out their website.

  1. Bee Cave Central Park

This is probably our most frequented park for many reasons! The first playground, located at the main entrance, is geared more towards the skill set of older, school-aged kids. Mostly shaded, this front park has plenty of things to climb on, under, and through as well as two slides and swings. It is also immediately adjacent to a pavilion with bathrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains. As you continue driving through the park, you see some of the open fields and jogging trails. Bee Cave Central Park offers 50 acres of green space so there is plenty of room to kick a ball, throw a frisbee or do yoga! Towards the back of the park (south end) is a second playground and a dog park. This second playground is where I tend to gravitate with my two girls, as it is a little more pre-K friendly. There are slides and climbing structures that are more conducive to young children, as well as a second pavilion with bathrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains. My only caution is that this park tends to get crowded, especially on weekends, so it is worth coming earlier in the morning to snag parking. Check out their website for more information and directions. It is open to all individuals, and there are no gate fees.

  1. Lakeway City Park

Similar to the Bee Cave Central Park, the Lakeway City Park also boasts two playgrounds! The first playground is by the main entrance and is designed for toddlers and pre-k children.

The second playscape is designed for more school age children and has a basketball hoop. Both playground areas have a picnic area. The two playgrounds are located within the greater 64 acre Lakeway City Park that offers nearly two miles of jogging trails, a Bark Park (for your fur baby), grill at the covered pavilion, and the ability to relax by the waterfront. Be aware, though, that there are no lifeguards on duty. Check out the Lakeway City website for more information on the entire park, as well as the playgrounds. It is open to all individuals, and there are no gate fees.

  1. Springwoods MUD Park

Conveniently located in northwest Austin off of 183, this park is quiet, offers a variety of play equipment for different ages, and pavilions for picnic lunches. My favorite part is the cute little slide for toddlers – you’ll know what I mean when you see it! The park can get a little crowded on weekends, which makes parking difficult, but on weekdays the park is easy to access. They don’t appear to have a website, but you can find information about the park on Yelp. The park’s address is: 9117 Anderson Mill Rd, Austin TX 78729

  1. Trailhead Park

Also located on the northwest side of Austin, this park is a hidden gem! Tucked behind a residential neighborhood and conveniently adjacent to greenbelt trails, Trailhead Park is VERY toddler friendly. The entire park is under a large umbrella which makes it a good option for those hot summer days. A mini climbing wall, two walls of buttons that mimic musical instruments, slides of different sizes and steepness, as well as a walk-up ramp for strollers or wheelchairs makes this my personal favorite park that I’ve discovered so far. There are also picnic tables, a basketball court, and a sports field -- this means your tweens and teens can have age-appropriate fun as well! Get directions and more on their website. It is open to all individuals and there are no gate fees.

May your summer is full of laughs, smiles, and fun with your kids – I hope this list helps you add a few more smiles to your family’s memory bank!


About the Author:

Author Bio

Kelsey Packard single mama of two littles in Austin Texas. She has a masters in Human Development and Family Studies, does freelance work as a Project and Data Manager, and enjoys writing in her free time! She loves supporting other mamas and striving for a healthy, wholistic lifestyle! She can be reached at with questions from fellow mamas or with work opportunities!

Five Great Dog Parks in Austin

Best Dog Parks in AustinGuest Blogger It's no secret that we love the outdoors here in Austin -- and so do our furry friends! A great way to beat the heat in early morning or evening hours is to take your pup to one of Austin's beloved dog parks. Dog parks are a great way to socialize your pup while providing some exercise in a fun, friendly environment. Are you looking for the best dog parks in Austin? We've compiled a list of five favorites around the city:

Auditorium Shores: This outdoor concert venue has terrific trails for hiking and biking and also serves as a great place to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. This park offers an off-leash area for dogs, as well as a place for your dog to cool off in Lady Bird Lake. You can see from the fantastic photos and Yelp reviews that this is a staple for Austin families with furry friends!

Norwood Estate Dog Park: This completely fenced in dog park gives your dog enough free reign to exercise and tire himself out, with the peace of mind that he's secure. This park also boasts a separate area for smaller dogs, too. There's even a water station and ample seating for pet parents, making it a favorite here in Austin.

Red Bud Isle: Does your pup love to get wet? This lakefront, off-leash park offers your dog a chance to stroll along the shore or jump in the river and go for a swim. The only downside to this great dog park can be the parking situation -- in higher peak times, it can be tough to swing a spot.

Bull Creek District Dog Park: This beautiful dog park boasts a waterfall and other terrific swimming areas. It's great for families and dogs that love to get wet! There are also some great hiking spots, and be sure to bring a lunch for a scenic picnic. This hidden gem is even more amazing on a hot Texas summer day.

Zilker Dog Park: This park isn't just for dogs, but there is a designated "off leash" area where they can roam. Bonus: it's shaded and conveniently located near downtown Austin!

Do you have a favorite dog park that wasn't mentioned here? We'd love to hear about it!



About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

Tips for Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby

  Tips for Introducing Pet to New Baby

There is nothing quite like your first baby, especially if that precious bundle happens to have four legs and a coat of fur. Caring for a dog can help prepare parents for the responsibilities that go along with new parenthood, but sometimes parents-to-be can feel overwhelmed by the thought of introducing their pet to the new baby. Here are some great tips for a smooth transition:


Plan Ahead

If you haven't had your dog enrolled in obedience or training classes, now is the time to do so. Small behaviors that might seem harmless now, like jumping up onto your lap, can become tougher to handle when you're very pregnant or holding a baby. Try to get your pet familiar with children as much as possible, too. They are tinier and more unpredictable (not to mention louder!) than adults, so taking your dog to a friend's house with small children or to the park to acclimate him or her to small kids can be helpful. Just make sure you're always there to supervise, and be sure to take it slow.

Another important part of planning ahead is knowing who is going to take care of your dog when you go into labor. Do you have a trusted friend or family member who is going to be able to feed and walk your pup? If you're worried about being able to juggle both your dog and a newborn, a doggy daycare environment is a great idea for your pet to get socialization and burn energy while you are acclimating to your new role as a parent. If you're interested in this, start looking early and send your dog somewhat regularly so he or she is accustomed to the environment when your baby arrives.


The First Smell

While you're still in the hospital, consider asking your partner or a trusted friend or family member to bring home a blanket or bodysuit that was used by the baby so your dog can grow accustomed to the smell. When you take your baby home, your dog will recognize his or her scent.

When you first come home, your dog will likely greet you very enthusiastically. When he or she is calm, bring your new baby out of the carrier and sit with them -- then slowly call your dog over. Allow your dog to standby and be part of the action when you're talking to your baby and changing diapers, too. Remember that no matter how docile your dog is, you should never leave your dog and baby unsupervised together.


Set Boundaries.

It's ok to have designated baby gates in your home for areas that you want to declare a pet-free zone for your new baby. Make sure your dog also has plenty of access to his or her own toys and treats so that they're less tempted to chew on baby's items. Teach your baby from a young age to be gentle with your pet, and remember to never leave the two of them together unsupervised.

Do you have any tips that you'd like to share? 


Tips for Introducing Your New Baby to Pet

About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

Heat Stroke: How to Protect Your Pet

Preventing Heat Stroke in Pets It’s that time of year again! As the temperatures climb here in Austin, so does the risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke in our canine friends. We all want to get out there and enjoy that nice weather, and even when it gets hotter -- we don’t want to abandon our exercise routines we’ve worked so hard to stick to. However, it is important to be very careful with your dog during these warmer months.

Causes and Risk Factors

Your dog doesn’t tolerate heat in the same way you do. While we perspire across our entire bodies, dogs primarily cool themselves through panting. When we begin to feel faint as humans, it signals us to slow down. Our dogs, however, are often so excited to follow and keep up with us, that they might not realize when they're feeling a little run down from the heat.

A dog can get overheated even when the ambient temperature is below their body temperature, simply from of all the heat they generate through activity -- the hotter it is, the higher the risk. Even when a dog is not very active, very high temperatures in cars left off or simply in the backyard can sometimes cause major problems. By the way, it is also important to be aware of the temperature of the ground when you are out with your dog, as they can burn their pads on hot pavement or sidewalks.

Other than ambient temperature, the single most important risk factor for heat stroke is breed and conformation. If your pet is brachycephalic (a breed with a short nose or flat face) such as a pug or a boxer, you need to be very cautious and only let your pet exercise outside when it is cool, such as early in the morning. Of all the pets I’ve treated for heat stroke, the vast majority of them have been these breeds.

Finally, obese and overweight pets are also at increased risk for heat stroke. All that extra insulation makes it tougher to get rid of heat, and fat can also constrict the respiratory system making it less efficient. This directly impacts a dog's ability to exchange heat by panting.

Signs of a Problem

The signs of heat stroke include a pet who is beginning to pant more than usual or harder than usual, and will continue to pant, even when calmed down.  As the problem progresses, a dog experiencing heat stroke will become less active and be reluctant to walk or move. Eventually these pets become completely unable to walk or even stand -- they will just pant.

As their body temperatures warm, pets suffering from heat stroke will go through a cascade of internal events. All of the enzymes and organs in your pet’s body are designed to operate at a particular temperature and pH.  When that temperature is exceeded in heat stroke, your pet will undergo multiple organ failure and severe brain damage. Ultimately this can lead quite quickly to death.  Even if a pet survives severe heat stroke, permanent brain or organ damage can occur.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke

Avoid walking or especially running your dog during the heat of day in the summer, late spring, and early autumn. When you do go on walks, bring along water for your pet. Because pets cool off by panting, they lose a large amount of water and moisture and need to stay hydrated. There are many fold-able dog dishes that can fit in your pocket that are commercially available.

Of course, you should be extra careful about taking out short-nosed breeds at any time other than the very early morning. Even then, pay very close attention to how your pet is doing. I can't stress enough just how fragile the respiratory tracts of boxers, pugs, French bulldogs, English bulldogs, and other short-nosed breeds are.

Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Exercise is obviously very important, but don't forget that the majority of weight-control is going to come in the form of dietary management. At a healthy weight, you pet will be able to cool off more efficiently.

Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car. Even with the windows cracked, these vehicles can easily exceed the atmospheric temperature by a great deal. It is amazing how quickly this can cause severe and often fatal heat stroke in pets (and humans, for that matter).

Finally, always be on the lookout for the early signs of heat stroke so you can stop it before it becomes life-threatening. If you notice your pet slowing down or panting more than usual, take a break in the shade. Offer your pet some water and give her a rest.  Once she has calmed down and gotten her energy back and her panting under control, head back home.

Exercise is great for your pet's health and your own.  Don't give up on it all together, but be smart about it and your canine friend will thank you.



Preventing Heat Stroke in Pets

About the Author:

Casey Hill, DVM, cVMA

Dr. Casey Hill, the Doorstep Vet, graduated from veterinary school in 2010 at Virginia Tech. Upon graduation she moved to Austin with her husband, Christian, and two cats. Since that time she has been working to keep the pets of Austin happy and healthy. She has worked as a traditional cat, dog, and exotics practitioner but now concentrates on her housecall work with Doorstep Vet. Dr. Hill's acupuncture training was completed in 2016 in Fort Collins, Colorado and she is excited to offer this valuable modality to her housecall patients. You can also follow her on Facebook!


Behind the Scenes: Family Photos Without the Stress

A lot of people ask me as a photographer for my best tips in regards to preparing kids for an upcoming photo session, without making it stressful for parents and children. This guest piece is written by Blakely Giordano and gives her honest account regarding her best tips for doing so, from a valuable and realistic parental perspective. Family Photo Shoot Without Stress

Family Photos Without The Stress: A Mom's Perspective

"How do you get your kids to stay put and SMILE?" another exasperated mom asks me.

Part of my job as a social media manager is snapping photos of motherhood and childhood that mothers will connect to. The most exciting prospect to me about connecting on Instagram and through my blog is building a community. Motherhood can be isolating, particularly (in my experience) during the "diaper years," so it makes all the difference in the world to have someone reach out and say, "I see you, mama." Even if that's on Instagram, of all places. If this gig never makes me rich (likely!), I'll have the satisfaction of knowing there were other women who were encouraged by the support they received online.

So, we take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. We often work with photographers and sometimes wing it ourselves, which is always an adventure. While I'm not always successful in keeping them still or happy, here are some key tips to getting true, authentic photos of childhood and motherhood.

  1. Let Them Be Little: Small people have big feelings, don't they? Sometimes, we have to give up the idea of getting them to smile and let them be what they are in that moment: Curious. Cranky. Sleepy. Shy. Those moments are important for their childhood -- just as much as their smiles and laughs. Some of my favorite pictures of my children are of their more solemn and concerned moments, furrowed brows and all -- I like to joke that they look like my husband when he gets our credit card bill. If your kiddo isn't interested in laughing or smiling, don't fret. You'll want to remember this temper tantrum in 20 years, I swear. "You were crying because I gave you too many goldfish," you'll remember, and they'll love you extra for dealing with their toddler terrorism. That's how this works, right?
  2. Plan an Activity: Sometimes it's suggested to plan an activity, like grabbing ice cream, a run on the swings at the park, or finger painting. I can't suggest this enough! Kids don't WANT to "sit still and smile." They don't always think it's fun to sit for hours in a field of itchy wildflowers. They want to RUN and EXPLORE -- let them! Work off their favorite activities, and your photos will reward you.
  3. Take Advantage of Quiet Moments: Sometimes it's nice to plan a shoot around naps. When children are in their sleepy and delirious stage, they want to be held and snuggled, and nothing makes for more beautiful and real photos.
  4. Dress for Comfort: While it might be tempting to put your kiddos in squeaky new loafers and dress pants, this doesn’t always work out so well. Dress for style, but also take into account that they’ll be cranky and discouraged by uncomfortable clothing.
  5. Be Yourself: Believe it or not, when you “try and make a moment happen,” it usually shines through the photos as inauthentic. Have you ever seen cheesy engagement photos and been a little uncomfortable? (*Raises hand!*) The same inauthenticity can happen in family photos when parents try to force things that aren’t “in the moment.” If your husband isn’t a snuggler, don’t push. If your kiddo isn’t a fake smiler, don’t ask him to be. Reality makes for the best photos.

This season of life is so precious, and capturing moments is one way to preserve their childhood forever, so don’t dampen the experience by unrealistic expectations. Let your kids be themselves, you be their mama, and the love will shine through. Happy snapping!



how to prepare for family pictures

About the Author: Blakely Giordano wears many (brightly colored!) hats. She's a mama to Finn and Holly, writer, and social media fairy for lifestyle brands. You'll find her with her camera in one hand, and a double shot latte in the other, because, toddlers. Her favorite part about her job is working with other #WomenWhoDo. Find her on Instagram, too!

how to prepare for family pictures

Navigating Mother’s Day as a Mom: 5 Ways to Honor Mama

Best Mother's Day Gift for Your Mom It’s an interesting dynamic, Mother’s Day as a mother. We spend our whole lives honoring our moms on that special Sunday in May. Then one day, you become a mom yourself and you’re automatically made part owner of this special day. A holiday all for you -- except it’s not, because it’s still for your mother. It’s kind of like sharing your birthday with someone else. You want the day to be all about you, but you know that the other person also deserves their time to shine. You have to decide how you’re going to balance this quandary. It’s confusing, but it's also pretty awesome. After all, you’ve spent your whole life learning from your mom, right? This is just one more bond that you get to share.

As I thought about this new and odd dynamic, I started thinking about my own mother and our relationship. I started to realize: even though I’m a mom, I still need MY mom -- like, all the time. I guess I’m lucky, because she puts up with all my constant “help me adult” questions. The amount of times I have to call her to help me with a recipe, with something my children are doing, or just because I need somewhere to vent is immeasurable. I’m so grateful for her patience and for her guidance; she has shaped me into the mother that I am today. While I sure don’t say it enough, she is the greatest mom that anyone could ask for. She has sacrificed so much in her life to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of her children -- she has given in ways that can never be repaid.

Now that I’m a mother to two little ones of my own,  I get to be part owner of this special holiday. It’s special and beautiful, and I feel grateful for the honor -- but this Mother’s Day, I want to honor ALL the moms, both fresh and seasoned. No matter what stage of motherhood you’re in, Mother’s Day should be all about you. After all, you work day in and day out to keep other humans alive and quite frankly, that’s a pretty darn important job. Whether your mom lives near or far, here are 5 simple ways to truly honor YOUR mom, now that you’re a mom:

  • Plan an adults-only Mom’s Day Out: Yup, you read that right. Adults only. Meaning you and your mom SOLO. What you actually DO can vary depending on what you and your mama are into, but the idea here is to just get out and spend some time enjoying each other’s company. It can be hard to spend quality time together and actually talk like adults when there are little ones tugging on your heels the entire time. Find a time to leave the kids with dad or grandpa and get out of the house… together.
  • Set up a “restaurant” at home and serve your mama a special Mother’s Day lunch/dinner: Can’t get out just the two of you? No worries. As moms, we all get it. Bring the party home! Plan mom’s favorite meal (homemade or take-out) and have an afternoon in. Depending on the age of your kids, they can help plan, cook, and serve the meal! I highly suggest you get LOTS of photos of this, to remind them how much they loved you when they’re being ornery teenagers.
  • Write mom a handwritten “thank you” note/letter for all the ways she’s helped and inspired you: I mentioned it above, but I should really tell my mom how much she means to me. I think it often, but I don’t say it nearly enough. Gifting your mother with a heartfelt “thank you” can often mean more than any store-bought gift. Stuck on where to begin? Consider something like this Letters to My Mom set from Uncommon Goods. It provides you with situation-specific prompts on cute little cards (and includes envelopes!) that you can fill in for mama. There are topics like “read me when you need a good laugh” and “read me when you miss me” to provide you with a variety of heartfelt notes and stories.
  • A keepsake journal: We all know that grandmothers and mamas have lots to share, but it often gets lost and forgotten. A keepsake journal can provide a space for your mom to record all her stories and memories, and it can be passed down for generations. I love this one, which is a sewn, clothbound journal that outlines a gorgeous, timeless, personal narrative. This is sure to be a favorite!
  • Just be together. Maybe being together means a cookout at your house. Maybe it means going for a fancy dinner. Maybe it means you FaceTime from 3,000 miles away. Whatever “together” looks like in your family, do it. Now that you’re a mom, you know how important quality time can be. How just a simple “I love you” can make you go all mushy. How the words “thank you” can mean more than all the compliments in the world. Put down the phones, turn off the TV, and just BE.

Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be a huge production or filled with store-bought gifts. The real joy of Mother’s Day can be found in heartfelt, honest moments. As we ebb and flow through the different stages of motherhood, we will continue to grow and change. When I was younger, I remember hearing older women scoff, “I’m just like my mother!” and, “I can’t believe I’m turning into my mother!” I remember them sounding disgusted, uttering the phrases with disdain for their newfound personality traits. At the time, I didn’t really understand what they meant. Now, I often find myself thinking those same thoughts, but with a much different tone. I couldn’t imagine learning from a better role model than my mom. I am thankful for this journey and proud to be “just like my mother." My hope for you is that you enjoy this journey (as hard as it may be) and that you feel even a little bit the same joy when thinking about your mom. Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.




About the Author: Jess is a multi-tasking extraordinaire, trying to navigate her way through life as a wife, friend, teacher, and most of all, mama. She’s a lover of fresh air, coffee and wine (equally, not together), fitness, and writing. She boasts an eclectic style which is a mix of classic, boho, and mom life -- which mostly means that the majority of the time she’s wearing workout clothes with food and drool smeared on them. You can see her life in little squares on her Instagram and follow her honest and sarcastic motherhood truths at her blog,