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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Parenting Tips: Start a Life Record!

Today's parent tip is one I wish I had done with each of my first children.  Please PLEASE please start it today for each of yours. You won't regret it and it will bring years of helpful information and joy along the way. Make a L.I.F.E. record/book for each of your children. [You may even want to put on together for yourself looking backward!]

What is a L.I.F.E. record? 

It is a List of Important Facts and Events.

1. Get a notebook 
     ANY notebook... you can always make a pretty one or fancy one or computerized one later. For now the most important thing is to start!
     Get a notebook.

2. Set up your child's L.I.F.E. book:
     • Put your child's name in the front and skip 5 pages.
     • At the top of the 7th page write the year your child was born.
     • On the top of the 8th page write the next year.
     • Continue, writing one year at the top of each page until you get to the age they are now [ or keep going to 21, 25, or even 30]

3. Start filling in your child's L.I.F.E. book:
     • Go to the year 2011 and write the name of your child's teacher, the school they attend. 
     • Write their height and weight [I know it's not Jan 1st, but trust me when they are 30 and looking back they won't care that it was measured in March not January! 
     • IF you want, write one sentence about what they like/hate right now or what they are best at right now. [Ex: Loves or hates Justin Beiber or Twilight or whatever.]
     • Limit yourself to ONE sentence... maybe even a sentence fragment... this is a list, not a full biography!

4. Keep it going forward each year once you have started. 
    • When your child earns their first money [babysitting, shoveling, whatever].... write in on a line of that year's page.
   • When your child goes on their first date.... write in on a line of that year's page.
   • When your child learns to swim/ride a bike/drive a car.... write in on a line of that year's page.

5. In random moments you can grab,  start back-filling in your child's L.I.F.E. record.
    • On the page with the year your child learned to walk, write that in on a line. 
    • On the page with the year your child started school, write that [and the name of the school, maybe even teacher] on a line.
    • Did your child ever break an arm?  Write in on a line of that year's page.

IF you want to write more than "just the facts" about these events, DON'T write it on the L.I.F.E. page.  Write it on the empty back pages of the L.I.F.E. book [or even on extra paper or in another notebook] marking the year at the top of each. At some point later, you can make an overal L.I.F.E. binder, using notebook binder dividers to mark off each year. Photocopy the L.I.F.E. pages. Put the original L.I.F.E. pages as the first section. Then put the photocopy of each as the front page in each year section. Behind that year "index" put your pages with anecdotes, photos or stories for events of that year.

Remember, sometimes MORE is less helpful, because it may distract you from the usefulness of a simple, list form, scannable survey/summary of your child's L.I.F.E.

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