I would think twice about giving new parents a journal. Chances are, they already have three…at minimum.
They don’t need but one place to write their thoughts down about the expecting, the arrival, and the aftermath of their first child. We were lucky and probably only got about five journals, enough to record every minute of every day for the first three years.
Among people who journal, my devotion to it is moderate and, still, I am considerably disappointed by my lack of devotion to it. After all, it’s what writers do.
I’ve got a bookshelf of empty journals and I bet quite a few people can say the same, long before they have kids. For me, the site of an empty journal, which has been on my bookshelf for a decade, can be a consistent reminder of failure. (Note to self: move all empty or one-tenth-completed journals to box in basement.) Perhaps it’s the same with the people you are giving that journal too. Perhaps it’s not. But before you go ahead and give them that new-parent journal you better do a journal inventory of their bookshelves (in all rooms) and then assess whether these parents need more blank pages in their house.
If you do that assessment and you decide to still get a journal, I have a recommendation. It’s called Mom’s One Line A Day. It’s my favorite journal with the crappiest title. It offers six narrow lines of writing space for each day for five years. On each page you can see what you were doing on the same date in a five-year span. Now that’s a crapload of journaling, don’t get me wrong, but at six lines a day, even if your handwriting is small, it fills up fast.
Even with that knowledge, I fail to write in it half the days, but since Kate and I have used this journal for over a year now we have a considerable record of London’s first 15 months (nearly).
More momentous are some days than others, but I have found it helpful even to write down the seemingly mundane. Example: April 21, 2015 – 2 naps still. Read HP (book 6) out loud to you and some of A Game of Thrones. Outside in backyard you watched as I planted some herbs.
And right above that entry, I can see that on April 21, 2014, I wrote: Dad started reading The Hobbit to you today. You can’t truly follow the story but you know my voice and somehow you can tell when I start reading each day because you smile every time. It’s truly amazing.
So, if you must, pull the trigger on the Mom’s One Line A Day journal. It’s just the right dose of urging the parents to write about this spectacular time in their lives.