Whether you are expecting your first baby or you have a toddler running around your house, you don't want to forget the precious time you are spending with your little ones.
Most of us try to remember to write down the cute things our children say or do, but somehow our memories fail us. Maybe you bought a baby book or received one at a baby shower. You had the best of intentions, but now the empty pages glare at you accusingly.
Memory books don't create themselves. Someone has to take the photos and write down the information. Don't expect to do it someday, when you get time. By the time that happens, your memory may be dim and some of the facts long forgotten. You don't have to sort them all today—just start.
So, how can you begin to organize all those precious baby pictures?
1. Do it now. Plan to work on your memory book for a few minutes every day. Even if you use this time to read through some of the old entries, keep those few moments sacred. If you make it a habit, it will happen.
2. Take the first step. Maybe you already have a box of photos in need or organization. Or you may have several rolls of film ready to be developed.Don't keep putting it off. Start with just one or two rolls and take them in the next time you are running errands. Taking the first step doesn't have to be overwhelming.
3. Start with a trashcan. Throw away any bad photos. You can toss any that didn't turn out—whether it's bad lighting, poor aim, camera moving, subject moving, someone making a face or something in the background you don't like. Go ahead. No one is looking. Toss 'em.
4. Share photos with family and friends. Send away any that don't have special appeal for you or your immediate family. Get rid of any double prints.
5. Decide which photos will be keepers. You might want to start out using some boxes to sort the pictures until you can see what you really have. Select photos that are important to you and that illustrate the story you want to tell.
6. Choose a photo album. You may also want to get some frames that hold several snapshots for display. Whatever you want to do, start small, but start.
7. Get creative. Remember, it is okay to cut photos for your album or display—really! Use sharp scissors for a clean cut, and go for it. Cut hearts or stars or ovals or whatever your heart desires. Cut out the background and just position the people on a page. Include captions that describe what's happening on each photo. Set everything out and arrange—and rearrange—until you get it just the way you really like it.
8. Take a class. Consider signing up for a class in scrapbooking if you are looking for ideas or motivation.
9. Make it a family project. You may end up with photos that you like, but don't fit into any of your albums or displays. Get your family involved in creating their own photo albums with these, or with spare double-prints. Small children love to page through pictures of their families. Later these special photo albums can help ease homesickness when your child goes away to camp or college.
10. Be prepared.
Carry your camera everywhere. If you want pictures as part of your memory book, forget the fancy camera and get something small and simple that you can slip into your diaper bag or a pocket. Children do not schedule "cute" activities for when the camera is set up. You have to catch them. Be prepared.
Your children will never again be exactly the way they are today. Start today to save those special memories.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.