Find the perfect family photographer and more at Angie's List

Find the perfect family photographer and more at Angie's List

by Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List

Parents are often checking with their kids to make sure their homework is done, but one of the best things we can do as parents is to get our own homework done. And as any parent can tell you, the homework starts even before the babies arrive and lingers long after they've flown the nest.

The good news for you is that the parental homework I'm thinking of right now involves things that Angie's List can help you with — services such as music lessons and musical instrument repair, driving lessons, computer repair, child care, and fitness centers that offer summer camps and swimming lessons for kids.

While we all want a quality plumber and roofer, our demands for the people who help shape our children are even higher. One great service I hire from Angie's List is a professional photographer who comes to my house.

I'd gone the route of gathering up my three kids and driving to a studio for photos, but as soon as two were ready, the third was crying. When I'd calmed down the crier, the other two had started poking each other.

We were waiting in a strange place for the backdrop to be put up, and let me tell you, by the time we got around to having the very gracious photographer ask us to smile, none of us were feeling particularly photogenic.

But since we've had the photographer come to us, it's been a breeze. I still have to get the kids cleaned up, in their outfits and get their hair brushed, but they're comfortable and much more inclined to actually smile for the camera. My husband and I are much more relaxed, and you can see the difference in our faces.

The marginal increase in cost is well worth it, and we actually get better pictures with a more personalized feel to them instead of the nondescript blue curtain background you often find in a studio. I will confess it causes a small amount of work and stress. If we're shooting outside, I tend to worry about whether the yard is in good enough shape, and that usually leads me to call my landscaper to import a few new plants from the local nursery.

I frequently read parent blogs and chat with friends, family and neighbors about our kids and the things going on in their lives. And those are all great resources to learn about terrific instructors, doctors, child care providers and other kid-friendly services out there.

But with 1 million members nationwide, Angie's List is a virtual pool of neighbors helping neighbors on a much grander scale.

So if you're looking to hire a kid-related service, read the reports on Angie's List first. And please help your fellow parents out and submit a report on anyone you hire. We all want the best for our children and in many cases, hiring a highly rated provider off Angie's List can help us deliver.

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