Let’s talk about how to conduct birthday interviews with kids. Have you ever looked at an old picture, video, or kid art project and found yourself transported back in time? Kidhood is so short, so precious, and then it’s gone. But there are ways to bottle it up to be opened years later when crazy teenagers have taken up residence in your sweet babies’ rooms. (You can even bottle up some “teenager” to open in the future when you’re empty-nesting and want a good laugh.)
Enter the birthday interview.
There’s nothing magic about engaging in these activities on a child’s actual birthday. It’s just an easy date to remember consistently without scheduling all of your children on the same day. However, if you want to set up a Kwanzaa interview assembly line, I wish you joy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Fill Out a Survey – Invite the child to write or type answers to the following questions and any others you feel would yield fun and informative responses. For younger kids, of course, you can simply record their answers.
1. How do you feel today?
2. How old are you?
3. Where do you live?
4. Who lives with you?
5. What is your favorite food?
6. If you could do anything today, what would it be?
7. What is your favorite thing to do with Mom? Dad? Sister? Brother? Friend?
8. Who loves you and who do you love?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What book do you love the most?
11. If you could have any animal as a pet, what would you choose?
12. What are you really good at?
13. What is your favorite thing about school?
14. What do you spend most of your time doing?
15. When is bedtime?
16. What is your very favorite outfit?
17. What TV show do you love?
18. What do you want for your birthday?
19. How do you help other people?
20. What is the most important thing in the world?
Illustrate the Year – Do you know a budding artist? Have Mini-Picasso remember important events and activities of the past year and draw, paint or color a record of what mattered to him or her.
Perform a Yearly Video Interview – One of my favorite activities is recording video interviews with my kids and then watching them back even a couple of months later and seeing how much the kids have grown and changed over time. Video is great because it captures their weird mispronunciations, inflections, and facial expressions.
You can use the questions above or branch out to include questions that might induce them to sing, dance, or show you all of their precious Pokemon cards.
Let Siblings Interview Each Other – Sometimes our siblings bring out a completely different side of our personalities. Turn over your birthday interview to big brother and the dynamic will change completely. When they are adults, your children will love looking back on how they interacted with each other. Even if they get obnoxious when they are together, it’s worth recording. Videos I thought were epically annoying three years ago have become treasures today.
Take a Video Tour – Find out what would happen if you gave the video camera to your child and let her take you on a tour of the house, yard, or neighborhood. The videography won’t be stunning, but it is fascinating to see what matters to a 5-year-old. Ask her to show you what’s important about your house, what she loves, and to talk about what your family does in each room.
Annotated Photobook – I am about a thousand years behind on creating photobooks and scrapbooks for my family so I’m stealing this idea from a few good friends who do an amazing job of organizing their photos into books. A book full of photos is great. A book full of photos with periodic annotations and journal entries is better. A book full of family photos annotated by a variety of family members would be AMAZING!
If you’re on top of your photobook compilations, have your kids look through your books and make comments to type in before you send the books to the printer. Keep in mind that even if you’re a million years behind in compiling your family photos, you don’t need to start at the beginning. Forget about everything before this year for a while and start where you are. If all you ever did was compile a book of photos for 2016, that would be a treasure.
Make a Time Capsule – This works especially well with older kids who might be embarrassed for you to see their true answers to the interview questions. Have the teenager write her answers on a piece of paper, fold them up and place them in a jar along with one or two small items that represent her. Seal the jar and bury it somewhere she will still have access to in a few years. My teenage journals are simultaneously mortifying and hilarious and I’m SO glad I have them to refer back to.
Please don’t be overwhelmed with all these ideas. Any record you can make of a child’s beautiful life is awesome. Do it with love. Do it when you can. You’ll be glad you did!
Preserving those childhood memories is so vital because those years are fleeting. Here are a few more ideas you’ll love for capturing those precious memories of your family: