As early as your baby shower, children attract a lot of stuff—homework, art projects, nice toys, junky goodie bag toys, and more. Most parents don't live in a warehouse capable of storing everything their children acquire over their lifetimes. Here's how some real parents handle their kids' stuff:
P.J. G., father of four: Schoolwork
doesn't survive. (The exception to this is "hand turkeys" made at Thanksgiving for many years. Those reappear every Thanksgiving.) When our kids were 7 and 8, their toys were confiscated and held in our bedroom for ten days. Any toy the kids could
name, they could have back. The rest were donated at the end of the ten-day
Tera Y., mother of one: I keep special or well-done art. I photograph the rest to put into a photo
book and then toss it.
Lisa L., mother of two: I actually frame and hang some of the art. The rest goes into a bin.
Julie C., mother of one: I have a 4-inch binder for each grade that I buy with school supplies at the beginning of each year. When homework comes home each Friday I sort it into what I think is important or memorable and what's just junk. The memorable stuff I put in a sheet protector in the binder. I try to keep up with it each week as the stuff comes home. It's a great way to organize—there's actually a place this stuff goes, not just like a box or shelf. And as an added bonus, its all handy and accessible. And from time to time my son actually flips through his binders for fun.
Ashanti M., mother of one:
After a couple days I shred the daily drawings. I shred because my daughter found some
artwork in the garbage that I "mistakenly" threw away. Art projects
that I don't want to save are shared with grandparents. "Baby" toys
are given to babies. Happy Meal toys are trashed while she is out of the house
every couple months.
Meg K., mother of two: I
gave the kids a "crap drawer" for these types of items, and said if I
found things strewn about not being used or put away I would throw them away. (They
knew I was serious because I actually called it "crap" and they
consider this an "almost swear" word.)
No way are new toys coming into this condo without some old ones going out.
Kirsten W., mother of two:
Usually twice a year (especially before Christmas) I have my husband take the kids
somewhere for a few hours and hold a massive "toy cull" under the
guise of reorganizing their rooms. They've yet to notice anything missing.
Amy V., mother of one:
I have a kids
art frame and I think it's pretty neat: Otherwise, for schoolwork, I try to keep
only things that are very representative of who my son is at this point in
time—how he draws himself, artwork that includes quotes of his, family
portraits, etc. I have a "school
memories" scrapbook with folders where I save them. We also have a
magnetic strip on a wall in the hallway to hang especially awesome stuff. I usually do a toy cleanup at birthday and
Christmas. No way are new toys coming into this condo without some old ones
going out. They're donated either to friends, his old daycare, or the Salvation Army.
Dennis D., father of
one: I take photos of art and save them in a folder that I never look at on
my Google Drive. Once it's there, I feel less guilty about placing it
reverently into the trash and then trying to forget what I just did.
Meg B., mother of two: My
daughter's preschool doesn't send home anything. They keep the kid's "best
work" in a binder, which is given to parents at the end of the year.
Parents don't have to throw anything away and the chronologically ordered
binder allows you to see how your child progressed.
Cameron G. mother of two: We used to have the two-week
bag. My husband and I would do a night raid and pick up toys we thought weren't
being used. We would store
them in black garbage bags in the basement. If the kids didn't ask for them for
two weeks, we considered it fair to donate them.
Kevin G., father of two: For homework, we
use the box their school supplies come in—one box per year, per kid. Broken or carnival game
toys get purged when we have time to clean the basement. We also saved a selection of
Thomas trains (which have come in handy for little visitors) and each kid's favorite puzzle. Before
Christmas each year we let them purge and donate.
Petra P. mother of two: Super awesome art work gets hung up on a
"gallery" clothes line (meaning something else has to come down) and
the choicest pieces get gifted to lucky family members on special occasions,
sometimes as their birthday cards, sometimes as the present itself, depending
on the medium and size of the piece. The large stuff gets used as wrapping
Virginia B., mother of three: Two boys on many sports teams equals tons of trophies. When it was time to move, each boy posed for a photo with his trophies. Then we removed the taped
brass plates and put them in a photo album.