FROM THE SUPERINTENDENTS’ DESK
Deciding What Stays and What Goes
It can be difficult to strike a balance between preserving the many mementos of our sons’ and daughters’ childhoods and finding ample space in our homes to do so. And, of course, when a family has more than one child the difficulty is multiplied.
In addition to the many toys, stuffed animals and treasured keepsakes that originate at home, school-aged children tend to come home in the afternoon and empty from their backpacks goodies from the school day, including drawings and paintings, poems and stories, and art class trinkets made of Popsicle sticks, yarn and lots of glitter and glue. Most parents can appreciate this scenario, and their refrigerators—likely covered with layers of math and spelling tests that yielded good grades—further illustrate my point.
We all take great pride in our children’s achievements. They represent not only the results of hard work, but also a timeline of sorts that demonstrates the child’s growth and expanding education, and they can be very difficult to part with for parents and children alike.
What are we to do with all this stuff? Do we save every piece of paper adorning the refrigerator? Must we hang on to every last hand-made decoration cluttering mom or dad’s desk at work? As the years go by, many parents find that they have boxes and boxes of childhood memories that they just don’t have room for anymore. Here are a few tips to help you sort through the mess:
Only save things you think your kids would want to see at some later date. Try to be realistic about this too. From preschool through high school graduation, your kids will probably bring home hundreds of tests labeled “A+” or “100%.” While it’s important to display them at the time, you probably don’t need to keep every spelling quiz your child aced.
Take an inventory every year. A single school year will provide plenty of souvenirs worth keeping, and even more that can be thrown away. If you commit yourself to making the decision on a regular basis, it will prevent a massive pile-up and spare you the trauma of having to throw away even larger quantities of stuff in a single shot years down the road. Take photos of large projects to save space.
Consult your kids. Sure, they may be reluctant to give up much (or anything at all), but with each passing year, they will learn to prioritize what they really care about and what’s just taking up space. Don’t push them too hard though, because it can be difficult for anyone to give up formerly prized possessions.
Be careful not to toss something you might regret. Your kids may claim not to care about that old favorite stuffed animal anymore, but years down the line, there may be nothing they’ll long for more than that one treasured item from their childhood.
Remember, contrary to what your mother told you, some of those baseball cards, comic books and Cabbage Patch Kids may actually be worth something someday.
Share the wealth. Donate a few items to a charitable cause, or send those old art projects to relatives—especially grandparents; we love that stuff. #
Dr. Carole G. Hankin is the Superintendent for the Syosset Schools District.