As part of our brand new Practical Parenting series, I’m happy to welcome Dawn Klinge to the blog. Today she shares 5 ways we can preserve our kid’s childhood… beyond taking photos. I love the ideas she shares!
As parents, we understand all too well the fleeting nature of childhood.
We want to remember these years- and with our camera phones, it has never been easier to document every moment. If we’re not careful, we can turn into parent paparazzi. As a former mommy blogger, from the early days of the genre, I’m guilty. But I’m telling you, if you only rely on taking massive quantities of pictures to preserve those childhood memories, you’re missing out. I have five simple ideas to give you, that you can incorporate into your record keeping, which will offer you a richer, more complete picture of your child’s early years.
1. Write down their stories- in their own words
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it’s not everything. A picture does not capture the cute way your little one mispronounces a word, or how he felt about that trip to the bakery on that random Tuesday afternoon.
Here’s an example (Recorded after a trip to “Apple Days”, a small town festival, when my son when he was 3):
“I went on the train. It was not moving. I went off of the train. I wiked to get woot beer. The woot beer tasted good. I’m sowwy I lost Gwace’s metal (fool’s gold). I went in the car to get there. I wanted to stay there and be by myself. The end.”
I originally wrote this story down as a literacy exercise; to teach my son about storytelling, and it had value for that purpose- but now, years later, it’s a peak into what he thought was important about that day when he was three, and how he said things. I have pictures from this day, but I never would have remembered these details that he chose to tell me, had I not written them down.
2. Write down overheard dialogue
Example: (Wednesday, October 3, 2007)
Derek- Good night Trenty, Daddy loves you and Mommy loves you too.
Trent- (giggle) Who else loves me?
Derek- Jesus loves you.
Trent- (chuckle) And…who else loves me?
Derek- Gracie loves you
Trent- (laugh) Who else loves me Daddy?
Derek- Grandma and Grandpa love you.
Trent- (giggle) And who else?
This was a nightly routine with my husband and son. I know that my daughter and my husband had similar cute dialogues, when she was little, but I thought I would remember them. I don’t. I wish that I had written them down.
3. Have your kids write down and illustrate their stories- then take a picture
This picture above, from when my daughter was 8, shows me a lot about that day. Obviously, it’s from her point of view, and probably not entirely accurate. I remember that day as being a difficult day with the kid’s fighting- though now I can look back on it and smile. Perspective is a beautiful thing. I love that this picture also shows me what her handwriting and spelling looked like at this age.
Also, taking pictures of their artwork is an easy way to “keep” it without having to store it. Below, you can see a collage I made with my son’s drawings. I love it.
4. Day in the Life
These types of posts used to be popular in the early days of blogging. My day in the life posts usually consisted of a brief synopsis of whatever we were doing every hour throughout the day. I often took a picture every hour too. There are many ways to do these. My day in the life posts may not have made for the most interesting blog content, but I’m glad that I did them, because I like having a record of some typical days, years later. Of course, you don’t need to blog to write these.
5. Take pictures (but not just for social media)
This last tip comes to you, courtesy of my mistake, and I hope you won’t make it too. In my mommy blogger days, I took lots of pictures of my kids, but as time went on, and more people were reading, I began to be more aware of a need to respect their privacy. I would avoid close ups of their faces, leave their friends out of the pictures, and leave out any identifying landmarks. That was good for blogging, but for personal use, not so much. The pictures that are most treasured now are precisely the opposite of the ones that worked best for the blog- and I don’t have very many of those.
I hope these ideas will be helpful for you. If you’re just starting out on your parenting journey, I know, you’re very busy. I promise, these memory-keeping tips I’ve suggested don’t take long, and the pay off will be invaluable.
“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” Deuteronomy 4:9
Dawn is a writer living near Seattle with her husband, Derek, and their two kids, Grace and Trent. A gatherer of friends, she enjoys seeing how many people she can host in her tiny home. A church girl her entire life, she’s still trying to figure out what it looks like to put her trust in Jesus, so she’s blogging a book about it @ Above the Waves . You can find her on Twitter @dawnklinge and Instagram @dawnmarieklinge.