4 Moms try to save keepsakes without being killed in an avalanche

4 Moms, 35 KidsMaybe it’s because I have pregnancy brain, or maybe I just really need your help here.

I’m going to come right out and tell you that I don’t have a system, and we have very few physical mementos from the last 10 years.

In the early days, when I had just a few small girls, I kept a few of the things that were most precious to them.  These went in each child’s “birthday bag.”  It started out as a particularly cute gift sack on the top shelf of my closet, and into it I tossed birthday cards, drawings, first Easter dresses, favorite little toys that were no longer favorites, a special baby doll that had worn out and been secretly replaced with a doppelganger.

Eventually the contents were transferred to a rubbermaid tote, moved into storage, and I stopped adding to them.  They’re still in the shed at the bottom of the hill, and the older girls love to sneak down and pore over the contents.  Sadly, I have nothing of this sort for the younger ones.

I still tuck away special drawings in a folder in the file cabinet once in a while – but more often, I scan or take photos of them.  I have heard of using photos as a storage method for arts & crafts, and I think I subconsciously adopted the idea.  Then we post them to the blog or facebook, or just let them join the thousands of other digital photos that we will surely someday take time to sort.

Aside from many thousands of digital photos, the majority of my mementos from the last 10 years are right here on this blog.  Now that I’ve said it, I feel motivated to post more drawings by the kids.  I love being able to look back and see how each individual child’s style and skill grew and evolved over time!

To me, drawings are some of the most precious mementos because they are not just a snapshot of the child’s outside, but the inside.  The choice of subject matter gives a glimpse into personality and interests, and the level of detail tells you a little about their priorities and how they think.  The skill level can even give some insight into maturity level and personal dedication, though of course it can vary enormously from one child to the next and must be interpreted in the context of the whole child.

Looking for more help?  The other 3 Moms have it all together!

Do you have a better plan?  Do you actually use your plan?  I’d love to hear from you!

Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • March 22 – Q&A (watch for your chance to post questions on Facebook)
  • March 29 – Making time to manage the budget
  • April 5 – Do you plan out blog posts? How do you manage blog time?

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  1. I don’t have kids, but I know what method I’ll be using when I do. It’s more time-consuming and expensive, but I think it’s worth it. This is a very expensive version, but it’s the sort of thing you could do yourself for a lot less: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/creating-a-masterpiece-from-yo-109777 And for those REALLY special pieces, I LOVE this idea: http://childsown.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/the-other-talented-softie-makers/

  2. So . . . I am mostly in the same boat as you are; but here is what’s working for me now: I have a manilla envelope, usually in my kitchen, in which I randomly throw ticket stubs, first communion cards, special birthday notes, small mementos of any kind. When the envelope gets too full, I sort it into shoe boxes in my office for each child. I keep only a couple small baby clothes. If someone has a special little something (right now it’s the two-year-old’s whistle) I will eventually spirit it away in the box, after they have outgrown it.

    I take a lot of digital pictures and will one day finish at least one scrap book per child; for now they are safe on my computer. Our family tradition is to look at photo albums on birthdays, so I have printed photos for everyone and stuck them in at least a simple book (the olders have actual scrapbooks. I am also going to start printing out my blogs on photo paper (at least the ones specific to certain kids) and beginning their own books. I’m not too proud to lean on my blog instead of my memory!

    I do take pictures of artwork, just because there is so much! The special pieces, like nativities, we use until they look awful then we toss them.

    The envelope/box seems to work well and keeps me from saving so much. WHen I move it from the envelope to the box, I throw some of it away!

  3. I have a 3 pronged system. #1 is a box of Keepsakes like the clothing the child came home in wrapped in plastic so it keeps the smell of her home country. Her baby dedication dress, and precious clothing (like 2 pieces) 1 rattle 1 baby bottle etc. not much is in here its a small box that easily fits on a closet shelf.
    #2 They have their own memory box (3$ photo box from craft store), For example they contain things like, a string of red beads that reminds her of the necklace her mom gave her before her father abandoned her. It was taken away by the orphanage and never returned. Drawings of a bus. A clear empty box because that is how her heart felt. Photos of meeting us etc. These boxes are full of the sorrow/pain/joy of their lives. And you can’t believe how helpful! The rule is the child manages this box if it doesn’t fit you have to take out something (and photograph if you want to).
    #3 is for pictures and school stuff… we keep all school drawings and work till the end of school then I take the very best representations of the school year (like 5-10 pieces of paper) and put them in The “Child’s Name School Record” 2 inch notebook. When they get full I purge a bit more, they’ve never noticed… hope that helps 🙂

  4. I think the pregnancy brain has nothing to do with your lack of system (does one really need a system for everything?), but it may have something to do with the lack of links to the other three moms? 🙂 Hope you’re feeling well anyway!

    • Lisa, you’re probably right! Thanks for the reminder. I’ll fix that as soon as I get to a computer. I’m using my phone to read comments, but it’s not so great for actual blogging!

  5. I moved into my in-law’s house two years ago when my husband’s job moved. My MIL passed away 10 years ago and my FIL passed away last summer. They were keepsake keepers. And here I am, in a 3000sqft house with baby #8 on the way, needing the bedrooms and closet space so desperately for my children and their clothing. But instead we keep my MIL’s school papers. Her collections of birthday cards. Bureaus and clothing. My husband’s…everything. He’s inherited his parents’ hoarding disease. Seriously, I have no room for my children’s things because my husband’s childhood is hogging every drawer and nook and cranny. Even my schoolroom hosts tea sets, state-inscripted spoons, and fondue forks that no one is allowed to touch because “it belonged to my mother.” I know the ultimate fate of these things is the dump or the second hand store. And I don’t want to burden my future daughter and son-in-laws with piles of mementos. So away they (the things I have control over) go, before “moths and rust destroy.”

  6. My mom doesn’t save a whole lot of things, but she does like to save keepsakes. As a kid and teen I two saved a ton of stuff in keepsake boxes. When I realized that as an adult we were going to be moving a lot, and all over the world, I took pictures of all of it and got rid of almost everything. Our parents have some of our stuff in storage including very few keepsakes, but for the most part the pictures are fine and I don’t miss the stuff.

    For my own boys I took pictures of things like baby items and cards and plan to digi scrapbook them someday into a baby book for them. For their drawings and things they make, I take photos too. We keep the grandparents updated half a world away with my three year old’s blog. He loves to draw pictures and put them up for the grandparents and write letters to them. I think things like that will be the best keepsake in the long run.

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