Keeping a Memory Journal for Your Children

Joy of Family Traditions

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Do you keep a memory journal for your kids? I do and let me tell you why I do and why I think you should too.

I don’t want to forget the small, everyday things. I’m not talking about milestones, like learning to walk, eating food for the first time, or saying a first word. I think those are pretty special too, and to remember those things I write them down in my kid’s baby books.

What I’m talking about is an actual journal where I record specific stories, events, funny things they said or did, and it’s also where I write each of my children letters periodically.

Back when I was pregnant with Silas, I started to keep a log of my pregnancy. I went out and bought a small lime green notebook. The first entries were pretty much just recording basic information so I wouldn’t forget them later. I recorded the date when I found out I was pregnant, information from my first doctor’s appointment, and how and when we shared the news with our family.

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Then something magical happened after I heard his little heart beat for the first time. My pregnancy became very real. I went from not fully understanding why I was so nauseous and tired all the time, to actually embracing the miracle of life that was growing inside of me. The words that I wrote down from that doctor’s appointment changed from information of how many weeks I was and what the doctor recommended, to how I was feeling and the reality of being pregnant with my first child.

That day in my little green journal I wrote a letter to “Baby O” (it would be several more weeks before we found out Baby O was a boy, and the O is the initial of our last name). I told him how I stared to cry when I heard the pitter-patter of his little heart for the first time. I wrote about how excited his daddy and I were to welcome him into our family. My words transformed into a letter where I stared sharing some of my hopes and dreams for him.

As the pregnancy progressed, I continued to write progress reports of how I was feeling and how big he was getting, including milestones of when my belly first started to really show and the day we found out he was a boy. Along with those progress reports, I continued to write letters to my son, all the way up to his birth.

A few days after he was born, I recorded in detail, the events of his birth and the stressful ordeal of having to admit him to the children’s hospital only a day after he was released (he had pretty severe jaundice and wasn’t nursing so he had to spend 24 hours under the photo-therapy lights hooked up to an IV while he slowly learned how to nurse). While that time was magical and traumatic for me all at once, I’m so glad that I recorded it so I wouldn’t forget.

Throughout his first year I wrote down cute little things he did that really didn’t fit in the categories of the baby book, like the time he stopped nursing and looked up at me smiling while milk was dribbling down his chin. In my sleep deprived state I knew I wouldn’t remember those little, everyday things unless I wrote them down. And I’m glad that I did.

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Like the typical first time mommy, I wrote very detailed letters and journal entries throughout his pregnancy and first year. I updated his baby book regularly, including pictures too! Then only about 11 months after Silas was born, I found out I was pregnant again.

I’ll be honest and tell you that Amelia’s memory journal is not quite so detailed in the events of my pregnancy with her, but I worked very hard to record her birth story, and letters to her throughout her first year of life.

While my kids are very young and nowhere near ready to read them themselves, I am committed to continue writing in them so that someday they can read them and know how I prayed for them before they were even born. What hopes and dreams I had about being their mother, and how much I cherished all those everyday moments.

Even if your kids are older, I don’t think it’s too late to start writing them letters or record special memories for them. Even though my own baby book was just a typical fill-in-the-blank baby book, I still enjoyed flipping through the pages and reading about the milestones of my first year.

All you need is some paper, or even a small journal, and a pen. That’s it. No fancy baby book with scrapbook embellishments and writing prompts to fill in. While those are great, (I have one for each of my kids) they don’t tell the full story. They don’t account for those moments when you feel so overwhelmed that you want to quit, only to have your little one look up and say Ma-Ma for the first time making your heart melt with pure joy and love.IMG_3709_opt

Maybe you can commit to just writing two personal letters to your children every year. Maybe you can write more than that, or less. The point is not to keep a detailed journal for the purpose of keeping a detailed journal, the point is to write from the heart about your children to your children.

My journals are very treasured to me. I love going back and reading through them in the (few) quiet moments that I have.  I look forward to the day when I get to give them to Silas and Amelia for them to cherish and read through too.

I’m always looking for ideas and creative ways to record and store away keepsakes from my children’s childhood, what do you do to preserve your memories with your children?

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32 Comments

  1. I don’t keep a written journal but I did keep a photo journal for the entire first year of my daughter’s life. I took so much pictures it was crazy. I think I maybe should do a written one now she’s older. Great idea.

  2. Bethany K says:

    You know… my blog is FOR the baby. It’s all about pregnancy and my tiny baby. But I don’t post enough random stories. I keep up with little milestones and stories, but I should/could record MORE stuff. It may not be interesting to my followers, but it will be good for me to look back on!

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  4. I love this idea 🙂
    I don’t have any babies of my own yet, but when I do I plan on keeping a written journal chronicling their early years. I think it would make a sweet wedding present for a little girl.
    -Megan

    1. I look forward to the day that I get to share the journals with my kids. It has been so rewarding for me to write to them and about their lives, hopefully you will be blessed by it to. Thanks for sharing Megan!

  5. What a wonderful gift you’ve given to your children. This was something I started when my kids were in elementary school, and looking back I’m so glad I did!

  6. Lisa notes says:

    I made a scrapbook for each of my children’s years in school. It was a huge undertaking for me (and I only have two kids!) but they always enjoyed looking at them at the end of the year. And I did too. 🙂 It’s nice to have the record of our fun times together as well as occasional school papers of things they learned. Your journal idea is a great one.

    1. I love the idea of creating a scrapbook, I just don’t have the patience to make one. I’m always impressed by the amazing ones that I see others make. I’m sure your kids are going to cherish those forever! I need to come up with a clever way of storing their keepsakes once they get to school age.

  7. I’m so bad at this. I started one for each child but have not kept them up. I keep a memory vase where I tear of scraps of paper, write what ever it is I want to remember, date it, and then throw it in the vase. The kids LOVE going through those precious scraps of paper! It’s the only way I’d ever write them down. What a treasured gift these will be for your kids someday. I wish my mom would have done something like it.

  8. I love this idea! What a sweet thing to give to your kids when they graduate or move out. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jenifer @ Not Quite Mom of the Year says:

    I have been planning on doing this for about three years now. That’s it…I’m going to buy journals tomorrow and get started! Thanks for sharing on THE Pin It Party!

  10. Kathy @ Melding Magic says:

    Great idea – pictures don’t always say 1,000 words, sometimes you need the story behind the photo. Stopping by from Foodies and Crafties Soirée blog hop & link party.

  11. This is a great idea. I wish I had started something like this when my kids were young.
    dropping by from the Bloggers Brags Weekly Pinterest Party

  12. I used to keep a journal and when my sons were young, they kept one as well. Now the blog is an online journal that will embarrass them one day…lol Thanks for sharing and linking up with us at the #WWDParty.

    1. Blogging is such a great way to capture those moments too, and also for family to stay up to date on what is happening. It’s amazing what we can do with technology these day!

  13. I am a first time Mom to a 4 month old. This is exactly what I have been wanting to do because the days are already hurrying by. Great encouragement to start today!

    1. It is so true how fast the days are going! Enjoy your special time with your little one, it’s such a sweet time.

  14. Pingback: How To Capture Every Perfect Moment Of Your Baby's Early YearsMum Reinvented
  15. Michael Daly says:

    Hi,

    I am a father of 2 young children and we are expecting our third child in May.

    I have started keeping a journal for each of my children which involves a small write up at the end of each month. I accompany these with videos and images that are taken throughout the month.

    Currently, I have no rules about word length or content. I just write what comes to mind
    and what I think is worth keeping. Some months there is a lot to say, and some months
    not so much to say.

    But I am happy to know that each of my children will have a small writeup with images
    and videos for each month of the year until they are 18 years old which is when I intend
    of presenting it to them.

    I have struggled to find the best way to go about keeping this journal. Initially, I
    thought that I would keep a paper hand written journal and keep images/videos on a
    USB stick which I can present along with the written journals.

    However, I am not 100% happy with this approach and I have been thinking of better
    ways to approach this.

    I am not thinking the best way will be to do the following:
    – Keep the journal electronic (preferebly online) which means I can access it anywhere
    with an internet connection.
    – Upload and attach images and videos to each of the monthly journal posts I enter
    – The journal would have a unique password Url which I can provide to each child on
    their 18th birthday.
    – They can log in to their customised website and be presented with 18 years of
    content, writeups, images and videos.

    A benefit to this approach is that I can easily backup the journal and print out each
    post after I write it. I can then keep it safe in the house. This will be handy
    incase of fire or the files are deleted online.

    Since I decided on this approach, I have been researching for online/desktop software
    which would provide me with this functionality – however, I cannot find any suitable software.

    Thankfully, I am a software developer and I am considering building this as an online
    software.

    I am wondering whether other people would find a software useful and would be willing
    to use it if I build it and make it public?

    Would you pay for a software solution like this? And if so, how much would you value
    a software solution like this? $5 per month / $50 per year?

    1. I’ve heard of people creating blogs or archived emails to preserve memories and events of their children’s lives. Currently I’m just using my written journal entries and photobooks I create with Shutterfly. That system alone is enough for me in this current season but perhaps when my kids are old enough to help, they can also be apart of updating some sort of electronic memory archives. Thanks for sharing Michael 🙂

    2. Kathleen McDowell says:

      I have looked all over the web for something like this and cant find it. I keep saying if only I were a software developer I would create it. What a gap in the market! I found one called Legacy of Love but its in Beta. Let me know if you plan to create it and I will be your first customer!

    3. Karolyn Chowning says:

      Hi Michael,
      I love this idea and honestly would not be a paid user. I make scrapbooks on mixbook and email the URL to family and CC the gmail addresses i created for my kids. Sometimes me and my sister email them some thoughts or a picture and when her little brother came home from the hospital, her dad asked 4 yo to smile for a pic for grandma of the two of them. then she said, take one for me and stuck out her tongue and we emailed her email address that one.

      I am however super interested in making a website that queries the LEGO databases against the sets a user has indicated they own for which pieces need to be substituted for a build. I am wondering whether other people would find a software useful and would be willing to use it if I build it and make it public? Would you pay for a software solution like this? And if so, how much would you value
      a software solution like this? 🙂

  16. I have written in journals for our two boys; the oldest child I started writing in one when he was around 6 1/2 months old (he is now almost 9) and the second child I began writing in it just four days after he was born (18 months old). I write in both of the boys journals often and want to ask you when you think you will give your journals to your kids: do you see this as giving it to them upon high school graduation? Or do you see it as giving it to them on their wedding day or an anytime gift? How long do you envision writing in the journal? I definitely want to until graduation and maybe longer. I do not blog or write anything on the computer and only hand-write in the journals for each of the boys (each boy has his own journal). The only sad part to me about this is once I give it to the boys, I won’t have a copy for myself….but I guess that goes with giving a gift from your heart. And, that is exactly my purpose in doing this; to show my true heart and love to my boys as soon as I could and as long as I can.

  17. I started writing a letter to my daughter the day she was born. She is over 4 years old now and the letter is almost 300 pages long. It contains the major events (first tooth, first steps, first words) but also little things. Like what she ate for dinner, funny things she said or things we did together. Places we went, places we ate out at, etc. Her mother and I split up before she was two, so I do not have daily events to write about, only our time together every other weekend, but I am hoping she will look back on this when she is older and think that this letter is pretty amazing. I’m not sure if I want to give it to her on her 18th or 21st birthday. time will tell.

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