If you have children, you know the pile of “treasures” that can be accumulated over 18 years of life. From the first locket of hair, to the piles of high school t-shirts, the amount of things that need to be purged are endless. It’s the time of year where we are sending a new group of young adults out into the world. Whether it’s into the workforce, a trade, the military, or college, parents around the country are left staring at empty bedrooms and boxes of items that represent an era that is now complete. So what should happen to all these things? One option is to transform a few favorites into new items with a new purpose.
The Favorite Stuffed Animal
Instead of keeping every stuffed animal and every picture, consider a shadow box. Find a photo of your little one holding that tattered stuffed animal you still have in a bin in your basement. Create a shadow box to hang on the wall with the animal and the picture. Then, let the rest of the stuffed animals go to a new home for another child to create memories with.
That wooden crib, rocking chair, or high chair collecting dust in the attic that you can’t bring yourself to part with? Talented woodworkers are taking the wood from these treasures and turning them into creative items such as charcuterie boards and serving trays. This is a great option to bring new life (and new meaning) to an item that would otherwise no longer be used. And what a great conversation piece for that next big family meal!
All those sweet books your child loved having you read? It’s the memory of the story that has meaning, not as much the physical item. Pick a few that perhaps resonate the most and let the rest go. Some parents also save recordings of the stories being read. By saving a recording you are leaving an audio memory for future generations to enjoy.
Every student collects a pile of activity or sports t-shirts. Turn them into a quilt. A quick search on etsy or social media can find you droves of talented people ready to take those shirts and turn them into an adorable quilt for your child as they leave the nest and live on their own.
Finally, what to do with all those kindergarten hand paintings, assorted messy craft projects, and the piles of artwork that have been in bins since your kid learned to hold a crayon? One creative option is to take some of your less treasured pictures and drawings, and upcycle them into new items such as greeting cards and wrapping paper. Send your college student a card made from one of their stick figure drawings. Or give the grandparents an anniversary gift wrapped in some old finger painting. Instead of tossing the majority in the trash, give it new life glued on the front of a plain gift bag.
The key is to be creative, and not afraid to make new memories out of old items. By transforming old objects into new treasures you are honoring times of the past while also creating new opportunities for the future. While it’s sad seeing your kids leave the nest, giving new life to old items can be a great step towards cleaning out stored childhood artifacts and preserving precious memories.