July 3, 2012

Write Stuff Down Because You’ll Forget (Tips)

DaddyTips—Thoughts on Dadding

When a parent tells you to write stuff down, they could be talking about good old to-do lists. I do that constantly; I’m concerned that I’ll forget to do whatever it is I’m writing down, and also because I actually am likely to forget whatever it is unless I write it down. (Follow that?) In this case, I’m not speaking of to-do lists. I’m talking about about stuff you do with your kids. You should write it down because you will forget.

You may think that you’ll remember. After all, you’re not that old, right?  You haven’t started forgetting things.

I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

I am past the point where I can pretend that I don’t forget stuff. It happens as you age. For me, this process was accelerated by having kids; I can’t prove this, of course, since I’ve only lived my own life and don’t know what it would have been like to age without children around. My assumption is based on the following logic: having kids keeps you busy and requires you to do stuff you wouldn’t have to do if you didn’t have kids. Everything takes up space in your brain. There are a tremendous amount of things one must do when one is taking care of children. Therefore having kids speeds up the Forget Stuff Factor. Just a theory but it makes sense to me.

Aside: I recently watched the Star Trek episode “The Deadly Years”, where Kirk, McCoy, Spock and others get infected with some sort of space sickness that causes them to age at a rate of roughly 30 years per day. The first thing to go? Memory. Let’s just say I found I could relate to the plot a lot more now than I did when I first saw the episode on the old black and white TV back before my age hit double digits.

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So why write stuff down? You do so much with your kids every day. (At least I hope you do.) No way will you remember everything. Nor is it realistic to try and write everything down. Unless you are a super-diligent diarist/memoirist/blogger and/or a cyborg, you shouldn’t torture yourself for not putting every parent-child interaction down on paper or other retrievable media.

But when you think of it, scribble down some thoughts somewhere — in a notebook, on a computer, even on a scrap of paper. The latter is the messiest but it’s better than nothing.

I remember that I have forgotten a lot of things I did with my children when they were very young. I have a lot of great memories as well; lots of photos, video, and assorted scribblings. It’s easier to document things now than it was when my first child was born; back then, my cell phone not only didn’t have a camera, I had never sent a text message. Now you can grab your phone and shoot a quick video whenever you feel the urge.

You should keep doing that. You should also make time to write stuff down. Videos are great reminders but they often come across as canned rather than candid. It’s unlikely that you made a video to remind you of the music your child listened to before bed when they were younger. So write it down. Because trust me, you will forget. And it’s nice to remember.

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