I am really sentimental. I have all my yearbooks saved K-12. I remember my 3rd grade crush’s birthday. And I wrote in a journal every night all the way through high school and college.
Enter Twins. And suddenly keeping track of milestones for 2 babies in the middle of sleep deprived pumping, feeding, rocking and surviving did not seem possible or practical. But I knew that just because these kids came 2 at once and were a little bit more high maintenance, they still deserved to know when they sat up and what their first words were.
So, how do I record these memories despite the lack of brain cells and time? Cute, Pinterest worthy baby pics and professional photo shoots are not my thing.
Here are a few ideas for what has worked for me:
I kept one of this calendars in a drawer with a pen right next to my rocker. As soon as something “calendar worthy” happened, I would get it out and jot it down. I knew I could always go back and add details later. I just knew I needed to get it down. The beauty to this is that the date and age is automatic. So for example, after the doctor’s office I would run home and jot down their height and weight on that day. It didn’t have to be a typical milestone either. If they had a favorite book, I would jot that down at the end of the month, “read Mr. Brown can Moo over and over.” Throw a picture on at the end of the month and you’re done!
We have a journal for each kid and we write in it for significant days: birthdays, mother’s day, 1st day of school, Christmas, when they need an uplift, etc. I record my thoughts and feelings, anything that captures their personality at the time, and my advice to them. The plan is for them to each take it with them on their 18th birthday. I think it’s important for them to have a record of my handwriting and a way to gain confidence if they are going through a hard time.
This was a lot of work, but I thought it was really important. You can’t remember much about those early days, but at least now I have something tangible that shows how small my kids were. From months 0-12 we ink their hand and footprints onto cardstock. (see Calendar picture). Then we do it at 18 months and 2. From 2 on we only do handprints once a year onto the wall or growth chart. It is one of their most favorite things to look forward to.
This is my new favorite thing. If you use Instagram, you can subscribe to the chatbooks app and they will automatically mail you a photobook for only $6 a piece. It is automatic and you can design your own. So you could make one with just pics of your kids first year, etc.
Digital Picture Frame:
We were tired of taking thousands of cute digital photos that never surfaced again. So we invested in a large digital photo frame for our family room. We load it every January with the best pictures from the previous year. It’s really fun to watch and tell stories with the kids, “Remember when…”
This is pretty self explanatory. But there are certain things that you just need to keep in your own mother heart. I have a private blog for this reason. I almost never use it, but if there’s something that happens that I need to record, but don’t want my kids or society to know about yet, that’s where I put it. Differences between kids fit in this category!
Birthday cards, School Papers, Hospital bracelets, Art projects, etc. etc. that pass the trash can test all get stuffed in a bin. We have 1 for each set of twins, and 1 for my husband and I. When they are full they go to the attic and we get a new one. We try to be picky and so far they have only filled up once in 7 years. School papers are collected in a cardboard box all year and then I sort through them in June and select only the elite to save in the “box”.
One of my favorite things for twins is giving them a Special Day that is just for them. It is close to their birthday but not shared with their twin. Sometimes we do a big activity, but most of the time it’s just a quiet day with one on one time. We do 2 things for sure though: Video tape an interview with the special kid and measure their height for the growth chart. This is also when we do their yearly handprint. I really think they look forward to these things more than their birthday! Also, about quarterly throughout the year, my husband will “interview” each child individually about how they are doing in life. Since they are still young enough, he will video these as well for our family records. When they are older and need their privacy the interviews will only be on tape with permission.
We also try to take a “professional” family photo to frame on the wall once a year. This does not have to be expensive or fancy. This one was done by a friend at the last minute. I picked out our outfits that morning. Our favorite ones were from WalMart. Also, please take pictures of your kids with YOU in them. You feel gross and unshowered and pudgy, but they will just want to see what their mom looked like when she was taking care of them.
Okay, so when you look at this all at once it can seem pretty overwhelming especially for you new twin parents! But, I promise it has all been doable and done in little chunks. The handprints have been done while screaming and ended up with smudges. The calendars have big gaps in them. I still don’t know what my daughter’s first word was. But the main reason I do this is to remind myself that someday I really will be out of survival mode and my kids will be grown humans who might want to remember how they started out