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Oh Snap! Preserving Childhood Memories with a Weekly Email


My husband and I have a running joke that I have a Swiss cheese memory–nothing dangerous, but I don’t retain things the way he does, including some memories of life events. It doesn’t take much to jog my memory, and of course, plenty of less-than-desirable memories are glued to my brain forever. (Hello, anxiety my old friend.) 

I want to capture my daughters’ childhoods and hold onto them without relying on my fragile memory, both for myself and for my girls. 

There are so many great ways to do this nowadays. At a recent coffee date with other moms from my younger daughter’s preschool, the subject came up and several moms shared their ideas, including creating physical books from their Instagram photos each year and using private or limited social media accounts to preserve and share memories.

Although I never finished my girls’ physical baby books, I have created an ongoing record of our family life by taking a lot of pictures and a lot of notes. I send both photos and notes in real time to a small group of family members who expressed interest when I started (unclear if they all still read/open the messages thousands and thousands of words later!). 

For the first five months of my older daughter’s life, I wrote every day and shared pictures, sending those musings and photos to my husband, mom, in-laws, sister, a cousin and a few aunts. I also blind carbon copied an address I made just for my new baby. After five months, I realized the audacity and ridiculousness of daily posts (SO enamored and blissed out on that baby!) and shifted to writing a weekly message. When little sister came along, she got her own email address to start receiving the BCCs. Now, Sunday afternoons are when I typically process photos and write about our weeks.

Because I used Gmail, I can login to my daughters’ accounts to search for specific dates and info, which is amazing. I should back up my data regularly to ensure that should Gmail ever disappear, I still have access to all these memories. (The photos themselves are all saved in dated folders on my hard drive and backup–each image named YYYYMMDD_# with original and small file size versions.) My mother-in-law also saves every message somehow, so there are inherent backups happening without much extra effort on my part.

I am SURE my daughters will never go read every word I’ve written about them, but I bet I will. I already love reading back through what life was like before, which provides some motivation to keep going. If my girls ever wonder when they lost their first tooth or learned to tie their shoes, chances are the answers will be in their inboxes. 

I haven’t given any thought to when these weekly messages stop–college I presume? Will I get fed up and tired of doing it before then? Time will tell. 

What do you do to preserve your precious family memories?

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19 Nov 2019


By Mari Walker

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