Are you one of those parents who creates a cute scrapbook with a color scheme? Did you write all of the intricate details of your child’s birth in a baby book with their name printed in gold foil letters the front? Do you get a picture of your child in the same special place on every birthday?
Yeah, me neither.
I’m one of those parents who is happy when I remember to walk out of the door with my keys. Somedays, I’m just glad my kids got fed, even if all that is in their bellies is graham crackers, fries, and pizza.
Don’t get me wrong—I admire the moms who have it together enough to schedule pictures with Santa, but I am not one of those moms, and I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m never going to be.
However, I don’t want to lose the amazing/ terrible everyday memories just because I’m a hot mess. I still want to remember that my daughter begged for a “white diaper” when she was potty training or that she thought shampoo was called “shadow poop.” I want to remember that my baby boy always takes off his shirt during naps for some strange reason.
So since my kids are never getting cute color schemed scrapbooks, I write them letters.
What I Do
I would love to sit down and write handwritten letters to my kids, but I have to do what works for me and what will actually get done.
My husband, James, and I created emails for the kids (we had to put our birthdays for it to work), and we write them letters about every month.
James and I write opposite from each other, but that’s okay. There’s no right way to do it!
He writes short letters and usually tells the kids about events that happened and what’s going on in our lives.
My letters are super detailed because that’s just me. I’m sure I’ve been talking non-stop since the minute I knew how to.
I also consider what I would have liked to know about myself as a kid and what I think my kids will want to know about themselves.
The Notes app on my phone is basically there to keep track of funny things my daughter says because I don’t trust my memory. I am 100% sure I’ll forget most of the things I want to remember, so I don’t even risk it. Later on, the content of these notes goes into my letters.
My mom had a book covered with strawberry print where she wrote funny or cute stories about my siblings and me. We would always lie in her bed and go through the book, reading the stories over and over again.
I like to imagine my kids opening up these emails when they’re older and feeling all the feels I did when I read the strawberry book.
Here are a few things I include in my letters:
- Funny stories/funny things my kids say
- Milestones (crawling, walking, talking, etc.)
- Words they can say at certain ages
- Details of special events they might want to know about
- Names of their friends
- Anything else I think they may be interested in
What I DON’T include in my letters:
Details about private difficulties. I wrote to my daughter about her tantrums, but I wouldn’t go into detail about financial challenges, relationship troubles, or anything like that. I believe there are some things kids don’t need to worry about.
My random thoughts. These letters aren’t my journal. Even though I include some information that doesn’t involve them, it usually has to do with them in some way, like special events or things that include family members they know.
Things they probably wouldn’t be interested in. I’ll tell them who won the presidential election, but I’m not going to go into details about debates. I doubt they’ll care about politics from a decade before when they read these letters.
Reasons to Write Letters to Your Kids
Everyone loves getting letters, right? But here are some more benefits to writing letters other than just pure joy:
1. It will help you remember. You think you’ll never forget how old your first child was when she started crawling, but those memories fade. I’ve gone back to emails I’ve written to my daughter and remembered things I would never have otherwise.
2. Your kids can learn about their childhood. When I ask about myself as a kid, all I ever hear is, “You cried a lot.” I wish I had more information about my childhood. What a great gift to give your kids these memories they wouldn’t otherwise have.
3. Your future family members will love to read it. Don’t you enjoy hearing about your relatives? I love hearing about how my grandma and her sisters put cardboard in their shoes during the Great Depression, and the little things they would do to make extra money. And I love it when my dad’s stories about the crazy things he would do to impress girls. I would love to know what my parents and grandparents were like as little kids.
Ideas to Help You Get Started
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some topics you can use for your letters to your kids:
Describe your child’s birth story. Try to avoid the bloody details, but you can tell them about the meal you ate before you went in the hospital, how you felt when they joined the world (in a nice way), and how it felt when you brought them home.
My sister-in-law went into labor while our whole family was on a camping trip and had to race down a mountain to get to the hospital in time. My nephew loves hearing this story about the hours before his birth. Do you have any stories like this that your kid would love to hear later on?
Tell your kid all about who they are now. Your daughter may not remember that she was obsessed with Peppa Pig at 3-years-old or that she loved broccoli and ranch, but hated every other vegetable. And guess what? You might not remember either. Describe everything about who your kid is at this particular stage of life.
Make lists. I make lists of words my daughter says and will do the same with my little boy as he starts to talk more. If you asked me right now what my daughter said at 18-months-old, I wouldn’t be able to remember, but I can go back to my letters.
You could also make lists of things your kids love, things they won’t touch with a 10-ft pole, and so on.
Recount big family events. If your child will hear about certain occasions for their entire lives, why not describe them in their letters? If they were at the event, go ahead and include stories about how they reacted to certain things or who they played with. For example, I lost my grandpa, and my husband lost his grandma this year. I described these events to my kids so that someday they could know how they were involved.
Write about your wedding day. Do you know much about your parents’ wedding day? I don’t, but I’d love to hear all the little details. Tell your kids all about when your family started.
Describe their friends. Chances are your kids won’t remember their very first friends, but those memories are priceless. I can’t wait for my daughter to someday read about how she and her sweet little friend would run in circles in the children’s section of the library (we kept them semi-quiet).
Like I said, my husband and I created email accounts for our kids (with our birth dates because children that young can’t have accounts), but if you’d rather keep your letters as documents, be sure you back up the files. I’ve lost so many files that weren’t backed up, but your letters are too valuable to risk losing.
So whether you are a hot mess mom like me or you have all your stuff together, I hope I’ve convinced you to write letters to your kids. I’m 99% sure your kids will love to read what you have to say (unless you spend too much time describing the weather patterns in your local area).
What do you do to keep memories of your kids? Do you write things down?