The eve of your child’s first (or any) birthday is a poignant milestone for many parents. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on the year that’s passed, what they (and you) have learned, achievements, and how they’ve grown and changed – in every aspect. It’s also a good time to consider how you might want to remember such precious moments in the future. With a new year stretching out in front of us, there’s no time like the present to start documenting your own life story and memories for your children to cherish. Make 2021 the year that you start your very own family memory journal. And, who knows, maybe your grandchildren will enjoy reading it one day, too!
Why Start A Family Memory Journal?
Remember the stories your grandparents told you? You might have rolled your eyes at the many times you heard the same tale over and over. Though, as we get older, we come to realise how valuable these stories are and just how much you would love to hear them again but it might not be possible.
As a mama, you might also find yourself wanting to impart your thoughts onto your children. The night before my daughter turned one was definitely a significant evening for me. We sat quietly in her bedroom while she had her bedtime milk. There were so many things that I wanted to say to her; that she is the centre of our universe but not to ever let that hold her back. To let it empower her knowing that she will always have her parents in her corner. I continued to tell her my thoughts all the while knowing that she most probably won’t remember – and it got me thinking. What if I wrote it to her a letter instead? That way, she has something to reflect on for years to come. So, I dug out my laptop and started typing.
Not only can your journal be a great collection of thoughts, feelings or recollections of a typical day, it can also be the base of your own family history. You might be living in a different country to where you were born, or where you might eventually settle, and 2020 (most probably 2021 as well) proved to be a year that no one will forget easily. It housed many world events that people will be talking about for years to come, and might even become part of your little one’s history class! While living through these unprecedented times, what better way to let your future family know what it was actually like?
The First Steps To Your Journal
First things first: don’t get overwhelmed. Hearing the words “journal” or “life story” might have many quitting before they even open the laptop or reach for a pen! But these are your letters to your children, so do it in a way that works for you.
Decide how you might want to make a start, keeping in mind that this can be flexible and change over time. For example, if you’re a fan of having a structure, a yearly diary with a page per day would work well (kikki.K has a good selection). Or, if that feels too much of an obligation, how about a blank paged book (like this one from Bookazine) or a simple Word document on your laptop that’ll allow you to input entries as and when you feel inspired.
You know that you want this to be a family memory journal but who exactly is the audience? Are you writing it as a personal account to yourself that you will allow others to read? Or are you addressing your children directly? It can, of course, be a combination of the two! There are no rules here, only what you feel comfortable with and what flows the most naturally.
What Do You Want To Say?
Remembering not to get overwhelmed, a good place to begin could be to write about a lovely day that you’ve had. Start small, start anywhere, and then let the momentum carry you forward.
- Perhaps give an account of a typical day in your current lives
- A recollection of feelings
- Documenting big life events (when they first started to do walk/talk/learn to drive!)
- Or maybe the small things that made a lasting impression (a cheeky smile, the cute way they reacted to something)
Consider including stories and inserts from other family members as well. Entries might be the adventures of your child directly or historical family stories that you want to endure for future generations.
How To Document Your Memories
While written words are a great way to express yourself there are many other options out there as well. Video blogs (or vlogging for those in the know) is a great way to immortalise your family’s faces and voices. You might think that you’ll always remember the sound of your children’s giggle but fast forward 10 years and you might be surprised!
A picture collage, painting or drawing (if your artistic skills are up to the task!) is a lovely memento to keep alongside, or instead of, your words. Those more musically inclined might also choose to write a song or a poem. If you’re open to the idea, you could also start your own personal blog on WordPress or Blogger so that family members (and others!) around the world can follow your journey.
A final thought is that while technology is great, keep in mind how it might change over time. Can you still play those VHS videos of you when you were little? Probably not. Ink on paper and printed images might take up some space but they will stand the test of time. Do revisit your journal, whether physical or digital, from time to time to see that it’s still accessible (not locked out!) and undamaged (writing or prints can fade after some years).
The beauty of a family memory journal is that you can start whenever you want. Even if your children are not little kids anymore, you can travel back in time and recall the day they were born (albeit a little fuzzy!) and share your hopes for their future and adventures to come. Even better, encourage your youngsters to pick up a pen and get their thoughts on paper as well. You might find that you have the next Virginia Woolf or Oscar Wilde on your hands!