*This post was originally posted on the regular TIMC, but I’m putting it up on here for those who may not read that blog!*
There is no doubt in my mind that children grow up way too fast. If you have children and/or nieces and nephews of your own, you probably whole-heartedly agree. Life is funny though, in the aspect that you don’t really notice the children in your life growing up until they hit major milestones.
Time goes by quickly. Too quickly, in fact. But…there is one way that we can stop time for but a small moment—record it! Have you ever thought about someone you haven’t seen in person for awhile, and the first thing that you think of is a picture of them? It helps to jog the memory for sure! But what other than pictures can we do to help us remember these milestones? Well, I’ll share a few ideas to help you record a little bit about the lives of the children in your lives!
Yes, you can record personal histories for babies! Obviously, babies don’t remember anything, but you can record your thoughts and feelings, their milestones, and how they are growing. You don’t have to do ALL of these ideas, just choose one or two and don’t forget to do it!
- Write down milestones of your children as they grow. (Height, weight, when they sit, 1st foods, etc.) Get or make a calendar just for these things. Put it in a place you will see it often and record things as they happen--this way, you'll always have that info in a safe, recorded place. If you’re more of a techie person, set up a milestones blog just for you and close family. I received a free calendar just for new moms while I was pregnant—it came with stickers and everything to easily record what went on. Then, later when I had more time, I went back to the calendar to see my baby’s milestones and incorporated them into a scrapbook page that I made for each month of his first year.
- Take pictures regularly. You can do it every day, once a week, or at least once a month. Be sure to somehow record how old your child is in the picture. You can make a sign (simple or extravagant), use baby blocks or puzzle numbers, or add it digitally.
- Keep track of your baby’s size by using a larger stuffed animal or toy and take a picture of your baby with it every month, place your baby in the same basket every month, or even just next to a measuring tape!
- Make a video slide show of pictures from your child's first year. Set it to music and make a few copies (for you, baby, grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings, etc.)
- Make foot prints every month for the first year. You can do this on paper, or even on a large canvas.
- Make a scrapbook page of your child growing his or her first year. The top one is a digital page where I chose my favorite picture from each month. The bottom one is a traditional page where I used leftover pictures and cut them all at 2 inches square. They are just in order, but some months there are 2 pictures, and other months there are 0. Either way is great, it’s just fun to show progression!
When children start to show preferences of things they can start helping you record their personal history! Of course, the older the child, the more s/he can help and be more involved in what you do.
- Measure height and weight every 6 months.
- Take (or get) a good set of pictures every month or every 6 months. Make sure you get at least one good close-up shot and one full body picture with something that shows size. (You can still use that stuffed animal from babyhood, the basket or tape measure.)
- Make hand prints every year. I do this on paper, and use it on the first page of my kid's scrapbooks for the year. Even if you’re not a scrapbooker, this is a very easy method! All it takes is cardstock, a marker or pen and ink or paint! (As you can see, I don’t put a lot of time into these pages, I like simple!)
- Record what your child is saying, and be sure to record how s/he says it! Video is great for this! Most digital cameras and phones have video capabilities on them. To keep track of the videos, make a specific folder on your computer. You can even make sub-folders of who is in the video or special occasions. There are sites you can upload your videos to and share them privately with family and friends or you can share them on your blog.
- Keep some of his/her artwork in a 3-ring binder with page protectors. Be sure to label it with the date and how old your child was!
- Get a journal or a notebook. Have your child draw pictures about their day/week/month/vacation. Write the details of the picture down so you don’t forget! This is the first picture my son drew of him and his dad—I had him explain it to me, then I labeled all the parts so I wouldn’t forget what the drawing was.
- Have your child write his/her name, draw a self-portrait (or use a picture) and make handprints for one page. You can put this in a scrapbook or a special 3-ring binder. When they were younger I also included a picture, but now their hands are getting too big, so I have them write their name on it instead.
- Keep some of his/her artwork in a 3-ring binder with page protectors. Be sure to label anything with the date and how old s/he is.
- Write down or record the funny things your child says! You can have a specific journal or computer file for this, or do it on a blog or scrapbook page!
- Get your child a journal or diary and encourage him/her to write in it at least once a month. You can assign a topic (Write about your favorite pet/color/chore/friend/toy/etc.) or they can choose a topic. Do this together so you both have an excuse to record your lives and spend some quality time together!
- Measure how tall s/he is. Mark it on a removable growth chart. (Door frames are fine too, but you can't take them with you if you move!) Or you can record it by writing it down or even by pictures.
- Take pictures. Try to take a picture in the same place every year at the same time (birthday, first day of school, or a specific holiday) to measure growth. You can even use the stuffed animal from babyhood if you did that!
- If you are a scrapbooker, you can let your child take over his/her pages around the time they can write, cut and glue! Trust me, it’s kind of painful at first to see how “terrible” the layouts turn, but as I’ve let my oldest do this more often, it’s given me the chance to teach him about design skills, math concepts, spelling, handwriting, and writing skills. I’ve come to cherish the pages he has done, because they are all him—even if they’re not as pretty and good as I’d make them. Plus, it’s given me extra time to catch up on other scrapbooking!
If you’ve had a chance to instill the importance of recording your own life to your children, it won’t take much more work as a teenager. But if you haven’t, it’s never too late to start. Most teenagers will have plenty of opportunities in school (especially in English class) to write and record all about themselves. I think the key to helping them realize that it’s not just an assignment, is for you to be a good example to them in this area. Also, save some of their best work all together in a special place (like a binder). Some other ideas:
- Show them some of the things you’ve recorded about yourself when you were a teenager. (A journal, scrapbook, newspaper clippings or your yearbook.) This may help them realize that you were once young and they’ll see how fun it will be for their kids to see them this age as well. If you haven’t yet recorded anything from your teenage years, make a goal to do so.
- Pick a topic at dinner and have everyone talk about it, then record write what they said. You can do this as a game or just by casually asking. Whatever your teenager is up for!
- Indulge in their wanting to scrapbook or buy them a journal to write in. Show interest in what they are recording without being too snoopy. Obviously don’t go find their private journal and read without their permission, but if you see them writing, you could ask what they are writing about in an interested manner.
- Encourage them to participate in the challenges here with you!
- Make a binder to put some of their school writing assignments in (especially non-fiction). Even if they don’t want to be involved in recording their history, you’ll have some fun stories! You can always add some simple pictures of them if you don’t scrapbook.
When you take the time to record your child’s life (or help them), you will never be disappointed or feel that you’ve wasted your time. Recording these moments before they are gone is so important, and it is one regret that you have! I guarantee it!