The children fly out of school at the end of the day, launch at me for a kiss whilst maintaining a conversation with a friend and thrusting an armful of school-day paraphernalia at me. I have now trained them to put their lunch boxes and jumpers underneath the pushchair (the baby will have to stay in this until she’s ten as it is a very useful trolley!) to carry their own schoolbag and to hand me any letters. All of these things are simple to deal with. The tricky items to manage are the pieces of art and school work that the children bring home. The issue is: how do we show our appreciation, choose which pieces to store and keep, maintain a home with room for us all to live in and respectfully decide which pieces we must unavoidably dispose of?
If you have lots of storage space, then you could keep a binder for each year or each child and choose key pieces to keep. In this way you will build up a visual record of your child’s progress and your memories. You could add the school report and school photo too. Another way to do this would be to have a large box with drop-files in it for each year, and put in your favourite pictures, poems and stories alongside the reports and photograph. If you do an online search, you will also find companies who will print a photographic book for you. You could digitize your child’s work or art; arrange them using the online instructions from the company you choose and have a book printed each year, or at the end of the infants or primary school. These might also be lovely presents for grandparents or godparents. Alternatively there are companies who will print greetings cards for you, and you could adapt a picture and have it printed on thank you cards, note-cards or greetings cards for family and friends. There is always the option of only keeping digital or online versions of your child’s schoolwork or artwork too. You could photograph it and organise it using Pinterest for example.
If you like to keep your child’s creations or work around for a short-time before replacing it and updating it with new, incoming masterpieces, then you could choose one shelf, mantelpiece or surface to display them on, thus giving a limited space to the stuff that accumulates. Your child still feels that their work is being appreciated but you will prevent the house and every surface being overtaken by it all. Another way to keep an ever changing display such as this is to have picture frames for single pictures or multi-picture displays, or photo-pocket display frames hung permanently around the house, in which pictures and work is displayed for a while and then regularly swapped for new pieces. A really easy way to change the displayed work or art is to hang clipboards up, so that pieces can be clipped in and out regularly. Hanging mini clothes-line style strings with pegs or bulldog clips (placed where no small child will get caught in the string) can create a fun display of their treasure too.
Your child will understand as they grow that you can’t keep it all. Explain that you love everything but can’t possibly keep everything. Decide on a system that works for you, the space you have and the level of ease or difficulty you have in letting things go. And if you have any great displays of your children’s work or methods of storing and displaying it that you think we should all know about, contact me or send me some pictures and guidelines to share your ideas with others.
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