Just this week I had three different conversations with parents seeking ideas for journaling to and for their families. As someone who has been keeping a journal for the past 34 years, I am often asked for tips and suggestions on what to write about.
Below are my top seven journaling idea suggestions to get you started. I hope these help to get you out of your ‘writer’s block’ and on your way to capturing the moments that matter!
1. Recent photos in your phone
One of the easiest ways to get inspired to write a journal entry is to simply browse through your family photos from the past few weeks. There will surely be events and memories you want to capture forever.
The reality of life is that when we don’t pull out some of the key photos and write the narrative surrounding the events they blend in with the tens of thousands of photos and become “white noise” on our devices. How many photos do you have on your phone that you will never look at again?
Taking a few minutes to write down why the moment was important, why it made you smile, and even the names of the people in the photo (think kids birthday parties), is a small investment of time that will pay dividends for many years.
2. Kids artwork from school
Parent guilt is a very real thing! I remember in years past feeling VERY guilty about throwing away my children’s school projects, artwork, worksheets, etc. And every day, more would pile up in the house. One thing I started doing was dividing the work into four different piles and then mailing it off to our four sets of grandparents. This was a win-win-win. Win 1, the grandparents loved it! Win 2, it got it out of our house (without guilt). And Win 3, the kids were thrilled that their grandparents got to see their magnificent works of art!
Now that we have the Legacy Journal mobile app, we easily snap a photo of the artwork, write a quick sentence or two about the masterpiece, and voila…it is captured forever!
3. My favorite…
Recently I was having a daddy-son night with our six year old. We started playing a game called “What’s your favorite…” where I would ask him about his favorite foods, songs, games, friends, or anything else I could think of to learn more about what was important to him.
After a few minutes, he turned the table and started asking me about MY favorite things. This was an awesome way for us to spend time together, learn about each other, and bond as father and son. I quickly added our favorite things as Legacy Journal entries.
This works as a great journaling prompt to let your family learn more about you. Just think about the value your grandchildren will get when they read your stories and learn about your favorite things (music, sports teams, hobbies, friends, foods, memories, etc.).
4. Family vacation
We have taken some truly epic vacations together as a family. Some of them have lasted up to two weeks. It is easy to remember some of the major highlights, but just as easy to forget many of the special moments experienced on those trips.
A habit I have taken up while on vacation is sitting down each morning with a cup of coffee, opening up my journal, and jotting down my highlights of the previous day. I will then add a few photos or videos from the day’s adventures.
I then repeat this process each day of the trip. When the trip is done I have a brilliant and detailed recollection of the entire excursion. For someone with a less than stellar memory, this little hack has been one of my favorites.
5. What I’m struggling with
Our children often look at us and see their heroes. They see grown adults who seem to have it all figured out.
What they often don’t see is the stress, the worry, and the struggle. I have long believed that one of the greatest things we can do for our children is to let them see our humanity. Let them know that we don’t always have it all figured out.
Let them see that we are fallible, we are doing our best, and we are human.
I also believe it is important to slow down and write about some of those struggles. Write about your fears, your failures, and the parts of your life where you need help. When we show our vulnerability we are not showing weakness, we are showing strength.
And these are some of the stories that just might make the greatest impact when our children (and grandchildren) read them later!
6. The funny thing they said!
It has long been said that laughter is the best medicine. When you have kids there is no shortage of funny moments!
If we are lucky, we capture the moment with photos or audio. If we are really lucky, we capture it on video (lookout AFV)!
No matter whether it is on photo, audio, video, or simply your recollection of the moment, it is vitally important that you capture those moments in your journal. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of times when I have said “I’m going to remember that forever,” only to forget what was so funny a few days (or even hours) later.
So take two minutes and capture the moment so you can relive it over and over again!
7. You might not know this…
It is amazing to think that with ALL OF THE TIME we spent with our parents growing up), there is still so much we don’t know about them. They were so busy being parents and we were so busy being kids.
A really great idea (as a parent) is to occasionally write a story in your journal to tell a story that your kids probably don’t know. It could be about a friend, a past love, a mentor in your life, an obstacle you overcame, time in military service, a wish you once had, or a million other possibilities.
Simply taking a few minutes to write it down could be one of the most rewarding things you ever do for your children. Side benefit…it can ALSO be a cathartic experience for you as well!
So start turning ideas into journal entries for your family
So there you have it! Seven ideas to get you started with your digital family journal. Make it a habit and enjoy each moment. The simple process of writing down life’s important moments will fill you with joy, peace, and tranquility.
Someone told me just last week that taking the time to write in his Legacy Journal was like an insurance policy. He said it gave him peace of mind in knowing that with every entry he wrote his family would know just how much he loves them.
You can create this. Leave your legacy. I promise you will never regret it!