Anybody else have a Baby Book collecting dust?
Me too friend!
Amidst the diaper piles, reheated day old coffee, and multiple off tune renditions of “Super Potty” my best of intentions for documenting each and every joyous moment are long buried.
For months I mourned the loss of the Baby Book Dream.
Baby Books the family could laugh and reminisce with as we grew.
Baby Books I could threaten to pull out of the closet to show their prom dates.
Baby Books that they could look back on with their own kids.
I tried numerous times to work more on these Baby Books and some of my daughter’s actually got completed. Her first tooth is documented and there is a picture glued on the page celebrating her second birthday. Hey, it’s progress!
In the meantime, I’ve found some ways to save my memories and special moments, so that one day when the diaper piles are gone, my coffee is fresh, and the kids, God willing, are making poop and pee pee in the potty without musical accompaniment and fanfare, I can finally assemble those darn Baby Books.
I’m sharing these tips and tricks here because I think this just may be our solution. Won’t it be wonderful to know we will have those Baby Books to look forward to without the stress of having to complete them today!
Tip #1 Use a Calendar to Document Milestones.
We simply must stop trying to record each and every precious moment on the correct page of the correct Baby Book! We can make this so much easier! Get a calendar and jot down first smiles, first baths, and first days of school as they happen. You can go all out and purchase calendars specifically created for this purpose, such as these, or you can get a regular run of the mill wall calendar and record family highlights there. If you want to be uber organized and even more on top if it than I am, you can record each child’s milestones in a different color ink!
Tip #2 Assign Each Kid a Special Box.
Nobody needs ultrasound pictures, hair locks, and coins from the years their kids were born used as arts and crafts supplies for the toddlers. We can get those out of the way and preserve them for later by creating a special box for each child. Gather the stuff you want to keep for the Baby Book and stick it all in a box. Put it in the closet. Add to it as needed and stop worrying about things getting ruined and finding time to adhere everything to the correct spot.
Tip #3 Save your pictures in a central location.
As Moms, we take TONS of photographs. Digital cameras have spoiled us and capturing those smiles and giggles and poop faces (you know you do it!) have never been easier. Most digital cameras, including many smart phones automatically capture the date of each photo. We just need to make sure we keep them in a central location so we can find them later. So, go ahead and take all those cute and amazing photos! Then download or upload them to a central location ideally every week, but realistically every month works too. We use an external hard drive that’s bright red and labeled, “Family Pics” for all family photographs from my camera. We back up all of those photographs using Dropbox. Microsoft’s Office One Drive and Google Drive provide similar services. If you are a member of the every month or every other month photo upload club use a service that will automatically back up pictures you take on your phone or Wi-Fi enabled camera. Dropbox has a free app that automatically backs up your photographs from your phone. Dropbox also lets you share your photos with other friends and family, which is especially helpful when you promised photos of Darryl’s second birthday to Aunt Sally four months ago!
Tip #4 Set Up Emails for the Kids.
Most Baby Books have places for you to write letters to your children before they are born or after they hit a certain milestone. My Mom wrote one to me when she went to the hospital to have me and I’ll treasure it always. I was the first born in case you’re wondering and my younger brother, nope, doesn’t have one! There’s no way we can write each and every kid a thoughtful and well written letter under the everyday stresses of “Mom, I can’t find my shoes,” “Mom, he took my fork”, “Mom, I stepped in cat vomit.” That last one, just me? Set up a free email account for each child. Make sure you save the IDs and passcodes in a safe place! This makes it incredibly easy to share notes and letters with them on special days like birthdays and vacations. You can quickly and easily add photos or links to places you visited. You can even give the email addresses to family members and important friends who can share their own memories with the children.
Tip #5 Use a Simple Nightly Journal.
I don’t know about you, but when I finally crash head first into my pillow at night the last thing that’s going to rouse me is a little journal and pen sitting by my bed waiting to record the day’s activities. Nobody’s got time for that! But we all have to get those kids to bed, sometimes multiple times a night. Bedtime rituals are a perfect time to start sharing a little one on one journal time with your kids. I find asking them simple questions can really help! When my eldest kids were babies I would just jot down one highlight each day. “Ladybug ate peas for the first time” or “Owl and I sat in the sun all morning.” Now, that I have toddlers in the house, I ask them what they are grateful for each day right before prayers and we write it down in my Mom’s One Line a Day – Five Year Memory Book. As the kids grow we are going to start using the Q & A a Day – Three Year Journal for Kids. Once recording daily memories was incorporated into the kid’s bedtime, they never let us forget a day. It becomes part of the nightly routine.
Tip #6 Put Your Smart Phone to Good Use.
“Mom, do earthworms speak Spanish?” Yes, my three year old really said that and no, we’ll never forget it because I wrote it down. But not with pen and paper. She said it at a water park while she ran in one direction and her younger brother ran in the other. Since, I didn’t have paper or pen, I grabbed my smart phone and recorded that delicious little tidbit on Evernote. You can easily create notebooks in Evernote for each child and record away! You can even attach pictures to your notes! Microsoft Office OneNote also has an app that works well with some smart phones. There are tons of apps and notebooks and services that you can use to record your thoughts when out and about. The trick is to pick one you like and try to just use that one, so that you don’t have your thoughts scattered all over the digital universe. If you are one of those awesome Moms working hard to ditch the phone while spending time with your kids – kudos! – try sticking this little book called My Quotable Kid in your pocket, purse, or diaper bag!
Tip #7 Make Photo Books.
Let’s be truthful. Those Baby Books are going to take a while to create. For some of our kids they might make fabulous college graduation gifts! A temporary solution is to create a family photo book. I don’t recommend creating one for each kid. These aren’t meant to completely replace those traditional and loved Baby Books – unless of course you want to ditch the whole traditional Baby Book idea entirely. There’s no shame! But if you’re like me and really just want a way to reminisce about photographs that doesn’t require pulling out the computer, a nice way to do this is through a family photo book. Photo books make it super easy to collect and organize favorite photographs to reminisce about family vacations. Shutterfly does a fabulous job of quickly compiling photos into an easy to love book. A number of photograph services now offer photo books. Shutterfly is just the one I use. Again the trick is to pick one service and stick with it, so when you upload those photographs they are all in one place ready to use. There are also options for creating photo books from images collected on Instagram, Face Book, or even your blog. Any of these options make you look super organized too! Even your mother-in-law will be impressed 😉
Being blessed with a baby is a wonderful gift, let’s not miss it stressing about creating the perfect Baby Book.
Thanks to the modern tips above we have a plan of attack that lets us do it later and spend more time enjoying motherhood.
When we’re ready, we can assemble those Baby Books and remember all those joyous moments digging out of underneath piles of diapers and singing “Super Potty,” while we drink our fresh, delicious, just made, not a second old or stale coffee.
Maybe even while drinking it in a fancy, new, expensive, ceramic, can’t possibly have with kids designer coffee mug!
Till then – happy memory making!