The mess pictured in the cabinet below didn’t just happen. It was a gradual process that took a few years to perfect. At this point it’s just the right amount of messy to make the average person cringe. This is my reaction to this mess on most days. I’ve reached the point where it can’t really be avoided for much longer. The moment of truth has arrived.
This may come as a complete shock but I’m actually a fairly organized person. The fact that there is a space like this in my home points to a problem, so I decided to get to the bottom of why I was putting off tackling this space. I wanted to figure out the real reason. (Yes, the real reason which is different from the excuses like “I don’t have time” or “I’ll get to it eventually.”)
Even Though I Try, I Can’t Let Go
In case it’s not obvious, the crazy mess above is my kids’ art supply cabinet. It houses the usual stuff– crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, etc. In addition to all this, it’s the place where a lot of the finished art projects live. They’re in an overflowing brown basket on the right.
That basket is the source of all my problems with this space. Cleaning out this cabinet means I need to go through it. That’s going to be tough because for the past ten years I’ve avoided getting rid of about 90% of my kids’ artwork. Yep! That’s right, I keep most of my kids’ artwork. It may sound completely crazy to do this and to admit it publicly but there it is.
My kids’ artwork is what some people call sentimental clutter. But the truth is I don’t see these drawings as random crayon marks on crinkled pieces of paper. To me they are messy representations of my kids’ personalities and creativity. These creations have an emotional value that’s hard to put into words. It doesn’t help that my kids got my husband’s artistic skills and are actually halfway decent at drawing.
The thought of parting with my kids’ art makes me downright emotional. I can’t do it; it’s just too painful. I’m stuck and I’ve convinced myself, in classic procrastinator fashion, that if I avoid it I’ll be able to put it off until it’s no longer an issue. Unfortunately, this strategy isn’t really working. Plus, my kids are still young enough to create at least a few more years worth of artwork that needs to go into this space. It’s just a matter of time before this cabinet becomes totally unusable. I need to take care of this problem stat.
(Want to see how this organizing project worked out? Go here. I even included a video.)
Related Post: How to Store Kids’ School Papers
Take Organizing Advice with a Grain of Salt
When I want to be inspired and motivated to organize I go to Youtube. If you’ve watched any of these videos you’ll notice that the minimalist trend has taken over in the organizing community. Minimalism seems to be the answer to every clutter problem in your home.
In my case, the minimalist organizing guru would probably advise taking a picture of my kids’ stuff so that I can still keep it in some form and then get rid of the original. It makes sense; you can keep a copy of the things you love but they take up much less space. I’m a fairly logical person so I was confused when I found this idea totally horrifying.
My brain: That’s a totally logical and reasonable compromise.
My heart: I’ll give up my kids’ artwork when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
What the Experts Say
I did a little research mainly just to make myself feel better about this situation. I was really curious about the psychology behind why I’m hoarding my kids’ art. It turns out our relationship to stuff can get pretty complicated. Here are some gems I uncovered.
- This TED Ed animation explains how we perceive our things to be special because to us they have a “unique essence” that can’t be replicated. This is why in one study when children were given the choice between a favorite toy or an exact copy most chose the original. (A picture of my kids’ artwork ≠ my kids’ artwork.)
- In the article The psychology of stuff and things by Christian Jarrett, I learned how possessions become important because they come to represent our sense of self as well as our memories, relationships and experiences. (Artwork = memories, relationship with my kids, and experiences as a parent.)
- Helga Ditmar explains in Are you what you have? how women tend to value things that symbolize their interpersonal relationships. We value things more when they belonged to loved ones. (Artwork = relationship with my kids.)
Here’s the one that really blew me away:
- The Jarrett article talks about another study where moms were interviewed after they got rid of their kids’ stuff. Some kept most of it (Keepers) while others had an easier time getting rid of it (Discarders). But here’s the kicker: both sets of moms felt guilt about their decisions. The Keepers felt guilt because they felt societal pressure to be more organized and the Discarders felt guilt because they weren’t living up to the expectations that mothers should preserve their kids’ stuff. In other words, if you’re a mom there’s no right answer.
Related Post: How to Decide What School Papers to Keep
You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do
So where does that leave me in all of this? I’m a Keeper. I’m keeping my kids artwork, neatly organized of course, because that’s what feels right. Now obviously I can’t keep it all, but if I come up with a good enough system I feel like I can satisfy my need to hold on without turning into a hoarder.
At least now I feel better knowing that my attachment to my kids’ artwork isn’t irrational. There are legitimate explanations for why I hold on to it. If as a mom I’m going to feel guilt regardless of what I do, I’m fine with keeping my sentimental clutter. I’ve made peace with the fact that it’s not an unreasonable amount of stuff to keep.
My advice to anyone trying to avoid organizing sentimental clutter is to tackle it at your own pace but also, if you can, identify why you’re avoiding it. This may help you figure out if the items represent some deeper emotional attachment to a loved one or memory. In which case you’ll be able to deal with those emotions and hopefully move forward either by keeping or discarding. But at least you’ll understand why you made your choice.
And here’s another bit of advice: Ignore the misguided albeit well-intentioned minimalist gurus who tell you to just get rid of it all. This approach disregards the strong attachment we have to our sentimental stuff. Psychologists have spent years studying our relationship to things which should prove that our stuff isn’t just stuff.
The pressure to simplify might lead you to get rid of things you really want to keep just because it’s trendy to have less. I love the idea of minimalism and I practice it myself in some parts of my life but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
For now I’ll settle for being an organized Keeper.
Did you enjoy this? Feel free to share it. 🙂
Marie Ward says
I have two boys, one is 46 and the other 53. I hung onto all the things they had made in school etc. for 30-40 years. One day I boxed them up and put all of it in front of my sons and told them to take it home with them and decide what they wanted to keep. I knew one day they would have to do that anyway. Now was the time!
And what happened, we’re they happy or annoyed? Our adult children are only interested in screen shots of pictures and items, not the stuff itself.
Never feel guilty for keeping your child’s art work! I have every paper my son ever brought home from school when he was in the first grade. They are in a box in the closet and that’s where they’ll stay until the day I die. You see, I lost him when he was 16. That was 33 years ago. If I never go through them again, I find comfort in the knowledge that they are there, tucked away safely for when/if the day comes I need to hold or read them.
Boy is this me! My son is 34 years old and I have all of his school papers from Kindergarten through Senior in high school. I have them in totes according to grade and dates. I have 13 totes full of class work, class papers, art work, etc. I have them stored in an out buidling and I really need to tackle this. Obviously, he doesn’t want all of these papers, so I need to take care of it. This artical may be the inspiration to get started – one grade at a time!
Becky- I found that it did get a little easier with time. If I let something sit long enough, I tended to get a little less attached to it. This would at least help whittle things down. I’m glad you found the post helpful. 🙂
Elois Kraatz says
If you want to enjoy artwork the children made, scan the pictures and papers and save to an SD card. Take pictures of actual crafts they made and scan the pictures of these items as well. Then buy one of those electronic picture frames that works like a screen saver and enjoy the memories!
Sayra Webb says
As a Pre-K to Third Grade teacher, I am always suggesting to parents that they snap photos of everything their children create. Art doesn’t always age well but photos do.
Melissa Kirkpatrick says
Whew! I feel so much better after reading this and the responses. Now it’s time to just get creative with it! Thanks everyone.
As my kids grew I kept a box in which I put any art or other papers. At the end of each school year I’d go through the box and decide to save a few of my favorites, discarding the others. After their senior year the box was full. I did one more edit removing about half of the things. Several years later my daughters and I sorted the treasures and kept only a handful of items. Each of my daughters has a plastic bin in my basement. Someday they’ll take the box to their own family home and decide what to keep!!
Nancy Hadden says
I am sooo a “keeper”. I hated to get rid of my kids’ artworks, but finally decided that the only way to keep it and enjoy it without having messy stacks all over, would be to photograph it and put it on a cd. Great idea and takes up so little space. My son now enjoys blacksmithing, so I try to get photographs of his projects, print them out, and put them in plastic pages in a binder. It shows the story of how he has gotten better and lets us remember all the cool projects he has done. When he was younger, he went through different art phases, like cartooning, map-making, and on. These also went into a binder. They are fun to look at now.
What a fantastic idea!! Now that I’m a grandma, it’s only piling up more. No better time than right now. Thank You!
My daughter somehow makes copies of the art work and school papers she wants to keep and the. Downloads it on a hard drive. Also, one could have their child or grandchild hold up their art work, award, special paper and have a photo taken.
Elise Cundy says
My husband passed away and I’m learning how to slowly let go of his stuff. When I’m ready, I will.
Eva Steele says
Take your time. I did. Nothing before a year and then only non sentimental…papers books It will be there when you are ready
Jean auteberry says
I get it. I feel the same way. Been gone 3 years now and still have all his woodworking tools and wood
I don’t use them.
Ellie Athay says
When my daughter died a close friend took some of her adult art work to a print shop and had note cards made. On the back she noted that my daughter had died from cancer.
That is a really nice idea. I bought cards once made from artwork of a man who had died. I love them and they are very nice to remember him when I send one out.
I am guilty of being a keeper – reading this gave me an idea for old art or photos. Put them in a box with a glass top or slip in frame on the front. Every day randomly select one from the stack (think Tarot/Oracle Card pull) and it goes on top to be visible through the glass or slides into the frame on front. That day you enjoy the memory it invokes & the next day you decide if that particular one is worth keeping or tossing.
Years ago, I set up paper grocery bags in each child’s closet. After any work was no longer on display (or there was too much for it all to be put on display, the non-displayed items made their ways into their respective bags.
Every year or so, I asked the children to sort through their bags, keeping the items they loved most, and running the rest past me. I usually kept some myself, but the fact that they let some go helped me let go of most of what they let go.
Each annual bag was labeled and sent to file.
But be warned, methinks my husband tossed them….
If you want to keep them, have a conversation with your husband…..
If you don’t know if you still have them, then that shows that they were not in the top part of the “to keep” file. I agree that it should be a conversation, but still you may never miss them.
I used a large scrap book and glued the kindergarten artwork into a scrapbook for each child. Both children have a clear plastic bin in their room. Any school work or special papers they want to keep go into this bin. If the bin is full then you discard items in the bin if you want to keep something else. You have to limit the amount of stuff you keep as there is only so much room in your place.
Donna Conkin says
Well I’m definitely a keeper! A serial keeper! I’ve not only kept the things mentioned above but many (too many) other scraps and tidbits such as thousands of pictures, old Halloween dress-up clothes when mine were younger, hair from their first haircuts! I even have a suede pouch with all my son’s teeth he lost!! Who would want THOSE?? Hey I can make a bracelet out of them! Thanks to those of you who said don’t let others tell you to “downsize” if you’re not ready. I tried, knowing they were right but failed miserably. Hence the teeth!!
I am not commenting for any sympathy but to maybe bring something else up that no one ever wants to think about. My son passed away when he was 22 and I was happy to have what I kept of his. I used a poem he wrote in 5th grade on the his card for the funeral. Nothing wrong with holding on to things that are your children’s.
Hilary Gleason says
This is such a private and individual thing to have to deal with. Do what makes YOU and each member of your family feel most comfortable. There is no timetable you must follow after a loved one passes away. Always deal with it in a way that makes everyone in your family feel comfortable, and honors the person who has passed away. It took me and my daughter years to divest ourselves of things that belonged to her father, who passed away when she was ten. It was very comforting to have them around. We just took our time and let go of things as time passed by. We ended up being at peace with the things he valued most, and that we valued most about him.
Deborah Klingaman says
Absolutely Agree! I. also lost a son 20 years old. I have a brass chest lined with cedar where I keep his personal items I saved. I will not ever apologize for hanging onto things that trigger happy memories. Grief is bad enough, don’t let anyone guilt trip you!
I have found a few was to recycle some treasures. Vintage toys look great under a tree. My sons graduation tassels were put in those clear plastic ornaments bought at craft stores and thread the loop through the top for its own hanger. Also can put little treasures in those ornaments. I have one with monopoly pieces I use to play with that are 60 yrs old. Drawn super hero pictures by my son are now hanging in my grandsons bedroom at my house. Clothes can be incorporated into quilts. Wedding dresses into Christening gowns. Better than sitting in a box.
I agree totally, I have my tassel in an ornament just as you said. I love the idea of game pieces and hanging artwork. I have a couple of recipes my middle son wrote in about 3rd grade hanging in my dining room. Made christening gowns out of my wedding dress and vintage embroidered pillow cases that were going unused. Love repurposing items such as this
Carolyn Sackett says
A CONVERSATION! Not until you ask him why he decided to destroy irreplaceable items of family history? Where does he get this unchallenged sole privilege?
Does he usually make singular, personal decisions about the importance of other people’s possessions?
Good luck with that! And what is he teaching those kids about respect and thoughtfulness?
So appropriate, Chris. Thank you. What a devastating life-changing tragedy.
sandra m peters says
I make a memory box in memory of different loved ones, occasions etc.
Katherine Piro says
I display my daughters art on the cabinets and walls of my laundry room
I am looking at all the stuff i have tucked away. I have asked my kids to come
Look. No takers. My daughter (laughingly) stated I hate it when you clean. Its more clutter at my house.
I feel pretty confident that when i pass this will all go to the trash. So why am i saving it?? We really do have only so much space/room in our homes! No one wants our stuff! Sentimental or otherwise. And when we are gone who has room to add our stuff to their already filled homes!!! Sell the valuable items instead of hiding them! Give the kids the cash if thats what you want to do! I am not organized enough to hang on to collectibles! They become clutter/trash/junk!
This! Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I, too, find myself slave to the emotional clutter, yet have no problem seeing it from a different viewpoint when it comes to my mother’s house. I’ve realized however, that so much of our precious time spent visiting is instead occupied with going through things at her home. We spend time with her offering me things that she no longer needs but has attachment to, and I in turn often take it because of the emotional attachment she has assigned to it even though it means nothing similar to me. I’ve resolved that if it was something of value or importance to me, I will have already remembered the item and asked for it. Nothing at this point is something I truly need, and if it’s just sitting tucked away in boxes, she has no need for it either. I hope was can arrive at a point where visiting will be spent making memories together rather than sorting things.
I too have problems with this. I often wonder how a person can throw away the actual pictures kept “forever”. Even if they’re on a cd – disk, computer or whatever. I’ve had a computer that crashed. Not a computer whiz to fix or know what to do first or next. Not able to purchase items or even understand what is needed. I don’t want to leave “it all” for my kids to handle either. I’m 78 years old, time is coming fast, I know. How do you do it?
I find that so helpful. When my mum was alive we didn’t realise go through her stuff and I had been feeling guilty about that. But reading your comments makes me think that which ever way you spent time with someone now departed there is an element of guilt. Ruth
I have more to say but will leave it at that!
I too, am a “Keeper”. Being a military wife – we moved a lot -and I have been disciplined enough to keep all my son’s & husband’s ‘stuff’ organized in bins. When we move, I do go thru the bins and sometimes thin them out, but mostly I enjoy the ‘remembering’. When my mom passed away, my brothers cleaned and packed up her house (as I was thousands of miles away) and they were smart enough to box up and send me stuff she had saved. Things like my baby clothes (!) a rock paper weight i made in Girl Scouts… these things may be clutter to outsiders, but to me it speaks to familial ties and love of family
Totally with you there.
I also had a couple of old overnight bags
so I put my heavy sweater or sweatshirt,
Sanitary pads, deodorant and a $5.00
bill. Left in front of Walmart and a few other stores. Someone was warmer in chilly days
What a great idea! Bless your heart.
My husband and I are both KEEPERS. While we have been working on letting go of items that have sentimental value, there are some things we, such as our grown children’s artwork, cannot part with. We picked out a couple of pieces of artwork that each of the kids created and framed them. They have been hanging on our walls for years now. They always bring a smile to our faces when we look at their work.
Barrie Lynn King says
I cleaned out boxes and boxes. Many items I gave to my kids, but I had so much fun going through old cards and letters. I kept the really funny and sentimental ones and I have mailed them to my kids, in-laws, grandparents, etc. They have thoroughly enjoyed getting them and now they are out of my house and someone else is enjoying them. Of course I saved some old specials items.
When it came to my kids artwork and schoolwork, I saved no more than a dozen per school year. For years I saved EVERYTHING and most was not worth keeping.
I hope this helps you purge some of your stuff. But some things you just have to save.
I am a keeper also, but where I have the biggest issue is clothes. I cannot let go of my clothes. I have things that are 20 years old, things I don’t like, things that don’t fit and things I have never and will never wear. But I can’t seem to give them up. I think my issue is that they represent a time in my life where I was young, fit and full of confidence. I’m almost 50 now and really feeling my mortality and know my youth is in the past now. It sucks lol. Hopefully I’ll be able to reason with myself and let it go.
This is the way we look at those things in our family. If we keep things we don’t use, we are blocking the blessing. If you donate some of these clothing items, I guarantee there’s someone out there who needs them and will appreciate them. Someone who will be blessed by them. When you keep them and don’t use them yourself… you’re blocking the blessing. Try to envision how excited someone might be to have your excess wardrobe. That might help… especially when you compare it to how UNexcited you are to have them be taking up closet space!
Thanks that makes me want to try again to let go of more things.
I understand how you feel into went through the same thing. I finally let go and gave my clothes ( size 6 – 18) to friends and family members. Some still had tags ? and never been worn. The joy of seeing others appreciate the gift of giving, worth it.
Me too I have problems letting go of clothes and I think I kept stuff that are 20 yrs or older. In my situation I’m glad I did I have a teen daughter that now find these old clothes hip but she calls “vintage” haha…that she can wear now! Styles come back around about every decade. It makes me happy when I see her wearing my old clothes I guess I can live vicariously through her now lol. She gets compliments from her friends and they’re always wondering where she found her clothes. Don’t feel bad perhaps you have someone in the family that can benefit from all the clothes you saved. Even my daughter’s old baby/toddler clothes I passed on to my niece.
I go through my clothing at least 2 times a year and remove things I don’t wear any longer. Now that being said, I have held on to a few things that took time to remove. One shirt in particular, I made 2 quilts from the fabric for my grandsons, they LOVED the quilts of gramma’s shirt and grampa’s pants. I have made pillows from favorite shirts with great usable fabric. Someone else can use it, and you may want to think of it as just fabric and not sentiment. If I can’t fit in it now, I’ll buy more when I can fit in it.
I just found an account on Instagram where the family decluttered and minimized to the point that it doesn’t even look like a home; it looks staged to sell. They didn’t even have family photos up on the walls or on shelves.
I feel like I’m also a Keeper; I’ve saved poems my grandpa wrote for me, “art” my little brother made for me when he was 3, postcards from trips. But I find clutter overwhelming, and with our first baby on the way, the existential dread of having more junk around the house makes me preemptively anxious lol. I appreciate this post/article for what it really communicates. There really are some things that are hard to declutter, and it’s okay to hold onto some things that other people wouldn’t find value in if it’s meaningful to you. A picture really doesn’t equal the original, and I’m probably never going to go through a thumb drive to look at pictures of pictures, so I don’t think that minimalist suggestion would work for me either.
I’m glad the article was helpful. Babies can bring a whole new type of clutter that is just as difficult to get rid of. Toys and baby clothes, especially special occasion outfits, are two other categories of clutter I struggle with. I’ll be writing a post on both of those things soon.
Robyn Brockhoeft says
What about large 16 x 20 portraits of children? I know I can take a photo and download to cloud or disk… but what then? Throw them out? What about cassette videos from my sons table games? Videos of Christmas when they were young or grandparents are alive? Cheerleading competitions, trips overseas? Vacation videos?
Take those videos and have them transferred to a DVD. You can get many reels of videos on a DVD and they’ll last forever, compared with tapes that fade and crack and break.
Arelys Martinez-Constenla says
I am an organized keeper & declutter-er. My solution to the mounds of videos and pictures (not only mine but my parents) was to have them digitized. While it can be expensive – I’ve used iMemories and love it. I do create online albums which I print but are the fraction of the size of original ones. I easily share those videos and photos at different times with my kids & family & friends. They tell me – how did you ever find this? It means a lot to me – but I do like my clean uncluttered home – don’t get me wrong I have plenty of photos hanging. For the artwork of my twins – I decided to keep their “firsts”. & special occasion things and look at them every Christmas to see what I can pass in to them. One day they will have those treasures but it won’t be overwhelming- I’m happy
I had a friend that had her daughters art from school framed and hung. I dont know if she traded them out yearly? I have also heard of taking sentimental items and putting in a shadowbox. Both great ideas. But i dont have a lot of wall space either! Maybe excuses can be interpreted as we are not ready to move them out. I do believe there will come a time that it is easier. I have to believe that!!!
Linda Allen says
I have found that when it comes to papers and cards, the most help is to get page protectors for them and keep them in notebooks by category. I am a 68-year-old widow. I have several notebooks of greeting cards and about 6 notebooks of letters some between my husband and me and even some that my husband’s grandfather sent to court his grandmother.
Jan Orloff says
Someone once told me that many photos and other types of mementos are “personal” in nature.For instance: my children won’t be interested in keeping ALL my wedding photos (I think one will suffice!) my vacation photos, or anything that is more personal to me.
That helped me to get rid of a lot of things…..and now I’ve related that advice to other items…..even to my (now grown) children’s artwork that they made when they were younger. They don’t remember making it, so it’s really not as important to them as it has been to me all these years. That helped release me from keeping so much of it.
My boys are all so creative and artistic and have moved on to bigger and better things.
I’m happy that the early art projects helped propel them forward!
The most important to me, are the small drawings when my kids first started learning how to write their names and drew stick figures of themselves and wrote love notes to me and their dad. One day, I’m sure they will be surprised to find that those are the things I kept!
Hope this helps somehow!
Thanks for all the good advice!
This is important. You said it very well Jan.
I kept some of my girls art work glad I did as my eldest daughter passed away and I still have part of her with me, it gives me great comfort
I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s a blessing that you have these special keepsakes to remember her by.
So glad for your share. So sorry for your loss..
I am a keeper of lots from my 3 daughters.My oldest one passed in December 2020.Cant seem to let go of so much of her things.I did give family members things but I can’t part with what I have and it’s quite a lot.
I too had my son pass away. I not only am glad I kept his school things but favorite clothes from all different ages and cards and letters he sent me. Once something has been thrown away, it is gone forever….
Why don’t you have those clothes made into a quilt ? Then you see it all the time
I lost my son when he was 22. I am glad I have items of his. I even used a poem he wrote in 5th grade on his prayer card. Nothing wrong with holding on to your children’s things. It is helpful when those horrible unexpected things happen.
I am a keeper too, I’ve still got my 2 children’s paintings and certificates, I don’t even remember them getting them, and I don’t think they do either, as you say you have to archive in some way, It does make you feel proud what they’ve achieved!!
Hi Janice- It’s great to look back on your kids’ achievements. It’s always nice to take a walk down memory lane and it’s easy to do when you’ve archived things for that purpose. Thanks for your comment!
Being an older Mom, let me say this. My Mom did not keep all of mine or my brothers but kept some. Since she passed away and I was going through her things, what a joy it was to know she thought so much of those things, she kept them. I still cherish today and organized in a book. One day, you’re going to miss this so think about what a smile will be on your children’s face after you are gone.
My husband’s mama sent us what we felt was his life and our kids lives in the mail and thru her own mama. She put a note in some of them that said if you don’t want them throw them away. Did the same to his only sister. I don’t think she had the same problems we share. We went thru the last of the things she sent. It was a nice journey. His Sunday school classes and different trips they took over the years. I have made room for his,mine, our kids, grandchildren and now great grandchildren. My mama and daddy’s my only sibling now shared theirs. I was blessed to have my brothers children let me go thru and take a few things. His dirty hat from working cows for many years, a cow whip and one of his work shirts. We moved last year and I did finally let go of everything from my mama’s younger sisters that I helped care of for years. That being said I guess there is hope for me…I am 68 now and retired. I’m going to be selfish and whatever I still have is because it means whoever’s things I left behind was because they were dearly loved by me.
My sister was going through some artwork that my mom had saved from when we were kids, and texted me pics of a few things that I’d made, to see if I wanted them. I told her that “Only a mother could love those”, so since my mom has been gone for several years, I told my sister to throw my old kid-art away. And there is nothing wrong with a mother loving her children’s art, but it made me realize something about my own hoard of my adult children’s kid-art —they don’t care if I keep it or dispose of it; they’d probably tell me to trash it. So, I will probably feel a lot less guilty when I organize those piles and feel a little freer to dispose of more of it. However, I know, as a mother, I will still love some of my children’s kid-art the way that only a mother could love it, so I will definitely want to keep some of it! I have a couple large portfolios from when I took art classes in college, that contain some poster-sized art of mine. I think I’ll make some giant file folders out of poster-paper to organize my children’s larger art in these portfolios along with my art that I want to keep. If their art is small enough, I will often put it in photo-albums/ scrapbooks that contain mostly photos of people, but also other flat memorabilia. I used to have the kids hold their larger pieces of art up, and I took a picture of them holding it so the photo wasn’t just of their art, but it was also a full-length picture of them, at the age they were when they created it. You could even cut your kids’ art apart and use it as page borders or embellishments in their &/or your scrapbooks/photo albums. Thank you for helping me to feel guilt-free when I decide to just stash some of these treasures! You know what they say about one man’s (woman’s) junk is another man’s (woman’s) treasure! I’m going to confidently own up to what I consider to be precious to me, even if no one else will ever consider it to have value to them.
Brenda- Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you’re right that we moms keep our kids’ art because it’s valuable to us. Those art pieces are attached to so many wonderful memories. I’m glad this article helped you to feel less guilty about holding on to your treasures. It is important that we acknowledge that we should respect items that have special meaning to us even if others consider it clutter.
Winifref Double says
I used some old black photo books glued school art work on one book per child and have gift wrapped for when I’m no longer around a keep sake for all to see
I have tucked art work into cookbooks. The pictures make me smile whenever I open up to my favorite recipes ?
Sandy- I love this idea!! I’ll need to remember this! Thanks so much for sharing! ?
Laura Campbell says
Thank you for this! I’m definitely a keeper too, in fact I was almost in tears the past few days going through my now 6th and 3rd graders kindergarten papers! I made pre-k binders for them last heat and wanted to make a binder for each year until I realized there are much more kindergarten papers than there were pre-k. I had a 1 1/2 inch binder and ended up having to get 3 inch binder and am still having a hard time fitting it all… I’m trying to decide which route to take and I think I can go through the papers again and maybe pair it down to where I can fit them in a box with hanging files like you did. The binder way isn’t working because some of the papers are too big to fit in sleeve protectors. I am so glad to know I’m not alone! I have 2 drawers designated for their school papers and when the school year is over I put in a bin in the basement labeled with the grade. I knew I was getting behind since my daughter is a 6th grader this year and my son a 3rd grader! Thanks again! I followed you on Facebook too!
A fellow keeper!!
I also tried the binder method at some point but it didn’t quite work for me. I didn’t want to use all the sheet protectors or have to hole punch everything. I found the hanging file boxes to be much easier and more forgiving when you have larger pieces of art. I posted a video with some tips for how to decide what to keep. You can find that video at the bottom of this post: journeytowardsimple.com/how-to-decide-what-school-papers-to-keep.
I’m so glad you found my post helpful and thanks so much for the follow on Facebook. I’ll be posting more on organizing my kids’ artwork soon! 🙂
My children are grown now but I kept a LOT of their school papers and artwork. I talked to my kids and neither one wanted the stuff. I found it hard to get rid of it, so I found out what to do with it. I have scanned all the papers onto hard drives. Now I have 12 years of papers on one small hard drive. I kept a few of the pictures and put them in frames and on the walls of my bedroom. Works well for me.
That sounds like a good solution. I’m sure with time I’ll be able to let go of more of my kids’ stuff but for now I’m ok with keeping a few bins of artwork as long as they don’t take up too much space. 🙂
I so appreciate all the ideas I even had my girls’ first cheerleaders skirts now those were the hardest to part with
I’m getting there but being 70 is hard
What’s a hanging box file?
Piazza Corinne says
A box in which you can keep file folders inside hanging folders.
Thank you for this! I’m a Keeper and struggle with being one. This was so helpful!
I’m glad it was helpful, Cori. Yeah, there’s a lot of pressure on Keepers to purge. But keeping things that are precious to us is important.
Totally agree! Not a one size fits all solution. Great insights!