It's instinctive to save life's little bits and pieces: old valentines, ticket stubs, pictures from the prom. These scraps help recall who you were, what you did, and how awful your hair was back then. Now, as a mom, you want to record every moment with your sweet baby, but who has the time? If you need an easier option than the endless fill-ins of a store-bought baby book, then give scrapbooking a try. It's creative, it's fun, and, best of all, you can do it with your friends.
1. Invite friends -- the more the merrier
Nearly every new mom wants to document the big (and little) events in their infants' lives. "I found it extremely rewarding to watch the scrapbook grow along with my child, from day one through the toddler years and beyond," says Elisabeth Bergoo, a mom of three in Marietta, Georgia, with decades of experience.
Setting aside a specific time to work on the book each week ensures that you'll have some "me time," or you can meet up with friends to make the time more social and fun. Not only can you share supplies, but you can also bond over those late-night feeding sessions and the spitup on your shirt. So take advantage of this guilt-free way to put your husband on baby duty, grab your photos, and head out.
To learn more, check out websites like www.ScrapJazz.com or www.Scrapbooking.com, which can point you to "scrapper" clubs in your area.
2. Smile, baby! Use pictures to say it all
Photos are the heart of scrapbooking, so if you don't already have a camera that you like, consider getting a new one. It doesn't need to be very pricey, it just has to take reliable shots. The key here is to get one you're comfortable with so you'll always bring it with you -- babies do the cutest things at any moment of the day.
Keep your photos in one place so you don't have to search for them when you're ready to work on your book. "Photo boxes store and organize your pictures by date, event, or theme," says Erica Oesterreich, a mom of two in Portland, Oregon, and the founder of PersonalScrapper.com.
Jennifer Kelly Geddes is the mom of two girls in New York City and senior associate research editor at Parenting.
3. Gather your supplies
Selecting the album for your scrapbook is one of the fun parts because you can let your own style shine. Choices range from modern to flowered and shabby chic, as well as versions that let you put your baby's picture on the cover. "Buy boxes, albums, and other paper materials that are archival safe, made without acid or lignin (a gluelike substance). Both of these can eat away at your pictures after a few years," points out Bergoo.
Designate another box for mementos such as ticket stubs, concert programs, maps, and postcards. Keep anything that reminds you of a special time that you'd like to include in the book. Some moms enjoy making multiple books, especially once they have more than one child. In addition to a main scrapbook for each baby, try small themed ones like a vacation book.
To get started, line up the following:
-The basics: your pictures, scissors, double stick tape, a glue stick, stickers, ribbons (and any other decorative odds and ends), and acid-free markers.
-An album with removable pages -- it's easier if you can take out the pages you're working on and lay them out on a flat surface.
-Beginners may want to try pre-made pages (designed by theme, such as baby girl or baby boy) from Creative Memories or Memories Forever (available at craft stores).
-A tote or basket to take it with you.
4. Let your creativity lead the way
Choose the pictures you want to begin with -- the 20-week sonogram, you at various stages of pregnancy, or shots from the delivery room. You may decide to crop or cut out sections of the photos, either to make them better or to fit them on the page; photos can also be cut into fun shapes (circles, stars, triangles) to make a more creative design.
Be sure to arrange a look that leaves plenty of room for the details that make scrapbooks so special: stickers, captions, and "journaling" or storytelling about the scene in the picture. "Journaling is actually piecing together detailed information about the people in the pictures to be passed on to the kids when they're grown," explains Oesterreich. Include names, dates, and your thoughts and feelings, as this information can be fleeting and easily forgotten -- especially in your present sleep-deprived state.
You don't have to spend hours working on each page; instead, just keep taking pictures or filling boxes for when you have a free moment to put them in the book. And in the end, even if all you've accomplished is sorting all your photos and gabbing with the girls -- that's still great.