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Not sure if this is house keeping or parenting

(34 Posts)
Goingtobeawesome Sat 27-Aug-16 17:00:45

My loft is full of every picture my children have ever drawn, every card they've ever received, every book they've read but grown out of, special toys, current games and toys they have no room for, school work, hundreds of photos plus DH and my stuff.

I've kept everything as I have barely a thing from my childhood and that's symbolic of the bad one I had.

But. It is ridiculous. I spent days in the loft sorting and tidying but over the years others haven't been so careful and there's barely space to move.

If I asked the children one would say keep some stuff, one would say keep nothing and one would say keep everything. DH regrets chucking out stuff from his childhood and clearly I'm not normal and can't be trusted to make the right decision. The kids are 11-15 so don't have the sentiment a parent would have but we can't keep everything and I can't chuck everything.

What would you do and would your child agree or, did your parents make the decision and you now agree or wish they'd taken the opposite choice?

T0ddlerSlave Sat 27-Aug-16 17:19:19

My parents kept a little. A scrap book of drawings and certificates means the most to me. The thing I'm most disappointed I didn't keep are my childhood books and sullvallian families toys now that my DD is an age to enjoy them.

I'd do a huge cull. If they can't remember the context of the picture of drawing there's no point in keeping it. School books are a waste of space unless reception or Y1 imo.

Choose some photos and put them in a photo album. No duplicates and only a couple per holiday/occasion. You can always scan the rest.

T0ddlerSlave Sat 27-Aug-16 17:20:09

Ditch all cards except 1st birthday doubt I'd even keep them though

T0ddlerSlave Sat 27-Aug-16 17:22:33

You're looking for the odd item that represents the rest, is the best example of a particular developmental time or occasion So 1 school book for the year, not necessarily for every year, 1 picture age 5, etc

SnowBallsAreHere Sat 27-Aug-16 17:22:36

Use a scanner or take photos of art/cards/crafts/outfits.
Keep only good toys that might realistically be used in 20 years time, such as Lego or brio.

TealGiraffe Sat 27-Aug-16 17:28:33

My parents had a big clear out when they downsized, went from a 5 bed with a massive loft to a 3 bed bungalow!

My mum kept

Our first shoes
Our 'coming home' outfits
Our baby photo albums
Our individual school photos (threw the class ones)
Then did a small box for each of us with some of her fave pictures / drawings / memories.

Other things got scanned and sorted into files on hard drive, eg family holiday pics

Loads got thrown.

Honestly, i don't want any of it. It will all get binned when i inherit it. I told my mum this and that was a major part of her clearing out a lot. I think she had a nice idea of passing it on but honestly what am i going to do with it? cold hearted bitch

mineofuselessinformation Sat 27-Aug-16 17:43:18

I had a loft full too - but then I moved. The thought of transporting all of the stuff (and paying for it) really made me think twice about what to keep. Special birthdays, keep a few reminders. Drawings etc, if you can't remember why they're special, chuck 'em. (Do keep a few bits from when they were little though, I have Christmas tree decorations that are years old, but still mean something, and have a box for each child holding their special things.)
They honestly won't remember it and interrogate you as to where it has gone. smile

Tanito279 Sat 27-Aug-16 17:57:01

My mum kept loads of my toys ready for my daughter. Well DD is almost 3 and not interested in any of it, plus it's all got a bit grimy in the last 20odd years. I'm dreading her opening the massive box of barbies. Wish she'd just bin it all, but she's a hoarder.

Goingtobeawesome Sat 27-Aug-16 19:21:12

We are moving in six years at the earliest but it has got me thinking as the thing that needs to end so we can is about to start.

Scanning sounds tricky and a job for DH given I'm useless. Is there such a thing of drawings being scanned and then made into a book or did I make that up?

I kept daily diaries of what the children did until they were five and the kids like reading those so they would stay.

I'm gutted I didn't keep their first babygrow but console myself that I gave their baby clothes to a woman in need.

Still have the cot, pram and baby gym. Kept special toys and things like Duplo and books that won't date for grandchildren

I guess it's different for me as I didn't have parents so no one to care about my first drawing nor did I get birthday cards. Need to toughen up.

BoaConstrictor Sat 27-Aug-16 22:35:52

I am being quite ruthless in what I keep as I remember my school books cluttering up my parents house for decades before we eventually chucked just about all of it when I moved into my own place in my early 20s & they expected me to want it & I didn't so that had taught me to keep little of that sort of thing. PIL had kept the cot, stair gates etc but things had moved on in the 30+ years between their youngest child no longer needing them and the first grandchild being born (lead paint for example) and it all got thrown and equipment is another thing I'm not hanging onto.
An aunt has kept all of the traditional toys like brio, Lego, Playmobil, some books but she says it is a complete pain as, at various stages in the last 40 or so years she decides to get rid of it & then remembers X relative is pregnant and comes to stay once a year for a night or two & it will be nice for them to play with it and that postpones the decision for about her 5-6 years by which time another relative has a little one & it all starts again. Despite her experience, I may keep the Duplo but I could be looking at holding onto it for 30 years. That's a long time to hang onto something on the basis that I may have grandchildren. I think if my family was closer geographically & there were more of us so younger cousins & things were around, then I may be more tempted to keep it.

PlotterOfPlots Sat 27-Aug-16 23:07:45

I had an envelope of all my certificates which I treasured, and my kids have the same. They get far too many for just showing up these days but we keep them all.

I'm not sure what my parents kept of my drawings etc. i remember my mum deciding that I could have a "gallery" of them in my room and that was clearly when they stopped being welcome in the rest of the house! DC know I keep a box for each of them where I pick out a few things each term, and their reports go in there too. That's pretty much it. We don't keep cards.

I have a couple of my favourite babygrows and cardis, first shoes but no other outgrown clothes.

Somerville Sat 27-Aug-16 23:45:02

I don't have very much from my childhood though not for sad reasons like yours - just armed forces family with a mother who is more practical then sentimental.

I too moved a lot when my children were younger, as DH and I kept renovating houses and moving. I really wanted to keep a decent amount of stuff, and let them sort through it in their own time when they have homes of their own. In the end I got 40 litre plastic under bed storage boxes with lids. (The Jodie we had at the time didn't have a loft, hence under bed shaped. But I've carried on buying these even with more storage space now as they stack so well.)

Every year (I do it by school year) I have a new one of them with each of my DC's name on. Anything significant goes in: certificates, social cards they receive or send me, journals they now keep, artwork, etc. At the end of the school year I go through all the mass of excercise books, etc, and keep as much as looks interesting and can fit in.

Actually I haven't finished 2015-2016 boxes yet and still have mass of school stuff to add in

40L per child per year is quite a lot, but also manageable to keep stocked.

You could at least do something like this for future years, rather than keep everything.

mrsclooneytoyou Sat 27-Aug-16 23:46:51

I have kept for the Dds first shoes, any certificates, school photos, baby books, a few favourite toys. Everything else got displayed and then scanned before I binned it . I kept a few of their drawings and things and made a this is your life book for 21st birthday. It had school reports, drawings, photos, certificates and friends and family wrote a page or two about a special or funny time spent with them

Leeloo2 Sun 28-Aug-16 08:22:51

Definitely you can make pictures into photobooks online (look at photobox and register with them, then they'll send you special offers).

Don't bother scanning, except for text (eg a school report) as it takes too long. Just take pictures with your phone. Before you start though, get out your oldest dc's stuff and sort through it... Then you can go through it in categories, so have all their eg first paintings in 1 place in front of you. Chances are 1 or 2 paintings will make you smile, others you won't remember them making at all! Pick the most special. Then repeat for the other categories. The ones you don't like, or remember, or just aren't as good, look at them and thank them. 'thank you for helping Sam explore colour /practice holding a pen' or whatever, then put them into the recycling bag. They've served their purpose by helping your child become who they are now and you don't need them.

When you've finished sorting all the categories put it all together and look at what you have now. Is it overwhelming /manageable? Does anything else need culling? If so thank it and let it go. If not, start making digital images, make it into a book, then let the hard copies go.

As you're making the photo books you can write text too, so annotate the pictures with your favourite memories of the children at that time. I can guarantee you that 1 picture of few scribbles and a carefully worded message about how 'little Sam was much more interested in taking the lids of the pens, or colouring in his fingers, so not much ended up on the paper!' will have much more meaning to them in the future than 50/100 random pieces of paper with scribbles all over will. You can use your diaries to help you write the comments.

For birthdays, arrange all the cards so you can see all the fronts, take a photo, then make a list of who they were from (with any special messages), so you can write it underneath in the photobooks. Then thank and bin the originals or let your dc use them for art projects.

Repeat for the other kids.

It'll be hard to start with, but will get easier as you go.

The problem is, by keeping absolutely everything, you are teaching your kids to be non selective and overly sentimental (at best) and to hoard (at worst). Your kids will not want to inherit an attic's worth of stuff and by having so much, it all becomes rubbish by default as there's so much that stuff will be damaged and also who can be bothered to sort all that? If you find it overwhelming to sort, so will they!

Lastly, let big stuff like cots go. In the future your dc will want to choose their own cots/baby gyms and technology will have moved on! There are so many threads on mumsnet about mils finding the family moses basket in the loft for the new grandchild and the prospective mother is asking AIBU not to want to put my precious baby in this mouldering heap covered in 20 years of dust and mould spores! Don't become that grandparent!

Even Duplo ages! I inherited lots that isn't even that old (10 years probably), but designs and colours have moved on! The old stuff looks duller and scratched. It wasn't 'worth' me buying new sets, as we had so much, but I was secretly quite sad as the new stuff just looks so much nicer. Have a look at the Lego website and think what you'd choose if you had a dgc, then look at what you have and see how it compares!

Keep very special books, but again remember the pages turn brown round the edges and will smell musty, so chances are your kids will want to buy new for their dc. Will they feel able to do that if you're standing there with a huge 30 year old collection, saying (or thinking) 'new books, you don't need those, you have all these lovely ones from when you were little!' You will be nostalgically remembering when your dc were little, but they may feel overwhelmed with the expectations that the nostalgia places on them. Maybe put them in a line and imagine if it was a charity shop/jumble sale, which would you buy for a relative's new baby. That may help you see how worn some really are.

Good luck op!

KittyKrap Sun 28-Aug-16 08:30:14

Leeloo - genius!

My XH was/is a hoarder, he has units full of their old baby toys and general tat, the DCs are between 15-18 and don't want anything to do with it. When I left I took photos and three small pictures they did when very young and framed those 3. I have one sleep suit that did all dcs and a pair of shoes grin

I don't miss any of it.

Onlytimewilltell Sun 28-Aug-16 08:31:54

I have a handful of photographs of me (parents didn't have many) and one little book I drew when I was little.
I chucked away my school reports when I was in my teens, which I regret as would love to show my children and can't remember what was in them.
I have 2 girls and have kept birth congratulations cards/ hospital tags/ scan photos
All school reports in a folder with clear plastic pages to flick through, plus music or school concerts/plays programmes which have their names in.
School and class photographs
A selection of (small) pottery/material models that they were especially proud of making.
School made Christmas decorations.
Early years school books that had lots of 'in the classroom ' photos in them that the teachers stuck in.
Swimming/ drama certificates.
A few paintings and drawings which I regularly cull once I stop feeling sentimental about them.
This all fits in two plastic boxes and when they are full I chucked stuff out rather than buy more storage.
The girls only really ask to look at the photos and school reports which are easily accessible.
Nobody wants to root through boxes and boxes of stuff!
Do you have hoarding tendencies in other areas?!

Goingtobeawesome Sun 28-Aug-16 08:36:07

All very helpful, thank you. The thanking inanimate objects then letting them go actually helps me and is perfect as its giving me permission.

Re the cot, pram etc I was keeping them latterly for the grandchildren to use at my house if their parents wanted to save carting stuff over every time. Not in lieu of them buying now in their own excitement and anything mound would certainly be binned. Everything, including the books, is well stored so no worries there. The books are because I only have half a dozen from being a kid, priced at 49p and 75p, whereas books these days are £5+ plus I've enjoyed sharing my few childhood books with mine and thought it would be nice for them to share theirs with their children. If they didn't want too it wouldn't be a problem for me. No forcing going on here.

AnyTheWiser Sun 28-Aug-16 08:38:46

Leeloo- fantastic post, thank you.
My parents kept some things, that were important to them ( reports, certificates) but not thing that were important to me ( my books, my lego).
As a consequence i have kept everything my children have produced, but it's time for a change. I can see they're becoming ' hoardy' and I have to nip it in the bud ( they're younger than the OPs children).
Your idea of how to let things go is really helpful to me.

Goingtobeawesome Sun 28-Aug-16 08:41:28

Feels like a mean comment to ask if I "have hoarding tendencies in other areas?!" Like there is something wrong with me. I've explained why I feel as I do sad plus I'm very mindful that the stuff belongs to them. When I wa s child I never had any say over anything that did belong to me. Was just chucked immediately plus no one cared about me full stop so...

Goingtobeawesome Sun 28-Aug-16 08:42:12

Leeloo - again, thank you. Really excellent ideas these.

228agreenend Sun 28-Aug-16 08:42:36

I would find it difficult to throw things out also.

Birthday cards - 1st birthday, maybe key relative cards from later years
School art work, - make a scrapbook of best pictures'
Models - chuck, difficult to store
School books - chuck, apart from maybe English ones with stories in,
Certificates - keep, store in a folder
Toys - keep classics su ha s lego, Playmobil, chuck anything that is broken, keep favourite dolls, teddies etc
School reports - keep
Books - keep classics and favourites,

It will be emotional, but also,enjoyable looking back on things.

Onlytimewilltell Sun 28-Aug-16 08:50:03

Op you said you keep current toys in the loft which there is no room for, which suggests your house may be cluttered!
I also had a terrible childhood, and my mother kept nothing of mine even though she was a hoarder! Nothing mean about it!

Lightroom Sun 28-Aug-16 09:32:44

I'm sorry you had such a crappy childhood, awesome.

I've been forced to be selective because of moving house so many times since having the dc and I simply couldn't take everything with me. I'm now settled in a small but lovely home I've bought and I'm SO GLAD about all my previous purging!

Aside from the 'active' stuff still in the dc's rooms, I've kept:
- Big box of Brio
- Box of wooden bricks
- Box of dinosaurs
- Our favourite picture books - and to be fair, there are lots of these...
- An 'archive' - a large Ikea box with sentimental stuff & the kids have one cardboard Ikea box each where pics, special tickets, certificates, birthday cards, etc get dropped in through the year, and we have a sort out of that every now and then. (So that's 3 boxes in total for all of their lives).
- One pair of baby shoes each. (I actually have these out on display to remind me - when they're being obnoxious - of how much I love them...)

Everything else has gone to charity or friends.

My mum has probably kept a bit more than me from my childhood - dolls, birthday cards, English exercise books... I'm a writer and she's very proud of my (ahem) "early work"... I have to read it through my fingers and I genuinely don't think it would bother me if she had chucked that. I was very loved as a child but lots of shit stuff happened around me, and the stuff she's kept reminds me of some truly terrifying times. Maybe that's why I'm not very sentimental about it.

Good luck with this, OP. smile

Goingtobeawesome Sun 28-Aug-16 10:16:22

Onlytimewilltell - really thanks. Again.

My house isn't cluttered. We use the loft to store stuff. It is now becoming full hence the wanting suggestions. A full lift does not mean a cluttered house. The remains some current toys - and I mean stuff still played with and will be again - so that stuff is on a rotation so when it comes out again it is appreciated and enjoyed as a break has been had. Your circumstances and feelings are irrelevant to my case as you clearly had a mother. I did not.

Thank you, Lightroom.

So far I'm starting with the kitchen as I can manage that while DH is busy and I'm surprised how I'm feeling about things.

This last year has been very traumatic for me in many ways I wouldn't trust to post about and it has changed me..

Onlytimewilltell Sun 28-Aug-16 10:25:06

Having a mother does not equate to a happy childhood I can assure you. You don't know my circumstances at all so I find that offensive.
This board is full of people with cluttered houses needing help, I wrote you a helpful list of what I kept and asked you a simple question.
I obviously unintentionally hit a nerve. I won't be back to your thread as yes I actually think you do have a problem!

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