10 ways to remember those precious childhood moments
Those early years are precious, and over way too soon. Pippa Henderson suggests ten ways to keep your favourite moments alive.
My daughter’s very first friend was a little boy named Jacob. As babies they were two peas in a pod; podgy, energetic little extroverts. In keeping with first-time parents the world over, Jacob’s mother and I went crazy capturing their every move. Jacob and Esther hold hands. Jacob and Esther spit the dummy. Jacob and Esther on a roll… We shamelessly future-proofed; no one could accuse us of lack of documentation. So it was hilarious when Esther first attempted to get her mouth around her buddy’s name. “Jpeg”, she demanded one day, asking for her playmate: “Mummy, JPEG play!”. Jacob’s mother and I then joked we should change Esther’s name to Tiff.
I’ve become less trigger-happy with passing time. Our second and third children’s albums are significantly smaller - an all-too-common tale. But it’s not that my desire to preserve special memories has in any way diminished, I’ve just branched out into a variety of methods to ensure my little ones’ tiny faces (and huge personalities) will never be forgotten.
Photos are still the obvious choice as candid moments unfold. Most parents can fast-draw their phones like cowboys - and these ‘shoots’ make precious memories; that time your two- year-old discovered your makeup, or your three-year-old discovered his shadow. Suffering the guilts for not printing these shots is a common problem, but as long as you’re backing these up and filing by date, there’s no need for self-flagellation. But there are ways to appease your conscience. Annually create an online photo book by uploading your best shots to a company like Snapfish. Or invest in an HP Sprocket photo printer (which prints 2x3-inch snapshots straight from your smartphone), or a Fujifilm Instax camera (the modern Polaroid). The trick is to make sure you also take a few high- resolution photos each year that are suitable for enlarging and will stand the test of time.
A picture paints a thousand words, but with smartphones capturing video at 60 frames per second, you’re writing a book a minute! You don’t need to be clever to edit your clips into a quick little montage. Adobe Premier Clip is an app that’s intuitive to use, allowing you to order and edit your clips, and add music and simple effects. But if that’s too much of an effort right now, just press record. Capture the milestones, but also simple 10–15 second clips of normal everyday moments. Maybe you’ll edit these one day, maybe you won’t. The great thing about raw footage is that (like raw food) it’s full of goodness and energy just the way it comes.
Set aside a box for each child (as humble or ornate as you wish) and pop in treasures as they materialise: hospital bracelets, locks of hair, fabric remnants from favourite clothes and costumes, hand prints, footprints, lists of their favourite foods, songs, movies (and movie quotes), travel and show tickets, certificates, party invites, their first attempts at writing their name … whatever takes your fancy. (Teeth?!)
These obviously require more time and effort, but the bonus is the items are less likely to get lost, and you can write little commentaries alongside.
Portraits, family portraits, and pieces which are autobiographical are particularly special. Frames not only make a feature of the art, they preserve these masterpieces as well, which only become more and more precious as the years go by.
It’s so quick and easy to record your children’s hilarious thoughts and conversations as a status update, and when you do the date is automatically recorded. You don’t always want to make these public, however, but the great thing is you don’t need to. Choose the private option before you post, and only you will have them on record.
Set up an email account for each of your children, but don’t allow them access to it until they’re well and truly old enough. In the meantime, you can email them anything you want! Record their kind-hearted acts, their quirks, their hopes, their particularly embarrassing moments… Surely, one day they’ll thank you for it.
As soon as your child is old enough to converse, survey them from time to time. For example: What’s the best thing about your life? Name a friend, and tell me why you like them. What makes you cry? What makes you laugh? What do you want to be when you grow up? What do mum and dad do, apart from looking after you? Add these surveys to their treasure box/scrapbook/email account.
Look for this page at the back of the OHbaby! magazine. (Tip: get an OHbaby! subscription to get a new one each season!)
These days I’m keenly aware that it’s all too easy to miss the actual moment because you’re too busy documenting. As parents we can be so short of hands and time that sometimes we have to choose whether to document the moment, or simply experience it. When this happens my inclination now is to choose to be present, and trust my memory to retain the best of it. Although good old-fashioned memories do tend to fade/distort over time, and they don’t come with a date attached, there’s a lot to be said for their benefits. They’re free and weightless, even waterproof and lightproof! A precious memory cannot be lost or stolen. Honestly, don’t underestimate the humble mental snapshot. There’s power in the pupil and the blink of an eye, and there’s nothing like reminiscing and laughing to keep memories alive.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 41 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW