Create a website for your children

I built websites for each of my children so that I could chronicle their lives and allow them to look back over them as they grow as well as allow friends and family to stay up-to-date with their lives.

As a web developer, with my own site for documenting my thoughts and life, it seemed very appropriate that the very same day I learned that we were pregnant with Ellie, I built her a website to document the pregnancy and then her life outside the womb. And just recently I followed suit when I found out that Jack was on the way.

To me, creating a website for my kids was chiefly important because I live so far away from my family. Being from the UK and living in the US, I have a whole group of people that I care about a lot, and whom would want to follow along with my children’s’ lives closely, even though we’ll only see each other every few years.

As a side benefit, it is an excellent way in this day and age to record your children’s’ lives. It’s the 21st century baby book, except that it’s living and breathing, can be updated regularly and everyone can see it (or everyone that you want to see it can see it).

It also acts as my “photo in my wallet”. Yesteryear, people carried around a months- or years-old photo of their children, whereas I have a fully up-to-date library of videos and photos with me at all times. And, I can just tell people a web address to see the latest photos and videos without even having to be there to show them my “wallet photo”.

The benefits of doing it on WordPress

I’m a huge advocate for WordPress and in my mind, there’s a great deal of reasons to use WordPress for your children’s websites:

Post formats

You can use post formats to really focus on each post depending on what it is. Just took a quick photo of your kids and don’t have much to say about it because the picture says it all? Use the image post format and put your image front and center.

Mobile apps

The WordPress for iOS apps has been one of the best tools in maintaining Jack and Ellie’s websites. Parent life is manic, so once you take a photo or a video, or have a quick thought that you want to jot down, the mobile apps are perfect for quickly getting it on their site (save as a draft if you need to) before you forget about it and it gets lost in the mountain of things on your mind.

Email subscriptions

Sure everyone can check the site periodically, but why not send my friends and family an email every time something new goes on the site? With Jetpack‘s Subscriptions module, it’s as easy as turning on a module and putting a sign-up widget in your sidebar.

Do it for free

With WordPress.com at your disposal, you don’t need to pay a dime to host your children’s site if you don’t want to. Just sign up for a free site at WordPress.com

Manage your own content

In an age where content ownership is becoming ever more important (want your child’s face showing up in a Facebook ad?), if you self-host, you are completely in charge of your content. No one can tell you what to do with it or use it for corporate/personal gain.

Restrict access

If you’re a little more concerned about your children’s privacy than I am, consider restricting access to the site by putting a password on it and only giving it out to people you want to see the site. Or create user accounts for everyone and make the entire site restricted to logged-in users.

Longevity

Many things come and go, but WordPress currently powers about a quarter of the Internet. That’s a whole lot of websites depending on WordPress to keep on going. WordPress is going to be around for a long time, and even if one day it stops getting developed, there will be sufficient people that need to move to other platforms that tools will be built to facilitate that switchover.

Categorise and tag

With categories and tags, you can mark each post with a set of terms that can be used to sort your content. That way, when you want to look at old vacation photos, you just need to pull up the vacation category, and you’re away! Here’s how my current categories are set up:

  • Activities (with subcategories for things like smiling, walking, laughing, playing, bath time, swimming etc.)
  • Day-to-day and personality (with subcategories for things like vegan, British, cute, pets, adorable etc.)
  • Dear Ellie – personal and private notes to Ellie
  • Events (with subcategories for things like birthdays, Christmas, vacations, milestones, Thanksgiving etc.)
  • Family & Friends (with subcategories for family members and friends, like Mama, Daddy, Oma, Granny & Grandad,
  • Media (with subcategories for the different media types, like images, video and audio)

Legacy

These websites are a legacy that I’ll leave to my children. Whenever they’re old enough, I’ll hand over the reins and let them manage their own site. It will be a great lesson in communication, computing and online safety. They can even dabble in some coding if they fancy it.

It’s also a way of inviting them to revisit their childhood. They can look back at fond memories with ease, anywhere they are.

I also make good use of their sites as journals to them. While I also have a paper journal which I write in for them and will transfer them on their 18th birthday or something, I have a special category (Dear Jack, Dear Ellie) which is kept private, so that I can write freely and openly to them and they can read these posts when they’re older and get a better insight into what daily life was like for them and for us as parents.

If you’d like to set up a website for your children, but don’t have the faintest idea how to do it, let me know and I’ll help you get started.

Author: Dave

Dave is many things. Most importantly, he’s a husband and a father to Ellie and Jack. Almost as important, he’s British (though he lives in Florida). Following on from there, he’s a WordPress developer and civil engineer, has an unhealthy love of hummus, is vegan, likes cider, wants to travel to Iceland and Japan, loves solving puzzles and is a realist.

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