March 22, 2013

Family Journaling

Here's my entire February post from Or So She Says.  There's a bit of Valentine content (save it for next year), but a lot of these ideas can be used any time of the year.

We're talking journals today.  I have my wonderful parents to thank for my dedication to journaling.  My dad has volumes upon volumes of his own journals, and while my mom may not have volumes of her own, she started helping me develop my own volumes at a young age, and I haven't stopped.  My journals have evolved over the years, and often times don't look like a traditional journal, but I've found that anything  I've written (big or small, silly or serious) has been time well spent.

I'm a bit of a holiday fanatic (proof here, here, and here), so I couldn't have a February post without some Valentine's Day tied in one way or another.  Actually, holidays are the perfect excuse to add a bit of extra journaling without your kids even knowing it.  Here are a few ways we do "journals" during the month of February.  

Love Notes & Mailboxes

In our family, we each have a simple box that we leave out by our beds through the month of February.  We have a big pile of love notes (click on the link to print your own love notes) in our house, and every person writes at least one love note to someone in our family every day.  I have three boys and you wouldn't think love notes would be all that exciting, but they totally get into this!  It probably has something to do with the fact that they're six and three.  We'll see how much they get into this tradition when they're twelve.

I didn't have the heart to throw away all the sweet notes written at the end of the month, so I decided to get a cheap little photo album for each person in our family and put the notes in there.  At the end of the month, we each have our own book of love notes to keep.  

 Love Clipboards

We have a paper on a clipboard (a magnet board would work well too) for each family member at our house.  You could use this activity on just Valentine's Day, or leave it up longer.  We simply write one quick thought about each person when we have a spare second.  Keep these where you get a lot of traffic in your home- the kitchen is great!  Once you're done with these, put them in a binder to keep and read through.

I Love.... Journals

These are simple little notebooks that I put out for my boys (and myself) to use during February.  Their only job is to date stamp a page and write one thing they love that day.  It can be anything.  Toys, foods, family, friends, books, animals, music, sports,...  anything!

Love Letters Jar

I love getting mail- good mail, don't you?  I don't send cards nearly as often as I should, but during February (and actually November, we do thankful cards) we actually do.  It's all thanks to our Love Letters Jar.  We fill our jar with names of extended family members (you could put any one's name in).  Every day we draw out one name and write a quick love note to that person.  I've found that meal times work well for these because my boys are actually sitting still and will listen.  There's not too much noise when their mouths are full (well... sometimes that's the case).  I do the writing, and my boys do the talking.  We keep them short and sweet, and then mail them off.  Now these don't really count as a journal for our family, but I promise grandma and grandpa are saving every note we send, and that's a journal for them!  You can click here to print the love letters label.

February is probably one of the easier months to incorporate journal writing, but get creative.  I bet you could find a reason to add some holiday journaling every month.  Next month is St. Patrick's Day- perfect for, "I'm lucky you're in my life because...." or whatever else you can come up with.

My three boys (ages 6 and 3) each have their own journal right now.  We do a page once a week.  They choose what they'd like to write about, and then draw a picture of it.  Since my boys are fairly young, I do the writing for them.  They tell me what to write, and I write (word for word) what they say.  It usually ends up being around five sentences.  I try to keep it short and sweet so it's not a terrible experience for them.  We also usually have a little treat to eat while doing their journals.  Bribery... maybe, but it works like a charm!
Their pages go in page protectors, and then in their journal binder.  I can't tell you how many times I find my boys looking back through their journals remembering good times from their entries. 

I keep several journals.  They each have a different purpose.  I have a journal for creating, special moments, day to day, and for now, my favorite journal is the one I use to write one sentence about each of my boys at the end of the day.  It only takes a few minutes, and every minute is worth it.  You think  you won't forget that funny thing your three-year-old said at the dinner table that night, but you will.  WRITE IT DOWN!  One of my twins found out I was writing about him every night, and for weeks after that he'd ask me, "what did you write about me last night?"  I could tell it made his day to know that he was important enough to me to write about.  Priceless!  I've also done this kind of journal for my husband.  I did it for one year, and then gave it to him on his birthday.

I've heard of families who do a quick family journal entry every night at the dinner table.  I LOVE this idea!  Get a notebook, binder, 3 x 5 cards, whatever you want to write on and have each person tell one thing about his/her day.  If you don't want to write about the happenings of your day, use journal prompts (sites listed below).  Choose one prompt a night to read at the dinner table, and have each family member respond.  Record each response.  This also makes for great dinner conversation!

Date Stamp

You want to date every written item, and this is an easy way to get that done.  Your kids will think it's the coolest thing ever!  They'll want to stamp everything!  I got mine at Office Depot for $5.

Journal Jars 

You probably know what these are, but if not, they're simply a jar/container filled with writing prompts (see below).  Pull out a prompt each time you write in your journal, and write about the prompt.  Click here to print the journal jar label.

Journal Prompt Sites  

Speaking of prompts, these are a few sites I found with some great ones!  Sometimes you want to write about the day to day stuff, but sometimes you want to write about something else.  Check out these fun prompts to get your inner writer going.  These prompts are perfect for putting in a journal jar.

Inviting Writing Tools & Paper  

I'm always more inclined to write when I have a cute pen and notebook, aren't you?  Find yourself something that makes you excited to pick up and use, and do the same for your kids.  Have these kind of supplies out and readily available.  

Well, I hope you found a little something worth your time.  I challenge you to find one way to add journaling into your own life, and the life of your family.  It may require a bit of discipline and effort, but I guarantee you'll reap irreplaceable benefits!  

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Hope you found a little something worth your time.

Linking up to these parties & Savvy Southern Style.
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  1. Replies
    1. I'm so glad you liked the clipboards! We had a lot of fun with them. I was just over at Rain on a Tin Roof. I love your place! We'll see you around, and thanks again!

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