Easy Scrapbooking for the Busy Mom

I started scrapbooking in high school when the scrapbooks were big and bulky with gray pages and a shoelace-type string to hold it all together. (Am I dating myself here?!?) Nowhere did we see the phrases “acid-free,” “lignin-free,” “archival-quality,” or “photo-safe.” We used glue (or even rubber cement!) to put–gasp!–newspaper clippings right into those scrapbooks! Those were the days of taking pictures with film cameras and hoping there were a couple good ones when you got your prints back days later.

Although the scrapbooking strategies have changed since the “olden days,” the purpose has not: to document our stories. These may be memories, significant events, family gatherings, or even seemingly mundane things from our everyday lives.

Upper L: Pocket Scrapbooking; Upper R: Digital Scrapbooking; Bottom: One photo vs. Many photos

People have many styles and approaches to scrapbooking:

  • Paper, digital, or hybrid scrapbooking
  • Project Life or other pocket scrapbooking
  • Smash books, journals, and planners
  • Scrap in chronological order, event-based, or more randomly
  • Pages with single photos to double-page spreads with 15 pictures
  • Using the latest and greatest scrapbooking supplies and tools or concentrating on using up your stash

So what’s the best option for a busy mom who wants to capture her kids’ childhood but feels like she has no time? There’s no one “right” answer, but I’m going to share some tips and tricks I like to use to maximize my scrapbooking time!

Tips for Easy Scrapbooking

Keep your supplies handy

I sometimes feel like it’s a lot of work to get all of my scrappy stuff out, only to have to put it away after making a few pages. If you have a dedicated space where you can leave your supplies handy, great! Most don’t, though, so get creative. Put your most-used supplies (mine would be my paper trimmers, adhesives, solid colored cardstock, pens, scissors, and corner rounder) in a tote all together, so if you find a block of time, you can grab the necessities and get a little something done. I love my Thirty-One totes for my scrapbooking stuff!


Use shortcuts

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and come up with pages that are totally novel and never been done before. There are a bunch of resources you can use for inspiration.

Sketches –

There are so many places online where you can find page layout ideas sketched out to show you where that artist put pictures, the title, embellishments, etc. Here are a few sources for sketches:

Scrapbooking kits –

You can get page kits that have everything you need for a layout already put together and matched. You use the coordinating papers and elements to come up with your pages or use the ideas that come with the kit. There are even album kits where you can get the album and everything you need to complete it. You follow the instructions, add your photos, and put your own creative spin on it if you wish.



Coordinating paper –

You can find paper pads in various themes from baby to floral to geometric to school days and so much more. By using a pad of paper, you know that everything will coordinate, minimizing the time you need to spend searching for that perfect match.

Pinterest –

There is a wealth of scrapbooking information and inspiration on Pinterest! I have several boards for layout inspirations, sketches, cutting machine ideas, and digital scrapbooking. Just be sure you don’t fall into the Pinterest abyss and spend all your time looking at ideas and not actually scrapbooking!

Digital scrapping –

There are multiple digital scrapbooking options. You can upload pictures and put them into a book template that you order from Snapfish, Shutterfly, Mixbook, etc. Bonus tip: check for coupon codes before you order, because there are almost always discounts! Another digital option is to use design software such as PhotoShop Elements. There are templates and embellishments available to purchase and incorporate into your pages.  You can even do scrapbooking on your phone using apps like Project Life, PicMonkey, and Pics Collage.

Perfection is not the goal

Cut yourself some slack. It’s more important to capture the memories than to have the perfect layout, the perfect products, or even the perfect picture. I have a layout (below) where all the pictures I had were slightly blurry (a not-infrequent occurrence being a boy mom!). I went ahead and used the not-perfect photos, because they let me capture that memory. This also holds true for finishing a page and not being 100% satisfied with it. Let it go…it’s another page that’s done, and we’re always our own worst critics!


Put time on your calendar

Just like other things in life, if you don’t schedule your scrapbooking time, there’s a far greater chance of it never happening. Block off a couple hours on a weekend or an evening after the kids are in bed. But actually put it on your calendar!

Craft with friends

This can be related to putting crop time on your calendar. I have a group of friends that tries to get together every couple months to work on crafty projects, drink wine, and catch up with each other. Sometimes I’m more productive during these craft nights than others, but they are always fun, and I always get more done than if I didn’t have a craft night!


Set a goal

I find it helpful to set small goals. For example, maybe this month I’m going to go through the pre-school art projects and scrapbook those that I’m saving. (There could actually be another whole post on how to pare these down!) Or commit to do one layout each month. It feels reasonable, and that’s twelve layouts by the end of the year–twelve more than you would have otherwise completed! Having a goal will help keep you focused and less likely to be overwhelmed.

Use these hints and tips to get those papers and pictures out of the totes, boxes, and files and into a scrapbook! An added bonus for me is that my son LOVES to look through my scrapbooks, which gives us a chance to spend time together, talk about our family, and remember fun and special times we’ve shared.

If there was a scrapbooking group that met once a month on a set day/evening, would you come?  Would a weeknight or weekend work better?  (I’d love to have a standing crop date with some scrappy friends!)

Sara C
Sara is a NW Iowa native who moved across the state to become a Hawkeye! After her time at the U of I, she left for optometry school and residency before coming home to Iowa to start her “adult” life in Coralville. She was in clinical practice for 5 years before trying her hand at the research side of eye care, working on clinical trials in the pharma/biotech industry. Sara is a wife, mom to a 5-year-old boy, and step-mom to four teenagers! Because her son was born at 25 weeks and had a lengthy NICU stay, Sara is passionate about all things related to prematurity, especially parent support in the NICU. She loves connecting with fellow NICU moms, both online and in person. Sara also enjoys spending time with friends and extended family, reading, scrapbooking, organizing, knitting, travel, keeping up with tech trends, finding new wines to enjoy, honing her photography skills, and serving on the Family Advisory Council for UI Children’s Hospital. She’s a consultant for Jamberry Nails, too, which lets her dabble in her creative side.


  1. I’ve recently started scrapbooking and love it! I use Project Life and subscribe to the monthly Hip Kit Club. II would also love to join a scrapbooking club get together! Shall I start a Meet Up at the coralville library?


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