The year I turned seven my mom had a nightmare that my siblings and I grew old, moved away, and that she couldn’t remember anything about us when we were little. The sound of our voices, the silly stories we made up, our facial expressions were all lost to time. In an effort to prevent the nightmare from becoming reality, my mom borrowed a video camera (back when they were the size of a shoe box and you balanced them on your shoulder!) and began making home videos. We have lots of silly videos from that year: everything from piano recitals to making afterschool snacks together.
As my children grow older I find myself having similar thoughts. Will I remember how my children were when they were little? Gratefully, capturing the memories of your child’s early years can be easier than lugging around a camera on your shoulder! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Buy a journal for each of your kids and then write in them: milestones met, funny things they said or did, tantrums they threw, any little thing. Try setting aside a time each month, for example the first Sunday of the month, to write a paragraph or a page in each child’s book.
Take yearly family pictures, professional or not
This could be at a holiday, annual vacation, or in a fun place to represent something from that year. Our first year in Michigan we took a family photo all decked out in University of Michigan gear. Great photo places in Ann Arbor include the University of Michigan Law Quad and the bridges at Island Park. Keep the photos in an album or make a photo wall (stairwells and hallways are great for this) to display the yearly pictures.
You can find a bunch of kid interview templates online. Print one off and sit down with each child individually, asking questions and recording the answers. Try asking the same questions each year to see how much they’ve changed. Since I have five kids I find it easiest to interview them on their birthday, or birth week at least. Luckily none of my kids were born on the same day!
Create a simple ritual that is just yours
Choose something easy and tie it to something you already do on a regular basis such as mealtimes, bedtimes, or leaving or arriving at home. Maybe a secret handshake or special hug. For my 3-year old, bedtime always includes a big hug, a little hug, a big kiss and a little kiss. I know that years from now I will always remember our special good night ritual.
As you look at this list and try to implement some of the ideas keep in mind that you are a mom which inherently means you don’t have a lot of free time! If you aren’t able to write in every child’s book every month, it’s okay. Miss the birthday interview? Do it now and move on. Be gentle with yourself. You and your kids will appreciate any effort you put forth to record their childhood.