November 2010. It had been snowing for days. I remember looking out the window, holding my newborn son in my arms. I felt alone and unsure. At the same time, I knew that one day I would be looking back, wishing I could relive it.
Becoming a mom is like a line from Alanis Morissets' song 'Ironic' – it's like having the most unique experience of your life, but being to busy to enjoy it. There is so much that's new plus you're the most sleep deprived that you've ever been. And you realize, everything until now has just been utterly, completely, gigantically… easy.
I read somewhere that sometimes, memories are better than the actual event, because during the event you're distracted. You're thinking of what could go wrong, about who could get hurt, about where you need to be in 30 minutes… about the laundry. But once the event is over, you can look back and oversee the whole thing. Everybody had fun, someone fell but didn't break anything, we were in time for dinner and we all survived!
That's why it's wise to invest in memories. They are life's most precious gift.
That's how Milestone™ started, with me trying to create better memories of my first son. As we were in our snow-covered cocoon, I started taking pictures of him with handwritten cards that added information about those pictures. So that, someday, when I would be less tired, less worried, less overwhelmed, I would be able to travel back in time and realize how very very very special it all was. How little he was. How we were both learning about each other and our life together as a family every day.
It was simply bigger than I could handle as it was happening.
So I captured it for some future moment when I would be able to relive those memories and value them even more.
Invest in your memories. Make time for them. It will be so precious down the line. Here are my tips for capturing and remembering special moments with your baby.
1. Document milestones during the first year with image cards
Your baby's first year is by far the year to capture and remember. Imagine going from sleeping 22 hours per day to walking in the span of 12 months. So impressive! I always enjoy the collages with our cards like this one.
2. Make sure parents get in the frame
Looking at my own baby photo albums, I realized that even though I enjoyed seeing the baby version of myself, I was much more drawn to pictures of my mom and dad. So do NOT forget to capture you and your husband or partner—together with your baby and also without. It is easy to take thousands of photos of your baby and avoid being in the shot because you're having a bad hair year, but it is so precious to see your parents at that age when you grow old.
3. Don't overlook the mundane
It's easier to remember highlights than the everyday things. But it's those everyday things that form your family. The way you eat breakfast, the bedtime rituals, the books you read over and over (and over and over) again. You think you'll remember those, but it's writing it down or taking a picture or video that will make sure you do.
4. Make note of the quirky things
For months, we played “the ring of fire," where our three boys would jump/dive/fall off our headboard through a hula-hoop that my husband was holding up. This says something about us as a family. The fun we have together. Every family has these stand-out activities. Capture it! It has a 99 percent bigger chance of becoming a memory if you take pictures of it. (Approximately.)
5. Kids say the darndest things—so write it down!
A great quote from your kids is like a dream. You wake up and you think, “Wow, that was such a cool dream, I want to remember this." Then you get up and—poof!—it's gone! It's exactly the same with the wacky and wonderful things your kids say. I write everything in my phone and then every once in a while write it down on our Milestone Mini Cards. A joy to last a lifetime.
More Motherly insights from Gemma Broekhuis
How do you make your mornings run smoothly?
By “hurrying slowly," which, for me, means keeping a steady pace without becoming hasty or stressed. Our alarm goes off at 6:45. After showers and getting dressed, we have breakfast as a family. At 8:30, we leave the house. The Netherlands is a country of bikes. We take all the kids to school and daycare by bike. That's what makes Amsterdam a really great city to combine family life and work. The school is an 8-minute bike ride, and from there it's seven minutes to work. I'm at the office before 9.
The life hack or tip that changed my life...
I end my shower with cold water every day for at least 30 seconds. I used to have cold hands and feet, not any more. Plus, it resets your mind and boosts your immune system.
What superpower have you discovered as a mom?
I can stay calm while feeling like I am exploding on the inside.
This quote inspires me...
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.Goethe
To me, Motherly means...
A beautiful, relevant source of knowledge and inspiration. And something I wish had been around when I became a mom.
Want to make memories of your own? Check out Miletone's Memory Cards here.