I used to love scrapbooking. I feel it’s so important to record the memories and the moments of our lives. They happen so fast and are over too soon. I don’t want to look back and wonder if I’ve missed the little moments. I love getting out our scrapbooks and looking through them – and my kids love it too. We love to laugh over how little they are, the things they said or the silly things that did. For years, I loved the creative outlet that scrapbooking provided me.
But at one point, it just became too much. Trying to keep up. Feeling behind. Never enough time for all the things. And sometimes I found myself wishing I was just *making* memories rather than trying to keep up with recording them.
I knew it was too much to keep up with. But I know preserving our memories is important. And I really wanted a way to be able to do that.
My solution? Our family journals.
Our “family journals” are a fun and simple way to record the fun times we spend together as a family, the things we learn, and all the events that are going on in our lives. It covers all the things a scrapbook does but takes just a fraction of the time.
What’s different than a scrapbook?
- Time. These journals are quick! I need nothing other than my computer, my printer and some paper. I often do most of it right from my phone. And most importantly, I’m “on top” of it, so the memories are fresh in my mind and are actually more accurate and detailed. (Anyone else try scrapbooking their kids’ birthdays 3 years later and have no clue the little details other than what’s obvious in the photos?!)
- Cost. Requiring only paper and a printer, a family journal also costs less than traditional or digital scrapbooking. Yet, I’m still recording all the precious memories and smiles.
- Focus on stories rather than photos. One main difference between a family journal and a scrapbook is the focus on photos. Scrapbooks tend to emphasize photos with captions or text, while a journal is opposite – emphasizing the stories first, with some photos added. While I LOVE photos and love looking through them, I also love that with our journals we have more stories. I usually choose a few favorite photos from the week, but mostly focus on our stories rather than the photos.
Starting Your Own Family Journal
Starting your own family journal is simple, really. All you need is a simple binder and your printer. I do these in Microsoft Word and they are quick and easy. Google Docs would also be a great place to do these if that’s a program you’re more comfortable with.
Here are some tips and ideas for doing your own family journal.
- Start with today – don’t decide you’re going to go back and write from the time you got married. Or from the day Susie was born. Or from the beginning of this year. Just START. With. Now.
- Be present as you write – Try to let go of distractions (as much as possible!) to let yourself remember the details and write with feeling
- Use those little moments – I often jot down notes in my phone while I’m waiting in the carpool lane or for soccer practice to finish. Then, later when I have more time I can expand on those little notes to complete my journal.
- Use your e-mail – When I use my phone to record things that are happening, I type my notes in my email drafts. When I’m ready to edit and print, I can simply open my email and then copy and paste into Word to finish things up
I print out our pages onto regular printer paper, and then slip the pages inside a sheet protector and place them in a binder. You could also simply print out all the pages and then punch holes to put them in the binder. Or, instead of using a binder, you could take them to the copy store and get them spiral bound.
You can create your journal strictly all in one format, where you do the same thing each week and keep it uniform. Or you can mix it up and include different types of “posts.” I like to mix things up and do a little something different each time. It keeps it fresh and fun – both to read and for me to write.
Get creative with this and let your family’s own personality shine through. Here are some different ideas of some things you can write about – and some fun ways to present them.
- Write about the week’s activities – What activities did you participate in this week? Was it the start of soccer practice? The last basketball game of the season? The Christmas dance recital or the spring musical?
- Make a list – “our top 5 favorite events of the week” or “this week’s dinner menus”
- Write Newspaper Style – give the week a headline and then write up a story about what happened
- Include a Day in the Life of – Include the schedule of the day and what happened
- Write from a Child’s Perspective – write out the week’s post from the eyes of one of your children. Or if your children are older, let them write the entries from time to time
- Write a Day by Day Commentary – “Monday we went to the zoo …. Tuesday Josh worked hard to place first place in the school spelling bee … Saturday was Brock’s last basketball game and he scored the winning basket!”
- The little moments – Be sure to include funny commentaries or little quirks the kids do. As time goes on and life gets busy, we often forget these little things that make us laugh.
Keep it Going
Keeping up with your journal doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s some tips for managing and maintaining your journal
- Skip it – if you miss a week – just skip it. If there was something major that happened, make a short note of it and then move on to the current week. If you are always backtracking, trying to go back and fill in missed entries from the past, it’s hard to catch up. So, if you miss a date, simply skip it and go back to today and keep moving forward
- Schedule it – We all know that if something isn’t scheduled, it often doesn’t happen, right? So, set a time each week that you want to work on your journal. Find a time that tends to be less busy so that it will be easier to stick with (If Saturday night tends to be date night – for sure don’t plan it then.) I like to use quiet Sunday afternoons as my time to work on this and reflect back on my week, before I do my weekly planning for the following week.
- Make notes – keep a note on your phone’s notepad, an email draft, or a sticky note to jot down things as they happen. When you get to the end of the week, you won’t be stumped knowing you were super busy, but not remembering what in the world actually happened. (Please tell me that I’m not the only mom that experiences this!)
- Check your camera roll – As you sit down to write out your update of the week, be sure to check your camera roll and add in any funny moments from your photos that you may have forgotten about.
I still love to scrapbook when I have time (which is not often at this stage in my life.) I still use it as a creative outlet when I’m feeling I want to create something. But there’s no more pressure to get it done and recording our family memories has become something I enjoy again, rather than something I feel like I have to manage and keep up with. Keeping family journals takes off all the pressure of needing to constantly keep up. And now, when I do scrapbooks, I can simply refer back to our family journals for accurate details.
Keeping a family journal can be a rewarding and fun way to record your family memories. And I promise it can be done without being overwhelming or totally time-consuming. Why not give it a try and start today?!