I like to think that all mom’s have specialties, maybe you have a passion for cooking and you pass on your love and knowledge of food to your lucky offspring. Or maybe you’re a talented teacher, taking every opportunity to expand your children’s minds. I have friends who impart their love of the great outdoors and gardening to their kids.
If I had to think of my own specialty it’s probably the archiving of my kid’s childhood. I take a lot of pictures but I also try to do it in a strategic way that enhances the fun times and doesn’t take away from being in the moment with them. I take annual pictures, conduct birthday interviews, have long-term projects in the works to give them upon highschool graduation and we cherish many, many other traditions. I believe I’m building their memory of childhood. I want them to look back and never ever doubt that their mom, dad and family loved and valued them!
As I said in my book, one’s inner archivist often emerges when you are expecting your first child (or at least it did for me). One of the things I’m most proud of is my children’s baby books. Like all kids, my boys love looking at a book that is all about them. You can see the delight in their eyes as we cuddle and re-live their entrance into the world and the many details of their first year of life.
So many times parents take a million photos of baby #1, a few less of the next child and when additional siblings come along parents are too busy or exhausted to keep up with it. I had a friend tell me that her mom actually tried to pass off a photo of her older sister as her. So my aim when I created my first son’s book was making something that I would be able to repeat several times, no matter how many kids I was blessed with. I didn’t make it perfect and I didn’t include every photo I had but, I was thorough. I didn’t want my last child to feel like he or she got the shaft because I got over-eager with my first child.
I also love to help other mom’s be the hero and archive their children’s lives. I once typed out a complete list of ‘how to make a baby book’ for a friend who was admiring my kid’s books. So I thought I’d share that list with you too. If you kept a pregnancy journal you can store it with/in the baby book. I did this but also copied short excerpts onto certain pages as it was appropriate.
Journaling about your pregnancy & birth experiences will give your book a personal tone and add to the archive quality. Plus your impending lack of sleep will soon make these amazing experiences a distant, faded memory.
Include any or all of the following information & items in your child’s baby book:
- Baby’s full name with origin & meaning
- Birth date, time, doctor’s name & birth location
- Baby’s weight & length
- A sample of the Birth Announcement
- First photographs of baby & photographs taken during labor & birth
- Records of birth from the hospital (you can request these from the hospital)
- Hospital bracelets & umbilical cord clamp (or photos of them if you’re making a digital book)
- Contraction timing notes
- JOURNAL: About who was in the labor room & what it felt like to see baby for the first time
- Photos and cards from hospital visitors
- List of gifts & flowers received in the first few days
- Copy of your personal birth plan
When you look back 10 years later it will blow your mind how much life has changed since baby arrived so including who was there at the beginning & keeping scraps from that time of life will become extra special.
- JOURNAL: The story of your birth experience. How did your child enter the world?
- Birth certificate (or a photocopy)
- Social Security card (or a photocopy)
- Photos of nursery & baby’s first house. In one of my child’s books our house is covered in snow and it really sets the tone of when he entered our world. JOURNAL: About setting up the nursery, inspirations, special touches, who helped
- Photos of family and friends holding baby for the first time
- JOURNAL: About what family and friends did to welcome baby, meals, gifts, time off work, watching other kids etc
- Several pregnant photos of mom’s growing belly. The first time you’re pregnant you’ll probably have a huge collection of side-view photos of your evolving figure.
- JOURNAL: About what it felt like to be pregnant, physically, emotionally, and how you felt as a couple expecting a child
Each pregnancy is as unique as the child it produces and should be recorded for posterity
- Ultrasounds photos JOURNAL: About the day of the ultrasound and what you felt if you found out the sex
- Baby shower invitations, photos, cards and lists of gifts JOURNAL: Who was there and the general experience
- The world around baby (include top news stories, trends in popular culture, cut outs from fashion magazines of the day, gas prices etc.)
Trends in popular culture are a particularly entertaining thing to look back on when your child is 15, 20 or 30.
- Journal entries, dates and photos (if possible) of baby’s ‘BIG FIRSTS’ (bath, solid food, rolling over, walking, words etc.)
- First holidays (including photos & cards)
- Baptism or dedication photos, cards & certificates
- Family Tree
- Growing baby photos of baby each month of the first year (there are so many creative and pinteresting ways to do this, here’s what one clever mama did)
- Well-baby check up dates, including weight, height and head measurements and percentages (some pre-made albums have a page available to record these items).
- Immunization record/blood type
- First Birthday, including party invitation, photos & cards
- JOURNAL: A summary of the first year with baby and your feelings at the first birthday
Now this is my version of the Ultimate Baby Book list and obviously very thorough. Including everything can be daunting so pick what is important to you and record the precious details that will soon be forgotten in the busy realities of parenthood. And keep in mind that you want the book itself to be durable so that little hands can enjoy it for years to come.
One of my favorite tools for recording the first year of life is a calendar. Use your regular wall calendar or purchase a pretty, printable version like the Fractions of Baby’s First Calendar. Keep it handy and jot down those darling firsts as they happen. The best thing about the printable version is that you can three-hole punch it or tuck it into a clear sleeve and add it right into the baby book! I’ve given this printable calendar to several moms as their paper bliss gift and it’s always a huge hit!
I will be honest and admit that I too am guilty of procrastination when it comes to this task. My youngest’s book is still in mid-assembly and she’s just turned 3 years old. But sharing this list with you has motivated me to get it done and I can’t wait to share it with her!
What do you use to archive your children’s lives? And what are your favorite paper gifts to give and receive?