Thursday, August 13, 2015

To save or not to save?

Today's task was cleaning up my desk. I dug out from under a mountain of random kid junk from bottle caps and hair ties to crayon drawings and paper airplanes. The impetus for this effort was a stack of back-to-school forms and contents from three folders mingling with the kid junk. Before I could fill out forms or sort anything, I needed a clean slate.  

With my youngest in kindergarten now, the stream of paper coming home will only intensify. In my experience, kindergarten and first grade are the peak years for copious artwork. Last year my daughter brought home every scrap of paper she stapled or taped together and even saved scraps of paper that she had cut. She made countless "books" and drew dozens of pictures of skyscrapers. In the first three weeks of school, I've seen 10 pages of nearly identical drawings of rainbows, a few pages worth of mazes and dot-to-dot sheets, some math homework, and a spelling test.

I'm torn between saving these priceless pieces of their childhood and using them as kindling for a bonfire. My hesitation for the latter option? I just never know when one of them is going to come back and ask for a random picture that I may have thrown away, which then starts the cycle of hoarding everything so mommy doesn't throw it out. 

I've heard several ideas today:
  • Save everything - If I did this, I'd have to rent a storage unit.
  • Throw it all in a box and go through it later - Um, if I don't go through it when it crosses my desk, I'm not going to do it later.
  • Pick the favorites and throw them in a folder - Solid idea, but, oh, the indecision! 
  • Send them off to far-flung relatives - This is doable. My kids love mail - sending and receiving. 
  • Use some drawings as gift wrap - This is an option for my daughter's rainbow drawings! 
  • Let the kids pick out their favorites - Seriously? My children would keep every scrap of paper they ever put pencil or scissors to. 
  • Take a photo of the work and turn it into a book - My favorite idea so far. I turned blog posts from my kids' first year into a book for them with a self-publishing program called Blurb. Turns out, there's an app for that now. It's called Artkive and it's as easy as taking a picture, adding a note, and saving it to put into a book later. This is a costly option - $129 for 50 images and up to $259 for 200 images. Saving photos and putting them in a book using another service, such as Shutterfly, is also an option.  
  • Throw it all out - As much as I hate clutter, this seems a little heartless.
All these ideas have their merits and work well for many families. But I do wonder ... When I or my children look at all this in 30 years, will these pieces of paper be meaningful to us? Do I want to overwhelm my children with paperwork in the future? (No.) Do I want to dedicate space in my house for this? (No.) Do I ever wish that I had mementos from my own childhood? (No.) Do they or I really need a piece of paper or even an image to assist in memory? 

This afternoon my desk looked like this ... 
It was a small victory. My children came home and promptly dropped off a Scholastic book catalog and a piece of origami. At least they put their folders in my Inbox.


1 comment:

LauraK said...

Josee, I keep it all for a while... Several times a year, it is my kids jobs to go through their drawers. I have large rubbermaid drawers for this. And we keep the favs. I have an office room, and these things are in my closet, and I only have 2 kids. I love the picture idea!

I think it is a little important that my kids know I think enough of them to save their treasures whether or not they look at them later. But we've had tons of fun going through the stuff.

You are a terrific mom! keep up the good work! <3 <3 <3