When my friend asked for scrapbooking and memory preserving tips a few weeks ago (I posted my advice for books to read here), I thought a lot about what to tell her and what works for me. It's so important to me to preserve my family's memories but it can be such a daunting task to do.
To me, the most important thing is preserving the memories and taking the photos. If you write your memories down and you have the photos to pair with them (although the photo doesn't have to be from exactly the same time as the memory), then you can scrapbook the memories anytime. It's important to have a system for filing your memories (I use index cards and a 4x6 file box when I'm not using a journal), and keep notebooks/index cards/something accessible so you can write down those cute quotes/actions/saying/doings of your family as it happens. It's too easy to forget if you wait (as I know all too well, because I don't follow my own advice enough).
While I love scrapbooking, I know it's not for everyone. I feel that it's so important to preserve some of the every day moments though. I think it would be so nice to be able to answer your children's questions when they're older about things they said when they were little. Or be able to answer their questions when they call asking parenting advice for their own children. Like "how much did I weigh at what age and is my child taking after me or is there a problem?" (I am so grateful my own mama wrote down my weight as a toddler! It really helped me feel that my own toddler was normal.) It's okay to put your photos in photo albums, and it's okay to journal in spiral notebooks (not that you need my permission, but if you feel like you need it from someone, here you go). Sometimes I just jot notes on a notepad and then file it away.
As far as photographs, we've gotten to a point where many people only print their photos when they're getting ready to scrapbook or only print a very few or maybe don't print at all and just view them on the computer screen. I read this somewhere (don't remember where) and I found it enlightening: it is important for our children to see photos of themselves in our homes. It makes them aware that they are part of the family unit and that we value them. When all the family photos are on the computer where no one sees them, it is too easy to believe that there are no photos at all (and if there is a computer disaster, then they could disappear). I believe that it's important to print at least a sampling of your family photos to place in photo albums even if you don't scrapbook (or create a photo book at Shutterfly, Snapfish or any of the other photo websites).
And if the situation is that you just don't use your camera that often now that you have more than one child, start keeping the camera accessible - on the dining room table, perhaps - and snap a photo or two a day. Or a week. Make it a habit to document your everyday life. This is what your family's memories are made of - it's so important to acknowledge and preserve those memories.
My final thought is that it's not necessary to use the same system your whole life and it's ok to tweak things if you realize something isn't working. Don't feel like you have to have your whole system in place tomorrow and that you can never change it. Don't let guilt about not starting before keep you from starting now. Trust me, I know this is hard. I have days where I can't make myself pick up the pen and write down something I want to remember - I don't know why. Maybe the memory is so important to me that I'm afraid I won't do it justice. But when I go back and look at the notes I have written down, I usually don't remember the moment until I read the words. My child will only be this young once and I want to remember as much as I can.
Do you have any tricks you use to capture the moment?