Your Advice for the Busy Mom, Dad and Grandparent Genealogist

By Diane Haddad

About a month ago, when I started back at Family Tree Magazine from maternity leave, I asked you all how you squeeze in genealogy with parenting (my cute little guy, Leo, is just over three months old now). I wanted to share the great advice I got—which also will be useful for researchers busy with grandparenting and life in general:

  • You have to do other things when he is sleeping or have him in one of those swings that you can put him in. They grow fast and you will miss a lot if you don’t keep him with you as much as you can. —Irma
  • I fit research in in tiny little increments. My children are ages 3 and 5, and I’m home with them full-time. It’s hard. If I get to the library, it’s on a Saturday (after intense negotiations with my husband as to who will cover the kids when). My online research takes place before 6 a.m. (when the first one gets up) or during naptime.

Mostly, I try to remind myself that this is the period in life where you’re supposed to focus on the family tree in your own house, not the one in your file cabinet. You will be amazed how quickly they grow up, and those dead people aren’t going anywhere. They’ll still be there in a few years when he just wants you to leave him alone so he can play video games. —Kerry Scott (who blogs at Clue Wagon)

  • Genealogy is something we never stop doing even if it is only going over details in our head while rocking, feeding or holding a baby in the middle of the night. Find a good place to sit with Leo and in the same area put an art easel (use the cheap ones children use) and put items you need to contemplate, then get yourself a recorder. Record ideas or thoughts about genealogy or day-to-day items. Replay when you have time. Enjoy the time he is awake. My baby turns 45 this year and I still can remember those times. —Patricia Nemeth
  • My children grew up underneath the tables at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, back in the day (1985-1990). They made a little fort and basically hung out and behaved because they knew Chuck E. Cheese was the last stop before heading home. —Kay McCullough
  • Concentrate on the descendant right now—the ancestors will wait. Get a recorder to remember what Leo does and says as he grows. He’ll appreciate knowing about that when he has descendants, as much as he’ll appreciate knowing about his ancestors. And you’ll have plenty of time between the ages of 50 and 90 to research genealogy—believe me, I know. —Gene Kuechmann
  • When my daughter was that young, I decided to focus more on making history and memories, instead of looking at records. Those will wait for me, although I did do some research from time to time when I got a moment. This is the time to take pictures—maybe a scrapbook or slideshow—to record your ongoing family history.

Oh, and while all those relatives are over to ogle the baby, don’t forget to ask them about the family history. Somehow people are more inclined to talk when they know it is for someone who definitely doesn’t know the story.

When we finished a cemetery trip or a library trip (yeah, I did make her sit through those—she helped by drawing pictures I would publish in the family book), there was always a trip to Taco Bell as a reward. —Shasta

  • It seems like just yesterday when I was trying to research and raise little ones. Naptime and late at night were the best times to do genealogy (and an occasional Saturday when Dad was home). But there were long stretches of time when I didn’t do any, simply because we were too busy making our own family history. Or I was too tired! —Michelle Goodrum
  • I squeeze in small moments of searches whenever I can—while making dinner, etc. I stay super-organized so I know exactly where I left off. —Elyse Doerflinger (who blogs at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog)