Mom’s Guide To Effortless Journaling
I’ll never forget the moment I received my first journal. I was five that Christmas, and Santa knew how I’d longed for a special space of my own to record all of my deepest secrets. It was nestled beneath the tree, hidden amongst a sea of wrapped toys: my own journal! That first diary was a hot pink number with ballet slippers on the cover and a secret-proof lock and key, and though I barely knew how to write my own name, I couldn’t wait to fill those pastel pages with my thoughts, wishes, and dreams.
From that day on, journaling became a cherished habit.
By the time I’d reached my twenties, I had an entire bookshelf lined with diaries documenting my childhood and adolescence. I’d filled countless journals with everything from questions for God and angsty snippets of gossip I’d picked up at school, to detailed accounts of family vacations and secrets I was too ashamed to share with anyone but the pages of my trusted diaries.
Through years of writing, I learned for myself the science-backed benefits of journaling. Journaling helped me clarify my thoughts and feelings. It reduced stress, eased anxiety and depression, and helped me make sense of myself and my place in the world. My journals provided me with a safe space to document my treasured memories and a private spot to process through the most difficult emotions.
Journaling was a powerful tool for becoming happier, healthier, and more comfortable in my own skin.
As an adult, I’ve continued to reap the personal rewards of a daily journaling practice. But since becoming a mom, I’ve found that I have less time (and mental energy) to dedicate to journaling. Gone are the days of uninterrupted hours spent pouring my heart into the pages of my spiral bound journal. However, in these earliest years of motherhood, I’ve found myself more in need of regular writing and reflection than ever before. I’m desperate to record every moment of my son’s childhood. And some days, I’m desperate to simply do something non-parenting-related for myself.
In my quest to fit my journaling practice into my current life stage, I’ve discovered several unique journal formats that have allowed me to maintain life as a journaler AND a stay-at-home mom. If you’re looking to start up a journaling practice—and I’d highly recommend it!—perhaps one of these will work for you, too.
ONE LINE A DAY JOURNAL: If you’re just getting started with journaling, or are short on time, this simple 5-year journal will be your best friend. Each dated page includes space to write one sentence summing up your day. Your daily entries are recorded five times on each page, with one journal entry for each of five years on a given date. If you like the idea of a line-a-day journal but would like a daily prompt for some guidance, you might enjoy the Q&A a Day 5-Year Journal. I’m currently on year one of the Q&A a Day for Moms Journal and have enjoyed the daily reflection questions about life and motherhood. It only takes one minute to write in each day, and it will be fun to look back on five years of memories with my little guy once the journal is filled.
BULLET JOURNAL: Perfect for list-makers and Type-A mamas, bullet journaling is an organized journaling method used to track your past, organize your present, and plan your future. While there is an official Bullet Journal method, you can easily adapt the system to meet your journaling needs. (Simply Google Bullet Journal to find thousands of prompts and format ideas.) I personally use a large Day Planner as my bullet journal. The weekly and monthly calendar pages provide space to record my appointments and activities, while blank pages at the front and back of the planner are dedicated to various lists. A few lists you might consider keeping in your bullet journal include:
- Bucket list items.
- Funny things your kids say.
- Recipes you’ve made or would like to try.
- A daily food or exercise log.
- Gift ideas or gifts you’ve given/received.
- Your kids’ important milestones.
- Books you’ve read or would like to read.
- Personal goals.
DIGITAL JOURNALING: I never thought I’d make the switch from pen-and-paper journaling, but after decades of smeared journal pages and hand cramps, my enthusiasm for traditional journaling began to wane. Five years ago, my husband began journaling through the Day One Journal app and suggested I give it a try. I downloaded the app on January 1, 2014, and I haven’t missed a day of journaling since. Day One is easy and convenient to use and can be accessed through both my phone and my computer; in other words, it removes every excuse NOT to journal. While there are a number of other digital journaling platforms out there, I’ve been quite happy with Day One and its numerous features. Day One allows you to tag entries with hashtags, insert photos and videos, and print out books from your journal entries. The calendar and app reminders helped me create a digital journaling habit when I was a Day One newbie; now, writing in Day One is such a crucial part of my day, I can’t imagine going to bed without completing a daily entry. Day One is my favorite space for working through my emotions and tracking my favorite quotidian memories—all of which is so much quicker through typing than by hand.
GUIDED JOURNALS: While there’s no right or wrong way to journal, cracking open an empty notebook can be intimidating. If you’re looking for a little structure and hand-holding, a guided journal is a great place to start. You can find guided journals for pregnancy and your child’s first year, gratitude and prayer journals, books of list prompts, bullet journaling guides, and prompts for mindfulness and self-reflection. And don’t feel the need to stick to these prompts; I love starting with some guidance, then letting my creative journaling juices take over.
Although journaling may not be for everyone, I can’t imagine my life without my regular journaling practices, and I’m thankful to have found these unique journaling tools that have helped me keep up my daily writing habit.