Easy Way to Document Family Memories
When Ben was born, I was determined to figure out an easy way to document family memories. I wanted an attainable way to capture and document the small, everyday moments that make up our lives and not just rely on the significant events (like a birthday, holiday, etc.) to capture these special moments in time. I also didn’t want this method to require a ton of time or the “perfect picture”… because let’s be honest, AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE photography and find it fun to capture gorgeous photos (especially of Ben), but I knew this strategy wasn’t realistic to do on an everyday basis. I reviewed a lot of different ideas, and although all of them were super creative, I finally landed on one that was super simple and would easily work for our family.
And that’s where today’s post was born. I’m sharing the super easy way we document those “everyday” moments, as well as those extra special days too!
A Family Instagram Account
My mom actually inspired this idea (thanks mom!!), let me tell you why.
My mom was never into social media. She doesn’t have a facebook account and never had an interest in sharing her life on social media. However, she does like to keep up with her daughters and nieces and nephew’s adventures. My sisters and I set her up on Instagram so she could follow posts from Casey and me, she could see photos of her new grandson at the time, and stay updated on her nieces and nephew’s latest adventures.
She loved it! My mom followed about 20 family members and close friends of ours, checked in on it daily, and would be “caught up” on her feed within ONE minute. It was the perfect amount of social media for someone who wasn’t too interested in being plugged in. Slowly over time, she became more and more familiar with the app and when she started watching her first grandchild (Owen) full-time, she started posting one photo per day of their adventures together.
Easy Ideas to Document Family Memories
She captured imperfect photos of him and explained to her few followers (basically her kids + her nieces + nephews) what they were up to that day. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally came to LOVE these posts and really looked forward to them each day.
She didn’t intentionally set out to document Owen’s milestones but ended up doing just that… one casual day at a time. For Christmas, we surprised her with a coffee table book of all of her Instagram photos of the year and she cried.
And the best part was that it was already so fun to look back at how much the little guy changed over the first year and how much fun they had together. She also managed to snap and share a few pics of her and my dad’s adventures and our family’s adventures throughout the year, which of course made the book too! Looking back on the year of imperfect photos was SO PERFECT.
Fast forward a few years and she doesn’t post daily anymore, but she has continued her tradition to capture the imperfect photos that perfectly capture the “every day”. My mom now has TWO grandkids to share on Instagram and does a great job snapping photos of fun things she does outside of her time with those two cuties. We continue to get her a book of her Instagram photos for Christmas and she displays these books proudly. It’s turned into the best tradition ever!
So when Ben was born, I started a family Instagram account to do exactly what my mom did. The goal is to try and snap photos daily and never worry about the quality or how imperfect the scene is. I never care what’s in the background, what the light looks like, or how well it will perform on Instagram. I don’t wait for a special holiday or when Ben has his best outfit on, I capture the every day (imperfections and all).
Quite honestly, I wanted this account to stay secret from my friends because I didn’t want to spam their feeds with pictures of Ben every day. But a few of them insisted that they don’t mind the baby spam and requested to follow us anyway. And I don’t want to be rude, but I actually chose not to follow anyone on this account. This may not be the case for everyone, but I wanted to keep this account strictly for sharing our family’s memories for myself and not for anyone else.
I also usually caption the pictures as if Ben was talking. I also try and share milestones in these captions whenever I can, even if they’re super small. I know I’ll probably forget when he started sleeping through the night, whether he liked/hated rice cereal, what his percentiles at the doctor were, etc..
These simple captions will help document these tiny, everyday moments for years and years to come. Plus, I hope Ben will someday enjoy reading these books and reading all of this quirky information.
My goal at the end of the year is to print a book out of all of our memories, just like we do for my mom. I hope to continue this tradition by adding a new book of memories each year to add to our bookshelves.
I’m sure the photos will not always be taken daily, but I still hope to do my part in documenting the everyday moments forever. I already love looking back at Ben’s photos from when he was a newborn. He’s changed SO much in six months, I can’t even imagine what it will be like looking back at this book in 2 years, 5 years, 10+ years!
5 Minutes Per Day Saves You Stress Later
I have a few other things in the works to document Ben’s first year (I promise to share on his first bday!) but it’s always hard to commit to something that takes a lot of time or work, especially when a lot of the work for these yearly efforts falls at the end of the year.
I like this method because I can chip away at this on an everyday basis so I don’t need to invest an overwhelming amount of time at the end of the year. <— because let’s be honest with ourselves, that’s probably never going to happen.
Plus, I take a TON of photos on my phone but never follow through to get them printed (the struggle is real!!). My hope is that this plan will not only force some of these memories to find their way off my phone for once. And I hate printing photos only to find out that I don’t have a great organization system for them. This simple trick solves all of that for us.
I’m not sure if this method is for everyone, but I thought I would share what we are doing to document our family’s everyday memories in case someone else is looking for an idea. And for those of you who already have a great system, I’d love to hear your ideas! And I’m sure others tuning in would love to learn from you too. Give us all the scoop in the comments below!
P.S. We used several different companies to make my mom’s books. We’ve gone with blurb, shutterfly, and chatbooks. But I’m not sure which company I want to go with at the end of the year. Does anyone do this? If so, I’d love to hear your preferences! I want a company that not only copies the Instagram photos, but the captions too! Plus, I’d love to go with a company that allows us to have a consistent style each year.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.