Updated: Sep 16, 2019
A follower recently asked me, how do I record/capture my kid's life? Pictures, baby books, journals, what? There are 101 ways to document your growing family and there is no perfect solution to this. With technology changing so much these days the newest trend will be old news in six months, so how do I keep up? Honestly, I don't.
My motto, I TRY. I use 3 methods to document their/our life and then each kid has a memory box. (I save hand prints, well-crafted projects, significant reports, etc. I pitch the crap, and by crap I mean 99% of it.) In fact, I toss so much of their stuff; my kids go right to the trash to look for their artwork they can't find.
My Documentation of the Finney life:
1) Each kid has a journal. Journaling comes naturally to me. I have kept a journal since I was a teenager and writing is something I love. I find it therapeutic and freeing. I write about family trips, my life events, their life events, funny things they did or said, hard moments, all of it. I write things I want them to learn, knowledge about being a good person, life lessons. It's a little morbid, but I write as though I would die tomorrow. What do I want them to know? What do I want to teach them? Not every entry is like that, but some definitely have that tone.
Things to note - I don't repeat events in everyone's journal. That would be ridiculous. I refer to a siblings journal for a specific recap of an event, but I will write any personal information in each journal. I rotate which kid gets the recap.
I do a lot of this writing on an airplane, family vacations, by the pool or while my husband watches golf. The spelling is horrific and the handwriting is even worse. But it is me and my words to my girls. And regardless of time or technology, there is something special about that.
2) I do make family albums, vomit, I know. I use Shutterfly, but any program would work. After 11 years, I have become relatively quick about it and they don't take me nearly as much time as they used to. I also have become much more lax about the layout and how perfect it has to be. Honest friend here - don't edit/fiddle/filter it takes way to much time and no one cares. I don't write a long dissertation about what we did on X trip or what happened in Y picture. Concise captions, if any, and lots of pictures. Here is the break down of how I get that done:
- Upload (or check iCloud) mine and my husband's cell and SLR camera pictures about every two months to my desktop iPhotos
- I group the images by month in iPhoto
- About every 6 months (some years I have waited till December) I upload by month/year to Shutterfly. I try - very quickly to take out all the random crappy pictures.
- I work on this after the holidays, usually during the January slow down. For example, I did 2018 book in January of 2019.
- I try to do about 1 or 2 months each night and work on it for about 3ish weeks.
- I have learned that if I take the time to weed out the pictures I don't want either before downloading them to Shutterfly or downloading them to the book's project, it has cut my time in half. I am not trying to look at these tiny images while in the project itself.
- Always use a coupon code. NEVER pay full price for the book. They always have sales, wait to order it.
3) Baby book. I am the worst at this part. The journals are a chronological play by play of our life, so I have been lax on the baby books. But yes, every kid does have one and I try to get to them as often as I can. I was better when the kids were under two because I could do a quick jot of info (Julia walked today M/D/Y) or I would slide in a few photos I had. But honestly, it is hard to get real photo prints because everything is digital. I never have original photographs of anything for their books. Pictures in the book are the hardest part for me. I can write the date down, easy peasy, but the picture of her 3rd birthday is somewhere on my phone. What I have done to help solve this problem is to go through the books and make a list of the pictures I need. Then depending on the time, I will save the list for when I do the yearly books and order the prints then, or I will go right to the app and order them from my phone. But it does take time and effort. In the end though, the books are all worth it.
I stop my books around 7 or 8 years old. But you go as long or as short as your hearts wants. And like many moms, my last kid has nothing in her book and my first is a dictionary of information. Oh well, I am living the perfectly imperfect life over here. And still, I love them all just as much and precisely the same. Lastly, if you have nothing, don't beat yourself up. It is never too late to start, pick one idea and start slow.
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