I grew up hearing the stories. How Grandma and Grandpa started out in a new state with a dog, a truck, a baby, and $10 in their pockets. The mischief and mayhem my dad and his brothers created, often at the expense of each other or their sisters, and much to the chagrin of their saintly mother. The life-threatening illness at my birth, and the miracle of my recovery. They were like colorful marbles in a kindergartner’s pocket. I loved them and treasured them, but hadn’t really given much thought to what research might say about their significance.
As I have examined both personally and professionally what makes for a strong family, I have been surprised several times to find research linking positive personal and family outcomes to families knowing the stories and histories of their families.
As an article in the New York Times stated in a review of some of the research, ” After a while, a surprising theme emerged. The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”
Erica Layne of Let Why Lead expanded on this same topic recently, sharing the many benefits of family stories for kids.
The idea that something as simple as story-telling can build stronger kids seems hard to believe. As I said, it was something of a pleasant surprise when I stumbled on some of the research. But it shouldn’t have been surprising at all. My Master’s thesis was on the topic of ethnic identity. The review of the literature in that area is very clear: Knowing where you come from and what you’re about is correlated with almost every positive outcome you can measure. It makes sense that those benefits are not limited to knowing your ethnic story, but extend more personally, to knowing your family’s story and your own.
With this information on my mind, I was excited when Beryl Young offered to share a guest post with you about how to capture your family’s stories and preserve them in a variety of forms. It’s something feel I took for granted in my own childhood, and hope to become more intentional about with my own children.
She stood on ballerina toes and stretched her little legs, as high as she could to reach a most treasured book to flip through.
Her baby photo album.
This particular afternoon was becoming our new normal.
At four years old she was growing out of naps, but still not quite yet ready to give them up completely. These days without sleep were showing up in tired afternoons of crankiness, lack of focus, and exhaustion. Both of us were working on how to navigate this transition into afternoons together.
I was searching for ways for us both to recharge following the flurry of morning activity. One day, on a whim, the photo album came out and it became the perfect starting point for quiet connection.
Afternoons snuggled up on the couch, looking at photos has become one of our favorite ways to ease into a new quiet time ritual. It invites rich and curious conversation, and engages our daughter in learning to appreciate her life in big and small ways.
Photography can be a great tool for finding passion and purpose as a mom, as you become your family’s primary storyteller behind the lens. But, it can also open doors for us to connect in deeper, more meaningful ways with our entire family too.
The importance of printing pictures has never been more apparent as my daughter develops this passion for looking through pages and pages of her squishy newborn photos. Now I’m plotting ways she and I can work together on these no-nap afternoons by creating some brand new photo books to add to our collection.
Here are 5 of the photo book ideas currently topping my list.
1) Day In The Life
I would really love to create a book with my family that documents one of our most ordinary days. The idea is to set regular reminders on my phone (for every hour or half hour for example) and then snap a photo of whatever it is we are doing at that time. The goal, by the end of the day, would be to have a robust documentation of the details, people, and places that make up a day in our life that I could then compile into a simple photo book.
2) An Event To Remember
Have you put off printing your photos from your favorite family vacation, your honeymoon, your child’s first year, or your annual family adventures? Make a commitment to tackle one of these projects, and get the photos from these family memories off your hard drive for good.
3) Print Project
I still have boxes of prints from my childhood, high school, and college days sitting on a shelf in my office. They are thrown into the box, without rhyme or reason, and are a disorganized mess. My guess is you have a similar box collecting dust in your house somewhere too. Make the time to begin the sorting process, buy a beautiful new print album at the store, and then have your child help you fill the plastic sleeves.
Get the kids involved with this fun project where you tell a story together! Take one of their favorite toys on an adventure for the day and photograph all the mischief the toy gets into along the way. This project would be the perfect chance to get your kiddos to help you compose and snap photos, practice educational storytelling skills, and author a book together!
5) Art Gallery
One of the books topping my list is a photo book of all the art work that gets created during school. The best pieces of her art I feel guilty throwing away, but it’s also starting to overtake our home. Why not photograph each piece of your child’s art and then create one photo book to display it all?
6) Important People
There are some extended family members that I want to ensure my daughter maintains strong connections to as she grows up. I’d like to collect photos of those people, both past and present, and compile them into a memory book for her to carry for her entire life.
With printing and preserving ideas fresh in your mind, I invite you to a completely FREE 2-week mini class where we’re actually going to print and preserve your photos, while exploring family connection behind the lens together too. My goal is for you to get the perfect gift for yourself or someone you love off your device and into your life before the holiday season officially begins.
Come join me for:
Embrace your phone: A start to finish system for printing and preserving the endless photos in your pocket
I’ll guide you, starting October 20th — but first, you’ll need to register for the free class experience right HERE.