hold onto your memories

As a parent, it’s hard to strike the balance between being present in the moment and busting out your camera to capture it for later. But ultimately, it’s important you find a middle ground. While your children might get tired of hearing “say cheese,” they will most certainly appreciate taking trips down memory lane as they get older. Additionally, it can be tough to decide on the best way to consolidate and hang onto pictures, souvenirs and remembrances. If you’re struggling to adequately document these special times, here are a few ideas:

Invest in the Right Equipment

If you want to be able to snap photos as you go, it’s time to ditch the thought of using fancy equipment. Few people use actual cameras anymore, and there’s really no need to. If you invest in a high-quality smartphone with a good built-in camera, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 that has 16 megapixels and autofocus, you have everything you need on you at all times. You’ll thank yourself later if you purchase a phone with a good deal of storage, too. This enables you to keep photos on your phone and not have to worry about running out of space at inconvenient times.

Get Inspired and Hands-On

Are you the type of person who likes to decorate your house to the nth degree and spend time in craft stores? If so, shadow boxes and scrapbooks might be for you. Shadow boxes are a simple way to display photos and 3-D objects. If your child wins a medal in soccer, put together a picture or two of him or her scoring some goals next to the medal. As he or she gets older, save these boxes as miniature time capsules from his or her life.

Another great idea is to make a scrapbook. These can get pretty labor-intensive, but a good scrapbook is a nice way to combine all your photos and treasures, like concert or event tickets and achievement ribbons, into one valuable keepsake.

Go Easy on Yourself

Does scrapbooking or creating shadow boxes sound like too much work? Don’t fear. There’s an easier way. The company ChatBooks prints physical photo albums for you based on what you’ve posted to Instagram. Customize what images are used in your books, and even subscribe to get these automatically compiled and sent to you every so often. If you’re big into social media, this is a simple, cost-effective way to retain your memories in print form without the extra hassle.

If you’re not on Instagram but still want an easy way to print pictures, subscribe to a service like Shutterfly. If you upload your photos to an account like this, you can quickly and easily put together digital photo albums, image-centered gifts or simple physical prints.

No matter what method of preserving your family experiences you decide upon, you will never regret taking the time to take action on this. Your children will love being able to look back at glimpses of their childhood, and you will savor the mementos forever. It’s one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself and your family.