Let’s say you and I have just met and I ask you about your child. I bet you can tell me all about your kid’s likes/dislikes, personality type, favorite things to do, etc. You can tell me in great detail what makes your kiddo unique and what makes your child laugh and the special things that you do together. Can you tell me what your child was into 6 months ago? Do you remember what your child was scared of or his/her favorite stories, songs and activities a year ago? Two years ago?
We are so busy with the everyday stuff of life and are so entwined with our kids that we feel like this continuous cycle of life and where we are will never end. However, kids grow and change so much each week, month, and year. Everything that you and your child are doing right now is in the part of the everyday fabric of your life. You feel you will always remember it, but I can assure you that if you don’t have a way to capture these memories, you will forget them.
How do I know this? Because I have sporadically kept a journal for each of my kids over the years and things that I thought I would never forget, I had completely forgotten until I went back and read the journal entry. I wrote down everyday things that at the time didn’t seem that important but I jotted them down anyway, now these are the most precious memories to me because they are glimpses into our time together and takes me back in time.
For example, I wrote about a special game that my daughter made up when I put her to bed when she was 3. She would put her nose in my ear and say that she was in “Greenland”. Then she told me to do the same thing to her so that I could join her in Greenland and we could eat “goodies” (a favorite word of hers back then) and we could explore together.
These words transport me back in time and I can see my little girl as she was when I wrote the entry. I started my daughter Callia’s current journal back in Sept 2008 (prior to that I recorded them in her pregnancy/baby journal) and will share the first entry I posted in her journal to give you an idea of what memories I have captured:
Today you are 2 years 4+ months old and you are playing with your “kids”. We set up Elmo and the big dog stuffed animal around a little table and you set up plates, utensils and food for them. You said, “let’s see what the kid want to eat” and went about serving everyone.
You amaze me with your creativity, memory and passion. You get so into what you’re doing and can get a bit crazy with that temper of yours. One day, you’ll have a little girl telling you “No Mommy! No! No! No!” and I’ll tell you that’s exactly how you were =).
You are very affectionate, you always say, “hold me” and you prefer to sit in our laps rather than your high chair for meals. Your Daddy is wrapped around your finger, so you got him letting you sit in his lap for dinner every night.
You’re asking me to read “A Fly Went By” so I’ll be back to write more, we like to sit on the couch with the blanket on us and my arm around you when we read.
I’m back, we read a couple of books and now you are back to feeding your kids. You also love to play with your Dora and Diego playsets. You love stickers. Anything that Tim is doing, you want to do.
You love your binky, but you only get to have it for naps and diaper changes. You have been putting all your poop in the potty for a while now but your pee only goes in half the time when you feel like it.
You love to sing and dance – it’s so cute. You can sing songs all the way through and you shake your little hips when you dance.
You have an opinion on what you wear and what shoes you want. You’re been picky about your shoes since you were about 18 months old. How is this possible for a child 1 1/2 years old to care about their shoes? My crazy girl, I love you so much.
You are singing, “Allee Galloo” right now and you fill our world with such joy. I hope that you will always know how much I love you and how just being your wonderful self has brought me so much happiness and really fulfilled me.
I keep another journal, but I wanted to start a journal just for you so you could see what you did growing up and how proud of you I am.
This journal which is dedicated to my daughter is filled with memories like these that I have captured through the years. I love reading them, I laugh out loud and my heart is full as I go through them. This journal has become even more meaningful than I initially intended. Over the years, this journal has helped me:
– Capture day to day activities of my children which have changed so much over the years. I had completely forgotten some of the things that they did but the journals brought all of the memories flooding back.
– This journal is a legacy that I’m leaving for my child so that she knows how important she is to me. How having her as my child has been so meaningful to me. If anything ever happens to me, she can go back and read these pages and “hear” me talking to her and telling her how much I love her.
– Lift my spirit when I am down. I have my share of heartaches and when I’m feeling really down, I have gone back to this journal to my daughter and to my gratitude journal and it has filled my heart and lifted me when I needed it.
– Lift my daughter up and build her self-esteem. There have been times when my daughter was in a funk, she was moody and not her usual fun self. We have always been close and I felt like our connection was wavering. I took her journal out and read a couple of entries to her. Some things she didn’t remember because she was so young. When I explained them to her, she laughed so hard and had even more questions about what she had done. It re-sparked our connection because we were able to share those memories and she was thrilled that I captured them.
If you want to capture your child’s memories, here’s how to easily start:
- 1. Buy a journal (I like ones like these):
- that are lined and meant to be long lasting) for each of your kids. This way each child will have their own special memories in one place and you can give it to them at a special time. Possibly their 16th birthday, when they go off to college, when they have their first child, etc.
2. If you don’t normally keep a journal and need some ideas of what to write about, here are a few ideas of what to write about:
– what a normal day looks like for your child
– favorite things to eat & play
– funny things they say
– favorite places to go and what they like to do there
– rituals they have at bedtime or bathtime
– things that bug or scare them (i.e. the dark, spiders, the vacuum cleaner, etc.)
– favorite songs & books
– what makes them laugh, any especially goofy things that they like to do
– what makes your child unique in your eyes and why you love them so much
3. Set a reminder in your calendar to record your memories in the journal. You may want to tie it to events such as their birthday, when they go to the dentist, when the season changes, etc. so that you have a time that you know you will do it. An empty journal will not fill itself up with memories, you need a plan to fill it.
4. If a written journal is not your thing and you prefer something digital, consider getting the 5 Minute Journal app. I use this app as my gratitude journal and record family memories here as well. This app allows you to export your entries to a PDF and you can then bind them however you wish. The only drawback is if you have multiple children and want the memories for each child all in one place.
Capture the little routines that you think you will remember forever. Things change along the way and you fall into another routine. Bedtime routines, morning routines, the way you say good bye at drop off, the way you greet each other at pick-ups. All of these beautiful moments seem so every day and monotonous but your children will grow and that baby is soon a toddler. That precious toddler is soon off to kindergarten, then middle school and before you know it is in high school.
I’m sure you have many pictures and videos of your child to see when they’re older. Yet there is something truly special when your child can see themselves through your eyes. This is the real gift you are passing on to your child and why it is so wonderful to capture your family memories this way.
I had completely forgotten about “Greenland” until I read what I wrote several years later. I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten because it was something that we loved doing and did often. Little things like this are how we build our connections with our children and reflecting back on these times together strengthens our family bond.
What about you? How do you capture your children’s memories? Please share in the comment field below as I would love to hear from you.
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