As cliche as it sounds, I often feel that there is no truer statement on the planet than “the days are long, but the years are short”. When you are in the thick of mothering, individual days, heck - individual hours - can seem to drag for an eternity.
“Oh, it goes so fast, enjoy it!”, experienced Mothers will say. You smile and nod all the while thinking “well it didn’t feel that fast when I had to watch 12 episodes of paw patrol with my sick toddler/up in the night feeding my baby for the 4th time/putting cold cabbage leaves on my boobs/3 year old revolted at triangle sandwiches because they wanted squares”.
Yet somehow, it does go fast. Suddenly, your babies first birthday has rolled around and you can’t quite believe it, then you blink 3 times and they’re off to school and you’re crying in the carpark eating your body weight in chocolate. (No? Just me?)
I’ve always been fairly sentimental, and this trait has only increased since having children. I knew I wanted to keep hold of all of these joyous, hilarious, precious and yes, even hard moments of motherhood. But at the same time, I was just so exhausted that the thought of adding anything to my to do list seemed overwhelming. But memory keeping doesn’t have to be elaborate crafty scrapbooks or long journal entries. (But if that’s you, then by all means!) It’s all about finding a style that works for you, and feels manageable. Below are a few suggestions for holding on to motherhood memories.
ONE LINE A DAY JOURNAL
This is fantastic for people who like to write, but are short on time. This journal takes all the pressure off you because there is literally only space for a line or two, so it is a one minute job. The beautiful thing about this journal is each page has space for 5 years worth of entries for each day of the year, allowing you to look back and see what you were doing on the same day in years gone by. Sometimes my entries were as short as “Preston sick. He Spewed on me three times today”, or “went strawberry picking and had ice creams”. Daily mundane details take on new meaning years later as they collectively paint a portrait of motherhood and family life.
If you can commit to 12 photos in the first year of your babies life, you will be rewarded with an amazing keepsake. You could try taking the photo in the same spot every month (think same chair, same blanket) to really emphasise the monthly changes. Print each one and write some monthly milestones on the back.
Don’t like the pressure of sticking to a plan? Why not designate a special keepsake box to put away little treasures. The hospital baby tag, first kindy drawing, a handprint, first school report, that player of the day ribbon...all the little pieces can simply be stored away all the while combining to create a little museum of childhood moments. This Hello & Happy one will be treasured for years to come.
Try setting up an email account under your child’s name. At any given time when the mood strikes you can send them an email about a special moment, achievement, or something hilarious they said. Give them the password for their 21st.
WRITE TO ME
Do you prefer a more traditional approach? Record the first step, first words, first tooth, first birthday and many more moments with the beautiful linen bound baby journals from Write to Me. With generous space for memories and photos, this guided journal will become a cherished keepsake of a treasured time.
Commit to writing your child a letter on the eve of each birthday. Save them until they have their own first child, or some other milestone.
If you’re an avid instagrammer already, try a subscription service like chatbooks that will automatically print your squares into a cool little book. You can even set it up to print anything you post with a certain hashtag. NZ company happy moose also offer quick and simple photo books.
How have you managed to preserve some of your motherhood memories? We would love to hear your ideas!
Written by Crystal Mann
Former Curator of Social History
Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato
Crystal's Little Mash Loves: