Right from the first ultrasound picture, to the first haircut, the first painting, drawing, school photo, Christening day... keepsakes pile up - fast! You might do a yearly cleanup and put everything away in a garbage bag and vow to 'sort it out', when you have time. Guilty. I retrieved the said bag from the back of the wardrobe before we moved six years ago. Now we're up to child number three and it's time to curb the explosion!
So you've bought your storage box containers, fitted suspension files for the boxes and have a label maker in hand. You're quite chuffed at how easy it is - you've seen all the the Instagram and Facebook pics from other organised mums, and have a clear idea of the end product. But how do you fit everything in?? Artworks aren't all A4 size, and no two paints dry the same. When the pasta plastered artwork crumbles and lands on the floor, and the glitter from the unicorn butterfly painting rubs off onto everything it touches (including your hands, face) you realise two hours have flown by and it's almost time to have lunch, bring the washing in and pick up the kids.
Alot of emotion goes into the process of sorting out children's artworks and mementos. Each piece brings back specific memories and can stir many feelings. You really are creating a time capsule! The simple guide below outlines five easy steps to make this process smoother - not just at the beginning but throughout your child's journey. Maintaining the box is just as important.
Decide how you will divide and identify your child's keepsakes.
Are you dividing their life into special moments? Milestones achieved? Birth years or school years? Religious events, and educational achievements including school awards, photos and report cards are all considerations too. You are constrained by the size of the box and number of suspension files - this is a good thing. These boundaries will help you decide what goes in and what stays out.
Search and collect all Art and Craft and keepsakes from around the house.
These pieces will be hoarded away everywhere - Christmas cards with the Christmas decorations, photos and invites on top of the fridge, mothers and fathers day cards in your bedside draw and ultrasound photos in the box in the wardrobe. Don't be afraid to take special pictures off walls. Old school bags, and underneath beds should be explored too. Ask your kids for their special or favourite artworks. This can be a great guide for what to include.
Clear a space for sorting.
I call it a 'blank canvas'. This is the cleared area where you will create piles of items, sort, collate, and put excess items into garbage bags. A kitchen table or clean floor is a perfect blank canvas. Set yourself a time limit too so you stay focused and on track.
Create 'Plan B' for excess items.
'How can I possibly whittle all this down?', 'It's not going to fit in there!', 'I can't decide what to keep - everything is precious...' I hear you cry. No problems. This is where your digital footprint takes hold. There are many artwork storage apps available through Google Play and the Apple app store like Art Kive. This involves; downloading an app, taking a photo of the artwork and adding it to the app. There are many benefits to these apps. You can share them with family and friends. Some apps allow you to create printable books. Other apps allow you to create different storage folder ideas beyond time and date. Take a look at Plum Print, Keepy and Canvsly.
Make the box accessible and include it into your tidying routine.
These boxes are a work in progress until your children finish Primary School, High School or whenever your last file is labelled. I find end of term and end of year are great times to 'top up' the boxes. Let your children know you are keeping it, so they can celebrate moments and add special items too. Let your child be a part of it by allowing them to decorate it. This is something they should be proud of too.