I’ve been writing all my letters to my daughter in the ‘traditional’ paper and envelope way for some time now and fancied trying something a bit different. I’d seen a few articles on journaling and the benefits of it as a therapy tool and thought it would also be a great way of logging memories for her. I thought it might also be somewhere to share some of the many, MANY photographs I take, rather than just storing them digitally, where they rarely see the light of day.
I thought I’d feel like a 14-year-old girl bitching about mean girls in my class and declaring undying love for my latest crush. But keeping a journal was so much more and now I’m hooked.
Types of journal I’ve tried
This is probably closest to the classic style of journal. It’s part diary, part journal, with a few little details of our day as well as my thoughts and feelings. My versions have also become quite image heavy too as a way of showcasing my photographs of us.
Our Weekends Journal
One of the things we looked forward to the most before our daughter was born was our weekends together. We daydreamed about cosy days at home as well as all the exciting adventures we could have with our little girl. This journal is an opportunity for me to create a celebration and a record of some of those for her.
A Photo A Day
This continues to be one of my favourite journals and something I wish I’d started doing sooner. It’s so easy as all I need to do is make sure I take a picture of my daughter everyday then I can add them in as and when I have the time.
As well as keeping my journals I’ve also started encouraging Sophie to try scrapbooking too. Start ’em young right?
My School Scrapbook
When Sophie started nursery she went through the inevitable phase of not wanting to go and crying for Mummy to stay with her. I started a scrapbook with her where we could highlight all the exciting new things she was getting to do. It helped give her a positive feeling about nursery and even though she loves going to school now, we still use it to keep a record of her journey there.
In a similar way to the school scrapbook, this is a way of us remembering her ‘adventures’. And by adventures it doesn’t even need to be anything that exciting! We just try to look for little ‘adventures’ in some of the days out that we have. For example, above is her first trip to the cinema. I give her a little instax camera to carry with her, she takes her own pictures and then we come home and it gives us a little activity to do.
‘Q & A’ A Day For Kids
This journal is by Betsy Franco and Penguin Random House and features a question everyday for your child to answer for 3 years. I think that we may have started it a little early (she was just about to turn 4 when we started it ) but it does mean we have some rather unusual answers to keep us entertained!
Things I’ve Learned
- I’m more conscious of how I spend time with my daughter. Having a record of our life has allowed me to focus more on our wellbeing and question what we spend our time and money doing. Having your day reflected back allows you to see the value in how you’re sending your time.
- It helps me to focus on something positive everyday. These journals are for my daughter so that she can look back on her childhood. I’m not trying to re-write history or gloss over any bad parts, but I really don’t need to take a polaroid of the crappy bits and stick them in with washi tape. It’s been so refreshing to find a little bit of good, even on a bad day and as a mother, it’s a great way to balance out that familiar feeling of guilt that can creep in wondering if you’ve done enough.
- Creativity is like an antacid for my anxiety. Keeping a journal is a mindful activity and I find that when I’m engaged in it I’m calm and centred and that feeling can stay with me for some time afterwards. It’s become part of my evening routine now and I don’t have to spend long doing it to feel the benefit.
- I care far less about what other people are doing. I pick up my phone far less – I check instagram and emails at a more ‘normal’ level. I don’t feel a slave to keeping up with what other people are doing with their lives because I’m savouring our own.
My tips for starting
- Stay old school. There’s an app for everything and journaling is no exception. But for me, there’s still nothing better than the weight of a full journal in your hands. Besides, an app doesn’t help you indulge in any stationary obsessions you might have!
- It may be precious but don’t you be precious.The hardest page to fill is the first one. You deliberate on where to stick what, but once you gain momentum you start to fill the pages without thinking too much at all. Always write like you would speak too. Don’t get wrapped up in grammar and spelling and instead just be yourself.
- Get something down regardless. If you have a busy few days or a period ahead of you where you know you can’t give it the time you’d like or at the end of the day you simply want to go to bed, the important thing is to keep taking pictures (they will jog your memory and you can always edit them later on) and jot something down. Even a few words or a couple of lines. In your iPhone notes, on the back of a train ticket whatever – just get something down as you can transfer it into your journal later on. It’s amazing how quickly something you think you’ll remember to write later on completely slips your mind.
- Don’t try to fit everything in. Just go for the highlights. You don’t want the task to feel too overwhelming or you’ll simply lose interest and see it as a chore.
The whole experiment for me has been thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding. I think I’m going to consolidate the daily journal and the photo-a-day journals into one so that I don’t have too much going on at once, but I intend to keep going with them as long as possible. The creative outlet and the time spent reflecting seems to have great benefits for me now and I hope that she will also get to enjoy reading them in years to come.
I’d love to hear from you if you keep a journal and have any ideas to share in the comments below.