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The latest from Julie Campbell Photography

Family Happiness

What makes a happy family? It's what we all want, right? A happy, fun family for our kids to grow up in is the ideal we strive for, but what makes a family truly happy? Here are some tips based mostly on my own opinion, but also articles I've read on the subject. 

1) Have Family Dinner Together.

This sounds so simple, but as the kids get older it gets harder and harder. Don't give up! Those family dinners together are probably the only time all of you are together during the day. According to this Time Magazine article, "The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports."  Even if you can only do it once a week, it's worth making Family dinner together a priority.

Thousand Oaks Family Photographer

4) Display family photos on the wall

Now, before you roll your eyes that the photographer is saying this, it's really true! Displaying family photos on the wall gives your children a sense of belonging, and higher self-esteem. Photographs of themselves and their family and extended family makes them feel loved. It also makes you feel happy every time you see them. 

5) Establish Routines and Rules

Routines can be boring, but studies show children who have routines, and know what to expect are happier and more successful. They never have to worry about what is coming next, and they know exactly what is expected of them. It makes them feel comfortable and safe. 

6) Make Family Traditions a Priority

Do you decorate the Christmas tree every year the day after Thanksgiving? Do you eat chocolate for breakfast on Valentines Day? What are your family traditions? These things are important and exciting to your children. They look forward to things you do as a family. These  are the moments your children will remember when they are older. 

I love photographing the families I do. Siblings teasing each other, Dads making their kids giggle, and moms snuggling their little ones are what make me happy. I am so lucky to view happiness through my camera and on my computer screen every day. Your happiness is  my happiness. 

Thousand Oaks Family Photographer

2) Let your kids have a say.

Let them have choices in their lives. Let them have a say in how they spend their time, with your guidance of course. Studies have shown that letting your children choose their own punishments makes them think harder about avoiding them. Let them choose their rewards also. They will work harder to get them. These decisions develop powerful cognitive skills. 

3) Don't be so stressed out!

The number one thing your kids want from you is your time, but time when you're not worried, tired, and grumpy. It's worth it to take a good look at your life, and change what is making your have stress. I realize this is much easier said than done. It's true that if you are stressed, your kids will be stressed out and that leads to lots of problems for them academically, socially, etc.

Westlake Village Family Photographer

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5 Tips for your High School Senior Year

Senior year is no joke. It's a lot of pressure culminating in a year where you feel like the rest of your life's success depends on what happens this year.  I'm not expert, but here are some things I've learned from being the mother of a senior this year, and from being a senior myself (I know it was a long time ago, but I still remember it).

1. The most important thing I can tell you is to ENJOY yourself! Don't take it all so seriously. Yes, important decisions are being made, and yes, they will determine the course of your life, but there is no rule that says you need to worry about it all day every day. Spend time with your friends. Go to the football games, homecoming dance, rallies, parties, and everything else you love to do. Explore your home town, and enjoy it all. Don't neglect your school work, but don't spend every minute studying and worrying. Try to achieve that nice balance.

Westlake Village High school senior portraits

2. PLAN AHEAD - Don't wait until the last minute to get your applications and scholarship submissions in. At the beginning of the year choose where you want to apply, and do a little research to find out when the deadlines are. Start early and get a little bit done at a time. Then you won't be up all night the day before the deadline. One huge mistake we made was not getting one of the applications in before the priority deadline. My daughter missed out on a full ride scholarship because of it. That was an expensive lesson to learn. 

There are people who you can pay to help you through this process. This might be a great option for you. HERE is an article about college consultants.

Check around to see if there is a local ALUMNI REPRESENTATIVE from the university you are applying to. We were able to get lots of great information about one of the universities my daughter was applying to from the alumni representative for this area. She even had a code waving the application fee. You can find these representatives at college fairs or online.

Thousand Oaks High school senior portraits

3. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES - I don't think teenagers have a hard time doing this, but there are some things you might forget. Take pictures of you and your friends on a regular day at school. Document your favorite lunch spot, your parking space, you with your favorite teacher, your locker, or hanging out in the library. Don't forget pictures at sporting events - maybe even with the school mascot. I promise these images will become priceless to you.

Ventura county high school senior pictures

4. EVERYTHING WILL BE OK - All these years you've been told if you don't do well in school you won't get into college, and then you won't be successful in life. Yes, it's true that doing well in high school makes it so much easier to get into a great college, which sets you up for a great education. It's also true that some of you might not get into your dream school despite your hard work. It's incredibly disappointing, and frankly it hurts. Please believe me when I tell you it's not the end of the world. There are countless paths to success. Yours might not be what you always envisioned, but you can get there. 

Some of you might get to school and find out you hate it. It's not the end of the world. You have so many options. You can transfer somewhere else, or change your major, or do something completely different. It doesn't mean you've failed. It just means you've ruled out that path in your life. Isn't it so amazing that we have so many opportunities to do what we want? Follow your passions. Do what you love. Don't settle for something that is just OK. You have a long life ahead of you, and you will be so much happier if you can do what you love.

Moorpark High school senior pictures

5. DON'T FORGET ABOUT YOUR PARENTS - OK, so this is a shameless plug for moms. It's really hard to see your child grow up and get ready to move away. It's scary, and they worry - A LOT. Be patient with your parents. This is life changing for them, and for you. It's a scary thing to have your child move away.  Go easy on your parents. Next year you'll be missing them.

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