Word count: 607
Read time: 3-4 min.
“My children’s artwork and school papers are piling to the ceiling! I pile them on a shelf, then go through them every month or two, weeding out what I want to throw away, but they keep piling up. No matter how hard I try, they seep into my closets, shelves, and chest of drawers!”
That was the cry of a frustrated mom as I questioned her about her child’s collections. Collections that multiplied into clutter.
Today You Have Lots of Options. We want to save our children’s beloved artwork for future memories, but somehow the collecting and organizing can seem overwhelming. The answer to the artwork woes is flat shirt boxes, a portfolio, or space on your computer’s hard drive. The shirt boxes can be bought at a department store, and the portfolio is just two large pieces of cardboard taped at the bottom. And the computer on your desk or the device on your kitchen table comes with so many gigabytes of hard drive space, a lifetime of pictures can easily be stores in a space thinner and smaller than a child’s fingernail.
Suppose your five-year old brings home a drawing of a sunset. Unless you can read child language, you probably will not know what she has drawn. After you tactfully ask her to describe her masterpiece, jot down on the back the date, her name and age, and a brief description of the drawing. After the drawing is displayed for several days for all your friends and relatives to admire, put it in a large, flat shirt box. If the drawing is too big, put it in a portfolio. This portfolio can be nicely tucked behind a bed or a large piece of furniture.
If you want or need to save space, digitally store the artwork as a scan or photo. Just remember to name the image descriptively, such as “11-04-12 kelly age 10 magic rainbow” so you can quickly identify it later. Instead of boxes and portfolios in a closet or under a bed, create a folder on your computer or device. Or, as many enjoy doing today, store and share them online.
Don’t Lose the Magic of those Memories. Once a month, while the pictures are still fresh in your mind, take twenty minutes or so to go through each child’s box, portfolio, or digital folder. As you reminisce, decide which drawings to save. File them in an under-the-bed box, one for each child. After one year, start a new box. Label each box with the child’s name and the year. Do the same with your digital files.
Then, when your children grow up and leave home, you can present those growing-up-years collections to them as a gift, a storybook of life’s memories. If they don’t want it, all the better! You can keep your memories with you, all labeled and organized and stored. And if you stored them digitally, all of those images — and maybe some special home movies, as well — will easily fit on a single flash drive!
For the more cumbersome artifacts, such as papier-mâché sculpture, Easter-egg trees, and model airplanes, try boxing them in larger cardboard boxes according to years. As the children grow, they can organize their own memories in boxes or take pictures of the articles and develop their own print or digital photo books.
Final Thoughts. Whatever method you choose, allot yourself a few minutes each month to organize and put each collection away in its proper place. If you do, you’ll have less headaches and more memories, tagged and accessible to you and your family — a treasure-trove of life experiences at your fingertips!