Identify The Problem + How Can I Think About This Differently?

For several years I had a recurring goal: make video compilations of our home movies. When the kids were little, we took a lot of videos. But unlike pictures – which I converted into photobooks – our videos were stagnating in folders on my desktop.

We used to watch home movies regularly…but then more and more videos accumulated and our lives got busier and we stopped gathering around the computer to coo over Abby’s first consonant sounds and silly bathtime videos.

I was sure that if I could only muster up the energy to create annual compilations – favourite highlights, the best-of-the-best! – we’d bask in the warm glow of sweet memories forever.

Unfortunately for my goal-setting dreams, I never got the project off the ground and eventually decided to just remove it from my list and move on with life.

And then a few months ago I was out with a friend and we started discussing my “failure” to complete this project. In talking through the situation, I realized that I needed to take a step back and more clearly identify my ultimate goal.

I had always articulated it as: Make a compilation video of our home movies.

The problem? I didn’t want to edit movies. I didn’t want to learn new software.

What did I really want out of the process? To go through all our videos. To make sure the kids got to revel in the memory of those special early years. But mostly my goal was to actually watch our home videos.

When I reframed the goal – and identified the disconnect with my former aspirations – I felt an immediate sense of relief.

I don’t need to use fancy software to splice movies together cohesively, set to some lovely song. That sort of creative project is wonderful, but it’s not actually something I want to do, and it would require building up a whole new skill set.

But what I can do – and have been doing – is set my laptop on the dining room table while we eat breakfast so we can watch a handful of videos. Abby in her rocking chair. Levi sleeping in his bassinet. Their early attempts at crawling and first steps and swinging at the playground and building snowmen and flying kites and the hilarity that is preschool Christmas concerts. We’ve enjoyed revisiting the infamous Baby Farting on Parent Lap and Stinky Feet videos that have long topped their list of favourites.

We’ve all enjoyed this walk down memory lane, and I can confirm that the kids don’t give two hoots I haven’t provided them with a fancifully edited montage.

Same outcome, just a different (and easier) route to get there.

Your turn. What do you do with all your home movies? Do you still take lots of videos? I am shocked by how few videos I capture now that the kids are older! Have you been able to reframe a situation/goal/problem lately?

Header photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

24 thoughts on “Identify The Problem + How Can I Think About This Differently?”

  1. LOVE this! I have bascially avoided the problem of what to do with old movies and pictures by refusing to think about it, but I really like the idea of starting the the outcome and then finding the right solution.

    1. I take some videos still, but less spontaneous, everyday situation videos now. Nowadays my videos tend to be of one of the following: at a sporting event (e.g. filming one of Asher’s swim races or trying to catch Ethan scoring a soccer goal), at a music event (eg piano recital), on a holiday like Christmas (opening a few gifts, etc.), or, probably my most common videos now are on vacation. I feel like a 35 second video clip spanning the beach or rainforest or view from our hotel balcony better captures the actual view compared to photographs. So I do this often. I’m pretty sure I even have videos of the colosseum and the forum- not long videos, but enough to capture the essence. I just have them stored on an external hard drive and in the cloud though, so, I don’t watch them often- but sometimes I pull them up!

      1. I almost never take videos when we travel, but that’s a genius idea! It really helps put things in perspective, too; panning around gives you context and a better idea of scale etc.

    2. I was so fixated on there being “one way” to accomplish my goal, but turns out there are lots of ways and some seem far more pleasant/streamlined than others!

  2. No, I hardly ever take videos now which is crazy! WHY? The funny thing is, my daughter will sometimes pick up my phone and take a random video of a family situation, which no one else is aware of until afterwards (and it often involves people doing something awkward and embarrassing.) This is all I’ll have to look back on from this phase of life!
    I love the concept of “identifying the problem.” When there’s an ongoing issue, it always helps to take a step back and figure out what’s really going on. Usually it’s a simple fix, once you know what it is.

    1. I don’t take them much, either. Videos just never feel the same as the real thing and I tend to prefer pictures over videos because I print off photobooks each year. So I’m more inclined to take a picture of a kid receiving their birthday cake than to take a video of everyone singing Happy Birthday. But I should make more of an effort because there is something so sweet about capturing their voices and mannerisms that doesn’t come through in a photo…

  3. This is brilliant. I love photos but I never get around to converting them to physical form. I’ve got a lot of digital albums that I love pulling up and I’ve got electronic photo frames all over the house.

    My husband keeps everything on his laptop – backed up of course – so that he can jump back to our memories very quickly.

    I never take videos but he’s great at it. It’s fun to see both points of view.

    1. I’ve never owned an e-frame, but they seem so practical! My parents like to set their laptop home screen to cycle through a folder of quasi-recent pictures which is fun!

      We don’t take many videos these days, but still capture an excessive number of photos. John and I both like photography and the kids love looking at photobooks, so that is where the majority of my memory-making time/effort goes. That said, there is something so uniquely fun about videos and the kids have really enjoyed seeing some of these blasts from the past.

  4. I do not take videos. I think I have three videos on my phone – two of the dog baying and one of the cat screaming. I don’t generally watch tv or movies and flickering images intimidate me, so I don’t really think of video as an option. I am tempted by the one-second-a-day app in which you do a one-second video every day and the app puts it together for you in one long video. That would be an interesting way to document a year or a month or whatever. Unfortunately, I do not have mind space to add that to my daily list right now, so maybe that could be a 2024 or 2025 goal. Ha!

    One of my mantras in life is that if there’s something that bothers me regularly/daily, I should fix it. This means I’m always looking for things that could make my life better. Right now, I’m focused on the lotion issue (dry skin is the worst!) and I think my solution is to track it and if I put lotion on my legs and arms regularly, it’s not a problem. If it is a problem, I might invest in a lotion warmer or do research on the least greasy lotions or start using the space heater in the bathroom when I’m done showering so the “I’m cold” excuse doesn’t work. First, I have to figure out if it IS a true problem and then I’ll fix it. Or it will just get warm again and I’ll face this dilemma again next year!

    1. Those apps do sound so interesting; that said, I kinda hate getting locked into doing anything daily, so I think it might feel like a burden after a while (and I would hate to miss a day because then I’d be liable to just abandon the whole project. Sigh. It’s quite something to be in my mind space for a day!)? Maybe in a few years? Because seeing that montage at the end of the year would be SO fun.

      Lots of people are chiming in about lotion sprays and even lotion bars. So I’m confident there is a solution out there for both of us 🙂

  5. One Christmas, my father in law had a bunch of home movies, including stuff form when he was serving in Korea, converted to a DVD. I think he basically handed the reels over to a guy and had it done. It’s such a great record of family history, but we have only watched maybe twice. I think now that both of his parents have passed, it makes my husband sad to watch the DVD. But I’m glad we have the DVD because two of my three kids have no memory of who grandpa and grandma are.
    I think once you’re out of baby stage, people are so self conscious about being recorded on video. I know I am. I take random videos still, and record birthday greetings and such, but honestly most of the videos on my phone are things the kids take when they find my phone lying around – random shots of the kitchen table, my messy desk. Once in a while, they’ll make videos of each other or do “house tours”.

    1. I absolutely LOVE the idea of doing a “house tour”!! What I would give to have a “house tour” video of my childhood home. I should definitely do this (maybe the next we clean, lol!) and then put it in a special, easily find-able, labeled folder. What a great thing to look back on one day, especially if we end up moving/ selling the house down the road or something. Darn it, now I wish I had done this when we first moved in (though I do have lots of photos). But we have done a good amount of remodeling, so it would be so cool to have an initial video, then again after each update, etc.

      1. I ditto you on wishing I had a house tour of my childhood home. I can picture so many features vividly, but I video tour would be such a thrill.

    2. This is so, so sweet. I’m sure it is very hard for your husband – there is something so tangible about a video, seeing people’s characteristic movements, hearing beloved voices. But what a gift and treasure for your kids.

      We started filming rooms in our house for insurance purposes; I’ve seen it recommended various places to take videos of rooms – opening closets and doors – to have in case of an accident/fire/theft.

      I’ve always loved how Gretchen Rubin discusses taking pictures of ordinary things – like dorm room laundry facilities – because they become such HUGE memory triggers. I wish I had more pictures of my childhood home + university lodgings.

  6. I love this solution you found. Such a great idea.

    I’ve got some of our videos edited into movies. Mainly from when the kids were primary school age. I do have on my ultimate list to do the rest of them, but that’s for later. When we took each of the girls for their trip overseas I took small snippets of video throughout the day and put the together at the end of each day, or sometimes when travelling on the train between places. Each day was only about 1min long which works out to about 15mins for a 15 day trip. I did all the editing on my phone so it was pretty easy and quick.

    I have dabbled in the 1s per day but it has always fallen away. Thinking about it, this would probably work for me though on a less rigid schedule., or just using it on holidays. Hmmm … I might take up this again.

    1. I don’t know how to do anything with videos. I know that modern softwares for video editing/compilations are “fool-proof” but…ugh. What I have been doing is once we watch a home movie we put it into a “watched” or “best” folder. So I’m getting a short-list of our favourites from each year which will be helpful for going back to rewatch OR if I ever decide to make a compilation video – perhaps outsourcing? – the best things will all be in once place.

  7. I have soooo many videos of my cats, lol. I try to only keep the funny ones that I know I’ll want to look back on. A while ago, I found some videos I had taken of my dog, Dutch, and it just made me so, so happy.

    I want to be better about identifying problems and finding a better solution for them in my life. I do this so much at work, but sometimes it takes me FOREVER to recognize that this annoying problem I’ve been experiencing for so long could have a very easy solution to it!

    1. I tend to get fixated on just pushing through a problem over and over again. It generally takes me a LONG time to identify that it’s solvable…

  8. I have a lot of videos, but mine are mostly of places, not people. For example, if I am hiking, I find it really shows how beautiful or rocky or exciting that trail is with a video, although I also take photos to have both perspectives. I try to make a compilation video shortly after the trip while it is still fresh in my mind, because trying to sort through old videos later is extremely tedious. However, I do enjoy taking a walk down memory lane and have found some odd and fun videos from before the days of smart phones!

    Sadly, most of the videos from when I was a kid are on VHS and although I have told my Mom that I would be willing to take them in to see if we could get them put onto a DVD or a memory card or something, she is not taking me up on it! I would think that many of them probably are not any good any more, but I don’t have a VCR to be able to check the few that I do have. What I wouldn’t give to have a compilation of all of them though, even the ones of another soccer game etc.

    1. I never, ever think of taking videos on vacation, but this is so smart and provides a great perspective that can’t always be captured in pictures alone.

      We didn’t have any home videos as a kid, so I piece things together via photos from my own childhood. But I would LOVE to be able to see clips of my little league baseball games, Christmas concerts, even just the interior of my childhood home.

  9. I always want to watch more videos in the future but not so consistent in making them. Sometimes it’s hard to catch those precious moments. instead of asking the kids to re-do and record, I now write them down quickly in my 5 years journal. it brings memories of those moments in a different way. But I still want to do more videos, even staged.

    1. I’m not good at remembering to write down cute things in my One Line A Day Journal. I mostly capture that stuff on the blog of via family texts…but I like your idea and should start incorporating those memories into my daily writing habit in that journal.

  10. My dad is in the same situation as you! He actually proposed – I nearly spit out my drink – that he would go through all of the days of video footage he has (seriously, the man had a video camera in hand from the moment the first ones came out in the mid-1980s) and identify clips *of specific people* then somehow clip them together and present them to the people in the videos. My response? Dad, please do not waste your remaining years trying to do this. Please. Just share the videos when you see people. Watch them, don’t edit them! 🙂 Hopefully I managed to shift his focus from the task to the end goal – sharing videos of non-family members with those people. I love how your discussion with a friend led to this insight and change, too. Sometimes it just takes talking it through to make us realize what direction we need to go. <3

    1. Yes! I was so fixated on there being one “right” way to do it. But I didn’t WANT to do the work. And, honestly, even if I had gone to all the trouble, I don’t think we would have been watching those montages weekly anyway.

      But…I will admit that I haven’t shown the kids many of these videos lately. Oops. Need to get back into the habit.

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