Samantha Harris: Why I Write Journals for My Daughters

07/09/2013 at 10:00 AM ET

Samantha Harris P&G
Courtesy P&G Everday

With her eldest daughter, 5½-year-old Josselyn Sydney, starting kindergarten in the fall, Samantha Harris is more aware than ever how quickly time is flying.

“It was just yesterday that she was a toddler like our little one,” Harris, also mom to Hillary Madison, 2½, tells PEOPLE. “I was just playing with these magnet dolls with [Hillary] and it’s so cute listening to her talk and how she phrases everything. I know that the cute little phrases she has today are going to be gone tomorrow. You have to cherish each of those moments.”

That realization is what led Harris to partner with P&G everyday, a one-stop website with simple tips on everything from cooking to beauty to helping moms spend less time getting things done, and more time being mom.

“It’s hard in our busy, busy life, especially as a working mom and as moms in general. It’s hard to take a breather and spend that quality time [with your kids], which is essential,” Harris, 39, says.

To chronicle those special moments in her own family’s lives, Harris and her husband, Michael Hess, write journals to their daughters, recalling funny stories, the day they happened and how old each girl was when the moment occurred.

“My goal is to keep those going until they turn 18 and — when each of them have their 18th birthday — present it to them,” she says, adding that the homemade quality of the journals is important to her.

“I think that there’s something to be said about having the ability to see your parents’ writing,” Harris says. “I lost my dad when I was 22 and he was just 50, and I realize truly how precious the time is, so anytime I come across a birthday card with his writing, I hold it dear.”

And how does Harris ensure the journals are filled with lasting memories? By taking Josselyn on special field trips.

“I called it Mommy Camp,” she says. “We would pick a new destination every day. We went to the observatory in L.A. We have a membership to the L.A. Zoo. We’ll go there a bunch of different times and tackle different areas of it.”

“So there’s a petting zoo we’ll spend a lot of time in one day,” she continues. “Another day, we watch the elephants go through their morning cleaning and training. We went to the art museum, the tar pits, the beach. It’s lots of special time.”

As Hillary gets older, she’ll also be joining Mom and her big sister on these trips, a milestone Harris can’t wait for. “Having my two little ones has just made my life so much fuller,” she says.

— Kiran Hefa

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Showing 15 comments

Emily on

Ack, those outfits!! Beyond tacky.

Tilus on

Is it just me or does it look like Samantha’s face was Photoshopped? She is still just as beautiful as ever though.

I love to see little girls dressed as little girls. Not fond of this gender neutral or grunge look for kids, but to each their own. Their outfits are SO adorable!

Sara on

She seems like a really great mom. I admire that.

Tricia on

What a great idea, maintaining a chronicle of your child’s life. Super precious.

Doug on

Not on DWTS or ET, where is this lady these days? Two great gigs that went away fast.

Elena on

I’ve been doing the same thing since I found out I was pregnant. I’m excited to give them to her when she’s old enough so that she’ll get to see inside my mind and understand how much I’ve always loved her.

Candice on

I also have done this, I started with pregnancy journals to both of my kids with all the movements and feelings I was having and kept it going. They are 8 and 2 and I plan on giving them their journals when they are 18 as well. I wish I had something like this, it’s such a beautiful gift to your children.

jennrae on

I agree, what are those children wearing? Bell-bottoms made from cheap upholstery and…velvet? I love damask but it’s really not suited for clothes unless it’s perhaps used as the focal point of a dress with everything else kept simple. This is just blech! Damask, velvet, bows, bell-bottoms, jellies (!) and pink flowers all at once is overkill.

Wow, though, her daughters are gorgeous. And I liked Mom’s outfit until I saw that zipper.

Guest on

I do something similar to this while my kids are pretty young. However, my oldest is now 7 and I found this great “Q&A a Day for Kids: A Three Year Journal.” Each day of the year there is a question/journal prompt for the child to answer. My daughter and I write a relatively short answer to each question every day. I love it because there are questions I wouldn’t always think to ask her and they have helped me to get to know her even more. Plus, it’s another fun thing to do together.

Molly on

What a fabulous idea

Wendie on

I wish she would go back to DWTS!

Gg on

She needs a haircut!

Liz on

I started this on the day my niece was born. I wrote a letter to her telling her about her birth and my feelings. I jot down things we have done together and things she has said or done. I actually made a scrapbook and put it all together.

Anonymous on

Great idea.

My step-dad did sorta same thing for his two kids but he wrote as his son/daughter was doing writing and talking about the day, family, etc.

I love it and would do the same for my kids and got idea from my step-dad 🙂

Anonymous on

I worked with Samantha at 3 Arts Entertainment when she was an assistant. She was a really sweet person and genuine person. So don’t be judging a person by their hairstyle or clothes. If so perhaps we need to see what you look like haters. Also, she is a good mother which is what you should be focusing on.