Houses & Homes: What to keep? Organizing your children’s keepsakes

Organizing our kids keepsakes is generally quite a challenge, one that sinks its teeth into our own emotions. I work primarily with families with young children, and I find that the same questions surface over and over. What should we keep and how much of each category should be kept?

My personal approach when advising clients is to look at what keepsakes are still precious to us from our own childhood. From all the things our parents kept for us, what are we still looking at with enthusiasm and interest, on our own and with our kids? That’s what should guide us in implementing a method to safekeep our children’s treasures. What will your child hope to find in his or her keepsake box? What will you, as a grand-parent, want to look at again?

Here is a list of the things that are ‘’must-keeps’’ in no particular order :

-    Hair strand from the first hair cut
-    Favourite plush toy and or blankie
-    1st outfit or one favourite outfit
-    Hospital bracelet
-    Daycare and school photos (individual ones and group photos)
-    A selection of your top 5 drawings/art pieces per year per child 
-    Report cards
-    One or two exams max per year, a great way to see your child’s preferred subjects in addition to seeing their writing style evolve
-    Timeless toys that were significant to your child (Legos, wooden toys, quality puzzles)

This way, your child will have a curated collection of precious items he or she can select from. We’ve decorated one of our chidren’s bedrooms with a framed art piece my husband did in grade 5 – meaningful and unique!

What seems like a great idea now but in reality just uses up space in your basement without being cherished once your child becomes older?

-    A whole collection of medals and trophies 
-    All of your children’s stuffed animals
-    The whole lot of your children’s exercise books, homework and exams (better to carefully sift through and find the most important ones as mentioned above at the end of each school year– otherwise it may all become meaningless due to the sheer volume!)
-    Big quantities of clothes, rarely will your children reuse their own clothes for their children. Once again better to be more selective!
-    Most 3D art projects and artwork involving sparkles/sprinkles/feathers or any ingredient from nature that will have difficulty standing the test of time or gravity!  

Feeling heartbroken or torn about getting rid of these memorabilia? Taking pictures and putting them in your photo album is a great way of keeping it alive in your mind! You can also choose a small selection to have framed and displayed right away, and then later pass on to your children. It’s a great way of displaying an important piece of our past, much better than having a box gather dust in the basement!

At the end of it all, just imagine your childen, thirty years from now with his or her children and you by their side. What would be best, having a number of boxes with large quantities of unsorted keepsakes or a carefully assembled box of very precious treasures? And the bonus? You don’t put the decisions off to later and therefore immediately free up space in your basement! Happy organizing!

Mylène Houle Morency is a Professional Organizer, Speaker and owner of Flo Organisation, which specializes in organizing families with children ranging from newborn to the teenage years. She has the firm conviction that organized homes help parents become the parents they want to be, by freeing up time and diminishing stress. She has the privilege to lovingly test all her theories and organization inspirations on her husband and three children!