My kids just finished the school year, and like most parents, I am facing backpacks full of worksheets, art projects, name tags, and other school memorabilia sent home by their teachers. As a parent, it is tempting to do one of two things with all this school stuff: trash it or stuff it all in the attic for some as-yet-undetermined future purpose…
Is there a middle ground between these two extremes? I say an enthusiastic yes! Allow me to introduce you to my good friend, the school memory book:
If you’ve never met the school memory book, I will highlight some of its finer qualities:
1. It is ONE book that will capture your child’s memories from kindergarten through senior year
2. It has space for pictures, drawings, worksheets, whatever you really want to save.
3. It is ONE book (Wait? Did I say that already? Hmm…)
As parents, many of us are tempted to save every darn thing our kid does. I mean, if your kids are anything like mine, they are the smartest, cutest, most creative kids ever born. No 5-year-old has ever colored a barnyard-themed coloring sheet like that, I tell ya!
Okay, let’s lay out a few facts here:
1. Your kids are amazing. True fact. Nobody’s gonna disagree. (And if they do, oh well… haters gonna hate…)
2. Saving every worksheet and drawing your kid creates doesn’t make them more amazing. It actually just clutters up your attic or your kid’s room, which I think most of us would agree, is anything but amazing.
3. You can’t save time. This is the one that hurts my mama heart a bit, but it is true. My kids are only five once. Saving their drawings from kindergarten does not allow them to be five again. It is our fallible human way of trying to save time, which is not possible. We live here and now. My kids are five now. Next year they will be six. Eventually they will be sixteen. It would be a better use of my time to enjoy them at the age they are currently are than to try to save time by holding on to past artifacts. Ouch, yes. True, yes. We do ourselves a favor if we make peace with this fact, give our kids a hug and kiss (get up and do this now, especially if your kids are still at the age where they will let you!), and do our darndest to live in this moment. See? You just lived a bit more!
4. You can save a few important memories in a compact way, which will actually makes those memories more meaningful. The school memory book will help you do that.
Here’s how it works: at the end of each school year (or throughout the year if you are more organized than me!) you fill out the book’s pages with your child. Each page asks things like their favorite ice cream flavor, favorite toy, etc. The questions get more mature as the kids age. I save a few special papers/art projects throughout the year and let them choose which ones they want to include in the book. (There are cool pockets that let you do this easily or you can tape them in, if you prefer). For example, from their pre-K year, each of my kids saved 2-3 worksheets/drawings in their book. That’s it. But realize, this is my family and that is the number of paper memories I am comfortable saving. You might save more or less.
I also tape in a picture of each of them on their first day of school and a class photo. Done and done.
We store the memory book in their memorabilia tub in the attic and then go play. (Live in the moment, live in the moment… I don’t want to spend my precious time with these fleeting five-year-olds scrap-booking one year of their lives for hours and hours. We filled out the preschool section of their books in about 1 1/2 hours total – about 30 minutes/kid – and moved on with our lovely Sunday morning).
Speaking of memorabilia tubs, here they are:
My kids each have one plastic tub to hold their memorabilia from babyhood to age eighteen. If the tub gets full, they will need to choose what stays and what goes. (Note: we have photo albums stored elsewhere – these tubs are just for non-photo memorabilia).
These tubs are compact, simple ways to keep those important memories that we will want to look through at their high school graduations.
If one tub seems a bit too minimalist for you, let me ask you a question: Does anyone really want to look through more than one tub of memorabilia? I’ve never done an official survey on this, but seeing as I witness most of my friends and neighbors spending their free time watching TV, surfing the web, exercising, and going on vacations, I’d say not many, and certainly not me. I want to live now. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
So whaddaya say? Are you ready to ditch the guilt and the clutter and save your kids’ memories in a compact, meaningful way? I hope so. You can buy school memory books on Amazon. It only takes a minute, especially if you’re a sucker for that one-click ordering. Do it, and go live your life!