6 Great Ideas For Saving Your Kids' Stuff Without the Clutter

By nature I'm a nostalgia-fueled hoarder. I want to hold on to everything my kids ever wore, played with or scribbled on. If even the slightest crayon smudge of a drawing says "To: Mama" at the top, it's impossible for me to discard it.

But if you live in a New York City apartment, constant editing -- or so I am told -- is the only way to keep the piles at bay. I'm always looking for solutions that don't simply involve coming to peace with a dumpster, though. Here are some of the best methods I've learned from friends, the ones who can always see the tops of their coffee tables:


Digitally archive all artwork. That includes drawings and paintings as well as ceramics, paper mache sculptures, etc. Then -- here's the hard part -- throw out the originals, except for a handful of real favorites. Keep the files on a special hard drive, not on your desktop.

Invest in blue painters tape. Pick a spot on a wall and give special drawings, homework assignments, paper projects their 15 minutes of fame by hanging them up with the tape. Rotate the spotlight on a weekly basis. Then, see above.

Embrace the genius of shadowboxes. If you think about it, these commemorative installation pieces are really a way of making art out of storage. Mark an important event, such as a first a ballet performance, by filling one with ballet shoes, a dried bouquet, a program and a photo.

Enforce the 1 toy in, 1 toy out rule. When a new toy comes into the house, an older one must go. But here's the key: Get your kid in on the decision making so they can take pride in the culling process and won't be upset to find out something they're looking for has disappeared.

Set a regular donation date once a month. Keep a bag or bin in the closet that you're constantly filling up with items to donate to a charitable organization. A standing commitment means editing is always top of mind.  More than likely your kids will start to add to the bin as well.

Find a mini-me. If you aren't handing down clothes from an older child to a sibling, find a kid you see often to be the recipient of your favorite outgrown duds. My kids always delight in seeing their outfits on their friends' little sisters. It makes them more motivated to part pieces and it's a thrill for me to relive the outfits.


Image via Flickr/Xoyos.com

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