10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children

December 11th, 2012 by Dionna | 25 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family

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Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


My own memories of childhood are very dim, and so I’m a little obsessive about making sure that my children have multiple ways of recalling their own early years. Here are ten of the ways I try to record my kiddos’ childhood memories. They’re not all rocket science, but hopefully you’ll find one that inspires you! Need even more ideas? Check out my Pinterest board on Preserving Childhood Memories. You’ll find a tutorial for a quilt made from baby clothes, a daily calendar that you use to record memories each year, lots of ideas on how to save kids’ artwork, and more.

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1. I write daily snippets in their journals.

Every day since Kieran was born, I’ve tried to write a sentence or two in an electronic journal, and now I do the same for Ailia. The journals chronicle everything from the mundane (You fell down and bonked your head today. It was so sad – but so cute – to see you signing “hurt!”), to the milestones (You took your first steps today! Twice I was helping you walk (you want us to walk you around holding our fingers all.day.long), and I let go and you took 3 tiny toddling steps. Grandma saw, we clapped and clapped.), to the moments I want to hang on to (We were singing Christmas songs tonight. When we got done singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you started to cry. When I asked why, you said it was because it was you were so sad that the other reindeer laughed at Rudolph and called him names. You have such a tender heart.)

I don’t make it a huge ordeal – the journal entries are not normally more than a sentence long, and I don’t beat myself up if I skip days. Will they ever read them? I don’t know, but I probably will! Someday when they’re all grown up with kids of their own, I might have to dig their journals out to reminisce about the time they were little babes in my arms.

And, of course, I’ll gift both of them with the journal I created – For My Children: A Mother’s Journal of Memories, Wishes and Wisdom.

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I love this random picture Kieran took of Ailia playing and me knitting.


2. We take pictures. Lots of pictures.

Ok, I know this is obvious, but what better way to capture memories than on film? Ideally, I want to take pictures of our every day activities. Kieran will probably not remember his one trip to Disneyworld, but he will remember cooking with me at our tall kitchen table. I want pictures of our cooking time – and the other day to day memories that we will all actually *remember*. I’d also love to do one of those “picture of the day” or week challenges, but I lack the motivation.

And I am great about organizing pictures. After I’ve edited the photos I want to keep, I save/name the photos by date and sort them into months/years on both my laptop and on Flickr. On Flickr, I can also sort photos into different categories and tag them with keywords. So, for example, I’ve tried to tag “breastfeeding” photos so that I can make sweet little montages like this one later. Organizing pictures comes in handy when you’re trying to make scrapbooks, annual photo books, picture gifts, etc. I do it regularly (every time I take pictures off my camera card) so it doesn’t become an overwhelming task.

So that we don’t have to worry about losing our pictures, we keep them safe in a couple of different ways. First, we pay $25 for a Flickr Pro account. It is worth it to me to pay to have copies of our edited pictures online. Second, we back our pictures up to a hard drive for that inevitable moment when my laptop will crash. And then we back our hard drive up to another hard drive that resides in a fireproof safe.

3. We use our photos to create photo books and picture gifts.

I love pictures around the house. (Hint, hint Tom – it’s time to get our frames on the walls!) So with our edited pictures, I generally print out a few to hang up on the walls. I keep an eye out for the free 8×10 deals that Walgreens and CVS offer (usually around Mother’s Day), and I print fun 4×6’s off to tape up to our refrigerator.

We also try to make fun photo gifts for birthdays and holidays. For example, we’ve created photo books for Kieran’s first and second years and Ailia’s first year (I fell down on the job after Kieran’s second birthday). We’ve made sweet little photo magnets to give out as Christmas gifts (see a dated tutorial I did here), we had fun using pictures as postcards, I’ve made photo key chains and necklaces for myself and family, and I’ve made a couple of children’s books for Kieran using our photos. These are keepsakes that I can pull out when our kids are big to the amusement and delight of their friends or future partners. *wink*

And perhaps the most awesome photo gift we’ve had made so far? This portrait of Ailia and Kieran painted by Destany Fenton! Love!

close-up picture of clock

4. We create time capsules.

One of my favorite projects so far has been the time capsule we made for Kieran’s first birthday (read about our time capsule here). We included magazines, campaign memorabilia, letters from us and relatives, and other little tidbits. I’m excited to put one together for Ailia, too. I’d also like to do another time capsule for both kids on their fifth birthdays, and maybe every five years, if I’m well organized.

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5. We compile cute videos.

I was blessed to marry a man who knows how to use a video editing program. With it, we’ve made some cute videos, if I do say so myself. There’s our latest drama effort – a production of Mo Willems’ “I Am Going“; our artsy, dark, original silent film entitled “The Second Cup of Coffee“; and who could forget our pregnancy announcement, delivered by Kieran.

One of my ongoing projects is to interview the kids each year and get their responses on video. We have video of Kieran answering questions right around his 3rd and 4th birthdays. I’ll be sure to publish something after we get another video now that he is turning 5.

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6. We emphasize experience gifts and activities over material things.

This isn’t necessarily a way I preserve memories, but it is a way I create them. Family outings and together time make better memories than anything made in China. That’s why we try to buy or ask for gifts that give us time as a family. Memberships to local kid-friendly attractions, family board games (my mom bought Ticket to Ride for Kieran’s fifth birthday), easy weekend trips or stay-cations – these are the kinds of special activities and gifts we focus on. Not only does it help us avoid clutter, but it helps us create memories together. (And we bring a camera and take lots of pictures. See how that works?!)

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7. We will save a few of their toys and clothes, too.

We won’t talk about why I used to make fun of my mom for saving my childhood toys (ok, we will – it’s because she refused to throw away *anything*), but I will admit that I get a kick out of seeing Kieran and Ailia play with my vintage Little People. I really do.

So we’ll be sure to save a few of their favorite toys in case we have grandchildren. This is also why I enjoy investing in quality toys, especially handmade ones.

Other items for the memory box will be special clothes, locks of hair, at least one cloth diaper, Ailia’s amber teething necklace, and other items that made an impact in our house.

7. We will craft gifts made to become memories.

I love to give handmade gifts, and I hope that some of the things that we make over the years will become objects that we will treasure. We sew and knit and craft madly to pour as much love into our gifts as possible.

And when we create these gifts, we take into account our kids’ interests, skills and abilities – so each creation is a reflection of our children at the stage in life when they received it. For example, we sanded and painted little wooden peg people and pots for Ailia’s first birthday. She is in that stage where she likes to fit things together and pull them apart, so these pegs and pots were perfect. Last Christmas, I made Kieran two Angry Birds shirts. He currently wears one of those shirts almost every single day. You can bet that shirt is going in the memory box.

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8. We will preserve the artwork and gifts that our children make.

While the thought of saving boxes of artwork gives me mild anxiety, I cannot imagine just throwing away every painting and drawing. Right now, I’m sporadically taking pictures of artwork and hoping that someday I will get around to organizing it into a slideshow or video. (A very cute idea I’d also like to try is to turn kids’ artwork into other things – note cards, laptop wallpaper, etc.)

We’ve also made a point to have our littles help us make homemade gifts: ornaments and coffee mugs with little hand or footprints, elaborate birthday cards with thoughtful drawings. Now those things I can see preserving until the kids decide to pitch them.

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9. We will create a family cookbook.

One idea that I’ve wanted to do for my family of origin is to write a family cookbook. I cannot tell you how many times my sisters and I call my dad to have him walk us through a recipe. I need to get all of those recipes down in an organized format so they’re not lost.

But it would also be fun to create a family cookbook that not only records the recipes your family loves, but also makes note of the foods your kids loved or hated from year to year. This is one of the big projects on my to do list.

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10. We will pass on stories.

Some of my strongest memories come from hearing my mom talk about events over and over. Of all the ways to help children remember their childhoods, sharing family stories is one of the best. Yes, I’ll write about our family in our journals and on my blog, but the telling and retelling of memories really helps them stick.

Plus, kids love to hear about themselves. Kieran absolutely lights up whenever I tell him stories from when he was younger. It helps me remember, too!

How does your family preserve memories?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love — Amber at Heart Wanderings wants to make sure the majority of the memories that her children have as a part of their family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults.
  • Hand Made Baby Books — Destany at They Are All of Me talks about why baby books are important to her for preserving memories of her childrens first years, and shows how she made one by hand for each child.
  • Can your childhood memories help you keep your cool?Here’s To A Boring Year uses memories of being a child to keep her on the path to peaceful parenting.
  • Inter-Generational Memories {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about her own childhood memories, and what she hopes her daughter will remember in the future.
  • Snapshots — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings reflects on the ways our childhood memories appear to us, and hopes her own daughter’s childhood will be one she remembers as being happy and fulfilled.
  • What makes the perfect parent? — In a guest post on Natural Parents Network, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog reflects on camp follow and camp no-follow…
  • In My Own Handwriting — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about her journals and the hope that they will be able to keep her stories alive even if she isn’t able to.
  • Candlelight, fairylight, firelight — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud re-discovers the ingredients for bringing magic to life, especially at Christmas.
  • Making Memories (or) How We Celebrate Christmas — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about creating new memories at Christmas, and the joy their adventures bring to her whole family.
  • The Importance of Recording Feelings and Emotions and Not Just the Experience — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares why she puts pen to paper every day to record more than just her experiences as a mother and her daughter’s experiences as a child. Jennifer looks at the importance of capturing feelings and emotions that accompany the experience.
  • Dredged up — Kenna at Million Tiny Things has been forced to recount childhood memories at bedtime, due to the failure of her middle-aged imagination. She resists, of course.
  • Crafting Memories — Handmade is what makes the holidays special for Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs, and she wants to create the same connection with her daughters that she remembers with her mother and grandmother.
  • My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness Stone Age Parent shares the impact of her childhood memories on her life as a parent today, listing some of her many rich childhood memories and how they now act as beacons of light helping her in the complex, often confusing world of child-rearing.
  • 10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children — From video interviews to time capsules, Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to make sure her children have many different ways to cherish their childhood memories. Dionna’s carnival post features ten of the ways she preserves memories; check out her Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Memories of my mother — Luschka at Diary of a First Child remembers her mother and the fondest moments of her childhood, especially poignant as she sits by her mother’s sickbed writing.
  • Creating Happy Childhood Memories through Family Traditions — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why family traditions are so important to her and her family and shares how she’s worked to create traditions for her children.
  • Traditional Christmas Tree — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep remembers the great times spent with her family driving for the Christmas Tree and the lessons learned.
  • Wet Socks and Presents — Kat at MomeeeZen writes about her favorite Christmas childhood memory and why it’s so special. And she hopes one day her kids will also have a feel-good memory of their own to look back on.
  • Stuff does not equal memories — Lauren at Hobo Mama learns that letting go does not mean failing to remember.
  • A Child’s Loss- Will They Remember Dad? — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about their family’s loss of their husband and father. She trys to find answers to the question: Will they remember their Dad?
  • Childhood Memories – Hers and Mine — Jorje of Momma Jorje wished for her daughter the same passions and experiences she loved as a child, but learns the hard way to accept whatever passions strike in her child.
  • Holiday Non-TraditionsErika Gebhardt enjoys her family’s tradition of not having traditions for the holidays.

25 Responses to:
"10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children"

  1. stoneageparent   stoneageparent

    This is a wonderful, thoughtful and creative list of ways to preserve childhood memories, I shall take some of your ideas on board with my little one, particularly writing a sentence or two down each day, what a good idea. It is so easy for time to slip by without us having recorded the everyday development of our children, which is so precious but is gone so quickly. Thanks for sharing some of your wisdom, your tried and tested ideas.

  2. Luschka   luschkavo

    Oh my goodness! This is why you’re one of my most inspirational role models! I just want to BE you right now ;) I am all about memories, which is why I do the Mamatography thing, and I have a memory box,but you have some of the most amazing ideas!

  3. mrs green @littlegreenblog.com   littlegreenblog

    Oh my, creativity positively oozes out of every one of your orifices! I love all your ideas, especially the time capsule one. All I seem to have are some haphazard photos that have never been printed into photobooks!

    I did turn our daughter’s artwork into her own website which I thought was pretty cool – and we went through together and decided which art to get rid of and which to keep so it minimalised the number of boxes needed for storage…

  4. Kat

    Great ideas Dionna!

  5. You know, I happen to agree with you whole-heartedly, especially about the journaling. I admit, you have the jump on me there. My maintenance on them is spotty and frankly, embarrassing (I actually made up the dates that their teeth supposedly came in).
    I love all of your ideas and (thanks for the reference!) I definitely feel like I should be putting more effort into it. I would like to do better about saving things, especially, and getting photos developed. Great post, very inspiring!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Oh believe me – there are weeks I forget to write anything, so I go in and make up a date something happened. They’ll never care ;)

  6. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    {Feeling inadequate. Will hide now.} ;)

    No, seriously, these are wonderful ideas! I want to get some more videos, for instance, to document those precious baby/kid pronunciations that slip away without warning. (I remember when Mikko called windshield wipers yipper yipers!) But we can never find our stupid video camera. And this is the sort of life I lead…

    I save little memories in two text files for my kids, too, though definitely not daily. More like monthly. I’ve decided that’s ok.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Those are the kind of ordinary things I want to get on video but rarely do either. It seems like our videos are bigger productions, which is fun, but not always the best for those memories.

  7. Crunchy Con Mommy   crunchyconmom

    We mostly take pictures, mainly because we broke our video camera! I should really get a new one. I am not the greatest photographer, but I am persistent-I take advantage of the easy ability of digital cameras to take 30 of the same shot, then delete the 29 other than the cutest one! I need to print and backup more of them.

    I love the idea of a family cookbook. I was thinking of making myself one just for the convenience of having all the recipes I actually use in one spot instead of scattered throughout dozens of cookbooks and assorted websites. But it would be really fun to keep them to pass on to my son and any other kids someday too!!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I wonder if Pinterest could be a start to a family cookbook? You could make notes on your pins of how you modify them – that’s what I try to do.

  8. Christy   ChristyRollo

    Wow, you are truly amazing! If I am able to do a mere fraction of what you do! I love preserving memories and the past(history major anyone?) What do you use for an electronic journal? I’ve seen some journaling apps but have not wanted to commit to them.

    I am trying to do a photo of the day for 2012 (although honestly I am missing more days than not in the final days of this year) and hope to eventually do my version of Project Life with the photos. I seem to be great a scrapping and creating books for holidays and special events, but I want to remember the daily mundane things that make up life, and in the end will be the most interesting to look at and remember.

    Thanks for great ideas! I’ll have to check out our Pinterest board.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Oh it’s not any kind of fancy journal, it’s just a Word doc ;) Yeah, I would love to do a pic a day, but I would forget in the first week!

  9. Deb @ Living Montessori Now   DebChitwood

    I’m SO IMPRESSED, Dionna! What you’re doing is awesome! I wish I would have been so organized with my kids. I pinned your post to my Family Scrapbooking Activities Board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/family-scrapbooking-activities/

  10. Wowser you are one organised and caring mama!

  11. Kenna   KennaLeeAuthor

    It’s official–I’m an inadequate chronicler of my family. Just the thought of trying to keep an (even weekly) journal for each kid makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Most years I make them a photo book from their birthday party… so I suppose their memories will mostly focus on cake.

    Kudos to you!

  12. Laura   Puginthekitchen

    Awww… you made me cry! I am giving the grandmothers your book and a pretty pen and asking them to fill them out for my kids. I want to have a box of journals that the kids can go to for reference someday. Mine included!

  13. Sibylle

    I find these ideas really cute, and I love the last picture of Kieran and Ailia for holiday celebrations. I was wondering if you planned to have more children. Many families are happy with two children, much more by one of each sex, and I was wondering if you shared that view.

  14. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    Thanks again everyone!

    Sibylle – wow, that question was totally not what I was expecting! We weren’t hoping for a girl and a boy, it’s just what we ended up with (to be honest, I’d hoped for a boy simply because it would have been easy, since we had “boy” things already). We’re not sure whether our family is complete yet, only time will tell.

  15. Natalie m Valles teacher

    In so many ways making memories has been what’s guided me in my parenting. Not to say I’m some great parent. I might not be. But I try to do what I can to do what’s right. I don’t always know what I’m doing and sometimes my impulse is to do something, anything, without thinking much. But I do try to raise them with the idea that we make memories together. I want them to know me, each other and have memories rich in life. It tickled me when not two weeks ago my daughter was upset with her sister and said to me, ” I’m just trying to make good memories and she’s just ruining it!” I couldn’t help but giggle. I’m getting through to them!

  16. B. Parker

    These all require me doing something. The only one in the list that I find helpful is #10 – Pass on stories. I want to know how to store memories in the children’s minds! Just seeing a journal or photo/video years later does not do that. My friend said her 25-yr-old niece cannot remember any of the many things they did when she was 5 or 6! How, do we retain all the special times we have? I know that the brain down-loads the days’ events when we sleep. Any help out there for our grandchildren? We would be SO grateful!

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