Whenever I go to my mom’s house, one of my favorite things to do is pull out the photo books and look at old pictures of my siblings and me as kids. My husband is the same way when we visit his family. There’s something so enjoyable about looking back at our memories and seeing how we’ve changed. Now that I’m a mom, it’s incredible to look back at pictures and read memories I have written down of my own kids. They grow and change so fast, and although we would all love to pause time, each year still comes and goes.
As the holidays come to a close and a new year begins, I’m reminded of just how important it is for me to create a history that my children can look back on. To be honest though, I have never really enjoyed traditional journaling. I realized this after years and years of failing at my new year’s resolution to journal every day. After having my daughter, I discovered that I didn’t need to journal with a pen and notebook to be successful.
Here are some fun and easy ways that I've found to keep track of my own memories:
1. Write notes on your phone: Traditional journaling never worked for me because it felt like it took so much time and energy. For me, if something is easy and convenient, I am more likely to do it. I realized that I always had my phone with me, and how easy it was to quickly text something notable that happened to me during the day. I decided to use the notes app on my phone to essentially “text” myself things I wanted to record. That way, if my child did something cute in the middle of the day, I could quickly open the note and jot it down in seconds. Here’s some tips on how to organize your memories in the notes app of your phone:
- Create a new note and title it with the month and year (e.g. January 2022). You will use this same note for the whole month. Create a separate note entry for each subsequent month to keep things organized and easily accessible.
- Start each line with the date of the month. (e.g. If it is January 1st you would type a number 1 then record your notes for that day. Record each day on its own line.)
- At the end of the month, email the note to yourself. You can then copy the note to a word document, print it, and compile in a binder.
2. Use Promptly Journals: Promptly Journals is an incredible brand that makes journaling enjoyable and easy. They have a variety of journals, from self-care and healing, to memory and connection journals. The Childhood History Journal is my personal favorite because it prompts me to answer questions about my kids that I might not have thought of myself. This helps me remember things I may have forgotten otherwise. The time commitment for these journals is very low, only requiring you to write once a month in the first year of your child’s life, then once per year after that.
3. Turn your Christmas cards into a memory book: If you are someone that sends Christmas cards each year, keep a copy for yourself to put into a memory book. I always include a little write-up from the year with notable things that happened to our family as well as some of our kids favorite things. I then put both the write up and Christmas card into a book. This gives you a quick snapshot from year to year. If you don't do Christmas cards, you can instead print a family photo to go with your yearly write-up.
4. Print photos for a physical photo album: Pictures are one of the best ways to showcase our memories. I have countless photos on my phone, but I never look at them. What's the point in having pictures if they don't get looked at? I've found that printing out pictures and putting them into an album makes them more accessible, resulting in them getting looked at more often. Printing photos these days is super effortless--simply pick the photos you want printed and order them directly from your phone. Here are two ways to organize your photos into memory books:
- School pictures/yearly photos of your kids: Make sure to label the photo on the back with the age and date the photo was taken. This is a fun way to see how your kids change from year to year, or to compare your kids when they were similar ages.
- Candid photos: On the 1st of each month, choose a few photos from the past month that are your favorites and print them out. Before sliding the photos into an album, write on the back of the photo any notes you may have about what was happening. This is a great way to journal if you don't really enjoy writing.
Here are a few more tips as you get into journaling:
- Don’t feel like you have to record something every day. When you put pressure on yourself to write daily, it can create a sense of anxiety in journaling. Just remember that every little note you record is better than nothing.
- Be short and sweet. If you don't have much time, use incomplete sentences or phrases. You can always go back later and finish your thought when you have more time. But having the gist of the memory written down is normally all you need.
- Keep trying. It took me a lot of trial and error before I discovered that my favorite way to record was on my phone in short and sweet notes. Keep trying various methods until you find what works for you.
I'm not perfect when it comes to journaling, but I'm so glad that I have compiled memories I can look back on and have a place to reference if I want to recall something. Every effort you make will be appreciated someday. And when your kids are grown and come home to visit, you'll have something they can look through together. It will give them something tangible to remind them of all the fond memories that they have all because of you.
For more tips, visit babycubby.com