This has been a year of record keeping for me. I have always had a desire to improve my efforts to keep a journal, but every time I decided to write I felt like I had to catch up the events in my life since the last entry 8 months ago and it took FOREVER. The idea was always too daunting to even try. The last time I probably wrote in my actual journal was when my third child was born. I should at least make a note that we have since had another child…
I read The Happiness Project (you can read more about this book in my ‘I have a book for that!‘ page.) in December 2017 and my eyes were opened to new ways of journaling. Since reading that book, I have now started to write daily in three journals: my gratitude journal, my one-sentence journal, and to track my goals in my bullet journal. I spend less than 10 minutes a day writing in these three journals and yet I feel like I am creating a thorough record of my life. The other journaling I have committed to improve is the journaling I do for my kids.
Several years ago I decided to start a journal for each of my children where I can record the important, funny, serious, memorable things that goes on in their childhood. I have a terrible memory so I knew that I would not remember to tell the kids these stories about them as they grew older. I don’t want to forget the funny things they say and the important conversations we have or the great memories we made together that I know my memory wont remember! The idea when I started these journals was to write something in someone’s journal every day. For me at that time in my life it was too much. So I started doing what I had done with my own journal and just not write anything because I had already missed so much. I at least tried to write on their birthday’s, but even that didn’t always happen.
My journaling year of 2018 has given me a fresh start and a more realistic plan to keep these journals up to date. I write in the kids’ journals once a month. This can still be a challenge because it does take at least 20 minutes to write in all 4 journals, but one time a month is doable.
My kids love these journals already. I usually have the journals in the drawer of my nightstand, but if I ever leave them out the kids get excited and ask if I’m writing in them and they want to read a few pages. I think these will be treasures to give them when they graduate and move on to the adult phase of their lives.
If this sounds like something you would like to start for your children here are a few tips/ideas:
- Buy a small notebook for each child. If you don’t have many kids a larger binder or notebook would be fine, but I find these small notebooks to be just the right size.
- Don’t try and catch up for the lost time. If you start journaling when your oldest child is 15 and your youngest is 3 that is okay. Just start now. It will be too overwhelming to go back and try to remember everything from previous years. For once, your youngest will have the benefit here (unlike in the family scrapbook of baby pictures…).
- Set a goal, write it down and stick to it. Decided what is realistic for you. If you are already a dedicated journal keeper, then writing daily might work for you. If you tend to start strong and then slack off then maybe monthly is more doable.
- Always write on or around birthdays. This is a good time to reflect on who they are and not so much on what they are doing. I like to make a list in their journal of their traits, their interests, their friends and my feelings towards them. It’s also fun to write about how you celebrated their birthday.
- Record mental health habits you notice. My daughter has anxiety over different issues and my son can focus on self-pity at times. I think it’s important to write these things down so that if they get older and continue to deal with these issues we can look back and see how they were dealt with as children.
- Record important talks. These can be spur of the moment talks about friends or concerns the child has about life, or this can be the “sex talk” or talks about spiritual things, or just one-on-one talks that build the bond between you and your child.
- Both parents should write in the journals. I’m assuming that “you” are a mom and will be the main author in these journals. However, I do think it’s good to let dads or grandparents write important memories in these journals as well. My husband wrote in my son’s after they walked home from a football game together and had one of those one-on-one bonding moments. I think it’s important for kids to remember those moments with other people who are important to them in their lives.
- Remember the fun. Don’t only focus on the sensitive/important stuff. Write about the times where you laugh over silly things together and how the child and his/her siblings couldn’t stop laughing when it was bedtime and mom and dad were getting so mad that the kids wouldn’t settle down, but that only made them laugh harder…
- Make these journals special for the kids. I don’t let my kids have these journals and read them any time they choose. I want them to be a mystery and something they look forward to getting one day. Once in awhile I do let my kids read certain entries so that they understand what these journals are and they get excited about them, but I want them to look forward to getting these journals when they graduate.
I hope you will try this out if you aren’t already doing something similar. You won’t regret it and I do think you will notice a stronger bond between you and your children. I hope it will make everyone nice and happy.
Have you ever tried a gratitude journal? I have heard several people talk about them, but it wasn’t until the new year that I finally tried it out. I have been doing one for about a month now and so far I am loving it. I have enjoyed it for me personally to end each day reflecting on what I am grateful for.
But the real power that I have seen is with my son. We have been doing this as a family after we do our scripture study and prayer, we then each have our own notebook and we jot down one thing we are grateful for that day. My son can sometimes get into a habit of focusing on the bad and get into a slump of feeling sorry for himself, but I have noticed a change in his attitude recently. There could be many factors contributing to this change, but he has really gotten into the gratitude journal and takes it seriously every night and I don’t think it is hurting his attitude.
We help write for our preschooler, but then he draws a picture of whatever it is. Our two year old will sometimes tell us what he is grateful for that day too. Tonight he was grateful that he could play Harry Potter and basketball. I really feel like these little notebooks are going to be treasures for all of us.
I bought these little notebooks at the dollar store and every night when we finish reading scriptures and saying a prayer, we write one thing we are grateful for. It was easy to throw into our bedtime routine and has been something my kids really enjoy doing.
This has made me nice and happy.