Remembering it all

This blog is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. For more info about my book Homemade Kids click here

I’m running two blogs at the moment, trying to write two books and looking for more commissions. Even for a writer this seems like quite a lot of writing, so when WordPress nagged me at the start of the year to make a daily post I didn’t consider joining up. But as I’ve already written more than 130 Homemade Kids posts during 2011, I have decided to risk the post-once-a-week challenge. Along with 10,000 others! It makes you realise how big our cyberspace community is.

I partly write blogs – take photos, make memory books, shoot mini videos, and pester the girls to write their diaries – in a bid to help me and them remember the journey a baby makes through childhood. I love living in the moment, but I’m well aware that though the minutes may drag the years certainly fly by. My girls are 13 and 10 – ancient by newborn measures, and have lived enough life for us all to forget masses of it…

The Ahhh factor
So, may I urge you as autumn gently joins us to find a way to record your kids’ adventures, triumphs, tragedies, funny sayings, mispronounciations, happy scribbles and general achievements. You’ll have a lot of fun looking back at these memory collections. A shoebox of scraps might be enough.

I’ve recently put my digital photos together in books – super easy through Photobox, but there are loads of companies on the web that can do similar. I also love to print out photos, frame drawings (usually with frames from charity shops) and pile up things that make me go “ahhhh”. Yes it adds to the clutter of our house, but I love watching, recalling and remembering my girls as they grow up. It’s such a joy and privilege to be able to do this.  And of course you could always do it for a young relation, godchild (or oddchild)’s christmas gift.

Even more sensible
My unlucky next door neighbour, who I never met,  died unexpectedly from a brain haemorrage leaving behind an eight and a ten year old. She had no will (it’s called intestacy) and also hadn’t written down her wishes for the children who had different dads.

When a parent dies it’s bad enough, but trying to sort out the practicalities of who takes over as a parent, and whether the half siblings can stay together or not, must have been appalling, although in the end her family were well looked after by their close relatives. It certainly gave me a stark reminder to get on and write a will. There are DIY ones in WHSmith and on line, but you can also look for solicitors offering will writing services, or offering discounts on the normal fee. Here’s a price comparison list.

Of course wills need updating – and as your children grow your wishes for them change. Writing a wish list for my then toddler Nell I wanted her to be happy and to try stuff out. But now she’s 10 and on the cusp of going to secondary school I have tweaked my hopes for her, ideas on how to be happy and positive feedback on what she’s already achieved. In other words it’s a good idea to also write a wish list, an open letter to  your child if you like, which stays in a place that if you died unexpectedly could be found and at some point, perhaps, appreciated.

Letters from the grave have frightening power, so write carefully. Good luck, I think this is a more important task than cleaning the kitchen or sorting out a Christmas card list, even if it’s the one job that is so easily put off by the sheer pressure of everyday jobs.

Over to you
Let me know any tips that helped you get started – I’m still struggling to update my I’m dead, you’re not wishes list, last written when the girls were about six and three-years-old.

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