How much guilt do these books generate? Sure, your first baby’s may have all the blanks filled in, your second child’s book may give grounds for middle child syndrome, and any babies after that should just be grateful they were fed and clothed.

Then there is the issue of what those blanks represent. What do you do if you don’t have your baby Christened, or dedicated, and you think a naming day is waste of your precious time? Do you leave that page blank? And the family tree? Let’s not even go there!

I have read of mothers who use a calender for each child, each year, and write something at the end of every day, even if it is only one line. This may sound like a good idea at first glance, but the pressure to maintain such a practice daily is more than I need, and …..where do they store all the calenders?

For each of my children I have purchased a good quality writing book. This is used to record anything that is meaningful to me, or that I anticipate will be meaningful to them in years to come. Funny expressions, favourite books, people they have taken a special liking to, places visited, any milestones in development, even things I think may be a help to them as mothers themselves, such as a basic idea of routine at different stages of life.

This provides a snapshot of life all through the stages of my children’s lives. There is no pressure to fill in the blanks, I write when I have time and something to say.

My children love going back and reading about the time one daughter asked a visiting relative if that was a stamp (as in good behaviour!) on his arm? She had encountered her first tattoo. Another daughter at around age 3, when asked to lean closer to the fence at the zoo so I could capture her image with an emu in the background, turned and whispered, “Have a happy holiday, emu” which has become a standard saying for our family on sight of any emus! These are the kind of things we record, as well as some of the more heroic or generous deeds our children have performed for each other.

Each book has been written in the form of a series of letters, mostly by myself, sometimes with special entries from my husband, and on occasion, one of the elder children will write in the books of one of the younger ones if there is something special they want to share with that sibling.

So if you are one of those parents who are tempted to “fudge” the baby record book that you were too tired, distracted or forgetful to fill in, run out and buy some cute notebooks to preserve the memories of the meaningful times you have shared with your children. It will be something you can all smile over for years to come.

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