Y’all are going to love this! My friend Lauren from Oh, Honestly (if you’re a parent, you should bookmark her site, because it’s That Good) is sharing this strategy for writing letters to your kids. Read on to be inspired.
My youngest child was nearing her first birthday.
Maybe that was what sparked the idea. Maybe it was the realization that she was my last and the baby stage was over. Or maybe it was the fact that after having three kids in four years I finally realized just how quickly time passes and how much I’d already begun to forget.
Whatever the reason, as we neared birthday season (all of my kids’ birthdays fall within a few weeks of each other), I decided to write each of my children a letter.
I wanted a way to document what they were like in that season of life, to think back over the past year and remember all the sweet moments. The words they said adorably wrong, their quirks, the frustrations that turned into teachable moments.
Not only did I want to document the present, but I also wanted a chance to think about the future. To share my hopes and dreams with each of them about who they would become.
So I wrote them each a letter. I told them what they were like. I told them about things that had happened that year. I told them what I thought might happen the next year. Then I set them aside.
My kids turned one, three, and five that year. They were too young to read the letters. They wouldn’t understand the deep emotion that I poured out on the page for each of them. In hindsight, I realize that I wrote those letters more for myself than for them.
Although I had no master plan when I wrote that first set of letters, when the following birthday season rolled around, I once again penned three letters. And the year after that, I did it again.
My kids are now five, seven, and nine, and they each have five letters waiting for them. They haven’t read any of them yet and although I haven’t kept it a secret, I’m not even sure they know that they exist.
But one day they will.
One day I’ll print them out, bind them up, and present them to each child. They’ll be able to read about themselves at each age. They’ll read about specific events that happened in their lives, general observations I’ve made over the years, and funny anecdotes. But beyond all that, I hope they read the love in every line.
You can write birthday letters too
Often when people hear that I write letters to my kids each year, they comment that it’s a great idea and that they should do it too. Then they quickly follow that comment up with excuses about why they can’t: They’re not great writers, they don’t have any spare time, they don’t know what they’d write about.
If you find yourself in that position, here are a few tips:
- Don’t worry about being a great writer. Your kids will not care how flowery your words are. In fact, they’d probably prefer it to be real. Write the way you talk so that the person your kids know and love (you!) will shine through.
- Writing a letter to your child does not have to take a long time. I often let thoughts brew in my head for several days before I sit down to write. That way, once I have the ideas, the letter only takes about 15 minutes to jot down. Other times I write a little bit, then come back to it later. It doesn’t have to be written all in one sitting.
- If you’re struggling with what to write about, don’t! As I mentioned earlier, I usually think back over the past year to get inspiration. If you’re having a really hard time, look through pictures to jog your memory. Your letter can be a collection of stories and hopes or it can recount one particular instance. There is no right way to write a birthday letter.
Writing birthday letters to my kids has become something I look forward to each year. With three kids and a busy schedule, it’s all too easy to go into autopilot mode, and writing these letters gives me a chance to sit down and reflect on our lives. I also love reading back through the older letters I’ve written to remember the years gone by.
Although I’d love to keep my kids little forever, I look forward to the day when they’re old enough for me to present their birthday letters to them. I hope they see the love in them and treasure them as much as I do.
If you’d like to start writing letters to your kids, but want a bit more direction, check out my book, The Words Your Kids Need: The Value of Writing to Your Children and How to Do It With Ease.
If you’d prefer to ease into letter-writing, start small with two free months worth of printable lunchbox notes. Most are pre-written, so all you have to do is print and cut to give your kids a daily dose of fun and encouragement.
Copyright: fixzma / 123RF Stock Photo
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I think this is a very interesting idea! It’s very cool to have such a tradition in the family. After all, it is known that writing helps children develop mental abilities and creativity. Especially if you have a small child, or he will soon go to school, then writing skills will help him very much and I’m sure the child will receive only the best marks in school. I am very grateful to you for sharing such wonderful ideas! I will definitely advise your site to my friends. I hope that you will continue to share such useful, interesting and positive type of content!
Thank you, Carrie, I am in love with your advice, have been reading your blog for months now, and have come to see that it feels like an addiction. You are doing a great job!