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Memory boxes for your children

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Okay, declutterer extraordinaires!  We just moved in March, headed out again in less than a year, and possibly back overseas into a 900 sq ft apt with 3 kiddos and 2 adults.  Trying to lean our stash and next up is the stash of baby memories I have from my babies (now 8, 5, and 8mo).  I currently have a large plastic bin for each child containing special items, but I wonder if I am keeping too much, considering their ages and how filled their bins are redface.gif


So what do you keep, if anything, from your children's lives?  What is your method of keeping the items?



post #2 of 13

I photograph a lot of the art my kids make, freeing me to toss/recycle the actual physical article itself.


Right now, I have one small box for each kid.  I don't feel like I need to keep outfits or anything - I prefer photos of the kids wearing the clothes rather than keeping the actual article itself - but I did keep a few small items from their infancies.  I am trying to stick to one box each, though. They're young, so we'll see how that goes.  ;)


I know that now that dh and I are adults, I am not quite sure what I am going to do with the enormous rubbermaids that I saved from my youth and the (several) that dh's parents saved.  I figure that now, a few decades later, I am probably going to toss most of it.  I will keep the yearbooks and such, but I am just not sure anyone will be _that_ interested in my Perfect Attendance Award from 5th grade, you know?

post #3 of 13

I kept DS's cards from birth to 1st birthday, his coming home outfit, I had it put in a shadow box and it hangs in the kitchen, where I see it everyday. Makes me smile. joy.gif I scanned all of his pictures into my computer and I have 2 back up discs. I am thinking of doing the same with his artwork and only keeping the originals that are super special, like his handprints and a picture that he did for me of a mermaid. I have that one framed too. I also have a smiley face made of playdough that I keep on my window sill in the kitchen. It's the little things. I also kept a baggy of wooden blocks, a few favorite clothes- all in a thin plastic bin.  If he wants these things when he gets older, he is welcome to them. I won't force it on him but I will keep some things for him also.


Personal documets, I keep the original but scanned them as well, in case I lose the original or need to print off something or send it via email. I do not have any yearbooks but I do have my report cards and some awards- all the way up to college. It only takes up a small spot in the same bin I share with DS, so it's not big deal right now. To move it, it slides right into the back of my Jeep without taking up much space.

I have DS's stuff on one side, pics in the middle and my stuff on the other end. When in doubt, scan it and make back up discs.

post #4 of 13

Oh...my mom saved me 2 huge bins from my childhood..I think she had everything since the day I was born. It was all ruined by cigarette smoke and from being stored in a musty basement. Nothing was salvagable except for scanning the pics- because the smell wouldn't come out nor would the mold. I am not really attached to that stuff but I would like to show my son, so scanning works for me.

post #5 of 13



I did one of these for DS also. It contains both sides of our family, all the way back to his Great, Great Grandmother on up to his last birthday. It was really simple to do and I like how he has a photo history without destroying or worrying about the originals. It really takes up no room either to pack and move.

post #6 of 13

My mom kept an attic full of stuff for my brother and I... and when we helped her move into a senior community when my dad's health failed 99.99% of that stuff went into a dumpster because neither my brother nor I were interested in giving it a home (box after box of crumbling crayon pictures, school report cards, broken paste jewelry and ripped up children's books, moldy stuffed animals, etc) .  It was hard work for the two of us, and emotionally VERY hard for my mom to see all that stuff being dumped, so it gave me a lot of incentive to keep the memory boxes small.


I keep a photo album of 150 photos starting with pregnancy and ending with the kiddo's first birthday celebration.  Their coming home outfit or a single infant outfit that was a proven "favorite".  The beaded "birth necklace" I made for during their pregnancy for their birth.  The baby info sheet from their hospital bassinet and a photocopy of their birth certificate.  A hand knit hat from their doula, the small embroidered blanket from their grandmother, and a plaster handprint from their first birthday.  And a "one year journal"... a "page a week" journal I keep for each child that just kind of rambles along, noting what we all did that week, any milestones, cute things they did/said, etc.  This all fits into a fairly small tupperware style box (the blanket is the bulkiest item, but even that isn't so big... it's designed to be more of a memento than an actual blanket).

post #7 of 13

I've never heard of a memory box, but it is such a logical idea. Have to give some serious thought to doing this, instead of having random stuff all round the house.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Love hearing what you all do!  Clutter Warrior, my Mom takes this to another level - she has kept just a few special things from her pregnancy, my birth, infancy, and childhood in her hope chest...then kept a TON of toys in the attic!  I still have the original Barbie Dreamhouse, a rather large, 3-piece monstrosity of gold, orange, and white orngtongue.gif  Granted, my kiddos now love almost all of the toys she had saved, but it has been so overwhelming for me.  Thus, I am trying to keep the memories down to one plastic box each.  Here's hoping I do not cave!

post #9 of 13

Just a random warning... if you have an attic full of older toys, say from the 60s/70s (my MIL saved boxes of DH's childhood toys and has them at her house for the grandkids) do a quick internet check and maybe get one of those DIY lead test kits.  Safety standards have changed and I've had to "lose" several toys that were dh's even though our kiddos adored them because the paint was leaded or there were other safety problems that couldn't be resolved.  For instance, Dh had a lot of die-cast items (a cowboy belt with cap gun and sheriff badge was the worst offenders) that were waaaaaay off the charts for the DIY lead kit, and a few of his sister's barbie style dolls were problematic because of mildew (inside the hollow heads/legs! ick) and because of the type of soft plastic used (on the heads).

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much!  I never even considered this, yet when the lead issue came up a few years ago, we had everything checked out.  I have some late 70s/early 80s Matchbox cars, Barbies, etc.  I will certainly check them out!  

post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post

And a "one year journal"... a "page a week" journal I keep for each child that just kind of rambles along, noting what we all did that week, any milestones, cute things they did/said, etc. 

Can you tell me, do you have a journal for each kid? I am always going back and forth with this. On the one hand, I want to make a journal for each kid that is just about them and the cute things they say, what they want to be when they grow up that week, fun places we go, etc. But a lot of the things I would be writing twice for each kid. Some of the things are the exact same and some are specific to them. So I don't know whether to just keep everything in one journal, and write it all in one place, even the stuff that is specific to each child, and then they can make a photocopy of it when they are older if they want to, or keep a journal for each child.

Then I also don't want to seem like I am saying more about one child than the other, but when they are younger, there is more to write down. So then I don't want to come off sounding like I am favoring one over the other.

But if I keep two separate journals, then I will be writing the same things over and over again. We homeschool, so a lot of the things I would write about places we go, etc, would be the same.

If I keep a family journal with all the stuff we do, etc, in it, and then a journal for each child, will the journals for each child seem out of context, because then I won't have everything written down in one place?

So, what do you think? All in one? One for each child (I only have two kids)? Or a family journal with the day to day stuff in it and one for each child for the stuff that is specific to them, like things they say or what they are currently learning about and into?
post #12 of 13



My dad is the oldest of 7 children.  The first five are each roughly 10-11 months apart in age (every time I think about that I take my hat off to my grandmother!).  Although they are now older adults with grandchildren of their own, there is a constant theme of envy expressed towards my dad because "he got all the baby stuff" (he is the only one with a baby book, little shoes, etc).  When we had our first kiddo we took thousands of photos and kept all sorts of stuff... when dd2 arrived I realized that just wouldn't happen, and I thought about my dad's family and the decades old envy and decided to "standardize"!  LOL


Sooo... yes, each child has their own journal.  I ONLY keep it for the first year (I originally planned on the "first five years" but once we had more than one kiddo it really was too much, this way I only have one journal at a time).  And the journal is JUST one page a week... not scrapbooking or fancy stuff or a lot of written info, just a few sentences and maybe a piece of the kiddo's art cut down to fit and glued onto the page if they did something really cute.  And I try to tailor each book to the kiddo, so while we all do more or less the same stuff (my kiddos are 6yo, 4yo, ~2yo, and due in sept so there isn't a lot of "on my own" stuff for each child) I keep the focus on the "owner" of the journal... I might say "DS went down the big kid slide for the first time today" even if the reason we were at the park was a playdate for dd2 or if dd1 found a garter snake and dropped it into someone elses' picnic basket thinking it was ours (though if it's a slow week that might get in there too!)


I like the idea of a family journal, and once all the kiddos are older I might give that a try, but my goal with the first year journal was/is to give each child a more or less "matching" memory box that was all about them.  :)

post #13 of 13

I have five kids and I've been keeping certain things from the time my first was born. My youngest is four - not a baby anymore! - so one of my projects this summer has been to go through, pare down and re-organize everything. 


First project is a quilt of all their baby clothes. I cut all their clothes into 2 squares - one set for me, with all their squares in one quilt and the other set for them, to make individual baby sized blankets for me to pass along to them when/if they have children. I just have to drop them off at the Amish Quilt shop when I get out there.


Beyond the first year or so of clothes, I kept all my favorites of each of theirs to make rugs - both braided and knitted. I am happy with my progress on this project. After years of lugging around many 55 gallon bins, hours and hours of time cutting the clothes into strips, and organizing into color, I am at the point of maintaing clothes they no longer wear and getting to them in a reasonable amount of time. The rugs will continue to be an on-going project...although, those are more for me than a momento for them...


They each have a baby book, which includes notes and pictures from our pregnancy together thru their first birthday. The pages following are yearly 8x10 photos taken around every birthday. Other than that, I do a yearly family album. That's where all of their pictures of important awards, projects or writing samples wind up.


I didn't have it together enough to journal on a regular basis for each of them, but I did keep record of cute stories, milestones, funny things they said, etc. on my calendar - it was the most safe and easily accessible!. I am in the process of transferring all that information into one nice journal. They get it when I die, they can share or have copies made. This one is for me as much as it is for them. I know I would stress too much about doing it just right, or making it even if there were individual books, and I wouldn't wind up doing it. I plan to just continue jotting things down directly into the book from now on.


As for memorabilia, I saved way too many boxes of my oldest kids stuff. I knew as I was saving most of it that I wouldn't wind up keeping nearly any of it, but at that point, it was easier emotionally to chuck it into the "save" box. I recently (as in the last two weeks!) went through everything and actually kept very little - everything from five kids fits in one folder. I plan to laminate the little love notes they gave to me and to each other, and plan to keep them in a binder, and my absolute favorite pictures will get framed to hang up. I'd be open to a memory photo box for each kid, but I don't know what I'd even put in it...


It sounds like a lot, but its really pretty minimal - individual baby books, small quilt each, family photo albums and a shared journal. 

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