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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cherishing Memories, Clearing Clutter

Ah, memories. We all have them – and the stuff that comes with them! But do we really need all of that stuff? And how do we teach our kids to cherish the memories but let go of the items?

Teaching kids early how to handle items makes a dramatic difference in their adult lives. One great way to manage all of the things we collect that come with our memories is to create a time capsule. Now, this does not have to be buried and we can use this system even into our adult lives (I still do!)

The time capsule can be as simple as a shoebox with the year written on it, a fancy basket or a decorative box. Make sure it is small (so we can’t keep too much.) A great way to get kids excited is to have them decorate their box any way they want to. Keep this on the top shelf of a closet, a higher shelf, under a bed or somewhere else out of the way.

What goes in this magic box? Ticket stubs, rocks, figurines, jewelry – whatever artifacts your child keeps to cherish their memories. For larger items, take a picture of it to put in the box (a large science project, the first tree they climbed, etc.) Important memories can be displayed on shelves on the wall and items can be traded out from the box to display or removed when a new item comes in to display. This clears all of the surfaces of memorabilia, displays important items (but with a limit) and still cherishes the item and its memory. Your child can even journal, write a story or draw a picture about the items in the box so they remember the event clearly.

On New Year’s Eve you can start a tradition of everyone in the family going through their boxes and explaining why the item is important to them and what they remember from the event. This is a great way to honor the year that has passed. After you have shared you can decide if the item should be kept in your main memories box (try to limit to 1 Rubbermaid tub or its equivalent if possible) or if you can donate or toss it. Sometimes taking a picture of the item or keeping just the journal entry about it is enough. Trust that you do not need the item in order to remember the event. If you do not remember why you kept it that is a good sign that you can let it go. If it is valuable or very interesting, can you give it as a gift to a friend or relative? A school? A charity? Can it be sold?

On New Year’s Day you can have fun decorating the new year’s box (throw out the old one – take a picture if you have to.) You can then look forward to another amazing year!

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