Real moms share: How I preserve my family memories

May 1, 2012 at 4:10 a.m. ET

Babies aren’t babies forever. They grow up quickly, and as much as you think you can hold on to every memory, some will start to fade. Do what you can to preserve your family memories so you’ll always have a way to look back.

mom writing in journal

You'll discover lots of ways to preserve your family memories -- it’s just a matter finding which method fits your style. It may be a newer, technology-based method, or you may be more comfortable with a more tried-and-true, traditional method. You may even find a way that combines both worlds -- it’s up to you. Here are some ways that real moms record the important moments in their families’ lives.

Write a journal

You probably kept a journal in high school or junior high, right? This is a little different from hiding under your blankets and pouring your deepest secrets onto blank pages. When you journal to preserve memories, you're writing down things you know someone will read one day. You’re keeping track of everything you never want to forget, as well as everything you want your children to always know. Keep a journal for each child. You can start them as early as the day you find out you’re pregnant, but starting them now, when your kids have already been here for a while, works too. There’s no need for long, drawn-out entries, although sometimes those may be needed. For most entries, all you need is a date and a line or two about what journal-worthy thing happened that day. You can record details of big events like first steps and first days of school, and even smaller things, like funny things your child said that made you laugh.

Family journals >>

Laura Shumaker started this when a co-worker recommended it and she’s glad she did. She loves that the words are in her own handwriting. “There’s just something about reading memories in your mom’s handwriting,” she says.

Video recording

Darlene Grant Snyder records her family’s memories with voice recorders and video cameras. She comes up with interview questions beforehand and sits down with each family member to record his or her favorite memories and family history. Copies of the recordings can be made and passed out to the rest of the family, as well.

Creating computer video memories >>

Snyder says she mostly uses a voice recorder because a video camera may be intimidating to some relatives, but she recommends a video camera if you can swing it. “With video recording, you have another type of history preserved. You have how the person dressed, their mannerism and facial expressions to go along with their spoken words,” she says.

Keep a box

Kate Parker’s mom always kept “The Box,” and it was so important to her that she’s started one for her young son.

It’s easy to begin. “You really just need a Rubbermaid bin. You think it doesn’t have to be big, but trust me, after 18 years, you need the largest one you can find,” says Katie.

Make memory boxes >>

Tuck the box away somewhere that it’s out of the way, but not hard to get to. Every time you come across something special that you think your kids would like to have one day, put it in the box. Keep hospital bracelets, birthday cards, locks of hair, important outfits, stuffed animals, artwork -- anything is fair game.

One day, you can pull this box out of its hiding spot and pass on an entire box of extra special memories.

Memory jar

This one is super simple, and creates a great way for your family to look back on each year and see what important events took place.

Start with an empty glass jar and write the year on the lid. Every time something note-worthy happens, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in the jar. If you use a pretty jar, these can also serve as decoration.

Mom Kat does this in another way, using index cards filed by month. She says this is a great way for moms who aren’t crafty to record memories in a tangible way. The box may be better than a jar if you’d like to hold on to more than just scraps of paper -- photos and other objects can be slipped right in with the cards.

Quick Tip

Don't let your pictures and mementos pile up! The bigger the pile, the less likely you are to ever get to it.

More tips for preserving memories from SheKnows

5 Stress-free ways to keep baby memories
Top 10 memorable moments for mom

Helping kids exercise their memory muscle