Most moms have a phone full of candid kid photos. But when it comes to documenting milestones and big moments, actual parenting often gets in the way. So we asked five experienced moms to tell us what memories they wish they’d captured, and we offer a few mother’s day gift ideas that you can pull together for your special someone.
“I have tons of photos and they’re great, but when someone asks, ‘What was his first word?’ or ‘When did he take his first steps?’ I get a little sad,” says Jill Gambill McEnaney. “You think you’ll remember it all, that you couldn’t possibly forget when your baby took his first steps. But Mama Brain is real and the memories fade.”
“I have a friend who kept a journal for each of her children that she gave to them on their 21st birthdays,” she says. “They’re filled with photos, ‘firsts,’ and funny quotes. And they’re fabulous!”
The good news is it’s never too late to start documenting a child’s milestones, even if it’s the first day of first grade. Your journal doesn’t have to span two decades, either. Softcover mini books are perfect for capturing the highlights of a single year.
Recording milestones can be even more challenging when you have twins.
“I wish I had more of everything: Pictures, completed baby books, firsts,” says Angel Powell, a mom of 10-year-old identical twins. “I feel like we were so focused on everyday life that some of those things just slipped away from us.”
Once she was out of the new-twin-mom fog, Powell hired a portrait photographer to take photos of her girls. (See above for a recent shot of the girls by Andrew Cebulka, courtesy of Angel.) “We’ve managed to make it happen about every two years and I’m so grateful to have the professional shots. They are treasures and I always print at least a handful from each shoot.”
If you’re lucky to have professional family photos, don’t leave them sitting on a flash drive. Have lots of pictures? Use the Wall Design Wizard to create a custom gallery wall.
Mackenzie Smith Kelley, a professional photographer, takes plenty of pictures of her three-year-old daughter and even keeps up with printing. “The whole family loves looking through the books I’ve made,” she says. “And I love that having prints keeps me off of my phone when I want to go down Memory Lane.”
Still, she wishes she had captured more early words and phrases. “I’m better now about taking down sayings that make me laugh, but our photo books would be even more special with little notes and quotes,” Kelley says.
Many photo book designs are pre-loaded with photo and text combinations, so it’s easy to drop in your own favorite images and quotes.
If you do manage to capture all the best moments, it’s still important to back up your most cherished family photos — even if you don’t plan to print them right away.
“I was just staring down a closet full of broken iPhones and old MacBooks wishing I’d already gone through the photos, edited them down, and saved my favorites to one place,” says Amy Butterworth, a mom of two elementary-age kids whose husband passed earlier this year.
Galleries, which are complimentary with a Printique account, are a great way to store and organize photos, so you can order prints, books, and more whenever you’re ready.
“I take a lot of pictures of my kids and a lot of pictures of my husband with the kids, but I wish I had more pictures of me with the kids,” says Andrea Mallory, a mom of two. “We moved from the Bay Area to the Midwest when they were seven and three, and they won’t remember it as well as I do. It would be nice to have more pictures of all of us enjoying our life in Oakland together.”