Lesson #7: Keep Track of Things, Because You Will Forget
You don't have to be a fancy scrapbooker—heaven forbid! But keep the camera nearby and take as many pictures as you can. (For some reason, this gets harder as your kids get older. I have 6,000 pictures of blank-faced Zander on the changing table?and only five from his entire year of second grade.) Try not to fall into the trap of taking pictures only on "significant" occasions: birthdays, vacations, school plays, or sporting events. Instead, document the time your kid drew all over herself with Magic Marker or the absurd mess she made in her room when she was supposed to be napping.
Write the date on the back of photos, those "Do you like me?" notes, and memorable drawings. If you don't, you will forget. And try your best to jot it down whenever your kid says or does something funny (or poignant, or especially obnoxious), even if you have to dig an old grocery receipt out of your pocketbook to do so. You don't have to be organized—unless that's your thing; the time-capsule aspect of a shoe box stuffed with random memorabilia is part of its charm. And don't forget to save stuff that may not showcase your kid's finest moments but will make you laugh. When he was 3, Zander bit a kid at preschool. When his teacher pointed out that only food was for biting, he said, "But people are made of meat!"