Melissa Smallwood is a professional organizer, mother of three boys, mommy blogger, and the owner of the informational website, Organized Life by Design. You can catch up with her on Twitter @multitaskingme.
When you have a family you accumulate keepsakes. It’s natural to want to hold onto a moment in time that you can’t get back. That first haircut, first pair of shoes, first report card- all these things hold special memories for us as parents.
But, as a professional organizer who has also worked with seniors, I can tell you that adult children do not usually hold the same sentimental attachment to such items that their parents did. And then they end up holding on to the item, despite the fact they view it as trash, because it was important to mom or dad. That, my friends, is clutter.
With school starting back up, I thought it would be a good time to look at how we can avoid letting our memories become clutter.
When I look at my boys artwork, vacation photos and the like, I try to ask myself if this is something worth keeping. Are the kids going to want this item when they are packing up my house after moving me into a nursing home? Or will they shake their heads and wonder why did mom hold onto all this stuff?
5 Ways to Save Keepsakes Without Generating Clutter
Here are a few ideas I have used that I hope will add to the chances of our memories becoming my boys’ keepsakes of the future:
1. Frame it- My oldest, Jason, made a beautiful poster of his name for an art project in the 1st grade. Even though he is in high school I still look at that poster (and enjoy it) everyday. We framed it in a clear plastic frame (11 x 13) and hung it in Jason’s room. It has truly become a piece of art.
2. Craft it- When there has been a particularly cute picture of one of my boys I have made it into a craft- sometimes a Christmas tree ornament. You can easily do this by taking a lid to a Mason jar, cutting the picture to fit, gluing it in and tying a ribbon around the outside of the lid. Easy keepsake and every year when you take it out to hang it on the tree you can ooooh and ahhhh at how adorable it is as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it.
3. Gift it- Moms and Dads aren’t the only ones that enjoy looking at the things your children create. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc, also enjoy so why not give them the chance to own a keepsake? Have your child laminate a favorite picture and cut it into a small puzzle. Use a child’s artwork as wrapping paper next Christmas- think outside the box!
4. Store it- there are so many storage options these days but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to put away precious memories. Buy an accordion envelope at Office Max to store kid’s artwork or school work in, get a three drawer cardboard dresser and assign each child a drawer. Once it is full it is time to purge what they want to keep.
5. Purge it- Speaking of purge- everything is NOT a keepsake. Keep the things that make you smile, cry or laugh out loud. Every A+ is not a miracle- but what about the A in the class your kid struggled in all year? Those are the types of items to keep for later.