2020 will certainly go down in history, and is a year our children, grandchildren (and their children too) will want to look back on and talk about. Maybe it is indeed the start of a new norm, and things like hand-shakes and hugs goodbye will no longer be part of every day life. One thing is certain - most of us will forget so many of the details, and what may have felt like an endless groundhog day will no doubt soon become dim and distant memories.
Love it, hate it, or simply making the most of it, there will be aspects of 2020 which we will want to capture, keep hold of and indeed cherish, especially as our children are growing up. A year in a child's life is an enormous amount of time - the younger they are, the more quickly they change.
We have pulled together some ideas to help you keep these cherished memories alive for years to come.
Photographs and video.
With our phones on us most of the time, we take so many photos nowadays that the special ones can be lost in an ocean of millions! It is a good idea to create digital folders by year, and set up files for each month within that year folder. If you have several children, it may also be a good idea to create a folder each for them too, and save copies in these so all the images they feature in are easy to find. Thinking long term, a memory stick full of images of them growing up is a really lovely gift when they are older - you can print the best ones from those to make a personalised photo album perhaps as a 16th, 18th or 21st birthday gift.
At the end of any day out, or at least once a week, try to go through the photos you have taken and save the best to your folders. Don't forget to back everything up! Also at the end of each year, you could print off your favourites, and place them in an annual family photo album - what a lovely way to remember all the best bits of the year gone by, and a great activity in the Christmas holidays!
We have found over the years the very best photos we've framed and kept tend to be those taken by a professional. A photoshoot makes a lovely gift - and likewise, the shots taken make lovely gifts for friends and family too. We have found some great photographers capturing some beautiful images, even during lock down with social distanced outdoor photo shoots. Especially precious images have been captured of newborns and young children by Herefordshire photographer Charlie Summers Portraits.
Diaries, journals and blogs.
A simple way for you and your children to capture thoughts and memories is by keeping a simple hand written diary. Make a habit of writing a little every day, or every weekend, and soon you will have lots to look back on. Even if you just list where you went or what you did in a pocket diary, it can help you look back and remember the day. You can spend as much or as little time as you like over diaries, blogs and journals; recording in great detail the sights and smells, thoughts and feelings you had during an event or activity can really help you remember it so much better when you look back in the years to come. Many people also find keeping a journal or blog is highly beneficial for their mental health.
If keeping a full blown journal does not appeal, how about an annual memory jar?
This is just a simple empty jar (or even a box) in which you post notes about things that you have enjoyed or made you smile. Maybe you went for a walk somewhere new, enjoyed a film you all watched together, or something funny one of your children has said or done - simply write a few words about it on a scrap of paper, along with the date. At the end of the year, open the memory jar and read all about the best bits of your year!
Something to hug.
Children's clothes, baby blankets, and even the school uniform they no longer need can hold so many memories. Leaving school, or changing from primary to secondary school is a big step in any child's life, and only happens once, so what do you do with that final uniform? We can think of no better keepsake than a teddy bear, quilt or cushion made from these precious items. Once Upon A Time Keepsakes create bespoke items so you can keep those cherished items to hug, hold and admire for years to come. And it doesn't have to be just children's items - a wedding dress, prom dress, ties, or a loved one's everyday jumper you wish to keep in remembrance of them, Nikki can help you hug them forever. You can contact her on the Once Upon a Time Keepsakes Facebook page here.
A special birthday card, a ticket to the zoo, a pine cone found during a walk, or a shell they picked up on the beach - these can all be real treasures for children and adults! Having a box ready to receive them is ideal, so save a sturdy cardboard box for each child (and adult) to collect their precious keepsakes in. While there are plenty of attractive boxes made just for this kind of storage (check out Etsy for example), why not encourage your children to get creative with a shoe box or similar? Paint, glue, old birthday wrapping paper, stickers, buttons and ribbons can all make for very individual and amazing creations (and is a great craft activity which can be added to with further decorations over time). Keeping a small diary in the box to record where each keepsake was found or from is a good idea too - or you could end up with a box full of confusing items and mixed up (or lost) memories. If you and / or your child tend to hoard everything, you may need to sort through the box on a regular basis and discard items you realise probably aren't the best keepsakes. This is another great exercise in reminiscing over the things you have done and good times you have had - and can be a practice at decluttering! Those very best items collected - why not transfer those into a scrap book?
These offer the best of both worlds. Why not combine photos and small keepsakes in a scrap book? These can be basic - just plain paper stapled together even - or far more ornate (simply do an internet search - we love the bespoke ones on Etsy). But they don't have to cost much at all. Now is the perfect time to look out for those large annual diaries at reduced price - and let your children fill them with memories of all they have done this year. Stickers, photos, tickets, pressed flowers and leaves, a lock of hair, a piece of fabric from an outfit worn, a feather, along with hand written memories can all create a lasting memoir for you and your children to look back on for years to come. If they enjoy scrap booking this could become a regular ongoing hobby, and provide you with gift ideas for the future, with pens, stickers, tape and so many other scrap booking accessories available.
We hope you enjoy the rest of 2020 - whatever you do, make sure you keep creating, capturing, and saving those precious memories!
Mum. Nan. And editor of Raring2go! Hereford & Worcester.