Are you ready to cringe?
I’m about to utter that dastardly word – the last word you want to hear.
There. I said it.
There are many reasons this scandalous word may make you cringe:
- Scrapbooks are not your thing, but you have yet to find the perfect alternative.
- You adore the idea of scrapbooks… but don’t have a single creative bone in your body. Womp womp.
- You love scrapbooking! But considering you no longer have time to wash your hair properly, that hobby now seems out of the question.
Girl, I get it. I have a bunch of scraps from my senior year of college in a box in the basement. College ended 10 years ago, and they still remain homeless.
Don’t even get me started on the hundreds of photos that I have taken since then.
What’s a mama to do?
I know it’s a daunting task. You’ve got all those precious photos and videos of your adorable, growing-way-too-fast sweet ones sitting on your hard drive, just begging to be looked at.
What if I told you that it’s possible to preserve memories to pass on to your children and not go insane?
Don’t believe me? Read on to see how you can wrangle those precious memories!
Tricks to Capture Memories
For Digitally-Inclined Moms:
If you get more done or prefer working on your digital devices, one of these options might be your best bet.
#1: Epic Photo Books
I am a graphic designer—and a perfectionist. I love Mixbook because I can have complete control over the design process. They also take up a lot less space, which is important when you have a gazillion photos to choose from.
Chatbooks may be the easiest way to make a photo book yet. (Bonus: their commercial is hilarious!)
If you download the Chatbooks app, you can set it up to have photo books of the photos you post to Instagram or other social media platforms shipped directly to you without doing any extra work beyond snapping the photo!
Or, if you prefer, you can customize your own book as well. Genius!
#3: My Social Book
Sometimes I like to call Facebook “Babybook,” because, let’s face it, our Facebook timelines have basically become journals logging our children’s lives.
My Social Book takes all your Facebook posts from a specified time frame and puts them together into a beautiful bound book.
Check out this review for more details on how it all works.
#4: DIY Movies
I doubt I’m the only one whose kid daily requests “Mom! Mom! Make a movie of me making funny faces!” or “I want a video of this Lego tower I made!”
With iMovie, you can make a finished product out of all those 30-second clips hanging out on your phone.
I like to make a video for each year in our family’s life. We include photos and use our favorite songs from the year as background music. My kids love watching them almost as much as they love watching Daniel Tiger.
A couple with five kids dreamed up Qeepsake, so you know it has to be good.
Here’s how it works: Qeepsake texts you questions about your kid(s). When you text back answers and photos, it all gets automatically added to your child’s journal. You can upgrade to whichever plan fits your family’s needs (their most popular plan is only $2.99/mo), and you can send in additional/customized notes.
Then, when you’re ready, you can order a hard copy of your child’s journal. And, the books are expandable, so you can add to them at any time! You can easily sign up for a two-week free trial on their website.
I wish I’d come up with this thing; I’m pretty sure I’d be a millionaire by now.
#6: Made-For-You DVD
If iMovie sounds too time-consuming, you can have Walgreens do the work for you.
Just bring in a memory card or USB drive with the videos on it, and they’ll take it from there, working with iMemories to create your finished product (customized as much or as little as you’d like).
Bonus Tip: You can also have them digitize your old family video tapes circa 1988.
#7: Secret Emails
For something a bit more personal, you can start an email address for your child. Then, send emails to her as often as you want. You can include:
- Photos of you and your child
- Silly stories of what she did today
- Your hopes for her future
- Memories of family fun
- Inside jokes
- Reminders of your love
Give the email address to close family and friends so they can write your kiddo special notes, too!
Then, give your child the address and password on her 13th, 16th, or 18th birthday. Imagine how loved she will feel reading all the emails you’ve been writing for years!
Tricks to Capture Memories
For Hands-On Moms:
Do you enjoy spending your free time (Hahahahaha! Free time!) crafting or journaling? If you prefer putting ink to paper, here are some hands-on possibilities.
#8: Project Life
If you enjoy the versatility and creativity of scrapbooks, but just don’t have time to do all that cutting and gluing and things, check out Project Life.
You simply pick out a Core Kit of beautifully-designed cards for writing memories, slip them into Project Life Photo Pocket Pages along with your photos, put it all into the album, and—voila! You’ll be done in no time.
#9: Journal Photo Album
To go a step simpler, order prints of your favorite photos, pick up one of these cute photo albums with areas for notes, and get writing!
- Boy Oh Boy Album
- Happi Baby Girl Album
- Hot Air Balloon Album
- Sea Mist Photo Journal – This doesn’t have photo pockets, making it more customizable, but you’ll definitely need these photo corners.
- Colorful Dots Album
- Vintage Faux Leather Album
#10: First Year Calendar
This First Year Calendar makes tracking milestones and memories super-easy. When your little one reaches a milestone, simply put a sticker on the date it happened! Add a photo each month along with a few notes, and by the end of the year you’ll have a full book of memories preserved for your kiddo.
#11: Fill-In-The-Blank Baby Books
These are perfect for those hazy early-motherhood days when you find yourself so tired that you:
- Pour orange juice on your cereal.
- Feed baby formula to the dog.
- Wear your underwear over your leggings.
(Please, tell me I’m not the only one who has done these kinds of things.)
Grab a baby book, and just start filling in the blanks. They’re so cute, they may actually fool people into thinking that your brain was functioning properly!
- Little Artist Memory Book
- Personalized Giraffe Book
- Linen Tree First 5 Years Memory Book
- A Simple Book of Firsts
- Letters To You—Dreams, Wishes, Cherished Memories
- Hello Little One!
- Snowy Memory Book With Stickers
- Woodland First 5 Years Memory Book
- Ronica Baby Memory Book
- All About Me Baby Memory Book
#12: Ditch the Baby Book—Use a Journal Instead
Heather swears by journals for her kiddos. She says it all began like this:
One afternoon, in the midst of an exhausted stupor, I leaned over and jotted down something funny Lauren said in a notebook I had sitting by rocking chair. And a new tradition was born. I have kept books for each of the girls ever since.
Check out her post to see which adorable journals she recommends.
For a fun twist, as your kids get older, you can cultivate a love for writing with back-and-forth journaling between you and your children. If you’re feeling stumped on where to begin, try these ideas:
- This fabulous Q & A book with three years’ worth of prompts and questions to get you going.
- This mother-daughter journal that’s great for building trust during the tween years.
- Tips from a mom who’s done it at Camp Kurtz.
- A more in-depth tutorial and recommendations at Thriving Parents.
#13: Write Letters
Then get writing! You can write letters monthly, yearly (because when our kids have birthdays we all have so much time in between gift-buying and party-planning), or just whenever you feel like it. If you’re forgetful, you can just set reminders on your phone to write a letter every so often.
Then give your child his letters on some future date—maybe when he turns 16 or graduates from high school.
#14: Build a Shadow Box
#15: Memory Boxes
Perhaps the simplest idea yet for preserving those scraps that gave scrapbooks their name: Purchase a memory box for your child, and collect all the items there.
- Birth announcement? Throw it in the box!
- Your toddler’s first scribbles? Throw it in the box!
- A birthday card from Grandma? Throw it in the box!
- Your precious potty-trained preschooler’s last poopy diaper? Throw it in the TRASH! Quickly! That does not belong in the box.
There’s Hope for the Scrapbook-Weary
There you have it: 15 scrapbook-free ways to capture and preserve all those memories for your sweet little ones.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking, All of those ideas look like so much fun! I want to try every single one!
Stop right there.
Mama, you have more than enough on your plate already. The key is to choose one or two easy-to-maintain ways to preserve those sweet memories. The goal is to pick something you can realistically keep up with.
And if you still find yourself unable to keep up, give yourself grace.
My own baby book wasn’t finished until I was in college. My mom put it together using scraps and notes she’d thrown into a box over the years.
Why? Because she was busy loving us instead.
You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t busy creating memories worth capturing, mama! So keep making those memories. Trust me, your kids will thank you for it twenty years down the road.
How do you preserve your family’s memories? What ideas would you add to our list?
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- 8 Fascinating Tickle Games Your Preschooler Will Love
- How to Encourage Pretend Play: 6 Backyard Adventures No Kid Wants to Miss
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