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Are you drowning in a sea of memorabilia? This will save you …

Let me tell you a little about my story.

I’m a girl from Brisbane who relocated to London in my 20s, seeking a bit of adventure and work experience away from home, with every intention of boomeranging back before too long… Twenty years on, I am still in London, now married and with three sons, twins aged 12 and third aged 9. I’m a working mum and have juggled professional life with my family life, in the way that we all do – as best as we can. There’s a term over here for families who are “just about managing”. Aren’t we all?

So, one busy morning in our household a couple of years ago, I was squeezing in a shower between encouraging the three boys to get out of bed, get dressed, have breakfast and off to school (all within half an hour!) before getting on with my own day. I had been trying on and off to sort out the mountain of stuff that a young family accumulates – piles of “art work”, school reports, certificates, scraps of paper recording first words and funny stories. In the shower that morning, running through my mental to-do list, lamenting on the fact that I’d made so little progress with it, and reflecting that all busy parents must have the same problem, I had my lightbulb moment.

I needed a way to digitally organise and keep the best of the endless stream of photos, videos, diaries, keepsakes, years of memorabilia produced and collected by the family, haphazardly stuffed in boxes, buried on computer drives, lost on devices, scattered in social media.

But on top of that it needed to be a place to add a few thoughts, and leave a meaningful account of things as they happened and to capture memories from the past before they got lost in the business of life. I’d also had one of those moments a parent dreads – while sorting photos on the home PC that weren’t backed up I’d managed to delete swathes of photos of the boys including the baby photos of our third boy, Archie, so it all needed to be saved in the cloud.

I was keen to involve my family back in Australia, and to make it easy for them to be part of our lives, and vice versa, so I needed a way to share news with them, but in a private way.

I’d seen a post from a friend the week before that said if you want something done, do it yourself. I ran the idea past my husband who said it could work and there began Storychest.

Storychest is a journal meets photo album meets scrapbook for the digital age. It’s an easy-to-use app which allows you to create entries, or stories about the things that are important to you. It accesses your photos and videos and enables you to directly scan in physical things. Everything you upload is stored safely in the cloud and doesn’t take up space on your device.

It makes it really simple to capture the detail around a story, like the date and place it happened, who it involved and you can put as much of a description as you want.

Storychest is private and personal. Stories can be kept just for yourself, or shared with specific people or groups you create. Groups can collaborate too – so if a story is shared with you, you can add another photo or your own perspective. You can also share your Storychest stories by email and if you want to share more widely, the app lets you share them to Facebook, Whatsapp and other social media.

My family is loving using Storychest. We’re using it to mark birthdays, to keep souvenirs of our holidays and to capture special day-to-day moments. We’re building digital memory boxes for the boys – baby photos, art work, reports and certificates, funny stories and family moments – for them to have and keep.

We’re also using it as a place to bring together stories from the past, including stories about my Dad who passed away before our boys were born, so that they know a little about him. As we’re a family of cooks, we’re using it as a place to keep family recipes, including our favourites from my grandmother’s recipe note books which I inherited.

And because we can choose exactly who sees each story, we can share one story with Grandma and Grandpa, one with old school friends back home and another with our close friends here.

So, now my mountain of stuff is finally abating and our stories are in a safe place for us to enjoy and relive.

— Charlotte McMillan

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This blog post is sponsored by Storychest

Storychest is an iPhone app, available for free on the App Store (it also works on iPad). Android and web versions will follow. Visit www.storychest.com

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