Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.

Mar

5th

we noticed – a mother’s journal

 

I remember sometime before we had our first child, dreaming about being the kind of mother who keeps a regular journal for each child. Aaaaand … that didn’t really happen. But I’m a scrapbooker. And for sure I’m a documenter. And I do plenty of journaling in those scrapbooks. So I’ve never viewed this as a “fail” – but rather a realization of the type of documenter that I am.

My favorite stories are the ones told with photographs.

And yet still … I have had this unrealistic desire to keep up with actual journals for each of the kids. Every day I could write paragraph after paragraph to each child. But reality is – there are a thousand other things that have to be done in any given day. One thing I notice as a mother is how easy it is to get caught up in the rigor of the day-to-day and sometimes let the most meaningful things slide.

I had a bit of an a-ha moment a few months ago that led me to the idea of how to actually keep up with a journal for each of our kids after all. They key? Simplify. Instead of viewing these as traditional journals with lots of streaming thoughts … the idea that came to me is that I would simply write ONE thing we noticed about that child each day. One thing. That’s all. Not a few paragraphs. Just one thing.

I call these our “We Noticed” journals. 

And so I started. On January 1st this year.

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Because my angle is absolute simplicity, this New Year’s resolution has been attainable. Doable. And extremely meaningful. It’s so much more than just writing something I noticed about each child each day. This very brief activity that has become a part of my nightly routine drives me to make a more conscientious effort to notice the little things about the greatest gifts we have – our children. I feel that photography achieves that goal similarly, and I do take pictures every single day. But this writing activity allows me to describe with words something about their personality, demeanor, character … that isn’t always easy to capture with a snapshot.

These are not some sort of secret journals that I plan to surprise the kids with when they’re 18. Porter, Claire, and Crew are aware of the journals – and that is intentional on my part. They know that at the end of each day I ponder about (and sometimes discuss with David) the little things they each said or did. And then I write it down. Once in a while they read through their own journal or have me read aloud to them. The content? Sometimes serious. Sometimes funny. Sometimes it’s a direct quote that they said that day. And once in a while … I want David to be the one who writes in the journals.

What a boost for children, right? I’m a firm believer that this is absolutely affirming for our kids.

So – the journals I chose? They’re designed by Greenroom and I picked them up at Target (where I tend to pick up all of my notebooks). Blue for Porter. Pink for Claire. Orange for Crew.


ADDED NOTE | AUGUST 2017:

I have filled these notebooks up a few times over and now that we have launched our own Simple Notebooks you better believe those are what I’ll be using next for our kids’ journals! Our notebooks can be found in our shop.


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So how about that fancy label, right? Yep – I just printed their name with the “We noticed” title and … slapped it on the front of the notebook with a piece of packing tape. Done.

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My philosophy with scrapbooking (as you know) – is that I can keep up with it … IF it’s SIMPLE. (Enter Project Life®.) Same goes for keeping these journals for my kids. In my world …

Simple = Done

A couple months into this goal and I’m going strong. Every day is the goal – the ideal. But do I miss a day or two here or there? Yep – sure do. I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m aiming for another way to connect with our children and strengthen our family bonds. I’m aiming to cultivate a good life by the little ways I choose to spend my time. I have a thousand ways to improve and I make a thousand mistakes everyday … but it’s the little stuff that adds up. And I’m trying.

PS – This idea is certainly applicable in other relationships besides parent-child. Have insight or additional ideas on this topic to share? Have a great source for awesome notebooks and journals? I’d love to hear.

 

At Home with Becky

This post is part of a weekly blog series called At Home with Becky. Each Wednesday, I share a little something from home – routines, organization, traditions, decor, etc. Coming up … a favorite family tradition that has nothing to do with a holiday, my absolute favorite gift wrap, and some healthy snack ideas. If ever you are interested in seeing all of these posts in one place, just click on that turquoise button at the top of my blog that says At Home with Becky.

COMMENTS

52 Responses

  1. EmmaJ says:

    Thank you for sharing this idea! I love it. And I love that you always stress that perfection isn’t necessary. Thanks Becky!

  2. Marie says:

    I really love this idea ! Thank you for sharing. My daughter just turned three last week, and since she is two, I have been writing two kinds of journal for her : one with the way she “mispronounces” some words (and the “translation” on the side) and the other one with the funny things she says and that make us laugh. But I keep in mind this one-thing-we-notice-each day journal, I love it !

  3. Mary says:

    What a wonderful idea. My children are adults and out on their own. I wish I had thought of your idea when they were young. I do take photos of them when ever possible. :) Thanks for sharing your ideas Becky. I am enjoying this part of your blog very much.

    Mary from NH

    • Sarae Martin says:

      Start one with things you notice about them as adults. Adult children need your encouragement too!…if not more!

  4. Mendi M says:

    Love this idea! I’m doing something somewhat similar this year. My husband and I have been married for 17 years. We are struggling with feeling connected and I thought this exercise might help. I started a list in my Notes app on my iPad. Every day I write the date and I start out with “Thank you for…”. I thank my husband for the little and big things he might have done for me or my family that day. I plan on printing this out and making a mini book for him at the end of the year.

  5. Melissa says:

    What an absolutely awesome idea. I am starting today. Thank you so much for your ideas, products and inspiration. I know you will be blessed for the good work that you do.

  6. Shanon says:

    What a great idea! I hope you also keep some sort of personal journal. Something that is just for you. Your children may not ever read it Until after you die, but that little bit of insight into your inner world… Into your thoughts, feelings, testimony, doubts, fears, loves, strengths, weaknesses, etc. will be PRICELESS to them at that time.

  7. Holly says:

    This is a great idea! Since I am terrible about keeping a written journal, I set up a private blog for my kids. I title each blog post as “Dear (blank) and I write a short little message to them individually or together usually straight from my phone. One day I will have a book printed for each child only including the entries meant for them. :)

  8. Sarah says:

    Thank you for the reminder! I have a journal for each child (ages 6 & 9), but these days I only seem to write in it a few times a year. After reading your post, I decided to show them to the kids. My 9 year old looked very touched that I have been doing this and he was excited to hear that I’ll be continuing and trying to write something small every day.

  9. Amber LaBau says:

    LOVE this Becky! I’m starting this today!! ♥

  10. Stacia says:

    I did this for most of a year with my older boys and we came across one of those journals in the garage last summer, while my second son was helping me clear out some stuff. He sat down and just read it for about half an hour. So precious.

  11. Sarae Martin says:

    I also started a similar journal, that I may add this element as well. My journals are prayer journals for my children. When I worry about them…I write a prayer. When I really want to say, correct, tell them what I think, but it is better for me to be quiet and let them learn on their own…I write a prayer. When things feel out of my control…I write a prayer. My thought on mine was to give it to them when they had their first child…to show all the things we worry about, and yet how the Lord walks with us through it all!

  12. Janelle says:

    I do something very similar with a product called “the i like book” found here: http://www.theilikebook.com The book contains a year’s worth of daily i-like writing spots (two lines each). You can write things you like about the person, things they did well that day, things you enjoyed doing with them that day, etc.

    This is my third year writing in i like books and it has been awesome. My boyfriend and I have one that we write in every nite for each other. We also have one for his 11-year-old son who, when he tells us he’s ready to be tucked in, says “make sure you write in my i like book!” He loves it. I recently bought two books for my nieces and their mom took a different approach: keeping the books in her bag and writing in them any time throughout the day.

    I’ve found that this simple habit vastly improves confidence, ensures the feeling of being loved and appreciated, encourages positive behaviors, and just improves relationships overall. I’m so glad you’ve found something that works for you and your family too!

  13. Carol says:

    I like this idea, wish I had done it when my boys (now grown) were small. I would still like to think of a routine way to record thoughts I have about them as they navigate their adult lives and a way to record thoughts I have about my grandchildren who live four hours away and who I don’t get to see enough.

  14. Karen Schmidt says:

    Great idea as always. I’m going to start myself this week. I’ve kind of been doing this in my calendar but I like it all in one spot. I can go back into my cal and back write from the starting of this year. Thanks Becky.

    • judi walker says:

      I noticed early on when my kids were little that birthday cards were just something they opened and tossed aside if there was no cash inside. So I started a new tradition. I still bought the cards but I didn’t give them to my children. I journaled inside the cards, recapping the year and then stored them away in each of their “boxes” with other items from their childhood that I’ve saved for them.

  15. Jaimee Howard says:

    this is such an AWESOME IDEA!!! I am totally going to do this. I was just at Target, guess I am going back. :) Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. Randi says:

    I’ve been doing a similar idea with something called the: i like book for kids. It’s got two lines for two caregivers for each day of the year (I use it and simply spill into the extra lines). You simply write something down each day that you like about your child. (For me it ends up being just what you’ve described above…writing a quick note about something I noticed about her that day that I liked…her personality…her behavior, her words etc. Each night I write something and show her as she’s getting tucked into bed. The books are available on line for anyone interested…

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  17. Me. says:

    When my ex-husband and I were separated and I was desperate to show him I cared and didn’t want a divorce, I knew I needed to do something meaningful, but my attempts thus far had fallen flat. One day I came up with the idea to write something each day that I was thankful for about him. He didn’t know I was doing it and it eventually got to the point that despite any attempt I made we were going to end up divorced anyway, but I kept up with it for a few months. The journal was very healing for me because I was able to focus on the positive things about him and try and see past the hurt and anger I had toward him for choosing divorce. I did eventually give it to him, but not as attempt at reconciliation, but to show that despite our differences and divorce, he was still the father of my children and I did appreciate him even though our marriage failed.

  18. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    I write notes in the same way I take pictures to capture a moment or something beautiful from life. They are usually brief short notes that don’t take too much longer to jot down than it would take to snap a photo. Eventually, my goal is to preserve my notes and photos from the last 11 years into project life formats. The combination of journal cards and places for photos is what appealed to me since I like to tell our story with both. Thank you Becky <3

  19. Wendy Hamm says:

    I have a love of stationary and notecards. When my daughter was born (20 years ago) I decided to write her notes and letters. I have them stored in beautiful fabric boxes and will give them to her when she graduates college.
    I also continued the tradition for my son who is 10 years younger.
    They both know these letters exist as they have seen me writing them, but have never asked to see them.
    These notes/letters are love notes, reminders of accomplishments and successes, funny/hysterical things they’ve said.
    I don’t write everyday and that’s fine with me!
    I’ve tied each year up with ribbon and they are in order so they will make sense.
    I know my children will love this and I’ve enjoyed writing for 20 years (about 10 more to go). And I love finding awesome notecards and stationary to feed my habit.

  20. Jennifer Hubbard says:

    Beautiful Idea!! I’m going to get my girls one today, Thank You =)

  21. Tammy says:

    Love this idea!

  22. Ana M. Quinene says:

    I really Love this Idea, and even that my son is now a grown man, I can almost still sit down and write a journal about his past. And now that I have grand kids who live with their parents and not me, but having this opportunity to bond with them when I can be with them in person, I picture the different personalities.

  23. Lynn says:

    My husband and I are adopting our first child from Thailand and will be bringing our daughter home in the next few months. Thank you so much for this wonderful idea! I am definitely going to start a journal like this as soon as we meet her. :)

    • Susan says:

      Lynn, how awesome. Why wait to start the journal? Start now, writing down a thought each day or every few days as you prepare for and anticipate her arrival.

  24. Rosa says:

    I Love this idea! I have several different journals going, but never thought to keep one for each of my boys. This is definitely something that I can keep up with… probably at the end of the day before bed. You are right, life slips by rather quickly and sometimes the most important people in our lives and the most meaningful things slide. Here’s to trying!

  25. ana roat says:

    I was at Target this morning and noticed a little set of journals and Becky Higgins popped into my head! I use my filofax daily organiser. I have several sections that help me with special thoughts, wishlist and PL happenings. I also have a section for Reagan and Hazel my awesome little granddaughters. Maybe I’ll go back and grab a set and start one for each girl and their parents.

  26. CP says:

    After a particularly hard day and stressful couple of weeks as a working mom stretched to the limits, this post just has me sobbing. I would love to do something like this, need to do something like this (especially to remind myself of all the wonderful things about my son who has ADD and is just HARD) but I am afraid I would not make myself find the time and it would just be something else to feel guilty about (like the 50 unused PL kits in my craft room…ok, maybe not 50 ;) ). Thanks for “listening” and letting me be a cry baby in public. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. :)

    • Rachel F says:

      CP, I’m a working Mum as well and I know exactly what you mean… sometimes (OK, a lot of the time!) we have absolutely no choice but to spend 100% of our time on the essentials: earning a living, keeping the kids fed and going to school, keeping the house liveable… oh and somehow fitting in enough sleep so that we keep functioning ! :-) I don’t think a daily journal would be at all possible for a Mum who works full time, but an occasional journal is, *but only if it’s something you would enjoy doing and not become another chore*. (You’re spending I guess major hours a week providing the essential income for your family, plus major extra hours on housework and cooking, that’s a helluva contribution to the lives of your kids, keeping a journal for them as well should never be a ‘have to’!) Because I enjoy it, I’ve kept a diary about my kids now for 15 years. Sometimes keeping up with the essentials mean that I can’t write in it for 3 months at a time, and I never get to write in it more than once a month, and it’s a braindump rather than anything deep and meaningful – but you still remember a whole bunch of stuff you’d forget otherwise and even as teenagers they still love reading about themselves when they were toddlers. But it always comes back to – if you’re barely getting enough sleep, you don’t have time for it, however lovely it would be in theory :-)

  27. Love this idea! I have the same journals and am in love with them… so sweet! I can’t wait to go get three more to use for this new habit.

  28. Tara says:

    I have EIGHT children, ages 22-under one year, and I have two grandchildren. HELP!!! I am seriously overwhelmed. I am an avid photog, so there is no shortage of pics..

  29. Lori says:

    Perfect idea! No kids here, but I will be doing it for my soon to be husband. However, I’ll be using the new 6×8 albums and the Design 4 photo pocket pages. I’ll jot a note on one of the 3×4 cards and slip them in to the album. So easy and another way to use the new products (which I love)!

  30. Mindy says:

    I’ve kept journals for my three kids since my first was born 10 years ago. I love to have those books on the bookcase. They remind me of all the happy times, and that we can get through tough stuff too. Rather than a goal to write daily, my goal is to write once a month. It looks different every month…sometimes it is a recap of the month, sometimes the details of an achievement are noted, other times it is a simple love letter to my child. I would encourage everyone with kids to keep some type of journal–even if you only write quarterly. It is therapeutic for me and the kids love that I write for them.

  31. Lisa says:

    I love the way you turned these notebooks into cute journals. I’m a notebook addict but have been stopping myself from buying too many, not knowing what to do with them all. I use the Mom’s Line A Day journal (I think by Chronicle Books) and it’s the same theory. But I’m going to hold onto your post for when I finish the line-a-day book – two and a half more years to go!

  32. janelle says:

    Love it… I started journal’s for my first daughter and wrote daily or weekly about all her accomplishments for the first 4 years I was so proud of myself . Enter daughter number 2 … eeks I made a valent effort but have fallen short, probably only up to tear 2. I always say … today I am going to catch up but … well you know how that goes. Now this simple idea will work perfectly and provide the tid bits of life that mean the most. Thanks

  33. Faith says:

    Last night my husband and I enjoyed seeing the red moon and lunar eclipse. Why is this relevant to this post? Well, this morning I was noting how I noticed he made a point to set his alarm so we would wake up in time to see this beautiful site in the “I noticed” journal I started for my husband as a Christmas gift after this post. I’ve been working on it for a month now and wanted to take a moment to say thanks! Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to reconnect with my husband and let him know that I do really see him and the way he shows love. When I read this post I realized this would be a great simple way to show him that I notice along with a couple things we are doing together. So far I find that it helps put me in a better state of mind about our relationship and I know he will enjoy it when he gets it.

    Thanks for sharing your idea! Thanks!

    • Nicole says:

      One of my friend’s had her first child last year. When she found out she was pregnant and told her father, he started sending her letters in the mail (actual snail mail). They were just little strips of paper that he cut from his journal he kept for her when she was just a girl. Little things like “Went to the drugstore today. She got a chocolate donut.” She loves what she gets, and now keeps it up for her little one. I am going to start, and hope beyond hope that this is something I can get into a routine with. LOVE the idea. THANK YOU for putting this out there!

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  34. Susie says:

    Such a wonderful thing to do. My husband wrote a journal for each of our three babies about the first year of their life. Every month he wrote a page or two (typed). I have only read snippets. It is highly emotional especially reading his perspective. I look forward to seeing my kids read it in the future.

  35. Manisha patel says:

    Such a beautiful thought!
    I used to write down a few things for my daughter untill she was 4, now she is 5. I have hardly done anything for my son who just turned 2, but am sure going to try now. Thank you for this inspirational idea.

  36. Barbara says:

    What a joy to find your blog! A friend of mine through blogging mentioned this post and was writing about her personal evening time after her little ones were in bed; and she started her time writing a sentence or two about what they did, said, etc. during that day…as soon as I saw “Becky HIggins” – my thoughts went to scrapbooking!

    As you can tell from my blogging website, I am also a scrapbooker, and LOVE the Project Life concept…I use the page protectors all the time, especially for travel pictures – sure makes things much simpler – and I love simple, too, because we certainly can get more done when it is simpler!

    Thank you for sharing! Happy to subscribe so I can read more!!

  37. Kelly says:

    I have been keeping what I call a “Kids Log” of my 3 little ones since I was first pregnant. They are full of funny stories that I only share with family. I plan to place them into scrapbooks by year, but haven’t gotten to it yet. BUT I have kept all of the stories electronically so one day I will sit down and do the books – it’s been 5 years so far!

  38. Rachel V says:

    I actually do this but use project life cards to do it. That way all my writing and all my photos of the child are all in one place. So instead of a page in a journal I take a project life card and write my thoughts and immediately place in their project life album. Or if I am behind then I make sure it’s dated then put it in the box I have for each child. Then later when I scrapbook that month I will place it in the album.
    –Rach

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