A Little Note Goes a Long Way

Capturing Memories in Words
A Little Note Goes a Long Way

The funny way they say their new words (tinger for finger, goggie for doggie in our case); the pride you felt when she learned to do the monkey bars (backwards no less!); the emotions you were feeling on the way to the hospital to deliver him that hot July night; the favourite ice cream flavour of the Summer of ‘07….

As we near the end of another summer of fun and discovery with the kids, no matter their age, you might think you’ll remember these adorable, funny and special things forever but somehow along comes another day and another memory and they get tucked back into the nether regions of the mom brain.

And then there are the dreams and wishes you have for them as you watch them grow up and your wonder as you see their personalities evolve and shine through—thoughts that they’re not old enough to understand yet but that you really should capture so you can answer the inevitable “What was I like when I was little?” question one day.

Writing letters to your kids—notes that you’ll file away to share with them someday—is a great way to document all the answers to the questions and your memories of joyous (and even the mundane) occasions. Less complicated than scrapbooking and beyond the usual baby book stuff (there are a lot more interesting things that happen than getting a first tooth after all), we think it can be as simple as writing your child a letter on his birthday to reflect back on the year that has past. Include thoughts on some funny memories, his achievements (learning to crawl/ride a bike/drive), his relationships (special people in his life, how well—or not—he’s getting along with his sister) and your wishes for his continued successes. File these letters away (a shoebox will do) until your children are older and you’re well on your way to capturing their childhood in (this is the important part) your own words.

For older children, encourage them to join you in your letter writing. They can write something to keep along with your letters. (Saved letters home from camp are another great way to capture their memories.)

Looking for some inspiration? Judy Siblin-Librach, mom of two, journalist and life coach has recently written Love Mommy: Writing Love Letters to Your Baby (ECW Press). Inspired by her own emotions of joy and passion upon becoming a mom, and wanting her children to know how she felt one day when they were old enough to understand, she starting writing letters to them and eventually created a collection of stories for each of them. Her wonderful instructional guide includes sample letters and writing tips (our favourites: don’t procrastinate and don’t forget the little things) and ideas for topics to get you started.

If you’re more inspired by technology than pen and paper, a blog is a great way to get all the feelings wrangled up in one place. We were struck by this lovely letter to an unborn child from one of our favourite mom blogs, Martinis for Milk. Taking that technology step one further, sign up for an account with Electronic Time Capsule, a service that allows you to create an electronic collection of memories (you can even invite friends and family members to add their feelings too) that can be delivered to your child in the future.

For those that need a little something to get them started, Tiny Tales offers a clever index card kit that provides all the tools you need close at hand to easily document poignant and precious memories. And for a really quick way to create a box full of cherished memories, complete a tin of ‘thought cards’ (we like ‘Remember When’ and ‘I Love It When’ from Smiles Made Easy for your child.

Sounds daunting? Remember it’s never too late to start. Just focus on something that’s interesting and important to you and you’ll be on your way. One SavvyMom we know simply wrote down all the new words her children learned in the order they learned them (a quick note each night was all it took and it’s a fascinating look back in time).

They say a picture says a thousand words—we say sometimes a few words say a thousand words too.

Tested by Sarah M., Toronto
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First published 2007.08.28

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