After a recent appointment with my midwife, I stopped by a neighborhood bookstore to browse baby books. Though it’s currently in a box in my mother’s garage, I cherish my baby book, with its pages of my mom’s neat script documenting our family history and the months leading up to my adoption.
As a writer, it’s important to me that my husband and I do the same for our daughter.
I expected to find a handful of baby books, but times have changed since I toddled around in cloth diapers. Today, there are baby books for moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, adoptive parents, and blended families. There are baby books organized around religious or ethnic identities, scrapbook kits, and books in multiple languages.
I bought my book (and one for my mother, Granny-to-be). Though I’ve been filling it out dutifully, I’ve come up with four other projects to welcome our baby to the world– ideas that any parent can appropriate and modify for their own family.
1. Make a time capsule.
Though many modern baby books include lots of room for photos, clippings, and other flat, paper-based ephemera, you may have objects you’d like to include that won’t fit between the pages of a baby book. A time capsule is one way to store those three-dimensional objects that have become important props in your family’s story.
Choose an appropriate container for these special items and start filling it. You can even start early in your pregnancy, collecting objects throughout the nine months you’re waiting to meet your baby.
You don’t actually have to bury the time capsule– just find some way to seal it and decide when you’ll be sharing it with your child.
What do you put in it? That depends on you, but some ideas might include your favorite music, a newspaper from the day of your child’s birth, your favorite piece of maternity wear, or a book you enjoyed reading during pregnancy.
You may also want to invite friends and family members to contribute to the time capsule.
2. Make a video of your partner.
My husband was born and raised in Cuba and came to the U.S. as a refugee on a boat. His entire family remains in Cuba. He fought in the war in Angola, he co-owned a hair salon (?!) in Boston, he had some sort of stake in a night club where Celia Cruz once performed… you get the idea: the guy has lots of interesting stories.
They’re stories that I could retell our daughter, but I’d rather she hear them from him. To get them on video and keep them as one record of our family story is a project I’m working on.
If you’re a single mom expecting a child, forget the partner bit. Make a video of your parents, grandparents, or other relatives. Ask questions for which you’ve always wanted to know the answers.
And no matter what your circumstances, make sure you shoot some footage of the places that are important to you, too.
Not too handy with the video camera? Matador contributing editor Josh Johnson offers plenty of tips to get you started.
3. Sign up for Upromise.
Upromise is a program that lets you sock away money for your baby’s future college tuition with minimal effort. By installing a Upromise toolbar on your computer, Upromise lets you know when you’re visiting a website or making a purchase from a retailer that participates in their service. When that’s the case, you’ll get 1-25% of the purchase cost diverted into an electronic savings account.
If you’re already buying airplane tickets from Expedia or making other online purchases, then you’re likely to be able to save up a bit without much extra effort. You can also invite friends and family to install the Upromise toolbar and designate their purchase percentages to be directed to your baby’s account.
The cost of college isn’t going to get any cheaper, folks. Every little bit might help.
4. Have an alternative shower.
Say you’re on your second (or third, or…) baby. You’ve got plenty of clothes, bottles, toys, and baby gear from your first child and the thought of a shower just makes you crazy: Where will you put all these new gifts and will you even use them?
There are lots of parents and babies who could use that stuff, though. Some of them are far, far away and some of them are in your own community.
Let your friends know that you’d welcome a shower, on the condition that all gifts be bought for a baby in greater need than your own. The celebration for your baby will be all the sweeter knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.
Let the hostess of the shower know where you’d like to donate the gifts so guests can select presents appropriately. Some recipient ideas include domestic violence shelters, local social service organizations, or international NGOs, such as Matador member Misty Tosh’s 4th World Love.
Share your family ideas with us in the comments below!