Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell explain how the brain develops and the importance of telling stories to help your children grow up with better memories. There are several strategies recommended in the book to help the child’s brain neurons grow strong in remembering. Photographs can help trigger your own memories. When photos are shared with someone else or included in a memory book, they can stir memories as a result of the stories told by the other person. Some parents may not be too concerned about how good their child’s memory is or will be in the future. Does having a great memory really matter? Are there any other benefits linked to having good memories? What can storytelling do to help our connections and bonding with our children? This blog post aims to answer these questions.
First, let me convince you why having a good memory matters. Then I will help you find ways to help your children’s memories improve. How can memory creation through photo printouts or albums can assist you in developing your children’s brains and increase your gentle parenting ability. What sort of memories should you include or exclude and why. How to save money using photo creation websites, and provide your memory books in the form of a gift to your children when they are older.
Why Having A Good Memory Is Beneficial
I am not planning on sending any of our children to school (see my unschooling my toddler considerations blog post). However, even the best laid plans can fail if something major happens. It’s still worth being mindful of what school entails, in case for some unknown reason we have to send them before they’re ready. The best predictor of academic success is memory, which was found to be even more important than IQ (see full details in this research paper).
Daniel Siegel also has another book – available to buy on the link below. This book explains how ‘implicit’ memories are not specifically remembered events but are retained by our subconscious. Implicit and conscious memories can both cause reactions to traumas that happened to us until our brain has processed it. Memory hugely helps with this processing. The more we can help our children remember events and situations, the more they will be able to explain feelings and feel at peace with those feelings. If you have experienced the effect of any childhood traumas so far on your parenting journey, would you not wish that you had a memory book to help you try and deal with those faster? I would.
Options for Memory Tools
There are numerous options available for storing the memories you have created with your children.
- Diaries are ways that many parents will treasure the moments they have shared with their children. This can be challenging to keep up with and also depends on making sure your kids don’t get hold of it and tear is apart.
- Annual books with key moments and achievements – there are many of these milestone books available, particularly for newborn babies.
- Photo albums – printing lots of pictures and writing a few key points on the back.
- A blog website like https://gentleparent.co.uk can include a huge source of information about how your child is parented. This blog so far has information about what has triggered me, what sort of activities we did, how challenging things were, as well as mistakes I’ve made. It also includes the successes we’ve had on learning how to be gentle parents and the process it’s taken to get there. Ultimately I was driven to do this blog to be a source of information if anything happened to me. I wanted my children and / or my husband to be able to turn to me for wisdom even after I’d gone. To know “what mum would do in that situation.”
- Personalised photobooks – this is the way I try to capture our memories and is discussed more below.
What to Include in a Personalised Photobook
- Milestones / achievements / moments the children were proud or did something great.
- Poems – if you feel creative you could write a poem each year to include in the book, expressing anything you feel about your child.
- Brief mentions of key gentle parenting considerations. When we first started considering homeschooling, we included reference to that thought process by including a section about some local homeschooling families we’d met. I included photos of our children tandem feeding and / or longterm nursing. My husband questioned whether our kids would want to see that in the many years to come. I felt it’s important to normalise breastfeeding in a society where it’s not so common. We agreed to include them, though they don’t show detailed parts of the breasts anyway, or we edited them slightly with coloured effects.
- As many funny, exciting, interesting photos as you can fill it with. Our photo books are on average 30-40 pages per year.
- Include sections about ‘interests’, ‘favourite… food / book / activity’, any ‘firsts’ e.g. first flight abroad, bonds with siblings. We have a section for Daddy and child as well as Mummy and child, as well as other family and child.
Reason Photographs Are My Best Means of Capturing Memories
A natural part of being a parent, since the invention of photography, has to be the joy we have in taking and sharing beautiful, funny, memorable photographs of our children from shortly after their birth to their ‘first’ experiences of milestones, to family gatherings.
I have created a relatively detailed photo book for each of my toddlers annually. Every joyous moment for them I want to capture, and if I miss it in photographs I write down the memories in words. The photos are mainly so they can reflect on what their lives were like if for any reason I was not there to tell them. Besides that, even if I live to 120 years old, I am sure I won’t remember what happened to them when they were a year old. Even more so, pinpointing the exact memory to which baby it was could start getting more challenging as the years went on. We have hundreds of memories forming and connecting, and it could be possible to mistake which story related to who. This is the value of a photo book so your children and grandchildren can reflect back on what life was like for your kid’s upbringings.
Effects on your Gentle Parenting
Creating a memory book assists gentle parenting in a couple of ways. Firstly, you are searching for the positives and loving moments. You become more ‘present’ in your child’s life by waiting for the next lovely moment to capture. It helps you discuss happy moments with your children in a way that they may remember too, through real life images. It also allows you to freely express your emotions in writing, whether that be through writing an annual poem or talking about the challenges your children overcame. It could help with their future interests, as they can use this as a reference to look back at how their interests have evolved over the years.
Memory photo books send out strong messages to your children about how you raised them. Ultimately, if they choose to share them with their future spouses, it could hugely influence how they understand your child or how they raise their own kids. They can see a story in an easy-to-read form showing what you tried and tested, what worked and what didn’t. The likelihood will be that, even though that spouse was not raised by you, the gentle parenting themes you followed are more likely to continue down the generations. They can see the photo evidence of what an inspirational parenting style gentle parenting truly is.
How to Create a Memorable and Personalised Photo Book
I have personally used photobox.co.uk for the photo books I have created so far. The quality of the print has been excellent, the speed of delivery was good and overall I was proud of my work. However the gift boxes were a little plain with no option to personalise them, so if you decided to try photobox.co.uk you may prefer to find your own storage system for your precious books. Creating the product was easy enough by using their templates, and ‘add photo’ or ‘add text’ buttons. However, reviewing the finalised book before buying it proved quite difficult. Once you’ve drafted a page, they have it viewable only at such a small size that you have to really have your face close to the screen or click back into each box as if you’re editing to see what you wrote. If you plan to use photobox.co.uk, they are offering their best introductory offers via clicking on this link and entering your email address.