In the middle of crazy days trying to feed everyone, run errands, and keep children from running amok and writing on the walls, the days of kiddie years can seem to stretch out endlessly in front of you. But as parents, we all know that the childhood days pass in the blink of an eye, and before you know it you’re looking at their old baby clothes and wondering how they ever used to be so small. We collect special things over the years to keep for our children; these mementos may include
· A favorite toy
· A christening dress
· Little shoes
· Baby announcements
Once we have all these things, the question is, of course, what do we do with them? How do we preserve them from the ravages of time and the mauling of sticky little fingers? How do we keep them from just becoming another box of useless junk?
Well, you have two basic options for saving special things—storing them or displaying them. Or, if you’re a little more adventurous, you can transform them and use them as well.
If your plan to store your child’s mementos is to stick them in a box, that’s fine. However, you may be happier down the road (and have a better chance of preserving your mementos longer) if you stick them in the right kind of box in the right way. If you choose to store mementos, you may consider investing in a cedar chest, especially if those mementos are textiles. Cedar has been proven to have insect-repellant properties and will keep your child’s little clothes and baby blankets nice for years to come. If cedar isn’t an option, however, choose acid- and lignin-free cardboard and tissue paper to preserve textiles in. In albums, photos should be mounted on acid-free paper. Organize your items carefully to keep them looking new. FamilyArchives.com gives a few suggestions for organizing your mementos—you can group them by
· Timeframe (1960, 1970, 1980)
· Events (weddings, vacations, births, graduations)
· Activities (schools, jobs, organizations)
· Clothing (wedding clothes, uniforms, baby clothes)
· Three-dimensional collectibles (figurines, art, toys, dishes, etc.)
Oh yes—and be sure to label each article in some way that explains its significance. Because, believe it or not, you forget stuff. (You know that “mommy brain” phenomenon? It’s real.) Two years—or even two months—down the line you may not remember that this particular set of rompers was the one he wore when he took his first steps, and this little dress was the one she wore on her first birthday party. You will want a labeling system that can be easily expanded over time.
Mementos stored in a box somewhere can be easily forgotten—it’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” principle. Thus, some people choose to display their mementos where they can see and appreciate them every day. A popular choice for displaying mementos is a shadow box, which is a deep frame inset with glass to protect the items inside. These are great for displaying three-dimensional objects and textiles in an attractive way. Some moms have chosen to hang their child’s christening dress in the nursery as part of the décor.
Transformation and Use
Using your mementos for either their original purpose or transforming them to use them for something new is a little bit more adventurous approach, but it can give your mementos new life and another layer of meaning as you use them to make more memories. Technically, you are using your items for decoration when you display them, but when we say “use” we mean something a little more functional in this case, such as using a christening gown for several children instead of just saving it for one. The British Royal Family has used the same gown for christenings since the 1840s—talk about an item with some rich family history!
Some ideas for transformation include
· Making a quilt out of baby outfits or blankets
· Metal-plating baby shoes and making them into bookends
· Crafting an activity book out of old clothes (if you’re really adventurous!) Check out one mom’s project here: http://fortytworoads.blogspot.com/2007/10/close-your-clothes.html
Transformations take a little bit of effort and imagination, but the results can be truly spectacular.
So don’t despair—there are numerous ways for you to preserve your mementos and keep them from a fate of being shoved up in a dusty attic and forgotten. Store, display, or transform your mementos to keep your precious memories alive and well.
Rebecca Jensen is a freelance writer who loves making memories and finding new and creative ways to preserve them. She currently writes for the handmade christening dress supplier christeninggowns.com.