How much of a child’s artwork, school papers, and mementos does a “good” parent save?
I once read about a mom who saved each year of her children’s school memories, pre-K through 12, in a separate (clean, new) pizza box. Her plan was to deliver the 15 “pizzas” to her kids once they moved into their first apartments. Gee, thanks, mom.
Another mom I know had bookcases overflowing with album after album containing every page her child ever scribbled on. Luckily, she couldn’t keep up with this for long, so the albums only went up to about first grade for her first child. I shudder to think how many albums she’d have filled if she’d kept going!
Let’s get real. Your kids don’t remember much about kindergarten and they don’t care about their brilliant 4th grade report on butterflies. They might like to reminisce with you over an album or a few mementos, but don't make the mistake of overwhelming them by saving everything.
Mistake #1: Trying to Save EVERYTHING
Being a good parent has NOTHING to do with how much of the kids’ stuff you save. Did you hear that? Saving stuff doesn’t make you a good parent and not saving stuff doesn’t make you a bad parent. Guilt does not enter into the equation here.
You save your kids’ art and schoolwork because they represent your family memories. And that’s a perfectly valid reason to save stuff.
Since you’re not going to save everything, you’ll need to be discerning about just saving the best. Sometimes your kid scribbles on a coloring page and other times she creates a work of art that perfectly captures a memorable moment. Learn how to distinguish between these.
Mistake #2: Not Keeping Up with the INFLUX
Kids can create an unfathomable amount of artwork and papers. Process this regularly so you don’t end up with an insurmountable pile to go through later.
Mistake #3: Saving a Pile Instead of a KEEPSAKE
You’ve been keeping up with the backpack. You’ve been putting papers into the holding space. Now you can just empty that holding space into a big bin for permanent storage, right?
Well, sure, but the real point of saving these papers is to be able to reminisce over the memories later. That means storing them in an interactive keepsake.
But first, there’s almost certainly some more culling needed.
Save the best and ditch the rest. Here’s how:
Now choose one of my two favorite keepsakes, either a premade school years scrapbook (just search for “school years scrapbook”) or a beautiful bound book made by 4everBound.* Both of these methods make it easy for you to look through the memories while also limiting the amount you can keep. And both are really easy to implement!
Premade scrapbooks usually have two pockets per grade, so separate the papers into two slim piles and put them in the pockets. Then you can glue or tape the school picture, class picture, and a special piece of art to the scrapbook pages. Most also have questions your child can answer, such as “What was your favorite subject this year?”
4everBound is awesome because they do all the work! You send them the papers and they bound the actual original pages into a hardback book, trimming or folding large papers and mounting small pages so everything fits.
The Wrap Up
Your kids create a TON of art and bring home a TON of papers from school. Nobody expects or wants you to keep it all.
Save only what has real meaning attached to it—the hard-won 92% on a test, the essay that made the family laugh out loud, the drawing of your camping trip—and preserve it in a way that honors that meaning.
Here's a super-simple, inexpensive way to make a portfolio to serve as a temporary holding space for your children's art and schoolwork.