Growing up, I typically spent several hours each week writing in a diary. I’m not talking about a journal for recording all my deep philosophical thoughts. I’m talking about a straight-up diary, from fifth grade on, in which I recorded details such as this goodie: “November 5, 1996: Today was election day. They chose Bill Clinton to be president again. Someone said America’s going to the dogs. I made Trav a birthday card, and I can’t wait to see his reaction!” That’s verbatim, friends. High school and college diaries were, if possible, even worse — filled with gushing details of crushes, dates, and break-ups, in all their narcissistic glory.

These days I’m working on squashing my narcissistic tendencies. And after 13 years together, my sweet even-keeled husband doesn’t give me a lot of material to work with in the relationship drama department. But there is a similarity between my younger years and today: The memories. They were precious then, and they still are now. The thing is, somewhere along the way the days began to fly faster. Enter children, and forget it. The preciousness of each day is not lost to me in the moment, but if I don’t make a point to write things down, much is forgotten.

Enter my lifesaver, the perpetual calendar — a nifty little craft project that allows one line of journaling per day, every day of the year. The daily time investment is 30 seconds. That’s it! We can do that, right?

Perpetual calendars can be inexpensive and easy to make. They can be as simple or fancy as you would like. I made mine for less than five dollars. And for those whose creativity only reaches so far, have no fear. You can’t screw this up!

The first thing I did was collect some simple supplies:

  1. Index cards (four packs of 100)
  2. A rubber date stamper or pen
  3. A small container to hold the index cards

I headed to my local dollar store and picked up my supplies, including a small, rectangular, fabric-lined basket for only a dollar. You could also use a small plastic container or crate, even an old recipe box.

The next step is to date the index cards. This is the most time-consuming part, but it’s a no-brainer so I used the time to catch up on my favorite shows. Hello multitasking! You will need 366 cards (don’t forget that pesky February 29th!), each labeled with a date. I used a rubber date stamper, but you could just as easily use a pen, dating the upper right corner of each card.

Next, a little optional creativity. I used some scrapbook paper and stickers I had lying around to create a decorative back piece. This piece is placed at the back of the stack of cards, same length as the index cards and about twice as high. I used a little scrapbook paper and word stickers like “treasure,” “grow,” and “remember.” In a burst of unusual craftiness, I punched a hole in the top left corner and tied a few ribbons.

Stick everything in your container, and done!

The most important thing now is to remember to use it. So keep a pen in the container and put it in a place you will see it at the end of each day. Choose a theme for your calendar. Use it to record things you are thankful for, things the kids say or do, or just the highlight of each day. There are so many possibilities! For each day, use one line of your index card. Simply write the year, fill in the line as you’d like, and move the card to the back of the stack. Next year when you reach the same date, use the second line on the card. Each year gets one line, and you should be able to get at least ten years of use!

A few samples from my calendar:

September 22, 2012: Boys were good at grocery store today, so Avengers popsicles it is.
March 27, 2013: Everyone in the house is sick and cuddling on the couch, barf buckets at hand.
January 1, 2014: My baby girl is here. Happy New Year to us.

The value of a perpetual calendar really starts to show after the first year is complete. With each card you get to look back over the previous years, and I love the way it helps me remember the good moments in my life so clearly, both the insignificant and the monumental. It may not give me space for deep thoughts on Bill Clinton’s second term in office, but for this season of my life I’m okay with that.

So what do you want to remember? Happy calendaring!