I thrive on organization. Clutter makes me crazy. As our family continued to grow, I realized keeping up with all the kids’ milestones, paperwork and memorabilia was getting overwhelming. I cringed at the idea of subsequent children not having all the memory books that my first children had, but I knew that was a growing reality.
I wanted my children to have items, pictures and keepsakes to look back on. These things may be the only memory they had or may spark a memory from their childhood as they aged, but I didn’t want to sacrifice living life in order to record life.
So, how could I live in the moment with my children AND have keepsakes for the future? Here are a few ideas we have done in our house that have been simple and effective.
Pregnancy Journal & Baby Book
These are the easy to fill in books you can purchase anywhere. You can track your doctor’s appointments and progression throughout pregnancy. Once your baby is born, you can record milestones such as their first tooth. These books are inexpensive and easy to complete and are helpful when your child asks questions like, “when did I say my first word?”
Box of Keepsakes
We use a simple plastic container and fill it with items such as sport uniforms, trophies, favorite blankets, first shoes, the pregnancy journal mentioned above, favorite clothing our kids have worn – really anything that won’t fit in a book that is special to you.
I will admit my first two children have the old school scrapbooks that took hours upon hours to complete. After doing this for two kids, I stepped into the age of digital scrapbooks and created less time consuming scrapbooks. There are even websites that allow you to export pictures from your social media page to produce photo albums.
Accordion Folder for Papers
This is where I store all of their certificates, report cards, paper artwork or other important papers. Now, I love artwork, but there is no way I could keep every piece of art that came home in their book bag.
So what do I do with ALL the artwork? Throughout the year, I place every piece of artwork they bring home in a stack in the closet. Of course, the art is displayed in our home for awhile before I put it in the closet. At the end of the school year, I begin sorting through the stack. Now brace yourselves, this is where you will think I am the worst mom in the world or I have reached genius levels.
My hard and fast rule when sorting: if the art has a handprint or photograph, I keep it. If it doesn’t: I place each individual piece of art on a dark pillow case and take a picture of it. I then make an online scrapbook of all the art, have it printed and place that scrapbook in the accordion file folder. Cue the gasps … after a few months, I trash all the art I just took pictures of. Yes, I trash it. By this time, I can tell you the thought of that artwork is long gone. My older children have figured out my method and they could care less because they think their book of art is so cool.
In the end, I am left with a folder containing several pieces of personalized art that has their handprint or photograph AND a photo album of the rest of their art they love looking through. What I’m not left with is glitter, feathers, torn paper and glue everywhere.
This one is my absolute favorite way to store memories. When my kids are 18 months old or getting more active, I get a journal book and begin documenting random things. Most are the hilarious things they say or do. Sometimes I may write updates on sports they are playing, sizes they wear, their interests, etc. When they start writing, I may have them write their name or a simple sentence in the journal. It’s so fun to look back and recall things I have forgotten.
All of these suggestions are fairly easy and very inexpensive. Finding what works best for your family is the key to being consistent with documenting memories while maintaining a certain level of organization. It’s been fun to look back at each child’s journey throughout childhood and know exactly where items are because it is organized.