Keeping Up With Keepsakes: 4 Moms

Unless we want to live in a home much like this (but with considerable less charm),

Photo credit leslieiv

our family must have a system for controlling, managing and minimizing ‘keepsakes’.

Keepsakes can come in all shapes and sizes. That little dress that Aunt Barbara knitted for your first baby, journals and scrapbooks, photos, awards and trophys, children’s drawings and art creations and even pretty rocks, bird’s nests and an innumerable amount of minutia that children find attractive or attach with special memories.

Storing and managing all these ‘precious’ possessions can be a challenge to any family, but it presents a particular challenge to larger families.

Storing Photos

Up until our eighth baby (Colby) was born, I regularly printed out the best of our photos carefully labeled the back of each one and put them into simple sleeve albums. It’s nothing fancy, but the children love looking through our albums and reminiscing.  I highly recommend this.

After Colby was born, I decided I no longer had time to do that, and besides, wouldn’t I enjoy printing and organizing photos more when I didn’t have oodles of small children running around? It would be nice, when Mark and I were all alone in a quiet home, to go through and beautifully scrapbook these bits of reminders of our children’s childhood.

As a result, I have 6 years worth of photos on CD’s and backed up in computers. The younger children have no idea what they looked like when they were babies and I’m wondering if there ever will be a time when Mark and I are all alone in a quiet home. After all we will start over again on this beautiful journey of parenting in August and our oldest is 15. It’s  possible that we will be blessed to go right from small children running around to small grandchildren running around.

Oh, and if you have any tips to help me get caught up on my photos, they are always welcomed.

Storing Children’s Art Work

I have a filing box in which we keep the children’s art that we are going to keep. I have one hanging folder with each child’s name and I regularly look at their current creations and pull out pieces that I particularly admire.

We all enjoy going through the files, comparing and laughing at each child’s first ‘person’, Alyssa’s yarn girl and Amber’s giant frog.  Love it!

Art work that isn’t going to be kept long term is displayed on the magnetic wall in our dining room. We allow the children to switch their drawings around as they see fit.

3D artwork such as pottery, pipe cleaner creations, etc. is displayed on a set of shelves in our family room.

If the item is particularly special to the child, they may keep it with their ‘special things’ or we will take a picture of them with their creation and they may keep that picture with their ‘special things’.

If the artist is willing, their creation is donated or thrown in the trash after it has lived it’s display life.

Storing Kid’s Keepsakes

Each of our children has a box for storing their special things. They may keep anything that fits into the box with one exception, no organic matter allowed. (Trust me on this one.)

If our child has more than will fit in their box, they go through and decide what to get rid of. The box must be able to close.

One exception is that if our children take the time to create a scrapbook and/or journal (I’m not talking about the 4 year old throwing together some drawings. I’m talking about a child who has taken the time to write out their thoughts and experiences and has included mementos and/or photos.) These are kept on our bookshelves with our family photo albums. At this point in time, we only have 3-4 journals of this type.

Storing Schoolwork

The short answer is that we don’t.

I do add outstanding projects or papers to our children’s art folder (see above) occasionally, but for the most part, we get rid of most of the children’s schoolwork at the end of each school year.

Each child is free to keep their favorite projects in the notebook that they will use for the next year’s work or they may keep things in their ‘special’ box.

At the beginning of each year they look over their notebook and evaluate what they wish to continue keeping. None of our children have over-stuffed notebooks, they are good at purging (or asking mommy to put it into their art folder).

The one exception to this is our children’s nature journals. We keep these with the family photo albums as they are finished. At the rate that our children fill their journals one journal lasts for many years, so this has not become a storage issue.

Storing Baby Keepsakes

My plan was to complete a baby book for each baby.

The first five children have lovely books with lots of journaling, pictures, locks of hair, 1st birthday cards, etc. and all their firsts diligently recorded. I highly recommend this!

The next 3 children have the same, minus the pictures and with a little less detail in the journaling. This is certainly acceptable.

The last two children have a file in the file box where I keep all of the little trinkets that I will one day put into their baby book, plus a calendar with some of their firsts written down. Plus I write about some of the funny things they do and post pictures of them here on the blog – does that count for anything??


Storing Family ‘Heirlooms’

The doll that my mom crocheted for me when I was 11, the teapot that belonged to my great-grandmother, most of us have things passed down to us from family members or items that we (or our parents) kept from our childhood.

Purge – Simply because something belonged to someone you love doesn’t mean that it should be kept. Evaluate and keep only those things that will be used and enjoyed byyour family.

Toys – We have a couple of toys that were ours when we were kids (including the hand-crocheted doll). We encourage our children to play with and enjoy these. Currently, Bella (1) is carrying around, cradling and sleeping with that doll. As things wear out we throw them away, happy that our children were able to enjoy something that we loved when we were young.

Keepsakes –  At this point, this is not much of an issue for our family because we only have a handful of items that have been passed down.

Our plan is to keep only those items that are useful and/or truly loved. I figure that something that belonged to my great grandmother, but is stored in a box in the attic throughout my kid’s childhood will have little meaning to my children. The things that we’ve chosen to keep, we’ve also chosen to display and enjoy. (Yes, with 10 children sometimes things get broken, but my children have many happy memories of playing with and listening to the music box that played with and listened to at my great-grandmother’s home when I was a girl.)

I have a figurine that belonged to my grandmother. When I was  little she allowed me to sit on her bed and play carefully with this lady that I called ‘Cinderella’. That now sits on the dresser in our bedroom for our children to look at and hear stories about.

And the little sweater that Aunt Barbara knitted? Our children wear it. Each time we have a baby it comes out of the box and is used and loved. Perhaps we’ll pass it on to our grandchildren or perhaps we will wear it out, but either way I’m sure that Aunt Barbara will be happy that it was so well-loved.

Enjoying what we have is one of  our guidelines when deciding which things we will keep (which is why I really need to get some pictures printed and into albums).

Some quick tips:

  • Give kids a limited amount of space where they may store whatever it is that is important to them. The fact is that we will always have a limited amount of space, so learning to prioritize and de-clutter is a necessary skill.
  • Take pictures. In the day of digital, it is easy and inexpensive to take pictures of items that hold special meaning, but which you do not have room to store.
  • Enjoy! It makes no sense to me to spend time and energy storing, organizing and caring for items that you don’t use and enjoy just because they were owned by someone you love. Sometimes the best way to enjoy is to get rid of ‘stuff’ (or simplify)’ so that you have the time, energy and space to enjoy the ‘stuff’ that you do keep.
  • Prioritize. We have one file box and a few shelves where we keep all our ‘keepsakes’ (photo albums, drawings, journals, etc.) Anything that doesn’t fit needs to be let go.

How do you handle keepsakes?

Visit the other 4 Moms to read about how they keep up with all those ‘keepsakes’.

Get the 4 Moms Parenting eBook. Come back tomorrow, Friday, March 16 at 9am EST for more details and a chance to win!

Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest24Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

23 Responses to Keeping Up With Keepsakes: 4 Moms
  1. Mandy
    March 15, 2012 | 9:27 am

    I used to do the same with my pictures. Label and put them into an album. For the last two years I have made a photo book from Shutterfly. I LOVE them. They are no too expensive, especially if you are not on a timeline and can wait for them to go on sale. They are great quality and it’s just like having a photo album already done for you. I would highly recommend it.


  2. Tara
    March 15, 2012 | 9:38 am

    Patty~ I just had to smile at your photo album
    comment. “the younger children had no idea what they looked like as babies”. I understand. Recently, I spent an entire Saturday organizing our photos because my third son asked me if I had any pictures of him as a baby. (gulp) The worst part is I only have 4 children, so I really don’t have a good excuse.

    When you get this behind on photos, it becomes one of those things you just have to roll up your sleeves and do. I prepared food the day before and my husband and I committed an entire winter Saturday to working on our albums. The older kids pitched in and helped and they had a lot of fun!

    You are doing such a great job! I wish I could be this organized with 4 children. Wonderful ideas~thanks for sharing!


  3. Debbie
    March 15, 2012 | 10:29 am

    Why not have your older kids take a self taught course on design/layout as part of their art curriculum (I wish I could recommend something, but I don’t know of any good ones) Have them use the digital photos in their work and put together baby books for those you are missing. Companies like Shutterfly or print great books and often run sales. I imagine the older ones can remember enough of the details to put together a good design of the pictures, and you only then have to fill in the details. If nothing else, the digital images have the date in the properties of each one so the kids could at least put them in order of date.


  4. Shannon C.
    March 15, 2012 | 10:40 am

    You could use Paper Coterie. They’re having a 60% off sale right now until March 18th. You can add lots of pictures per page and customize the pages with colors, patterns, and words. I made two for Christmas gifts, and they were beautiful. It was a similar sale and I ended up with 2 books for about $17. They also have canvases which could be like a scrapbook you store on the wall. 🙂


  5. Katie
    March 15, 2012 | 11:02 am

    I use for digital scrap booking when I have the time and money. They are expensive (around $100 for a years worth of photos crammed into a book) but at least I get it done. I use them because I love their software, I have a mac and it’s mac compatible, and you can work on a book from multiple computers. If anyone has any cheaper ideas I would love to know.

    Also, I would love to know what kind of box/container you or your readers have for keeping your kids’ treasures in. I would love to do this as well, but with limited space was wondering if there was a stackable solution… just thinking out loud.

    Great post! Thanks.


  6. Audrey
    March 15, 2012 | 11:04 am

    Great post! I only have three children so far but I am already having trouble with baby books and keepsakes. I also come from a family of packrats (my dad kept every toy my sister and I ever had!! And he recently passed some of them down to me for my children. :/ Now I’m still trying to figure out what to do with them), so I never really learned how to purge. Thanks!


  7. MomStarr
    March 15, 2012 | 11:49 am

    I love scrapbooking and that is where we can keep some things. There are pocket pages for small keepsakes. I also just put a calendar page on the refrigerator and we fill in all the “firsts” and then put the page in their scrapbook. Mostly we just keep things for a while and then pitch it when they get too old to care. More valuable keepsakes go up on shelves and we have to limit those. (we are a family of 10 soon to be 11).

    I feel so sorry for the poor child falling into the toilet and his mother can only think to grab the camera. I wonder what was going through his head. I am sure he is scarred for life. 🙂 I have never grabbed my camera to take a picture of one of my boys doing something I want his future wife to see. 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Praying for you as your pregnancy draws to a close….even if you do think I’ve scarred my child for life.

    Our whole family sends their love to yours.


  8. Katie
    March 15, 2012 | 11:54 am

    I was also going to suggest Shutterfly or another online scrapbooking solution. The program is very easy to use and I’m sure your older girls could do a lot of the work as a fun “project”. I love the other readers idea of having the girls make the baby books for the younger kids. Have 15 cute baby pictures but not sure which is the best? Put all 15 on a collage on the same page. For the fastest method, just drag and drop all your pictures into preset templates, add a title, pick a background and off you go! They are also take up MUCH less space on your bookshelf than the traditional photo album. They go on sale for 30-40% off before every major US holiday.


  9. Alene
    March 15, 2012 | 1:31 pm

    One thing I have chosen to keep is old calendars. They don’t take up much space, and I write EVERYTHING on them. When the (current) kids were little, I recorded first words, first steps, cute sayings etc. right on the date they occurred. When we measure heights, they are recorded on the calendar. Appointments, company, major purchases, tree planting – everything gets jotted down.
    I would LOVE to be more organized, and have a garden journal where I record last frost, planting dates etc. I would LOVE to have a daybook wherein I record purchases, repairs, etc. I would love to have adorable baby books with all the pages FILLED IN! But at least I DO have a record of (most of) these different things. I’m thankful the Lord planted that idea in my head; I wish I had thought to do it with the older two as well. I thought I’d remember – how could I not? But these days I’m doing well to remember middle names and birth weights. 🙂


  10. Esther
    March 15, 2012 | 2:11 pm

    Shutterfly is *wonderful*. I’m not one who enjoys putting together a photo album so I appreciate the technology and simplicity of uploading a group of photos and having them automatically arranged by date and in a nice album. Each Nov/Dec I order an album for the grandparents and another for ourselves during their Thanksgiving sale (buy 1 and all similar books 1/2 off). The only down side is deciding which photos from the year won’t be included.


  11. kate
    March 16, 2012 | 1:17 am

    We print the pixs and just have the kids scrapbook themselves. My oldest 8 so you can guess that these are not the nicest scrapbook pages, but the kids have a ball doing it. Its such an easy way to make memories, have art class and learn new techniques, and not have guilt about hundreds of pictures left unseen. I never worry about them not cropping properly or doing it “wrong” because I keep out the very few pics that are precious and let them go to town with the rest. I also encourage them to write their thoughts/memories. And I encourage “sisters” pages, or “just the boys” and point out different relationships. Anyway, it works and builds unity, cuz in the end these memories are not just mine and I like that the kids play a part in the preservation.


  12. kate
    March 16, 2012 | 1:20 am

    I too thought it was great that the picture taking took precedence over toilet rescuing. I am so that kind of mom:)


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We were just talking about this picture (and showing it to Nicholas) and Amber assured Nick that she was in favor of me rescuing him. At least I have sweet kids. 😉


  13. Tisha @ Delectable Home
    March 16, 2012 | 8:54 am

    Are we twins? This post is like a look inside my life.

    To help keep up with my cheap little photo books, I upload and order picture prints from Shutterfly just once a year, usually in Jan. or Feb. And now the kids can do the work of putting them in the sleeves. As for special large art & school projects, like our castles or ocean boxes, we take a picture of the kids with these and then pitch the projects after a couple of weeks.

    I’ve started using my keepsakes too. The reason that my grandmother’s tea set is so special to me is because she and I had tea parties with it. My girls will have no connection to the set if we don’t do the same. So we’ve broken a tea cup or two, it’s been worth making the memories.

    Thanks for all your great tips!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We are basically twins (but you already knew that). The only difference is that I have home decor envy.

    We miss you guys.


  14. Kirsten
    March 16, 2012 | 5:49 pm

    You all are ahead of me with the photo books…I just set my Windows screensaver to “My Pictures Slideshow” and it randomly scrolls through all the digital pictures we have stored on our computer. Not sure that this has saved me time, as my children and I can frequently be found stopped in front of the computer admiring all the photos that pop up 😉

    I’m curious as to what you do with the treasures that your children give as a gift to mom or dad? I have no problem tossing out something they have made, after a period of time, but when it is something they “gave” to me I am so much more sentimental 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Homemade items that my children give me as gifts I keep for a while, usually displayed somewhere that I can enjoy it. Then, assuring the child that I’ve enjoyed their gift, we get rid of it. Often, gifts end up in my artwork file.

    Gifts that my children purchase for me are almost always something practical that I use frequently. (We really don’t spend much money on ‘stuff’.) So those things we use until their usefulness is gone.


  15. Ursula Ciller
    March 16, 2012 | 11:10 pm

    My mom didn’t keep all of our scrapbook items, however a stack still remained. I have gone through this and minimized it countless times, but some things I just love holding on to (stories I made when I was around 7, pictures). I used to draw a lot (no TV while I was growing up). As for pictures of my baby (soon to be babies) and life, digital folders do it for me, but a few of the outstanding photos we print out and put in a folder for ourselves and the relatives – and this is a must! 🙂


  16. Ursula Ciller
    March 16, 2012 | 11:54 pm

    Your keepsake tips are really good. I’m going to be using them when the time comes… I love my condensed old scrapbook box from when I was a child – filled with stories and pictures (no TV where I was growing up). As far as family photos go, digital folders is how I like to keep most memories. I have a tendency to take heaps of photos, but the best ones of our baby (to be babies in a few months) we absolutely have to print out and put in a photo album (not to mention printouts for the relatives) 🙂


  17. Deirdre
    March 17, 2012 | 2:01 pm

    As far as the kids not knowing what they looked like as babies, I have solved that one for us. I print out a snapshot and stick it in a frame which I display with the other photos of the other kids. I have very few printed pics of the baby, but a few cute ones are all that is needed at present. I have almost no pics of me under 2 1/2. This bothers me. My father was a pediatrician, but didn’t want to take pictures of his kids. Go figure. I don’t keep baby books, but I take lots of photos and try to jot down milestones and stuff them in their folder. A few of the kids have a calendar that I filled in as time went by when they would do a new thing. You can only do what you can do I say.


  18. Ann Shinney
    March 18, 2012 | 1:02 am

    Last year we cleaned out my maother’s house.
    The one lesson learned “lable and date everything you can.” If I had known who was in a picture or at what age I was when I made something it would have really helped. If I made it when I was 8 it would be amazing if I made it at 12 no big deal.


  19. Vickie
    March 23, 2012 | 12:53 pm

    Hi. I have a solution to help you with your scrapbooking dilemma 🙂 Digital scrapbooks! is awesome. You can scrapbook a page here and there when you have time to sit at the computer for a little bit. Print the page, add it to your scrapbook. No mess to clean up. NO tools, papers, glue to drag out when littles aren’t around.

    I’ve started an album for each of my kids on the program (you get a CD and the program is directly on your computer). I’ve begun recipes albums for the kids. I have a genology album. I even put together a photo book to be presented to the kids when we’ve been matched for our next adoption. I’ll have it printed at that time. It is awesome.

    If you choose to purchase this…check out my blog on the right hand column for a $10 discount code. There are tutorials on the MyMemories website.

    Totally awesome and it has helped me to catch up on my scrapbooks. Or at least attempt to catch up.


Leave a Reply

Trackback URL