6 Ways to Preserve Memories of Your Kids (even for the non-crafty)

The fresh, clean-slated beginning of each calendar year is a perfect time to get organized and collect all those memories the family’s racked up over the past year — milestones, memories and creative projects. And luckily, technology has made it easy to do so. So whether you have a two-month-old or a twelve-year-old or something in between, go ahead and capture the latest chapter while it’s still sorta fresh. Here’s are a few ways to do it (and you don’t even need to be a crafty scrapbooker type- thank goodness, right?).

1) Give your kid an email address. And use it.

The least expensive and most low-tech option for saving your favorite photos is to create an email address for your kid, then send over pics and stories whenever you’re so moved. Everything will have a date and it will all be chronological, making it easy to find your favorite 2018 memories in, like, 2033 (though your phone will probably be able to read your thoughts by then, so you won’t even have to type anything in the search bar). Before my son was born, I reserved his whole name at gmail.com. While I don’t use it as much as I should, I sometimes send off  little notes and milestones or pictures. Everything will be there waiting for him when he’s ready to use email.

2) Use a journaling app.

My son turns three this month, and I have yet to create a single entry in the $80 hipster baby book I ordered from Etsy back when. Luckily, my husband and I kept track of his most important milestones in a baby journaling app called Tinybeans (DayOne is similar). Initially, we signed up so we wouldn’t spam all our social media friends with baby pictures (Tinybeans lets you invite friends and family to see your photos), but I loved that the app also asked me simple questions about my son’s development that helped me keep track of things like when he first rolled over, sat up on his own, etc. Someday I might even refer back to it to fill in that baby book. Maybe.

3) Create an actual artifact.

Photo books make great gifts for grandparents or distant relatives, but they’re also an awesome way to preserve your favorite memories at the end of each year. These days, most companies make it super easy, even connecting to Facebook and Instagram so you don’t have to do any uploading or organizing. You can just select your favorite photos of 2018, drop them into a template and voila! And since the options for creating photo books online are seemingly endless, it’s affordable to do it year after year, whether you use a drugstore photo department or a more upscale printer like Artifact Uprising.

4) Try Facebook Scrapbook.

Okay, Facebook may not be around forever, and some parents don’t like to post pictures of their kids there. But if you’re already posting a non-stop stream of adorable baby photos to social media anyway, consider the Facebook Scrapbook feature, which is basically the precursor to a profile. You can set up your little ones as family members (sans Facebook account), and the easily tag them in your photos to create a collection just for/of them.

5) Embrace the cloud.

My husband was always super skeptical of “the cloud,” which is just file storage on the internet instead of — or in addition to — your actual device (most of the time, everything even uploads automatically for you). But he changed his tune when he dropped his phone into a pond and lost every. single. photo. from my son’s first year, including the handful we had from the day he was born. Luckily, there are plenty of free options for saving your photos to the cloud, like setting up iCloud Photos on an iPhone or installing the Google Photos app on your phone.

6) Remember to photograph the art, too!

Kids make a LOT of art, especially once they’re in school. There’s only so much room on the fridge, though, and unless you have a bunch of empty file cabinets, you probably don’t have a great way to store it. The solution? Photograph it, then trash it (sorry, children of the world; it hurt to type that). Your photo collection — however you choose to create it — will be infinitely more interesting with original art peppered throughout, and in a few years, it will be fun to look back at how their work progressed.

Whatever you do, you’re just a few clicks away from making this one a year for the books. Or at least the cloud. You can always order that book later.

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Emily Farris lives in Kansas City, MO with her burly husband, toddler son, and two rowdy rescue mutts. She's written for Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and The Cut. When not busy cleaning up somebody's pee, she's posting about drinks and home decor on Instagram @thatemilyfarris.