I want to remember my children when they were little, to capture the way they see the world. Sure, I take pictures and videos, but I’ve also taken things one step further. I’ve started using questionnaires and conducting year-end interviews.
These questionnaires and interviews aren’t nearly as formal as they sound. To put it plainly, I’ve started taking note of what my kids think and feel three times each year: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.
I use the exact same questionnaire for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. On that respective day, we sit around the table and ask the kids things like: How old is Mom? (‘200’), What does she smell like? (‘strawberry crackers’), and What is Mom’s favorite store? (‘Amazon’).
In addition to the Mother’s and Father’s Day surveys, everyone completes a year-end interview. On New Year’s Eve, we sit down as a family and review the year via the interview questions. The questions include: What is your favorite toy? What did you do for the first time this year? What is something you’d like to do differently next year?
These questionnaires and interviews have become traditions for my family. Even before my children were old enough to answer for themselves, we recorded answers for them as best we could based on personality, etc. Now that my children are older, we write down EXACTLY what my daughter says, and my son is starting to write his own responses.
There are no rules for these questionnaires/interviews. I made it easy on myself and started with a template I found online. If you’re looking to make your questionnaire more personal, get the family together, and have everyone take turns throwing out questions to add to the list.
I have ONE binder holding the questionnaires and interviews. There is a tab for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and each family member. Behind each tab, I have the completed forms from prior years and several blank forms for future use. I can easily print off more forms as needed. I keep the binder on our bookshelf and have a yearly reminder set in my phone, so I don’t forget to use it.
The questionnaires and interviews don’t take much time or cost much money, but they have created a great tradition. I am hopeful my children will continue to indulge my questions as they grow up. I also hope that one day they will truly appreciate these tangible bits of memory, a connection to their past and mine, where they can see their old handwriting, remember their old favorite toys and think about all those times we sat down together and talked.