March 5, 2014

How and What We Save: Children's Keepsake Files

As most parents will attest, children generate sentimental paperwork at an alarmingly fast rate. Memorable cards, photos, and pediatrician papers begin piling up in the first few weeks of life. The rate of keepsake production accelerates more and more as your child begins to scribble, color, and draw. By the time your kid goes to preschool, it's easy to find yourself swimming in a sea of brightly colored construction paper art.
Creating and maintaining a keepsake folder is how our family addresses the sentimental clutter. Let me show you how and what we save.
Where Do We Save?
A few years ago I began using this accordion file folder to save and organize our daughter's keepsakes. Having used it for a few years now, I am really happy that I spent the few extra bucks for the extra features, like the larger size, the canvas exterior, and the clasp closure on front. (Purchased at Walmart and still very affordable, even with the extras.) 
Here are some things to consider when purchasing an accordion file for children's keepsakes.
  • Size - Does a piece of construction paper artwork fit inside without folding?
  • Capacity - How much will it hold? How many dividers?
  • Construction - a canvas exterior is sturdier and will last longer than a plain plastic one.
  • Method of closure - elastic closure or plastic clasp?
  • Do you want a handle?

What Do We Save?
  • A few cards and letters - Only the most meaningful ones get saved.
  • A select representation of the child's artwork. More on that process in a minute.
  • Pediatrician handouts with child's height, weight, and percentiles from check-up visits.
  • A few wallet size photos from photography sessions. (Majority of professional photos are stored elsewhere.)
  • Yearly highlight DVD. I like to edit our home videos into manageable, 30-45 minute films compiling the best video clips from the year. When creating the DVD, I burn an extra copy for her keepsake file.
  • A CD with digital copies of the year's photos.
  • Our annual Christmas Card

How to Decide Which Art to Save? (And What to Toss)
Chances are, you won't be able to save every piece of art your child brings home from school. (Unless you're willing to devote massive amounts of your home to storage.) Personally, I am of the less is more mentality. When my child eventually grows up, moves out, and receives her keepsake files, I want it to be a manageable collection of meaningful childhood keepsakes - not overwhelming or burdensome.
So how do you determine which art to save? Here's the process that works for us.
  • All artwork (regardless of quality) is proudly displayed on the refrigerator upon initial completion. Then, after being displayed for an appropriate amount of time, the majority of her artwork is thrown away. (Easier to do if the child is not watching.)
  • Obviously, milestone artwork is saved, like the first time drew a stick figure person. I also try to save a few representative pieces of the child's ability or interests at particular stage, i.e. pink crayon scribbles all over a Disney Princess coloring page.
  • The best of the best school artwork is saved. This is a tough one because almost everything coming home from preschool is adorable.
  • 3D art like glued cottonballs or noodles is difficult to save. (In my opinion) The most impressive pieces will be photographed for a digital memory, but eventually be thrown away.
  • Glittery artwork is not saved. Glitter "shedding" is a pet peeve of mine. I don't mind it displayed on the fridge for a few days or even weeks, but I really don't want everything else in the keepsake files to get covered in loose glitter.
  • Photograph any pieces which you'd like to remember, but just aren't practical to save.
Every family is different and there certainly is no right or wrong way to save keepsakes. I hope this post has inspired you. Good luck finding a method that works for you!

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