Monday, May 9, 2011

Creating Memories Your Kids Will Treasure

A friend sent me this video (if it doesn't show up, please click here) about a dad's documentation of his daughter's life through a series of letters, videos, photos and more. It's very touching and made me tear up a bit - yes, I cry at commercials sometimes. But then I began to feel a little guilty. I mean, how many of you have even started that scrapbook you've been meaning to make? Or printed out the photos you uploaded onto KodakGallery? Have you kept a journal of all the funny things your kids have said? Yeah, I haven't done such a great job, either.

But I want to. It frustrates me that all my parents have are a few, loose photos of my childhood. Of course I know they were in their 20's and traveling all over Europe full of thoughts of starting a commune and probably without enough money to buy film for the camera anyway. But still. We all want to feel that our every giggle and smile was a momentous occasion. I don't want my kids to look at me and wonder why I didn't document their early years. I have excuses for not having these albums done. I'm busy. I don't know where to start. I have to make TWO of everything! But really, those aren't good reasons. With digital cameras that download instantly to lap tops and phones that take great pictures and videos, my husband and I actually have thousands of photos stored on my desktop.

But there's the problem. There they sit. We look at them now and then, but they deserve more. And by "they" I mean both the photos themselves and our children! So I began to think about all the ways a very busy parent can put together some terrific memories for their children - even if you're not as tech savvy as Sophie's dad in that video.

5 Great Methods To Create Memories And Keepsake Treasures
A page from my son's awesome photo scrapbook
  • Scrapbooking: My fantastically creative friend, Jackie, made me a set of photo scrapbooks about a year ago. She documented doing them on her blog, My Submarine To The Future. Now, you will notice that I said someone else made them for me. That's right, I couldn't get it together to do my own. But I am not too proud to ask for help. If someone does something better than you, why not ask for their expertise? It doesn't always have to cost something, often people will trade services. 
  • Online Services: KodakGallery and Blurb are just two of the many online services which guide you through creating your own printed photo albums. It's extremely simple and quick. How Fast Time Flies has beautiful backgrounds and fonts and lovely page lay outs. They seem a bit more expensive, but are more unique. Really, once you set your mind to it, it can be done in under an hour. Note: these services make it very easy to make duplicate albums. If you have twins (or any version of multiples) it is a must, in my opinion, to make more than one album. When your twins leave home how are you going to decide which one gets the "Babies' First Year" album? Make two. Trust me.
  • Listen To Me: Taking videos of your kids is terrific. I can watch baby videos of my kids for hours. Once they began to get more verbal, I began to also record just their voices. There is something deliriously sweet about hearing their little voices telling a story or singing a song. It's easier, as well, to hide the fact that you're recording so your kids don't begin to "act" for the camera. I usually use my iPhone voice memos app which you can then download onto iTunes and then, in turn, download onto a CD to give the kids when they're older. If you're as tech challenged as I am, here is an excellent, simple explanation of how to download your voice memos onto your computer as they don't automatically download when you sync up your phone. If you don't have an iPhone, a simple tape recorder will do and you can keep a treasure box full of all the tapes to listen to. My kids love to listen to themselves "when they were babies".
  • My son's very first painting of a person.
    It's a self-portrait and definitely worth
    doing something special with!
  • Beyond The Baby Album: Obviously, photo albums filled with photos of your children are great. But what are some other ways to create memories of their childhood? What about taking photos of all your children's artwork through the year and creating a photo retrospective of their creative genius? This is definitely on my To Do list. Or make a photo book for them when mom and dad go out of town - I made one and filled it with photos of who will be taking care of them, what they will be doing and also pictures of mom and dad so they can say good night. It's a great way to help them through the event, but also a great keepsake later on. My kids still love to read the one we made the last time we went out of town without them (sadly, that was almost a year ago). 
  • Our daughter working hard at a
    representation of a dream about Glenda
    the Good Witch who brought her
    3 wishes in a sack
  • Dreams: I credit my daughter with this one. When my kids wake up and we have a few minutes to snuggle, I often ask if they had any dreams. Talking about dreams helps kids understand their importance and, perhaps, will encourage them to remember more. It also helps you decipher some of the things your kids may be struggling with or thinking about. One morning our daughter had dreamed of something that scared her, so I suggested she draw a picture so we could talk about it more. She said she wanted to make a "Dream Book" so I simply folded some paper, made a colored construction paper cover, stapled, and voila: a dream book. I know, I know, it's not the most beautiful thing, but what is beautiful is seeing her drawings and writing down the fascinating dreams she shares with me. As long as I can keep her interested, we'll make more. I look forward to pulling them out and sharing them with her when she gets older. 
As easy as these ideas may be, I know that the biggest road block for anyone is time. For me, I have found that the only way I can do anything that isn't a spontaneously created moment with my children is to schedule it into my day. If I really want to get an album done, I promise to dedicate a set amount of time on a particular set of days. Once I'm into it, I realize how much fun it is to do. And once I have the actual product, it feels amazing!

What about you? How do you record your memories? How do you find the time? I'd love to hear some of your ideas - share them below in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!
The Twin Coach
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5 Great Comments Made By Clicking Here!:

Christina Simon said...

Scrapbooks and photo albums are my absolute favorites! I really try to take a ton of photos and keep them. The kids love looking at their "old" photos from a year or two ago. With the online photo books, it's really fun to create a quick b-day party book or other event book.

somethingsweetblog said...

I take my memory-keeping very seriously, and even though I was really into scrapbooking before my twins, I haven't done a page since. Everything is online and video and I rarely get to it. For the few moments that I do have at the end of the day, I keep a small journal next to the bed where I can write down cute happenings and my observations. It's meant to be the keeper of the info before the "more perfect" albums, but its informality really helps me not feel overwhelmed by it.

rockstarmomlv said...

OMG! So glad you posted that toally made me cry. I saw it the night before Mother's Day, and my husband said, "I know you are going to that. Aren't you??" And guess, what?? The next day, I did. LOVE the idea. I liek it bc I'm always on my email, etc., so quicker and easier for me to write a journal blurb to them via email. But, as you know, I also do the photo books (1 main one per year per kid)...and I do one for each child, even the twins. I also have a baby's first year book for each kid. Even the twins...they are such different beings, how could you not?? And When I was preggers, I kept a journal for each child (only one for this for the twins...they'll just have to take turns reading it!)

Practical Parenting said...

I love the dream book...and that your daughter came up with it! Fantastic blog...looking forward to reading more!

Anonymous said...

I am a preschool teacher and know how much parents love to recieve their child's book at the end of the year. For my daughter, each year (she is 2) I collate her photos, and notes I have taken, and her paintings and birthday cards from her last birthday, and compile it all into a powerpoint document which I show at her party and print and put into a binder.. I know that it will be more difficult when siblings come along, but I find time to do this when she naps, or after she has gone to bed for the night. I know that there are other things I could be doing, but I know when she grows up she will treasure her books and we will have keepsakes to look back on :)

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