There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past. Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer, Southern Living Magazine, April 2008
As another year of school comes to a close, memories of the past year are piling up. What are we to do with all the photographs, certificates and memorabilia each year?
Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?
The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!
We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The rainy day becomes the rainy years, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of memories, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.
So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we, like Amy’s mother, be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our child’s development and memories?
First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.
Think through the categories or stages of your child’s life.
To document the life of a child, consider the following categories or stages; Baby, Preschool age, School Age, and High School. You will want to develop a system of saving memories for each category of your child’s life.
Finally, consider how YOU operate, and plan accordingly.
Next develop a system of saving memories for each category based on your own personality. Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book, and the school memory keepsake? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the memory books, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones on the run, as they occur.
An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the photo box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!
The same system can be used to record the preschool years.
As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).
To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!
Happy Summer and Happy Memories!