One of the hardest things for parents is deciding which childhood toys, clothing, school projects, and other memories to keep, and which ones to throw away. It starts with a new baby and saving things like Baby’s First Spoon, Baby’s First Dress, and so on. Eventually it balloons into bags, and boxes, and piles of baby’s first things, followed by toddler’s first things, and finally kid’s first things. And, that’s all before you even ponder which of your kid’s school work, pictures and projects you should save.
The difficulty is that you don’t want to throw away priceless memories, but you also don’t have infinite storage. The solution is easier than you might think.
Baby Keepsakes and Memories
Starting with your newborn baby, get a large one of those plastic, Tupperware-type, containers with a lid. This gives you a few benefits. First, an airtight lid means there won’t be any dust, or spills. Second, the rigid plastic means whatever is inside will be protected, and can even be stacked on, or under. Finally, it gives you a limit.
When that large bin is too full to put anything else in it, then it is time to sit down and go through it. With the passage of time, you’ll find that things you once couldn’t bare the thought of parting with, are no longer that meaningful to you. You may not donate, or throw those things away. Once you’ve cleaned out the things that aren’t truly beloved keepsakes, you should have a much smaller collection.
At this point, you have two options. First, you can go back to refilling that box. This option makes the most sense if either
- a) Your child is still in the same stage of development. – That is, if your baby is still a baby and you are going through baby stuff, continue filling the bin. But, if you are going through infant stuff, and your baby is now actually a precocious little toddler, maybe it’s time to move on.
- b) Or, if your clean out didn’t give you much room in the box, then just admit that it is almost full. Go back to filling it, until it is.
Once you have decided that the box is “closed,” that is, you aren’t going to be adding to it then it’s time to get a new box. If the stuff would fit into a smaller container, then buy a smaller one that fits what you have. If not, then buy another big one. Either way, label the filled box as Baby, or Toddler, or Age 4-6, or whatever. It goes on the bottom of the stack since you won’t be opening it as often to put new stuff in.
Now start filling the new box.
Repeat the process above until you declare that box as “finished.”
Keep Going Back to Find the True Baby, Toddler, Kiddo Memories
The trick to not building up a huge pile of these is that when you fill the second (or third, or fourth), then pull back out all of the boxes you considered finished. Go back through them again and make sure everything in there is still meaningful to you.
You’ll find that some things fill your heart with joy and memories, and others inspire a more subdued reaction. Part with anything you feel you can. There is no need to be ruthless, just honest with yourself. That first blanket may always be special, but maybe not that first burp towel.
As time passes, you’ll find yourself only with what you truly cherish, and chances are, it will never take more than a few full boxes. Find room for them in your attic or basement (this is while sealed plastic is the way to go). Before you know it, you’ll be pulling them out, not to consolidate, but to remember after they go off to college, or get married, or whatever.
Either way, you’ll never accidentally throw away something you actually loved, and there will still be room in your kitchen to actually cook a meal without maneuvering around the “baby’s old stuff” piles.