As mothers, we are the Memory Makers. The Documenters. The Keepsake Keepers. The Sentimental Sallies.
We are the ones meticulously filing away absurdly large piles of school papers and artwork (or the ones tossing them in the recycling bin when our child isn’t looking!)
We fall into either extreme or somewhere in the middle, but regardless, it’s up to us, isn’t it?
Why do we even keep track at all?
Because this time is fleeting and we know it. Every parent has bemoaned the passing of time and watched in awe as our children literally grow right before our eyes. Mementos, photographs, journals, notes, and videos all allow us to hang on to these cherished days just a bit longer. We can relive them if we’ve taken the time to document them.
We are so careful about preserving their childhood memories, but who’s keeping track of ours? As the mom in the story?
Motherhood and childhood are, of course, inextricably intertwined. Our pages go together and tell the whole narrative from two unique perspectives. The story really isn’t complete without both.
Motherhood is such a gift, isn’t it? It can also be such a blur. The days fold in on one another and in some seasons seem to repeat endlessly. We are sleep-deprived and wrung out emotionally, mentally, and physically by the end of each day.
How will we remember what it was like for us, to raise these babies of ours?
Don’t you want to be able to look back and recount your motherhood journey with detail and texture and layers and full color? The good and the hard, the things that made you laugh, and the ones that made you crazy?
Your life as a mom deserves to be documented as much as your child’s memories do. So let's discuss how we start being intentional about preserving our own memories.
Let’s cut right to the chase: YOU need to be in them!
If you follow Susie of “Busy Toddler” on the internet, you know about “Proof of Mom” pictures. If not, you can read all about it HERE, but ultimately she came to the same sad realization most of us would: since moms are often the ones TAKING the photos of our kids, we are rarely IN them.
Professional photos of you with your family are truly treasures and something you’ll never regret making time or budgeting for. Find a local photographer who has a good reputation and a style you're drawn to. And yes - they can be done on a budget! Many photographers offer “mini” sessions which are abbreviated sessions at a lower rate. You can also hire someone who’s just beginning their photography career and would take your photos for little or no charge in exchange for the experience and building their portfolio.
Milestone photos should not ONLY show your child at that important moment in time, but you as well! You’re also changing and growing right alongside your kids. (Even if you aren’t looking or feeling your best - these images never have to see the light of day! They are for you alone to revisit one day.)
Examples of landmark moments to be included in: Baby’s birth, breastfeeding journey, postpartum days, child’s first birthday and birthday party, Christmas morning, first day of school.
This "Proof of Mom" principle also applies to family outings and adventures. The next time you’re out with your kids for ice cream or a day at the children’s museum, just ask someone nearby to snap a quick photo for you so you can jump in the frame. Trust me, you’ll want more than “selfies” with your kids!
Equally as important is documenting the simpler, everyday moments of your life. You know the ones: when you’re snuggled up on the couch reading books together, nursing your infant, making dinner with hungry kids at your feet, rocking a baby in a dimly lit nursery...these moments are such treasures because they tell the true story of your life. This is where the majority of your time and investment is spent.
When your spouse is nearby, ask them to snap a quick photo of the moment as it’s happening. If you need to record these moments yourself, technology is your friend! Use your phone’s self-timer, video mode, or buy a cheap phone tripod and remote!
- Physical Keepsakes and Mementos
Most of us keep a memory box for our kids filled with special items from their childhood. But have you considered keeping a motherhood memory box?
Some items you could include: hospital bracelet, dried flowers from Mother’s Day, store bought and handmade cards from your children, pictures your kids have drawn depicting your entire family, favorite maternity shirt, books that have informed or inspired your motherhood, or anything else pertaining to your experience as a mom that would be meaningful for you to look back on.
This is a crucial element of documenting your motherhood, because no one else can record the details of your experience like you can! Some people love to document by journaling, but for those of you who do not, keep reading! It can be accomplished in a variety of ways depending on your natural tendencies and preferences.
- Traditional journaling in a notebook
Be sure to date your thoughts and keep this journal in a spot where you will see if frequently so you remember to add to it on a regular basis.
- Digital journaling through a notes app
You can’t beat the ease and convenience of taking notes in your phone. Just make sure you date them and include enough detail to remember specific moments. Also important: back these up so you don't risk losing them!
- Digital journaling using social media
Many people do this already without even realizing it. Posting a photo along with a caption is an easy way to document memories. Tip: Create your own unique hashtag for your motherhood-specific posts, i.e., #yourname'smotherhoodjourney
- Letters to Yourself
These can be short notes or long-form letters written to yourself (past, present, and/or future). Place these in your motherhood keepsake box.
- A List Journal
This is a great method if you are not typically a journaler! In a new notebook, begin by skipping the first few pages and write headings on the top of pages for categories like: Motherhood Quotes, Moms Who Inspire Me, Mom Hacks, Favorite Books about Motherhood, Routines & Rhythms, Joys in Motherhood, Favorite Trips/Vacations, Struggles in Motherhood, How I’m Growing, Prayers, Favorite Traditions etc. Number each page. Then go back to the front of the notebook and write in your own index so you know which page coordinates with which list.
- Planner Journal
If you already use a planner for organizing your schedule, at the end of each week simply write in your motherhood-related highs and lows from the past week, as well as any standout memories. Use the calendar to write in any milestones you’ve experienced alongside your kids. Easy!
General journaling prompts and tips:
- Record the whole story. Not just the wins or the highs, but the lows, struggles, and in-betweens too.
- Stories to record: finding out you're expecting, your birth story, what you learned in your first year of motherhood, and so on.
- Remember that you’re journaling your motherhood story - YOUR experience. So when you write about the milestone moments like your daughter losing her first tooth or your son getting his driver’s license, be sure to speak from your perspective. What did it make you think or feel?
- If you feel stuck, interview yourself. Think of a question you'd ask a fellow mom and then answer it yourself.
- Utilize voice memos to record a story or memory quickly so you can document it further later on when you have more time.
- Set reminders on your phone to prompt journal entries and to back up digital files like notes, photos, and videos.
We hope this inspires you to begin (or continue!) documenting your motherhood. The memories you're making today - good and bad and in-between - are invaluable and will be so meaningful to revisit down the road.