I addressed the subject of keeping every single piece of artwork my children created in their younger years last week.
I also addressed my reality check and my changed approach which enabled me to keep a few treasures without using up all the storage space in my home.
It occurred to me, while writing that article, that I have struggled to let go of many things associated with my children. Art was just the start.
I think subconsciously I struggled with how quickly time passed and how quickly my children progressed through each stage of their life. I have realised that it is a struggle for most parents. Keeping things that remind us of those younger years seems to be our default for preserving their youth. Well that's my justification for my hoarding behaviour.
Now don't get me wrong, I think it is important to have a few keepsakes that can be passed on through the generations.
My children were all baptised in a gown that I also wore as baby. In addition I kept my favourite childhood teddy bear which takes pride of place in a display cabinet in my home. Meanwhile, I treasure a chair and a couple of books that belonged to my fathers when he was a young child.
And who doesn't know someone with a bronzed pair of shoes that once belonged to a parent or grandparent?
Without a doubt there are things throughout life that are simply worth keeping and passing down through the generations. They are those special items that prompt you to reflect on a bygone era or a special moment in time. As far as I am concerned those memories are priceless.
However, not everything needs to be kept to inspire such memories. Knowing what to keep and what to part with is important, but not always an easy task.
As you may have learnt from my previous article - regarding what to keep from the endless supply of arts and crafts created by my children - I'm not very good at discerning a treasured item for life and a treasured item for the moment. However, I have developed this skill - somewhat - out of necessity because I simply don't have the room to keep everything.
The favourite toys, a special outfit, the preferred book for a bedtime story, a baby blanket, and of cause the first pair of shoes. I wanted to keep them all...and then some.
Instead I allowed a little common sense to prevail.
The key to this common sense came in the form of plastic lidded storage boxes available at most supermarkets and hardware stores. One...or maybe two...for each child but no more.
I started with one for each child. But there are now two boxes of treasures for each. Without a doubt I am a work in progress.
My rule was that I could keep no more than what could fit in the boxes, with the lid properly closed.
With this in mind I chose very carefully what treasures I would keep to pass onto my children. This has included the first pair of shoes the first dance shoes and fairy dress for my daughters and the first NRL and AFL jerseys for my son. A couple of other cute outfits, the favourite teddy bear and a a popular bedtime book have also been added into the mix for each child.
And of course that baptismal gown, that has been worn by several generations of babies in my family, has been carefully stored for the next generation.
Meanwhile a baby book for each child, journalling special achievements and memories including when the first steps were taken, details of the first five birthdays, a brief recollection of the first day at school, a lock of hair from the first haircut and the like, have proved pure magic for the memory.
The fact that these books are common in most families, often given as gifts when a baby is born, is proof that I am not the only parent who struggles with letting go of those early years.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.