Journal Keeping

 

By Ron Hindbaugh M.A.

 

When you are young and it seems like all you have the time or energy to do is to keep the kids fed, clothed, and sheltered, keeping a journal is the last thing in the world you feel you have time to do. To be truthful, it is probably one of the hardest things to work into a busy day. But, time will pass and memories will fade as our children grow up. As a result, a record that is kept or passed on can be a very valuable thing to a child when they have grown up. So let me give you some encouragement and a few ideas that may help you to do something you want to do anyway but have just put off.

For those of you who have resources there are sources for journals, baby books, etc. that can guide or organize your thinking so that you capture those things that most people like to remember about themselves and their kids. "The Geddes's Baby Record, The First Five Years" is one book that some people like. "Keepsake Baby Journal and Plaster-Casting Kit" is another. "Baby's Journal" is still another popular book on the market.

Time capsules have always been popular. Two examples of commercial time capsules that people might like to consider are the "Crayola Time Capsule" and one by Somerville House; USA called "A Time Capsule for the 21st Century.

But all the books or commercial products in the world cannot take the place of a simple notebook that is written in every day before you go to bed. A review of the day and putting your thoughts down on paper creates, in time, a sort of scripture for your family. It is a time when you can reflect on what has happened during the day and the growth you have seen in your child. It is a time when you can explain things you know your child would not understand right now, but may be of some help thirty years from now as they read your thoughts as they are raising their own kids.

But, like all tools, a notebook, even though simple, is not necessarily the "thing" for everyone. Some people like to take pictures and can create beautiful photo albums that chronicle a child's growth in ways that are impossible with words. Some people save schoolwork and make a scrapbook of the child's progress academically from the first scribble to the complex analytical geometry quiz taken in college.

Some people sit down each night with their child, recording his/her thoughts on paper or into a tape recorder creating the habit of journal keeping in their child from a young age. These people hold the child responsible for recording his or her own discoveries.

In this modern world the use of the computer or video camera can be used to record the memories of the past. For me personally it is much easier to punch a computer key that brings up my journal program and record my thoughts, let the computer do the spell checking, push another button to save my work, and print out my journal when I want a copy.

The hardest thing to do when keeping a journal is to develop the routine. Once established, this routine seems to develop a life of its own. But once you cheat and skip a few nights (or mornings) it becomes harder to get the routine started again. To keep at it one has to develop this image of yourself or one of your children reading this journal 30, 40, or 50 years from now. Picture your great, great, great grandchild reading your journal and recognize that a journal is probably the only way you will ever be able to communicate with them. Otherwise, the information they have about you will be second hand from someone else. If you can keep this image in front of you journal keeping will manage to keep its place as a significant project/event in your life.

Journal keeping is one of those things in life that is a pain now and a joy later. It requires discipline and persistence but can reap great rewards if this habit can be cultivated and maintained.