Mom Friends Unite! How to Build Lifelong Friendships with Other New Moms

May 02, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Mother and daughter cuddling and smiling for a family portrait on a bed.Mother daughter family portrait

You know what they say, "It takes a village to raise a child." But what if you're a new mom, and you're not sure where to find that village? Don't worry, I've got your back! I've been in your shoes and know how crucial it is to have a support system during this incredible journey. In this post, I'll share my best tips for finding new mom friends who totally get what you're going through. 

Before we get into the practical ways to find new mom friends, rest assured that it is completely natural to feel a little awkward when you intentionally seek new mom friends. It might not seem like it, but countless moms are in the same boat, searching for connections and support as they navigate their new roles. So, embrace the process and know that reaching out to other moms is a positive and empowering step in your parenting journey.



The easiest way to find new mom friends is through local mom groups! These groups are a fantastic way to meet new mom friends—even if you're an introvert!

Now, where can you find these groups? 

  • 5 to One is a local organization that facilitates playgroups and more for northwest Michigan families.
  • TC Holistic Moms is a group started by Dr. Lea Piche for creating a community of like minded holistic moms.
  • Elk Rapids Schools offers the Way to Grow Program which offers play groups at both Lakeland and Mill Creek Elementary to provide opportunities for parents to connect with each other, children to socialize and play and information to be shared.
  • Traverse Area District Library offers a variety of programming for parents and children.
  • The Whole Woman Collective is growing an empowered & inclusive community of women and Mind/Body/Lifestyle wellness providers to help ALL women feel more WHOLE! They host events every other month and this is a great place to meet other moms!


And don't forget online resources!

  • UpNorth Kids is an online resource for the best of Traverse City's family-friendly events, kids activities and classes.

If you’re thinking about exploring these options but you’re worried about stepping out of your comfort zone.. no problem! Just remember, you're not alone—many new moms feel the same way. 

TIP: Ease into it by engaging in online discussions first, then gradually attend in-person meetups! 

During the pandemic, I made a lot of friends via Instagram just by engaging with people regularly. Once the world opened up again, I eventually met them in person it and it was a really fun experience. I also have one good friend who I now trade childcare with who I met through a Facebook contest I hosted on my business page!



For this one, think about checking out the playground or storytime at the library. 

But let’s be honest - approaching other moms without feeling weird can be a bit of a challenge! 

I want to give you a few tips to help you strike up a conversation that feels natural and enjoyable. 

First, keep it casual and friendly. Start with a compliment or a light-hearted comment about something you both can relate to, like your kids' activities or the chaos of motherhood.

For example, you might say, "Your little guy is really cute! How old are they?" This opens up the conversation without putting too much pressure on the other person. Make sure to listen actively and ask open-ended questions that encourage them to share more about their experiences. 

If you find common ground, don't be afraid to suggest exchanging contact information or planning a future playdate. You can say something like, "It's been so great meeting you! Would you like to exchange numbers and maybe get our kids together for a playdate sometime?" Or, “Do you guys usually come here around this day/time? I know our kiddos had so much fun playing together!”

Remember, many moms are also looking for new friends, so don't be too hard on yourself if you feel a little nervous.

Just be yourself, show genuine interest, and let the conversation flow naturally.



Social media can be a fantastic tool for connecting with other new moms outside of your current friend group.  

There are so many options out there, so I pulled together my experience with the experience of my clients and friends to give you the best Facebook groups for moms around Traverse City.

Once you find the right mom groups or online communities that resonate with you, jump in by asking questions, sharing your own experiences, or even offering advice to moms.

One of the great things about leveraging social media for mom friendships is that in addition to finding Traverse City mom groups, you can find groups based on your specific interests, values, or parenting style. 

For example, if you're passionate about eco-friendly living, there are groups dedicated to green parenting where you can connect with like-minded moms. Or, if you're navigating the world of attachment parenting, you can find communities that share your outlook and offer support.

One group that I utilize all the time is Food Allergy Moms which is a resource for those who have kiddos with food allergies.

This targeted approach makes it even easier to find moms who share your outlook on life and parenting - you already have something in common! All you have to do is a simple search in Facebook for your interests and you're sure to find your people.

Remember that building these connections takes time and effort, but it's truly worth it in the end. These connections not only provide a support system during challenging times but also enrich your life in countless ways.

Be patient with yourself as you embark on this journey. Embrace the process and stay open to new friendships, whether you find them in local mom groups, at child-friendly locations, or through social media.

Did I miss any of your favorite resources or groups for Traverse City or Northern Michigan? Let me know in the comments!

I consistently share events and activities for families in the Traverse City area in my newsletter. If you'd like to receive my monthly newsletter, please sign up here.


How to get your house newborn-ready in just two weeks | Traverse City Birth Photographer

April 10, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

AmundsenFresh48-4796AmundsenFresh48-4796 Are you expecting a new baby in the next few weeks? I totally get it, the anticipation can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. But don't worry, I've got your back! As a Traverse City mom who's been through the newborn phase twice, I've gathered some unique ideas and tips that you might not have thought of before! Here are six tips for getting your home ready for your new arrival in just two weeks.

1. Declutter your home

Decluttering your home can sound like a daunting task, especially when you're expecting a newborn! But it's easier than you think to get your home ready for your newest addition. Honestly decluttering has always been overwhelming for me, but I feel SO much better when I declutter my space. It is always worth the effort for me! I truly believe that you need to make space in your life and mind for new things to grow and when I do this I'm able to move forward in ways I never imagined.


Here are some steps to follow to declutter before the baby arrives:

Step 1: Choose two or three rooms that you frequent most often (most likely this will be your living room, kitchen, and bedroom).

Step 2: Start by noticing where things tend to pile up. For me, that’s always been the kitchen counters and our mudroom. Find a new place for these items to go so they stop piling up!

Step 3: Let’s “Marie Kondo” your stuff! Let’s clear out what you don’t need or want anymore. Go through each drawer, cabinet, and shelf and ask yourself, “Do I still need/want this item?”

Step 4: Make 3 piles, “Keep, Donate, Toss” and put everything into 1 of those piles.

Step 5: Organize the “keep” items, throw away the “toss” items (or recycle if possible) and give away the “donate.”


Turn on some music and make it fun! Ask a friend to come over and help. I asked for a decluttering course last Christmas and I got it! Whenever I want to do some decluttering or even when I'm just doing my daily chores, I listen to it and get motivated to clean things out! If you're interested in learning more about that course, you can do so here:

By spending a little time each day and being consistent, you can create comfortable, newborn-ready environment in your own home.


2. Batch cook

The thought of cooking a ton of food in one go can be intimidating, but batch cooking or delegating cooking to another friend or family member is a lifesaver, especially when you're getting ready to welcome your newborn into the world. You'll thank yourself later!

Here are a few simple steps to follow to get started:

Step 1: Plan out your meals. Choose recipes that are easy to make in large quantities, and make a list of all the ingredients you will need.

Step 2: Go grocery shopping. Try to do this a few days before you plan to start cooking, so you have everything you need on hand. You can even send dad or grandma to the store. Or when someone asks what they can do to help you, give them the list! Grocery pickup is super convenient these days too.

Step 3: Set aside a block of time to cook. Depending on how much you want to make, you may need several hours or even a full day to get everything done. Consider getting the help of a friend or family member to make it more fun!

Step 4: Cook in batches. Prepare one recipe at a time, and portion it out into individual servings. Use freezer-safe containers or bags, and be sure to label everything with the name of the dish and the date it was made.

Step 5: Freeze your meals. Once everything is cooked and portioned out, place the containers in the freezer. They will keep for several months, so you can have a variety of meals ready to go whenever you need them.


By following these steps, you can create a stockpile of nutritious, homemade meals that will make the first few weeks with your newborn a little bit easier!
Psst: wanna skip the cooking? Getting a postpartum doula is something I wish I would have done as a new mom. They provide emotional, mental and physical support including cooking! Some postpartum doulas I know are Julia Wheelock with Joy of Becoming Real and Gold Coast Doulas.


3. Stock up on essentials (& not just baby essentials)

You’re likely already thinking about things like diapers, wipes, bottles, etc.

But have you considered stocking up on regular household items like paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher soap…?

My best tip would be to set these items up on Amazon Subscribe and Save so they’ll show up on your doorstep and you never have to worry about running out those first few months with your newborn!

I always made sure (and really still do) that I have nutritious snacks for myself like protein bars that I can grab quickly and eat with one hand! Especially if you are breastfeeding, that mama hunger is the worst feeling if you don't have some food on hand.


4. Put together a baby care basket

A baby care basket, sometimes called a “downstairs” basket, is a lifesaver during those first few weeks home with a new baby. Oftentimes, you’re in one space with the baby for most of the day and find yourself “trapped” under a sleeping baby without the supplies you need!

A baby care basket can solve that for you. Basically, it’s a container you can keep in each room of the house that has all the essentials for the baby so you’re not running around from room to room getting the things you need.

Usually, the baby care basket includes diapers, wipes, burp cloths, extra clothes, pacifiers, and anything else you might need for the baby frequently.
I also like to think about including things for mom like nipple cream, breast pads, chapstick, etc. and special toys/snacks for older children to occupy them when you have your hands full.

In addition to keeping you from running from room to room, a baby care basket will help you stay organized and keep your home clutter-free.

Another great tip I heard as a 2nd time mom was to designate a bottom drawer of your refrigerator and your pantry to snacks for toddlers or preschoolers so when they are hungry they can get their own snacks. This takes one less task off your plate.


5. Light your home the right way

Maybe this is important to me because I’m a photographer, I don’t know 😉 but lighting is one I don’t see talked about too often!! Proper lighting can help create a calm and comfortable atmosphere for both you and your baby.

First, look at the rooms you’ll spend the most time in (typically kitchen, living room, bedrooms). You'll want to consider the type of lighting you have in each room.

  • Do you want to add a lamp option (yes, even in the kitchen)?
  • Under cabinet lights?
  • How about a dimmer switch for the overhead lights?
  • What about small wall plug-in lights to help light the way in the halls for the middle of the night?

The right lighting can help frustrating or overly stimulating situations feel much more calm and peaceful.

Planning to have a space to nurse the baby during the day where there is natural light can be wonderful for your mood. And don't forget you'll be spending more time up at night than you normally do so thinking about where you'll need a little extra light now will save some frustration when you have a baby in arms.

Finally, safety is also a consideration when it comes to lighting. Make sure that all cords and outlets are safely tucked away and secured to prevent tripping or electrical hazards.


6. Prepare YOUR wardrobe

Of course, we’re thinking a lot about how to prepare for the baby, but don’t forget about yourself! I don’t know about you, but when I feel good nothing can stop me! And that starts with getting dressed in the morning, right?!)

Preparing your wardrobe for the first 2-3 weeks postpartum is an important step in getting ready for the arrival of your new baby. My babies were born in the fall so I bought sweaters and robes that I could cozy up with my baby in.

Comfort and functionality are key during this time! You'll want to focus on loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that can accommodate changes in your body shape and allow for easy breastfeeding access if you plan to breastfeed.

Consider investing in a few nursing bras, loose-fitting pants or leggings, and comfortable tops that are easy to pull up or down. Some women also find it helpful to have a couple of nursing-friendly dresses on hand for a dressier option. I LOVE BRAVADO! DESIGNS nursing bras and I would buy one today even though I'm not breastfeeding!

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will likely still be bleeding for a few weeks, so having a few pairs of comfortable and absorbent underwear or postpartum pads on hand is a good idea. With my 2nd baby, I actually loved wearing Depends for those first few days and even while I was in labor - which no one told me about for my first baby!

Remember, the key to preparing your wardrobe for the first few weeks postpartum is to prioritize comfort and practicality. By doing so, you can focus on bonding with your new baby without worrying about your clothing or physical discomfort!

Which of these tips are you going to do first? Did you learn something new today? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to download my free New Parents Guide to learn about other community resources for new parents in the Grand Traverse area.


4 Qualities to Look for in a Family Photographer

March 09, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Family of four photo on the beach in Traverse City, MichiganFamily portrait at the beach   

1. Preparedness -  There are so many elements to consider when setting out on a photographic mission: location, lighting, equipment, relationships between subjects, knowing the end goal for your images and so much more. A few of the ways I make sure I come prepared to serve my clients are:

  • A consultation before the session to get to know you, your family, AND your expectations.
  • Having backup equipment in case something should fail. I always carry multiple lenses, camera bodies, memory cards, batteries, and flashes.
  • I know the location or arrive early to scout around before we start shooting.
  • I always look up the sunrise/sunset calendar to plan accordingly and know how the light will be on the day and time of our session.
  • We will discuss how you plan to display your images so that when I am photographing, I have that in mind. We will even mock up some frames or canvases on your walls to see what they would look like!

2. Flexible and patient - When making family portraits we deal with many personalities and someone is bound to be in a bad mood. Patience is one of my superpowers! With all the patience in the world, I will wait for the kids (or dad) to come around to the moment at hand so we can capture beautiful memories. I also do my best to be flexible around scheduling with the weather in mind as well as your family’s specific needs (naptimes, bedtimes, happy times, etc.).

Mom and children laughing family photo in Traverse City, MichiganFun and relaxed family portrait

3. Loves children - I started babysitting as a teenager, nannied in college, and have two young children of my own. I’ve always loved interacting with children and have a passion for honoring each individual child as they are. I often hear my clients say “That photograph really captures his/her personality!”

Gallery portrait wall of family photos in a living room, Traverse City, MichiganLiving room gallery wall of family portraits

4. Professional - From the first inquiry phone call to the delivery of prints, I strive to provide the best service possible so that your experience is stress-free, joyful, and ends in high-quality artwork in your home. Communication is very important to me and you will always know what stage of the process we are at.

If you want to see if I'm the photographer for you, click here to schedule a consult. Want to learn a little more about having family photos taken? Read this blog about my "Top 5 Most Frequently Asked Family Photography Questions"

10 Things Your Doctor Never Told You About Giving Birth | Traverse City Birth Photography

February 09, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Midwife with newborn Traverse City, Michigan, Birth Photography, 10 things your doctor never told you about giving birth10 things your doctor never told you about giving birth: Birth photography in Traverse City

Hey there mama-to-be! So, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information (or lack thereof) about giving birth. But don't worry, I’ve got you!

Here are 10 things your doctor probably didn't tell you about giving birth that will help you feel more prepared and in control.

(And hey, if these pique your interest, bring these up to your doctor at the next appointment!)

You don't have to give birth in the hospital.
Giving birth at home or in a birth center can provide a more relaxed and intimate setting for the birth of your baby. It allows you to have more control over the birthing process and can provide a more personalized experience. This option is safe for low-risk pregnancies and has similar or better outcomes compared to hospital births.

There is a new birth center opening in the Traverse City area so we now have another option in Northern Michigan!

Question for your doctor/midwife: Would he/she support you and work with a home birth midwife if you decided to go this route?

Epidurals are not the only form of pain relief available during labor.
Epidurals are a common form of pain relief during labor, but they are not the only option available. Other forms of pain relief include nitrous oxide, spinal blocks, and natural methods such as hypnobirthing, acupuncture and massage. These options can provide a more natural and less invasive form of pain relief.

My midwife told me that water is nature's epidural and I loved being in the bathtub or birthing pool during my labors.

Question for your doctor/midwife: What other pain relief options do they see often that’s effective other than epidural?

You can bring your own music or sounds to the delivery room.
Music can have a powerful impact on our emotions, and it can help create a calm and soothing environment for you during labor. You can bring your own playlist, a sound machine, or even your own voice to help you relax and focus during labor.

Question for your doctor/midwife: Can I bring music to the birthing room?

Birthing pool delivery, Traverse City Birth PhotographyBirthing pool Traverse City Michigan

Birthing pools can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during labor.
Warm water can help ease the pain and discomfort of contractions, and it also allows you to move around more easily, which can help the baby move down the birth canal. Birthing pools can also provide a sense of privacy and intimacy during labor.

Question for your doctor/midwife: Are there birth pools available or another way I can use water to relax?

You will probably poop during labor (and that's okay!).
It's a normal and natural part of the birthing process, and your nurses and doctors are used to it. Don't let this concern hold you back, it's nothing to be embarrassed about.

Birthing positions - there are many different positions that can help make the birthing process easier.
There are various birthing positions that can help make the birthing process easier, such as standing up, sitting down, on your hands and knees, or even lying down. Experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you.

For my first birth, I spent almost the entire time on my hands and knees. This got tiring, but it was all that felt good at the time. For my second, I had a birth pool and it provided so much relief to be able to float and move my body with contractions.

Question for your doctor/midwife: In what positions are you willing to help me birth my baby?

Doulas are a great support and aren’t only used for birth.
A doula is a professional trained to provide emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum period. A doula can help you with relaxation techniques, provide emotional support, and advocate for your wishes during birth. They can also help to make sure other children are cared for.

I felt so much safer and supported when my doula arrived for my first birth. And she even took our dogs out for us while I was laboring so my husband didn't have to leave my side!

For a list of local doulas and other maternity, birth, and postpartum providers check out my New Parents Guide here.

Question for your doctor/midwife: Do you work with doulas often? Are there any you recommend?

You can eat and drink during labor, if you want to.
Having a light snack can help keep your energy levels up. It's important to listen to your body and your healthcare provider during labor, and to make sure you are well-hydrated and nourished.

Question: Under what circumstances will I not be allowed to eat or drink in labor?

If you will not be allowed to eat once you arrive at the hospital, this is something to keep in mind. You may want to labor at home a little longer.

Midwife homebirth birthing pool, Traverse City birth photographyMidwife homebirth with birthing pool

The power of the mind - visualization and other relaxation techniques can help during labor.
Visualization and relaxation techniques such as hypnobirthing, yoga, and meditation can help you stay calm and focused during labor. It can also help to lower stress hormones and increase endorphins, which can make labor more manageable.

Prenatal yoga was the best thing I did to prepare for my births. I could hear my yoga instructor telling me to breathe my baby down and out as each contraction came. It kept me calm and focused on bringing my baby into the world. 

Question: Is there anything I can do now to learn how to cope with labor?

Cesarean sections are a common form of delivery.
They can be planned or unplanned. It's important to remember that a c-section is a surgical procedure and there are risks associated with it, but it can also save the lives of both mother and baby in certain situations.

Question: In what circumstances do you perform c-sections?

So, there you have it, mama. I hope reading "10 things your doctor never told you about giving birth" has armed you with some new information about giving birth in Traverse City that will hopefully help you feel more confident and excited about your birth! If you’re still looking for a Traverse City Birth Photographer, click here to schedule a no-obligation inquiry call with me: Schedule a Call with Jamie

Do you want a little more info about birth photography? Check out my "What is birth photography" blog post here

What to wear at a headshot session

January 11, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Jen Martin professional headshot portraitProfessional headshot session

What should you wear for a headshot session?

Let’s keep it simple:

Consider what your background will look like. If it will be dark, maybe wear something lighter to stand out or vice versa. If we will have a green background, perhaps don’t wear green!
Business professional headshot session Business professional headshot

Be careful with black. Sure, it might be slimming in real life, but in photographs, it can make you look like a big black blob if not worn correctly. A black jacket over a different colored top can be ok. Pet hair and lint also show up great on black so bring a lint roller if you're going to try it!

Avoid bold patterns. I recommend solid colors or muted patterns that won’t distract from your face. The photograph should be about YOU, not your clothing.

Let’s try one with a jacket and then one with just a shirt or sweater so we can see which feel you like better.

professional headshot sessionWhat to wear for business headshots

Use jewelry to accent your outfit or bring in a pop of color.

Avoid scoop necks or asymmetrical necklines.

If you want to have some full-body shots to choose from, please consider your pants and footwear.

Artist headshot sessionWomen's professional headshots

I am always happy to help you select your wardrobe. As you start to plan, feel free to email or text me photos of what you are thinking and I will kindly give my input!

Here is a Pinterest board I created for inspiration:


Welcome to the blog of Crackerjack Photography Studio and photographer, Jamie Kirschner.  I'm a portrait photographer based in Traverse City, Michigan who loves learning and retelling the stories of others. I practice this through birth photography, family portraits, headshots and event photography.



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