Swallowed Up by a Sea of Childhood Treasures

I remember being about 10 years old at my grandma’s house. There was an older lady who lived up the hill from my grandma whom my cousin and I would go visit from time to time. She lived in an old farmhouse all by herself and she was a hoarder. I had only stepped into her house once and at that time you could really only walk a few inches before being roadblocked by a huge stack of newspapers and a tower of milk jugs. Like I said, I was only 10 years old but even I knew this was beyond any mess I had ever seen.

Even though she wasn’t a housekeeper she was a very nice lady and strangely enough on one particular day I was visiting she took me with her to shop for a trailer to put on her land because she could no longer get into her house. Afterwards she took me to the local A&W stand for a hotdog and root beer and it was quite a lovely afternoon.

I often think of that dear old lady as I watch my own house filling up. I don’t save newspapers or milk jugs and you can usually find a path through our house, but the amount of stuff I save for my children is slowly engulfing our house. Someday I fully expect to be swallowed up by a sea of artwork, favorite toys and beloved baby clothes. If we had a big enough property I might actually consider buying a trailer to put in our yard to store it all and really that is just insane.

Instead of parting with all of this childhood nostalgia I just continue to add to it and with that comes more storage containers for it all. Our house is filled with tons of antique trunks and boxes holding all of these treasures and this past weekend I had to make one more:

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter's treasures

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter’s treasures

I also made a box for one of my daughter’s friends who is having a birthday this week. I figure we can’t be the only ones who need storage containers:


A box I made for my daughter’s friend

And as I sat working on that trunk to hold more of my daughter’s treasures I pondered our whole storage problem and how we could have accumulated so much stuff and how many more years I have left in their childhoods to grow their collections. It’s really quite mind-boggling.

Even though I realize this problem; it apparently never truly sinks in because the very next day this is what I had my children do:

My kids painting huge canvases outside

My kids painting huge canvases outside

Someday, I will be that lady taking a visiting child to shop for a trailer with me because I can no longer walk through my own home. Afterwards I will take them for a hot dog and root beer and it will be quite a lovely afternoon.

61 responses

    • I know! I just can’t possibly get rid of anything, right? It might even get worse than buying a trailer. My husband and I are actually thinking of moving out to the country to get a bigger house and more acreage. We just looked at a property with a huge pole building and 19 acres. That should be enough room to store everything…I hope!

  1. My wife and I are like the anti-hoarders. I have made the joke before that the boys better be careful. We have two of them – do we really need two?
    When I was younger, my mom saved some of our stuff – report cards, team pictures, etc. Somehow some of my stuff got lost/destroyed. I was (and still a bit) so upset. I felt as if part of my history was lost.

    • haha!! I love the joke about the boys! The saving of everything is such a conflict with me because I actually consider myself partly OCD. I like everything in it’s place and am kind of a minimalist. Saving everything kind of goes against all of that. My mom saved all of my stuff too and I still have it. I look at it from time to time. It is a part of our history and since we were kids it’s kind of hard to remember a lot of that stuff without having those memories to look at and hold. I can understand why you would upset about the loss of it all.

  2. hahahahaha – that’s funny! I, too, had boxes of papers and projects saved from Mr. T and one day I had a free book from Shutterfly and I had seen on Pinterest where they made photo books of their kids artwork. So, I went through the storage boxes for birth through elementary school and talked to T about what I was planning, and then scanned everything in and made a book. Once the book arrived (and boy was it ever so cool!!!) T and I went through it, and then he goes “Mom, I think you can throw away all of those projects, we have a record of them here.” And so I did! Got rid of two boxes by doing that – and it was awesome! Now, I will always have the pieces of wood he broke in karate, and tons of other projects that can’t be scanned in, but for those sheet of paper that I couldn’t part with – the photo book was awesome!

    • That is a really great idea Kate! I actually have all of their artwork scanned into the computer (at least the smaller stuff). I’m trying to mentally calculate how many photo books I would have to make though…I might have to take out a small bank loan to make that many!!! haha!!

      • LOL – you sure might! I signed up at Shutterfly and a couple of times a year I get a free book. Several times I can get a 1/2 off offer. I also do the My Coke Rewards, because I can get a free book when I hit like 200 points. I work the system!! I do a family annual now, I create a book every year that chronicles the year before. I’ve found it so much easier and now the photos actually get used and “printed” instead of living on my computer!

  3. Yes, but at least decorative boxes make for great storage, its better than having everything all over the place, and your so good at it !!

  4. I’ll be right there with you. I often compare our house to an episode of Hoarders Buried Alive. I think our stuff breeds at night and no matter how much I get rid of, we’re still surrounded!!! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! sidenote, where do you find the cool antique trunks?! I know I could never replicate your artwork, but even just a plain one would be amazing to use! πŸ™‚

    • Well, I have a few trunks that are family heirlooms but the majority of them have come from garage sales or estate sales. You have to be somewhat careful when buying them because some can smell really bad. A lot of them are wood and get a really bad musty smell that is hard to get rid of. My mom is really good about restoring them back to their original look but with the one I did this past weekend I just modge podged old book pages to it. No real artistic talent went into it! I also have a lot of old foot lockers that I think were used by soldiers. Those are metal and work really good to for storing stuff!

  5. Speaking of Childhood Treasures …. Lest you forget …. You did become the KEEPER of all your Childhood toys, artwork, books, school papers, cards & notes ETC. ETC. ETC. …. Enough to fill a trailer yourself …. at least several large trunks ….. The History of our Childhood and Lives is a wonderful Legacy … Future generations need to know who and where they came from … to know where they are going … at least know where their traits came from and we have proof from generations past … We just didn’t lick our traits off of a wall ….. LOL …… REMEMBERING : LOLA … What a kind and fun person !!!

    • Thank you! I actually try to be picky about what I save too but my 8 year old daughter has kind of thrown a wrench into the system. Now she keeps bringing me things and asking me to put them in her memory box. It will be things that I never would have thought of saving like a game of tic-tac-toe that she played with a friend???!!!

  6. Honestly though, your stuff is just so beautiful that it will never seem like clutter to me. It’s art! Your home will be chock-a-block filled with art πŸ™‚ (Although definitely still go for the root beer and hotdog!)

  7. give the kids some of the things to create new pieces of art and other new things with , then i guess you will have new things to store in your future trailer, so not really solving the problem, just creating one with a new look )

  8. I love the treasure boxes! It’s so hard to part with those creations from our kids…L starts school this week, so it begins again! Little A loves to draw, but she works mostly on a magnet-doodle pad–no sentimentality there! Maybe I can get the kids to make treasure boxes, too…

    • Thank you Alison! My biggest source of accumulation comes from all of Iris’s writing. She has notebooks upon notebooks filled with stories and poems she has wrote over the past couple of years. I cleaned out her room a few months ago and was astonished as to the amount of stuff she has written. Of course I have to save all of that too!

  9. I love decorative boxes very much and yours are very nice; great for keeping everything! πŸ™‚ I used to keep Nate’s art but this last spring I started cleaning a lot and decided to get rid of plenty of our stuff including his and only kept some things! πŸ™‚ I hope, I won’t regret it! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Ingrid! I actually didn’t keep much in the way of artwork when my kids were that young. It’s only been in recent years as they start to put real effort into their drawings and can produce something that actually looks like something other than scribbling. But trust me, I kept plenty of other things. Every greeting card they have ever received, tickets from outings we have been to, newspapers from historical days that have happened in their lifetime (presidential elections etc). It’s really adding up fast!

  10. I used to keep all the kids stuff too. Then when they left home I made up boxes for them and THEY DIDN”T WANT THE STUFF. I couldn’t believe it. Brooke was actually sickened about some of the stuff I saved especially when she noticed I taped her umbilical cord to one of her baby book pages.

    • Don’t tell me that Liz! If my kids don’t want this stuff when they get older I will hit the fan! I can’t really blame your daughter for not wanting the umbilical cord…now that is going way too far!!! haha!!!

      • I have to tell you that. Not one of the four wanted to take any of their stuff with them. They said I could store it forever. You know why don’t you, it’s so they can complain about ALL the stuff I saved when they clean out the house after me and Hungarian Work Horse leave this world .

  11. I too have hoarded my girls things – I have them in suitcases and bags, nicely tucked in the outside shed. When they have kids – they can have them back to pass on or show.. hopefully they will want them and cherish them as I did. Ermm..you may need to buy a bigger house πŸ˜‰ x

    • See…that is exactly what I need….an outside shed! That would really solve all of my problems! We are actually in the process of looking for a bigger house! It’s crazy when you have to look for a bigger house to hold all of your children’s keepsakes! Sick I tell you!

  12. I really understand this clutter crisis. Not only do I have trouble parting with the kids’ artwork and treasures, they have inherited the “sentimental” gene. My daughter’s CD player broke and when it came to throwing it out , she mentioned that is was a gift from my aunt and then I had to mention that it had belonged to my grandfather. It’s going but I’ll have to be sly. The kids also pick up all sorts of things from besdie the road (council cleanup piles) and bring this “crap” back home for “craft”. Grr.
    I outdid myself recently. Unable to house our own artworks, I bought three paintings at the school art show.
    One day they are going to find me buried at the bottom of all this stuff. I don’t think I’d find my way out to buy anyone a root beer.
    xx Rowena

    • That is hilarious Rowena! My daughter too has the “sentimental gene” and is constantly bringing me things to put in her memory box that I would not normally deem as a keepsake! That is too funny about buying even more artwork! I think we must have the same sickness because that sounds exactly like something I would do/have done! Your last sentence just has me splitting a gut!

  13. We just had a room clean out weekend. I keep a certain amount of their papers, projects, stories, clothes, in memory boxes. Then they decide about the rest. My son wants to keep every broken toy and piece of paper, including stuff his sister is ready to part with. My daughter tries to part with everything, and I have to tell her why she will want to keep some momentos!

    • I may need your daughter to come to my house and talk some sense into me….and my kids who also want to keep EVERYTHING! The other day they brought me several coloring books that they had completed and wanted put in their memory boxes. I was so fed up with the amount of stuff I already had awaiting to find a place to store that I snuck them out to the garbage cans. Now I’m kind of second guessing myself about that. I truly have a problem!

  14. You are so crafty!! I love your treasure boxes. Is that decoupage? I have always wanted to try that. Looks like it would be a really fun project.

    Your post is funny. I used to have that problem as well. Then I bought myself a scanner. I keep my favorite originals in a binder and scan the rest. Then you can make a book on shutterfly or one of those companies. The kids love it because they have a book of their art. Which really is pretty cool. The best part it actually get viewed as opposed to sitting in a dark box somewhere growing mold. It’s a win-win πŸ™‚

    Have a lovely day,
    Love, L.

    • Thanks Laurie! Yes, it is decoupage! It’s one of those kind of projects that really relaxes me! I do have all of their art (at least the smaller stuff) scanned into the computer. I may have to jump the gun and make up some books…though I can only imagine how many books I would have to make!

  15. My sister takes pictures of artwork and will make a photo book for her sons. My parents saved A LOT..I had a big cardboard art box – no where near as cool as your daughter’s one!

  16. I have kept just a handful of things. My son’s coming home outfit and a few other treasured items, like engraved baby spoons, etc, are in it. I have a few similar items for my daughter but still have to get a pretty box for hers. It’s been painful to let go of some of the other stuff. I can think of a few dresses that I really loved, for example. I just love your storage ideas! If I had a basement and an attic, I’d full it up with our mometos too!

  17. Well, from the looks of it, you have the mementos all neatly tucked away. I’d hardly call that a hoarder! And I think that art project is great! I, too, was fascinated by hoarding as a child. I remember a story going around about a man who lived in a house that was lined with newspaper, like you described. Supposedly, he died and no one found him for several weeks. Evidently, when they went through his stuff, they found a paper bag full of $40,000!

  18. Oh Melissa! I do the same thing!! Clothing, art, cards, notes, school stuff… Is your hubby on your case the way mine is? Just wondering if it’s men in general who don’t get it, or just mine!

    • Actually….my husband is completely on board. I can’t remember what I threw away one time but he said, “Shouldn’t you be putting that in their memory box?” He however is just a saver in general bordering on hoarder so I don’t think your husband is out of the norm!

  19. Melissa, I have the same problem! I can’t get rid of anything. Although my organization system isn’t as beautiful as yours. I lump each child’s pile of artwork into a 54 gallon plastic tub. Not very pretty, but it does the job!

  20. Did I mention that you are really artistically talented? The trunk looks great! I know what you mean about hoarding… I think I got this trait from my mum (who recently pulled out my old toys for my children – she has kept them for more than 30 years!)

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