How to Document Kids’ Stories While Living Busy Lives

Before I had kids, I scrapbooked regularly. Greg and I would live life – and then I would document it. When I had one baby, I kept up with the scrapbooks pretty well. And, trust me, I took many pictures!

Now, Greg and I are loving life with two kids, who are almost five and seven years old. But there’s not as much time for preserving memories in albums when we’re spending evenings at the soccer field, working on homework in the afternoons, and spending time with other families we love.

Even so, I want to remember the memories we’re making. I want to document words and moments.

I want to tell stories about what God has done in our lives. << Click to Tweet

So the way I document stories has changed, but I’ve still managed to preserve our memories in ways that work for me:

Binders for School Papers

I do not save everything my kids do at school. I save papers that indicate a new interest or skill as well as second-grade girl’s journals and stories. Certificates from camps and special events are also saved in these binders. I slip papers into 8 ½” x 11” page protectors, sometimes inserting multiple papers into one slot. If crafty papers don’t fit, I fold them or take a picture. My husband writes us letters for Christmas, so these are included in there too. Basically, it’s a chronology of the papers that don’t get tossed into the recycling bin.

Rubbermaid Tubs for Cards and Mementos

I do save most of the children’s birthday cards. I tie them together after each birthday, label them with the year, and toss them into a Rubbermaid container. Each kid has one, although I’m going to either have to add one or graduate to a bigger size, sooner rather than later. I also put in postcards their Gran-Gran sent or other notes and cards they’ll enjoy seeing when they’re older.

Birthday Books

Specifically, I use Your Birthday Book: A Keepsake Journal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which offers a fun, easy fill-in-the-blank documentation of their birthdays and what they’re into at each age.

School Record Books

This is one thing I remember my mom having for me, although I was quickly nerdy enough to start filling in these blanks myself. Specifically, I use School Years: Record Book: Capture and Organize Memories from Preschool through 12th Grade by the Editors of Reader's Digest.

Scrapbook Albums

 Although I’m behind chronologically, I do still try to slip some photos into page protectors in three-ring binders that hold pages as big as 12” x 12”. I often use the divided page protectors that have difference sized places to slip in photos and do a little accompanying scrapbooking and embellishing. My favorite products for this are American Craft cloth albums and page protectors, We R Memory Keepers faux leather albums and page protectors, and Project Life products – which all coordinate well with one other. Just for the record, my kids don’t have their own scrapbooks. They can fight over the pages in the albums when I’m no longer here.

In 2013, I started printing Instagram photos from my phone using the Walgreens app. I put these in page protectors that hold nine 4” x 4” inch photos by month and plan to use them as dividers among my other scrapbook pages. Of course, I’m still scrapbooking 2012, so I’m not entirely sure how this plan will work out, but it’s a way to organize and print the photos I want to keep from Instagram. I find myself taking more and more pictures with my phone, so I wanted to incorporate them into my albums.

Baby Books

I do have the traditional baby books for each kid. The milestones are noted and pictures are included. In order to tell my kids’ adoption stories, I actually took apart their baby books and added those pages to bigger binders, where I included pictures and stories about their birth moms, the birth experiences, and other adoption-related documents and information.

Notes on My iPhone

Sometimes the kids say things I want to remember, but we’ll be in the produce section of the grocery store. So I started a note on my phone for each kid. That’s where I jot down funny things they said or did. It’s just an ongoing log that I’ve already gone back through and read. (My notes back up to my email, so there’s always a copy there too.) Of course, sometimes these notes turn into blog posts.

Social Media

One of the reasons I love social media is because I can look back at what I posted about my kids. They’re funny and always changing, so it’s a good virtual record of life. Writing on my blog about life and what God is teaching me is like self-therapy, but it does, thankfully, help me document our stories too. Recently, I downloaded the TimeHop app for my iPhone, allowing me to have daily peeks into what happened a year or two or five ago.

A wise, older friend once told me she was finally organizing all the memories she had in boxes and albums once her kids were grown up and out of the house. She reminded me now is the time to make the memories and worry less about preserving them perfectly. That’s something I think about when I see the piles of pictures and toss another paper into a box or binder. I know my family is going to be better off if we’re living this life God’s given us together rather than stressing out about documenting it.

How do you document your stories? <<Click to Tweet

Kristin believes in seeking God as the author of every story. You’ll quickly learn her favorite story to tell is how God created her family through adoption after a hard season of infertility. God continues to surprise her – in the best kind of way – with all the ways her life is nothing like she expected. She lives in Murray, Ky., with her husband, Greg, and two kids – Cate and Ben. She never leaves home without her iPhone, which reminds her where she’s supposed to be going, holds many notes documenting her ideas, and helps her document life. 

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