Growing up, I always journaled. I didn’t always have a dedicated notebook or diary but with all of my adolescent emotions, I often found writing out my thoughts was the only way I could make sense of them. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be protective of my algebra notebook, lest a friend see my concerns about my crush written in-between pages of homework assignments.
Once I met my husband, I stopped journaling so much. I didn’t have so many heavy emotions to unravel and when I did, my husband was my sounding board. Though I knew my journaling was a big part of my life and I loved looking back at the way I thought about the world in my younger days, it suddenly wasn’t a priority. When I did jot a few words down, it felt like a relief. And then I’d go months without doing it again.
When I got pregnant I filled out a book week after week about what I was feeling and how I was doing. I didn’t think of it as a journal so much, knowing our future child would read it someday. When I got done, I thought it was a little lame…I spent a lot of time lamenting how badly my ribs hurt and continually saying how “excited” I was. I mean, I truly was excited but I was also too tired to think of creative ways to share that. I’m glad I did it – I know it’ll be something I appreciate someday – but I was out of practice!
The first few months of my baby’s life flew. Even now that we’re getting close to the end of the first year, I’ve lost track of a lot of the details. Luckily, after the pregnancy book, I started journaling again. I didn’t always have a notebook around when I had a few spare moments so I started using the notepad on my phone. When I couldn’t fall back asleep after a middle of the night feeding, typing my thoughts into the phone was a relaxing practice. Even though I wasn’t writing for anyone besides myself, it gave me perspective and made me feel less alone.
And now? I’ve been journaling more than ever. I know that someday I’ll want to remember what this moment of my life looked and felt like and I want to have an honest recollection to share someday with my son.
A few tips from my journaling journey:
-If you set a schedule for yourself, don’t beat yourself up if you get off track. Life will get in the way and that’s okay! Sometimes you’ll forget, others you just won’t feel like writing. Even if you have a week (or a month!) between entries, you’ll still be glad you’ve captured some of your memories.
-Not sure what to write about? Think about what you’re excited to do. What has been giving you anxiety. What conversations you wish you could have. Something your kid did or said. Even a line or two is meaningful.
-Make it easy. I used to love notebooks, but as a mom, I’ve been much more successful using my phone to journal now. Whatever method of getting words out is easiest for you is what you should do!
-If you journal virtually, make backups. Send yourself an email every so often with your journal attached just in case your computer crashes.
-Enjoy it! Unlike, say, rock climbing, journaling is an easy, relaxing hobby you can do literally anywhere. And in a world where we take at least twenty pictures a day on our iPhones, I think there’s something so meaningful about documenting not just the images of our lives but the words that accompany them. Happy journaling!