By Mary Beth Gibson
If there’s one thing I consistently hear from my friends who are parents, it’s that they bought a baby book for one or all of their children, and it is currently sitting blank—sometimes even unopened!—on a shelf collecting dust. Parents desire to create something to remember their children’s special moments, but they are busier than ever before. While the traditional baby book format might work for some people, many people don’t find it easy to start or maintain. Thankfully, there are quite a few fun and unique alternatives. Here are some ways to remember the special moments in your child’s life.
The first and most obvious solution is using social media to remember the special moments. Most of us post cute pictures of our families and children on these sites already, so this really only requires a few extra steps to make into a digital scrapbook. Add special and unique captions to remember what happened that day or in that moment. If you’re able to search posts you’ve made with certain hashtags, create a special hashtag for your family or for your child. You will be able to search for every photograph with that hashtag after that. And if you’re on a social media platform that allows you to create albums, sort your pictures into albums. Some people sort their albums by specific children or special events, while others sort by months, seasons, or years. This makes it so easy to scroll back through favorite memories, read funny moments from the day, and share them with friends and family.
Rather than digital photographs, some people enjoy having a physical object to remember special moments and milestones. One way to do this is through picture books you create online. There are endless options when it comes to this sort of thing, and you can find sites that allow you to create your own custom layouts and put time and effort into their creation. There are also sites that work as a subscription service where you will link one or more social media sites that compile your pictures into books as you post them. They then send you a book when it is filled. This is an excellent option for any parent who regularly takes pictures of their children. One excellent idea: to reduce paper clutter, instead of keeping every piece of art your child creates, take a picture of it; when you have enough pictures of drawings and paintings, add them all to a photo book. This way, you’ll have one small volume full of hundreds of drawings instead of drawers and bins stuffed with loose paper.
For those who not only take pictures, but also have them printed, writing dates and captions on physical photographs is another excellent way to remember special moments. Short anecdotes, descriptions of people and places, and quotes from the day can provide depth and flesh out an entire experience. When your children reach school age, you can even use school photographs as individual “yearbooks.” Order an 8x10 photograph and keep track of interesting things from your child’s school year—accomplishments, best friends, fun projects, field trips, books read, favorite things, etc. If it’s something you can do for every year in school it will become a unique and informative collection that your child will enjoy looking back on as an adult.
If you’re more of a video person, consider making a DVD of all your videos for the year. Add some special touches to it by recording interviews with your children on their birthdays and other special occasions. Not only will your children enjoy knowing what they liked when they were younger, but they can also watch their younger selves actually talking about those things. As most parents learn, children love watching videos of themselves.
Like the picture book option, keeping a written journal for your children can include as little or as much work as you are willing to put forth. Many parents simply purchase a blank journal and fill it with whatever they feel is noteworthy—funny quotes, favorite things, special moments and experiences, height and weight statistics, etc. This option is great for those whose level of commitment varies throughout the years. You can’t run out of room in a certain section, but you also don’t have to feel guilty for leaving lots of blank space if you don’t write a lot one year. Some people enjoy guided journaling, and there are great options out there for that as well. Look for journals that include fill-in-the-blank questions. This provides lots of fun information without requiring parents to try to figure out what to write. Both of these journaling options allow you to write down special things about your children for more than just the first years. What a keepsake for your adult son or daughter to have eighteen years’ worth of information!
For busy parents who enjoy technology or spend a lot of time working, an individual e-mail account for your child is a great option. Create an e-mail account for each child, and then simply send off an e-mail each time you take a great picture or hear them say something amusing. By the time they’re old enough to use an e-mail address one will be waiting for them; even if they don’t use it, it can still be a sweet and fun way to send thoughts and pictures back and forth—almost like being pen pals with your own son or daughter.
Use Your Calendar
For busy parents who prefer putting pen to paper, making note of special milestones and achievements in their planners is one of the simplest ways to remember things. Planners have become all-encompassing these days, and many parents track every aspect of family life in them. They become keepsakes in a way, so why not jot down quotes and special moments while it’s open throughout the day. This is a great option for parents who already juggle the family schedule, and knowing you’ll have a record of special moments makes spending $50+ on a planner more palatable.
As long as your home is filled with love and laughter, your children will remember their youth fondly whether you keep a record of it or not; however, if you don’t like the format of baby books or feel that you don’t have the time to keep one up, there are alternatives. Above all, be present in your children’s lives, that way, they won’t miss the absence of a baby book—they’ll already have thousands of wonderful memories stored in their heads.
Mary Beth Gibson graduated from Wichita State University in 2007 with a BA in Creative Writing and blogs at Bright Sycamore. She enjoys most things natural, but with a healthy dose of practicality and affordability. You can most likely find her wearing her toddler around Target as she hunts for great deals in the dollar bins. She lives in Kansas with her husband and 1-year old son.
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