When I was pregnant with my son, I didn’t want to keep a traditional baby book. I knew I’d have a hard time taking the right photos. Some pages would end up empty (for example, we didn’t have a baby shower and they’re not a common event here). Then, there would be getting the photos printed into the awkward and varied sizes many baby books demand… I wanted to make something that wouldn’t feel incomplete…
So, what did I do instead? I took an ordinary hardcover notebook and wrote letters. I wrote about all the joys and struggles we were experiencing and how we were feeling about his arrival. I tried to get down all the things I wanted him to know one day.
After he was born, I continued to write. I don’t write every day, but I try to at least once a month. I write about all the cute things he does, his milestones, and how much I love him. When he is older, I will give him the journal as a gift.
When keeping your own journal, think about what you’d want to tell your kids about their time as a baby. Don’t trust your memory – you will forget a lot details. When you write to your baby’s future self, you can capture those details at the time they happened.
If you’re still pregnant, talk about the times when you felt movements. Talk about any cravings you had or things you ate frequently, or aversions you had. Sometimes, your child’s favorite food will be something you craved. With my son, I craved potatoes and fruit. I had aversions to meat and dairy. With my daughter, I can’t stomach fish, and had cravings for cheesecake.
You can talk about your hopes and dreams for their future. For example, I wrote that I want my son to reach his potential and not be held back by trauma or emotional baggage. This was something my husband and I both experienced. We want him to have a better childhood than what we had.
Write about their extended family or their family history. Their aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great grand parents. Whatever you know or remember of your family members, write it down. It’s not likely that your child will have a close relationship every one of their relatives. Knowing their family history can also give them a sense of belonging.
You can glue in photos or other items (such as hair from their first haircut). You can put their hand or footprint at various ages (birth, 6 months, 1 year).
Write about their personality and favorite things. What is their favorite toy currently? Their favorite food? What kind of things do they do that make their personality unique?
Remind them how much you love them, and that you are proud. I didn’t ever hear “I love you” from my own mother (I honestly can’t even remember one time, strange as that may sound). I have told my son every day since his birth that I love him, even though he can’t understand yet. I also say or talk about how much I love him in his journal, in almost every entry.
Talk about yourself, too. Tell your child about your own favorite memories. Talk about what you hope they will get to experience in their childhood. Try to keep it positive, remember, the journal is for your child, it’s not a place to talk about those heavier topics. I don’t go into much detail about my own family because there’s few good things to say there.
You can let your partner write some entries. Of course, this depends on your relationship. My sons journal has some entries from my husband, and I still encourage him to write in it (but he generally doesn’t). Still, he’s free to add entries whenever he feels like it. If you’re no longer in a relationship with your child’s father, you may want to write about this at a later time. The question of their father will likely come up at some point. Writing some things down will give you an opportunity to organize your thoughts. You can then give a cool-headed, mature answer.
Put the journal where you can see it. This will help you remember to write in it. I recommend the breakfast table so you can write in it over your morning tea or coffee. A dining table is also out of reach of toddlers who might want to tear it up (my current struggle).
If you already have kids, how did you preserve their memories? If you kept a journal, what else did you write about? Let me know in a comment. Don’t forget to pin this article so you can refer to it later.