When a child enters your life, a mass of clothes, toys, and other keepsakes begins to accumulate. While it’s normal to want to hang on to papers and trinkets to remember special moments, the clutter can quickly pile up. And sentimental items that aren’t stored well run the risk of getting damaged.
“The challenge is how much to save, and how to store these items so that they remain in good condition,” says Marty Basher, home organization expert for Modular Closets.
Follow these strategies to keep your kid’s sentimental items well-preserved.
1. Be Creative With Clothing and Shoes.
Kids shed sizes as they grow, and closets often fill with outgrown items. As you sort through clothing and accessories, you’ll likely find certain pieces that tug at your heart. These items are worth keeping.
“Hold on to the outfit your baby wore home from the hospital, including the shoes,” suggests Basher. “Your baby’s first holiday-themed onesie is also something to hold on to.”
After selecting favorite outfits and accessories, you have a number of options. Make a baby clothes memory quilt for younger children. Shadowboxes are another way to display pieces of clothing, hair bows, and suspenders alongside pictures of your child wearing each item.
2. Sort Through Paper Items.
During your child’s early school years, a nearly-continuous flow of papers, artwork, and progress reports enters your home. Rather than trying to save it all, focus on what’s important. Special school papers, such as the first time your son wrote his name by himself or painted a picture of your house, might be worth saving. Festive art projects, heartfelt letters, and end-of-the-year report cards fall into this category as well. Set boundaries to keep items manageable.
“I strongly advise limiting saving to a well-defined space: maybe a bin per child,” say Lauren Williams, a professional organizer and owner of Casual Uncluttering.
3. Focus on Safe Storage.
“Keepsakes should only be stored in plastic tubs that seal well,” says Susan Santoro, a mom of three and professional organizer at Organized 31. “Plastic tubs keep out dust, pests, humidity and water leaks.”
Bins with wheels can be stored under the bed. You might use tubs of different sizes that can be stacked in storage areas. Keep these in places that are dry and climate-controlled to avoid mildew and rust.
4. Evaluate Items Together.
Santoro uses waterproof tubs to store her children’s school memorabilia, and involves her kids in the selection process.
“They choose artwork, pictures and school work to place in their tub at the end of each school year,” she says.
In addition, Santoro has storage tubs for her children’s toys and other items they want to keep.
“We review the contents of those tubs every five or so years and remove any items that are no longer sentimental,” she says.
5. Give Special Attention to Heirlooms.
Your grandmother’s portrait or grandfather’s belt buckle may hold great value among family members. If relatives give these items to your child, start by explaining the history behind each keepsake. Then look for ways to conserve the treasures.
“An antique item can be displayed in a glass case to preserve its condition,” says Basher. A special belt buckle can be placed in a keepsake box and placed in a safe spot in your child’s room.