I do these 5 things...
Every time a beautiful family visits my studio for a newborn session I reset the space by doing the following:
Replenish the change area
I have a change area set up in my studio space so that mums and dads can feel at ease changing baby when the time comes. I also like to provide neutral nappies (no bright colours or logos) so that they blend more easily under all the super cute newborn outfits I provide. The space is nearby to the bathroom but also includes a soft change mat, baby wipes and hand sanitiser. This space is in close proximity to the comfy couch where mums and dads can feed and settle bub. We all know the sequence don't we! After the feed comes the... A major goal when creating the studio space is that I wanted it to be calm and welcoming. I didn't want it to appear so 'put together' that parents feel like they need to tell their kids not to touch anything. I totally get it, I am a mum of three myself. And in fact. It is extremely likely that the studio doors will be covered in at least a few handprints from my own rascals. Despite my best efforts on keeping the glass clean. What is it about kids having to put their palms on the glass to slide the doors open rather than using the handles? Beats me!
Water and refreshments
That breastfeeding thirst is real, right? And even for those that aren't breastfeeding it's likely that you didn't have enough water before you arrived anyway (guilty over here) so I always make sure that I put out some glasses with both cold and tap water for my clients to choose from. If the session consists of just parents and bub then I put out some light refreshments too. Fresh fruit and a little sweet treat. If there are toddlers or kids coming then I just read the room and decide on the day. In the pre session information I always let my clients know that they are welcome to bring dry non messy snacks for their kiddos. It is all about transparency and expectations. For example, I wouldn't want them to pack a whole punnet of strawberries and raspberries only to walk in the room and be stressing about the cream couch and white linen curtains. Being a snack servant (ahem, mum) myself I am always happy to raid my own cupboard to keep the little ones happy. With the green light from parents of course.
toys (age appropriate)
I have a basket of toys stowed away in the cupboard that the parent(s) can reach for when most of the leg work with the older kid(s) is done. I have a newborn workflow which involves getting the whole family photos and sibling photos done first. That way the toddlers can clock off from a hard mornings' work and relax. The parents then tag team with newborn photos before ending with just bub by themselves. I find that this is the best way to approach the newborn session rather than the toddler being expected to play ball for a couple of hours, in some cases even longer! Thanks to the pre session questionnaire that is completed by you, I am armed with important information like your kid(s) ages so that I can ensure that basket of goodies is age appropriate. There is always a combo of books, puzzles, pencils and paper. Of course I always let parents know that they are welcome to bring their own toys or screens to use. I do make it fairly clear though not to get these out until the whole family photo and sibling photos are complete. And lastly, I always advise parents that there will be a point of downtime where one parent and the older children are no longer needed for photos. I always provide information about local parks and cafes near by should they prefer to fill in the time else where. We are also very close by to the beach which is always an option too.
Being in sunny Queensland, it is often sweltering hot outside, 99% humidity or pouring rain. In winter the weather is a little more predictable but I find temperature control SO important. I usually start the studio off at a comfortable 24 degrees and then adjust accordingly. Sometimes warming up to help baby stay settled or sometimes we can leave it as is. Families go from the comfort of their own home, to their air conditioned car, a then a very short walk from car to my studio. However on a hot day, unpacking, changing yourself and family member can be all that's needed to start feeling the little beads of sweat develop. I never have my families walk into a warmed room, put it that way.
clear instructions on address, access and what to expect
Now this one isn't so much about welcoming them into the physical space but it is about welcoming them to the session in a practical sense. In the lead up to the studio session I have various communication points that I see as a must. There's the initial phase of contact which is a lot of general information and more about the burning questions my clients have at that point in time like how long will the session go for (aka how long does my toddler have to participate for) and what should we wear. We then have the pre session phone call or series of texts where I answer any questions and that is very client focused. Lastly, an email is sent in the week leading up to the session with the address details, any access instructions and what do to upon arrival. I never book back to back sessions so that I ensure that my space is empty and I am ready to welcome my family in with open arms. I then send a text the night before or morning of (that all depends on timing of the session), again reiterating the address and any special instructions. My process is entirely built on how my brain operates. For example, I don't want to receive the address in the first point of communication if the session isn't for a few months as it won't mean anything to me then. But in the week before and the days before when I am planning what time I need to wake, be dressed by and leave the house - the information is crucial at that time!