How to Create and Keep a Family JournalJan 13, 2016
“Time flies.” I never truly understood the gravity of this oft-uttered phrase until I became a mom. While the days seem long, the years are short. Busy days blend together, and before we know it, years have flown by. It feels like yesterday that my son began crawling, and now he’s about to turn five. How does that happen? What I once thought of as cliché, I now know why people say “time flies.” Because it does.
As parents, our attention is constantly splintered between responsibilities at work, maintaining our households, caring for our children, and—we hope—spending a bit of time to fulfill our own creative selves.
It’s challenging to stay on top of everything—birthdays, soccer schedules, dance classes—and even more challenging to recall the isolated moments that crack us up. More often than not, the hilarious things my son says on the way to school, the things I am so certain I will remember forever, have already fled my mind by lunchtime. How do we hang on to these memories? How do we slow time and preserve the meaningful moments we share together?
Starting a family journal is the perfect way to capture a snapshot of the every day and celebrate the little accomplishments of the year. It can serve as your family’s history—a place to record milestones, share thoughts and aspirations, set goals; to recount family outings, vacations, holidays, and adventures. Here’s how to start your own family journal in four simple steps.
1. Create Your Journal
Decide upon a style of journal. It can be a hard bound journal or a three-ring binder. Choose whatever type suits your needs best. On the first page, write the date and year of the journal, the names and ages of each family member, your current address and phone number. Add a photo of your family taken in front of your house to commemorate the time and place these memories are being recorded.
Have each member of the family fill out a “stats” page at the front of the journal, including their name and age, and a short list of current favorite things—colors, songs, movies, restaurants, etc. Think about the year ahead and fill in the phrase “This year I want to…." These little tidbits add historical touchpoints to the journal, further adding richness to your family history.
2. Set Some Rules
Share the concept of the journal with your family and lay out guidelines together. Will it be a daily journal? Weekly? A good way to remember to make entires is to set a time and place for everyone to write— Try nightly before dinner, or maybe Saturday mornings after breakfast. Determine what works best for everyone in the family and then stick to the schedule.
3. Fill the Pages
Enlist every member of the family to contribute to this heirloom-in-progress. Share anything notable that occurs, big or small. First days of school, promotions at work, family vacations, music or dance recitals, lost teeth, museum trips and more.
Prompt kids who are too little to write with questions and then pen their quotes on the page. Ask them to color on pages or draw pictures as a means to personalize their experiences.
Don’t feel limited to only make note of happy things. Broken bones and flat tires may not bring brightness to your lives in the moment, but are events you’ll likely laugh about down the road.
Kick up your creativity—paste photos, newspaper clippings, new business cards, movie stubs, or other mementoes to add color to your tales. Feeling stuck? Have the kids pose a question for everyone to answer, or try a few of these tricks to boost your creativity.
4. Recount Your Stories
Get the whole family together and read through each other’s stories at the end of the year. Relive your achievements, recount adventures, giggle at the silly musings made by the kids. Spending this kind of quality time together will strengthen your family’s bond and connection. At a glance you can collectively see where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished and overcome, and decide together where you want to go next.
Have you ever kept a family journal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.