We are getting there with my memory-keeping framework! In this third instalment, I will share what I do for our children in terms of memory-keeping. Many of you have asked me about this, so I do apologise for taking so long to get around to writing this post. Basically, the below is what I have done for our boys, and will continue to do for our boys. If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to leave it in the comments below.
The ‘official’ baby book
This is simply one of those store-bought baby books which has pre-determined fields for parents to complete about the pregnancy, the family, the grandparents, the godparents, the hospital, the birth day, the milestones, etc. Admittedly, I’ve found some of the fields rather mind-boggling (e.g. how am I meant to describe ‘the current fashion’ on the day that my baby is born?), and have more than once toyed with the idea of making my own custom baby book, but in the end, it is so much easier and simpler to just buy one that has been pre-made. With the exception of Pete (for whom I bought a Peter Rabbit baby book, because I just couldn’t resist), I’ve always just purchased the baby book that Kikki K had in stock at the time. This is the one that I’ve bought for Edward, and it’s all packed and ready to go in my hospital bag! (That’s right, memory keeping begins at the hospital…)
The first year journal
I originally came up with the idea for this journal when I bought this 365 day notebook from Kikki K to document Pete’s first year of life. However, the binding on that particular notebook meant that once it was filled with photos, the book couldn’t actually close properly. So I put in a custom order for this beautiful leather one for Jamie from Badger & Chirp, and I’ve done the same for Edward.
Basically, the idea is that whenever we can (usually before we got to sleep at nights), Rick or I will write something in the journal addressed to Pete/Jamie/Edward/etc. that corresponds with that particular day. If we miss a day or days (which is usually the case), we don’t stress about it. Then, every month or so, I choose photos to include in the journal, and I print them out in miniature size so that I can fit more to a page. These get stuck in on the corresponding date, and I caption them with either a few lines or just a few words. At the end of the year, we end up with a beautiful diary filled with hand-written journalling and notes/letters to that child, along with cute little photos showing their growth, development and all the special moments in between throughout the year. No embellishments, no decorations – just photos and heartfelt words.
For more information, read this post about Jamie’s first year journal.
The first year brag book
This is a simple slip-in photo album (for 6×4 photos), into which I’ve inserted my favourite photos for the boys from their first year of life. No writing, no journalling, no captioning – just photos. For the covers, I’ve used a black and white photo for all the boys to keep it consistent. Up till now, I’ve used this particular black cloth one from Kikki-K (shown above) for Angus, Pete and Jamie and it holds about 36 photos. However, I have a feeling they don’t sell them anymore, so I am on the lookout for an alternative for Edward. One option would be to use one of Becky Higgins’ mini albums in black which holds more photos and also includes pockets for 3×4 journalling cards. I haven’t decided yet, though, so watch this space.
The first year photo book
This is a coffee table style photo book showcasing the best photos from each of the boys’ first year. Whilst the first year journal includes photos taken on our iPhones and our Canon DSLR, I only use our DSLR photos for these photo books. The idea is that the photos featured here are actually good quality photos, and high enough resolution to be blown up to a full page. As a result, the first year journal captures more ‘moments’ while the first year photo books captures more ‘portraits’, and I’m perfectly happy with that. By only using my DSLR photos, it also keeps the style consistent throughout each of the books.
The photos for each of the boys’ first year photo books are laid out chronologically, as I feel this tells the story more effectively, and unlike the first year journals, there is very minimal text in the first year photo books. Each of the boys’ first year photo books have ended up being about 200 pages long. The printer I use is Photobook Australia.
For more information, read this post featuring Angus’ first year photo book.
The first birthday & baptism photo book
Back when I was working out my ‘system’ for the children, I decided that I would make a photo book to document each of the boys’ first birthdays. Traditionally, we have also baptised each of the boys at their first birthday celebration, so this photo book serves to document this important event as well. Again, only DSLR photos are used, and the story is (mostly) told chronologically.
Before discovering the Project Life system of memory-keeping, I documented Angus and Pete’s subsequent years in this scrapbook format. My process was very simple: every few months, I would go back and choose my favourite photos for the boys from that period. Using Aperture, I would print them out as contact sheets (which results in the miniature photos). Using simple grid layouts, I stuck the photos in with photo dots and then I would add the date and perhaps some simple captioning using a black pen. Like the first year journal, I didn’t add any embellishments.
As a general rule, I would only use the right hand page for the photos and captioning. This meant the left hand pages would be free to feature some ‘hero shots’ (ie. the best photos from a particular month). I also used the space to include any journalling that I had recorded on the computer.
For more information, read this post featuring Pete’s second year scrapbook.
The Project Life albums
Since discovering Project Life, I have ‘switched over’ the boy’s scrapbooks to Project Life albums. I have yet to write a detailed post about these (rest assured it’s on my ‘to do’ list), but the basic idea is that these Project Life albums pick up where the first year journals finish off (or in the case of Angus and Pete, where their third and second year scrapbooks finish off respectively). I update these albums monthly using a process similar to my weekly one for the family album. Documentation of the boys’ birthday celebrations are included in these albums as inserts. Not only do I love how flexible the Project Life system is, but I also know that down the track, I will be able to include certificates and school reports and other memorabilia from the boys’ school years in these albums. The binder that I use for these albums is a Kraft one by American Craft, and it’s shown in the first photo above. You can read more about my boys’ PL albums here.
Photo books for subsequent years
Although I’ve yet to make one, I’m planning to make a photo book for each boy that documents their 2nd to 5th years. And then potentially one for their 6th to 10th years. I’ll have to keep you posted on that one!
The memory box
Each of our boys have one of these A3 sized memory boxes from Kikki K (even Edward already has one with his name on it!). Inside this, I store all the ultrasound photos (usually in a Kraft envelope), the ‘official’ baby book, the first year brag book and the first year journal. In the case of Angus and Pete, their scrapbooks are also placed in here (they fit perfectly since they’re A4 in size and these boxes are A3 in size). This is also the place where I keep cards that we receive when the boys are born and for each of their subsequent birthdays. I usually tie these up with string to add a nice, personal touch.
For more information, read this post about Jamie’s memory box.
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I truly hope this has been helpful. I know that many of you are currently in the stages of figuring out what to do with your children’s memory-keeping and memorabilia. I totally understand how overwhelming it can be. I think the key is to step back from all the inspiration you see on Pinterest and the wider internet and take the time to work out a framework that works for you and your family. Factors you might want to take into account are: How many children do you have or are planning or having? Are you the type of person who takes lots of photos? Do you find it easy to journal? Do you like to do traditional scrapbook layouts? Do you prefer digital layouts? How much time do you have on a regular basis to keep up with memory-keeping? What do you have the budget for? And so on and so forth. The reality is that you do for your children and your family will look different to what others do, and that is okay. It is your story, and you can choose however it is that you want to tell it and document it.
My main tip would be this: Once you’ve worked out your ‘framework’ so to speak, start in the present. Once you’re in the rhythm of keeping up with your memory-keeping in the present, then slowly work backwards. Do it in stages, and don’t stress about how long it takes. The reality is that as mums, we all have very limited time in the day to actually work on memory-keeping. The key is to keep your big picture in mind, and to just work steadily towards your end goal, no matter how long it takes. Angus is almost four and a half, and it’s only now that I feel like I am actually ‘up to date’ on my memory keeping for the boys. It’s been a four year project, at least. It’s been worth it, though. And I’m sure it will be worth it for you and your children too.
As always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments section! (Sorry I accidentally closed off comments last night, but it’s fixed now.)
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How do you currently approach memory keeping for your child or children?