Kids’ Keepsakes: To Keep or Not to Keep?

My mom kept everything I made as a child and I continued the tradition for myself through high school and college. Decades later, I found little value in most of the things we’d saved. Now I’m a mom with kids who (of course) create and accumulate.

My grown up hind sight tells me they won’t want or need most of the stuff they’re saving in the future, but I also remember how it feels to be a young’un with lots of very important things.

I definitely want my children to have sentimental items from their past, and I want them to reminisce when they go through them someday (hopefully with me!). But I don’t want to refill our now-spacious, organized attic.

All year, my kids put their art, greeting cards, and school work in the trundle drawer below their bunkbeds. This was my 6-year-old’s collection at the end of kindergarten:


Over the summer, I sorted his things (by myself) into a pile of “keepers” and a pile of “recycling”. Most of the things in the recycling pile were duplicate (or multiple) items. I didn’t actually get rid of anything until I’d shown him his newly organized kindergarten box and sensed his approval.


When I showed him his memory boxes (three in all) he got a kick out of seeing his baby rattle, party hat, birthday cards, and preschool artwork, but by the time we got to his kindergarten box, he barely showed interest.

When I didn’t hear what I had feared (“Hey, where are the other twelve paper airplanes I made?” or “What about the Chapter 6 math homework?”) my guilt faded away.  

Happy kids, happy memories, happy mom.

Box #1: Brady, years 1-3. Box #2: Brady, years 4&5. Box #3: Charley, years 1-3.

*A tip on making memorabilia more memorable* Date each item and add a written description. My preschooler has brought home many scribbly drawings that all look similar. I always ask him to tell me about his picture. He’s described them in ways like “tarantula”, “space shuttle”, and, “I made it so that means it’s my picture. I want to hang it up to show everyone who comes here.” Including you child’s words or details about an event (like writing on a play ticket: “Your favorite character was The Beast. We shared jelly beans and chocolate drops. I loved it when you rested your head on my shoulder.”) will be a little more work on your part, but it’ll make their keepsakes more meaningful in the long run.


2 thoughts on “Kids’ Keepsakes: To Keep or Not to Keep?

  1. jane August 30, 2016 / 12:57 am

    Love this! The hardest part is taking the time to do it! 🙂 Your post is up at Fairdare!! I’m so excited! Thank you so much for taking the time to do it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Near-O Waste August 30, 2016 / 3:16 am

      Thank you, Jane! And you’re welcome!! 🙂


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