As a parent, I’m always busy running around for my kids as a taxi driver, a cook, a maid, a mediator, and so on. That’s how most parents are. I noticed that we had so many experiences over the years, but they weren’t really being recorded anywhere to keep those memories. Sure, there are some pictures, but not everyone always remembers what was going when that picture was taken. And, I’ve had lots of experiences with my kids where I couldn’t (or sometimes just didn’t) really express how I was feeling at the time.
So, I decided to start a journal for my kids. This is a journal where I describe my view of the experiences I’ve had with my kids and how I feel about them and the situation or experience. They won’t receive these journals until they are all adults. It’s one journal for all of them (I have five kids and writing individual journals would be quite difficult and very time consuming).
There are a few things I try to keep in mind when I’m writing this journal, and many things I like to talk about.
1. Try to stay positive – I like to include the really good memories we have together, especially the little things that they may not remember when they get older. Some examples include: my daughter sewed her own Little Red Riding Hood cape for Halloween, I threw a surprise sweet 16 birthday party for one of my other daughters, and my son was confirmed at church by my husband. I also like to write about how much I love them and how proud of them I am. I know that I say it to them, but I want to make sure that they know how I feel about them throughout all their lives.
I also encourage my kids to follow their dreams and aspirations, no matter how outrageous they may seem, and I want them to know that I have supported them. I believe every kid needs to be supported in whatever they want to do. For example, just the other day my nine year old daughter was making a device that does everything for you in the bathroom by using an old cell phone battery, a dummy cell phone (the ones cell phone stores put out in the front of the store on display for customers), and a block. At first I had no idea who was tearing apart an old cell phone on my kitchen table, and when I found out it was my youngest daughter I encouraged her to follow her dreams.
But, not all experiences with my kids are positive. There are times when we disagree or they get in trouble for something they did wrong. Yes, I write about these things, too. I do this to let my kids know that even though they aren’t perfect I still love them, and that I made decisions and punishments to help teach them lessons and help them make better choices in the future.
2. Include experiences with all of my kids as equally as possible – I do have five kids and I would never want one of my kids to feel less loved than the others, or that they weren’t included as much as the others. This is fairly difficult, but I make a conscious effort to include everyone as equally as possible, even if the experiences are smaller or simpler. I want to show all of them that I love them all equally.
3. Include letters and notes my kids write to me (good and bad) – I’ve received both good and bad notes from my kids. I love the ones where they tell me they love me and I’m the best mom ever. But, I have received the letters that have been written to tell me how horrible I am (usually because I won’t let them have something they want). These break my heart, but it’s reality, and I do include these letters in this journal to my kids. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of these letters, but I do have quite a few from over the years. I only began this journal a couple years ago, so I didn’t think to keep them all.
4. Include school and church certificates – I have folders and folders of certificates and awards for all of my kids from over the years. I will be adding all of these to my journal in the best order I can. Most of them have dates, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. These are all things that make me so proud of my kids and I want them to see that I care about their accomplishments.
5. Have an original and make copies for everyone later – keeping five copies and an original as I continuously add to it can be a bit challenging as I’m afraid I’ll miss adding something to one or more of them. So, I’ll just wait until I’m ready to give them to all of my kids. Maybe a Christmas gift years from now. A little something to say that I have cared enough for all of them to write down the stories and experiences from their childhood.
I started writing this journal by hand in a really cute book, but I realized that wouldn’t really work for my situation for two reasons: 1) as I’m adding past experiences as well and everything isn’t in chronological order, so it makes for a difficult read, and 2) I can’t add in the letters from my kids and their awards to the pre-made journal. So, I decided to type all of my entries with each entry on a separate page so I can put them in where they belong by date.
It’s taking some time to get all of the past experiences written as something triggers a different memory almost every day, and then I’m also keeping up with current experiences the best I can. But, I think it’ll be a pretty neat little book for my kids when they’re adults; it shows their progression from their childhood into their teenage years; it helps me see where I need to grow personally as their mom and how and where I need to improve to be the best mom I can be; and it helps me track what has and hasn’t worked with my kids as I teach them and help them grow into responsible adults.