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A blog about keeping notebooks to document your child's development.


My husband recently alerted me to a radio 4 programme about notebooks, presented by the writer Ian Sansom.  He interviewed a composer and a computer visionary who all had personal ways of documenting their inspiration, be it an overheard converastion or just a word that could possibly spark an idea in the future.

As a designer I have always kept visual sketchbooks, for the most part, hard backed A4 with plain white paper. Along with my Prittstick and scissors I have produced books full to bursting with fabric samples, photographs, cuttings from magazines, labels, wrapping paper and cards which appeal to me. I have even been known to dive into a skip, as I spotted some vintage wrapping paper. I was warned to keep my distance as the filler of said skip told me it was covered in 30yrs of dust. Undeterred, in I dove, I was ecstatic with my find, I had a slight adrenalin surge, I'm not afraid to admit it.  

Since having my children, I am still an avid collector of visuals which inspire me but I tend to hoared them in drawers, rather than stick them in books. The notebooks I now keep are more personal. I record my kids' milestones, their idiosyncrasities, but mostly, their funny grammatically incorrect poignant sayings. You think you will never forget their hilarious phrases, their obsessions with certain items of clothing, children's TV characters or their inability to sleep without a tatty piece of unhygienic muslin rubbed under their noses. But you do. When I go to add a new anecdote or funny saying, I flick through and occasionally read them out to the children. Even after writing them down I am always delighted and surprised by their content. At some point in the future I will give them each a copy to treasure.

 Without fail, all of my kids have substituted a 'C' for a 'T'. I never tire of hearing them say "Tuppa Tea" or order a, "Toca Tola". One of my favourites, that my daughter said for years was, "mazagine", rather than "magazine". As they get older, the less frequent the documenting occurs, they become more self aware. Once they start school, their contemporaries point out their mistakes, they have other influences that bring on their development. My daughter, who is now approaching 11 hardly ever has her witticisms logged. I now tend to get comments like, "Mum, your roots need doing!", which is neither funny nor poignant.

A great opportunity for children to keep a notebook, is on holiday, be it a few days on a campsite, visiting Grandparents or an exciting trip abroad. My older two do without fail, they doodle and collect tickets and postcards. With the advancements in portable technology, they also take some photos with their device. It is a great way of encouraging them to keep a diary, even if it is a couple of sentences a day, a sneaky way of getting them to do some literacy without them even realising it.

I urge you to begin to keep a notebook, so easy to carry in your handbag or throw in a kitchen drawer, you will not regret it as you read back nostalgically and laugh and cry at their beautiful innocence. Do it before it's too late and they descend into the dark tunnel of adolescence and we turn further into our parents.


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