A few years ago, my mother decided it was time for me to take possession of my childhood memorabilia. For several weeks, she sent boxes of childhood art, trophies, and yearbooks. While I did save a few college papers I had written, yearbooks, and awards, all of my preschool and grade school artwork went right into the trash. After being saved for 30-40 years, and being moved into 4 different homes, the vast majority of it meant nothing to me. This is what I try to impart to my clients who want to save everything their children create… most of it is not worth saving.
Even the most sentimental parent can feel overwhelmed by the plethora of paintings, doodles, clay figures and cardboard designs that accumulate in children’s bedrooms, in piles on the kitchen counter, and in boxes and shopping bags scattered throughout your home. So, how do you decide what to keep and what to toss? Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Is the artwork special or unique in any way? Is this something everyone in the class made? Is it something designed by the teacher or by your child?
- Does this convey anything about your child? Does it speak to who your child is at this point in time?
- Does your child insist that everything is “special,” so nothing is special?
- If you made it, would you want it if your parent gave it to you tomorrow?
Chances are that answering these questions will allow you to purge much of the artwork in your possession with only a modicum of guilt. And, once you’ve purged children’s art to a manageable amount, you can focus on how to store it. Here are some suggestions:
- Save It Digitally
Take a photograph of each picture and project and then upload the photographs to a computer. Create digital folders for each of your children and e-file the pictures in the folders.
- Create a Photo Book
If saving pictures digitally isn’t enough for you, can create a photo book. Or, if you haven’t saved the photos digitally, there are several services that will do it for you. For example, Plumprint (https://www.plumprint.com/?a=1) and Artkive (https://www.artkiveapp.com/#home) will send you a pre-paid shipping box for you to pack the artwork and art projects you’d like preserved. They professionally photograph each work for you and organize the photos into a coffee table book.
- Hang It
Hang a bulletin board and allow your child to fill it with the pictures, cards, and memorabilia s/he feels are special. When the board is full, your son or daughter can curate the selections. If you’re truly drawn to something your child has created, you can even frame it.
- Save in Boxes
Use a set of matching document boxes to keep pictures, awards, photographs, sentimental cards, and photos. Buy one color/pattern for each child, and store 2-3 years of memories in each box. Try Bigso Storage Boxes at The Container Store for a great selection of fun colors (https://www.containerstore.com/s/bigso-cherry-red-stockholm-office-storage-boxes/d?productId=11003863&q=bigso%20boxes).