Okay listen dudes (and dudettes), I'm no Martha Stewart. I could go into a long list of examples demonstrating how un-Martha I am, but I have a tiny bit of dignity left so I'll just leave it at that. What I have learned to do though is mastering the maximum impact with minimum effort. This isn't because I don't care to put in effort, nor is it because I don't have the capacity to care more, but it's because at the end of the day, parenting is a full-time job and so making the most out of the little time we have is the key.
We spend a lot of time trying to DO really fun, exciting, educational, meaningful, etc. etc. etc. things with our kid(s). I'm amazed when I get tagged in photos or posts of dads out there who are really going the extra mile to help make their kid(s)' childhoods amazing! Go you! You got this! Keep up the good work! (And keep tagging me, it's inspiring).
Now that you've spent the time doing great things together, let's focus a bit on easy ways to PRESERVE those memories. Why is this important? Good question. First, it's important because it helps give your kids memories to hold on to and remember, especially if you aren't always with them. Second, our brains are incredible and mysterious, but they can also suck at remembering stuff. Hell, I have no idea what I ate for lunch today. So we gotta do something to keep our memories accurate. Finally, it's great because it will help generate more ideas of fun stuff to do in the future. You can look back at stuff you'd done and be like, "whoa, that was great, the kids loved it, let's do it again." You get the idea.
Okay like I said, at the end of the day we gotta keep things simple, so I came up with an acronym to remind you (but mostly me) of ways to preserve memories: PB&J. Ya, like the sandwich. (Also, as a parenthetical, which is why this is in the parenthesis, who doesn't like PB&J? I mean seriously, do you know people that don't like it? Not people who are deathly allergic to peanuts mind you, I mean peanut-eating, jelly loving, people who don't like them together on a slice of Wonder bread? I'm not sure who they are, but they must be stopped).
We take them. We add filters. We post them. But I live in a fairly constant fear that a zombie apocalypse is going to happen and everything digital will be gonzo, so the real trick is figuring out ways to get your photos from the phone and into your (and your kid(s)') hands. I use Chatbooks (I should be a sponsor by now) which links to my Instagram account and then every 60 photos, it prints them into a book for me and also sends me a few prints. I don't have to even think about it. It's less than $10 a book, so a killer deal. My family also does an annual calendar with photos from everyone throughout the year. At the end of each year we've got a great photo album already made and if you use your calendar for special events and activities, then you're also documenting a full year for your family, and keeping that record for the future. I do this with a desk calendar too. Two birds, one calendar. WHAAAA? Whatever method you use, do your best to get your photos printed.
I like memory boxes. I remember having them growing up and I found some great ones for my kiddos at a local craft store. I put pretty much everything into the box: movie ticket stubs, report cards, photos, chore charts, crafts, letters/cards, you name it, instead of throwing it away, I'll mostly likely throw it in a memory box. I even put maps to museums or programs from church in there. I love this because 1) you've already got the stuff to put in there, so it's minimum work, and 2) all you're doing is lifting a lid, putting something in there, and then closing it, so it's minimum effort. Not to mention, it's minimum effort. If you fill up a box then just put it in storage and start again. Periodically take the boxes out with your kids and go down memory lane together. It's excellent bonding and also a great way to show your kids how invested you've been as a dad.
Okay this is the hard one. Keeping a journal is an impossible task for most.... most meaning me. Sure, I blog so it should make sense that I'd be a good journal-keeper, but I'm not. I'm terrible. So I researched great ways to keep journals with minimum effort. I found mostly shame-filled posts and sites telling you to journal online and not be so ugly as a human being. So I put my thinking hat on, backwards, and figured that I have to keep a log of my meetings with clients and work I'm doing so I can bill them for my time, so why not keep something similar for the kids? I got a weekly planner and write activities or funny stories or things like that in the planner. I also write my kids a weekly postcard where I try to write about stories or events in there. Am I perfect at this one? Hell nah. But I'm trying. That's what's important. I also like the idea of having a private instagram account where I can post photos or write comments or stories about my kids that is JUST for me, no followers. Then when I link that to Chatbooks, I've got pretty good journal already to go and bound in a book.
Okay gang, so let's review: we love sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, to be exact. We also love our kids. We love doing stuff with our kids. Let's figure out great ways to preserve those memories with our kids so we can enjoy them in the future. PB&J. We got this.
Also, watch me talk about this and sweat under the studio lights on CBS' Fresh Living by clicking on the photo: