Childhood is incredibly fleeting, and in the blink of an eye, your little toddling kiddo will become a full-fledged adult. Sure, they will pass through the angsty teen stage first, but eventually their entire childhood will be in the rearview mirror. Which is why finding ways to preserve your kid's childhood — because, I'm sorry to say, eventually you'll forget the way they pronounced Elmo — can help you keep the memories alive.
Many of these ideas can even be started while your kid is still actively living out their childhood. If you constantly take photos of your kids, collect every single art project, display even the most obscure awards they receive proudly on your refrigerator (Best Preschool Snack-Eater is totally a thing worth remembering, right?), you're already ahead of the game where childhood memory preservation is concerned. But keeping these mementos creatively stored can be a tough task. After all, what good are they stuffed in a box on the top shelf of your closet?
Making something fun and creative that you and your kid can have to preserve their childhood memories doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive either. It can actually be as simple (or as complex) as you want it to be. Here are 12 fun ideas to preserve your kid's childhood to get you started.
1. Lamp Base
My kids constantly collect tiny trinkets that seem to mean the world to them. I know the day will eventually come when suddenly the scratched-up Hot Wheels car they've been toting around in their pocket for three years straight is no longer significant. But to me, that little red car has a million of their childhood memories attached to it that I want to preserve.
If your kids have small toys with special meanings, you can purchase a clear lamp base and fill it with these toys to continue to keep those memories alive. This also makes a great gift to give to your kids when they're all grown up.
2. T-Shirt Quilt
One of my most prized possessions is a t-shirt quilt made from all of my college dance team shirts. You can turn your child's t-shirts from various activities like their elementary school choir, volleyball team, or even just their favorite character tee into a quilt to preserve their childhood memories. This is a great DIY activity with plenty of t-shirt quilting tutorials available online, but you can also send your kid's shirts off to a quilting company to have their memory quilt made.
3. Photo Book Of Art
You probably have a box or bin filled with your child's art work from school. If you're anything like me, you only keep the important ones for the sake of space, but even that adds up to a lot over the course of an entire childhood. Consider taking photos of your child's art work and creating a photo book to capture the essence of their art in photo form instead of stacking it all up in the attic. Online services like Shutterfly and Mixbook make the process of creating a photo book of your kid's art work quick and easy.
4. Frame It
If your child has a favorite outfit from their childhood that you just can't make yourself part with, consider framing it. I am personally extremely attached to a pair of overalls my youngest son wore in preschool, so putting them in a frame would allow me to bask in their sweetness even now that he has outgrown them. This is also a perfect idea for the outfit your baby wore home from the hospital, a game-winning sports uniform, or that princess dress they didn't take off for two whole years.
5. Inside An Ornament
Christmas tree ornaments that get hung year after year typically have special meaning for families. Create a few ornaments that include special trinkets from your kid's childhood to keep memories alive for years to come. You could place their hospital bracelet, a special childhood necklace, a drawing, or anything else that will fit inside of a clear glass ornament to keep that part of your kid's childhood preserved.
6. Make It A Plush
Another way to preserve your kid's childhood art work is to turn it into a stuffed animal. Companies like Budsies and Doodle Your Toys can take a drawing that your child has made and turn it into a custom plush creation. You may not be able to keep up with a random scrap of paper they drew on for years, but a stuffed animal is a bit easier to keep track of. Plus, a custom plush will preserve the moment in time when they drew their creation.
7. A Scrapbook
A scrapbook may be an “old school” way to preserve your child’s memories, but don’t underestimate the fun of cutting and pasting photos from your kid’s childhood and containing them in a hefty scrapbook. In addition to photos, you can include theme park tickets, awards, and even paper art work inside of a scrapbook as well. Scrapbooks work especially well when you want to memorialize a certain event like a family trip or special sports season for posterity. A scrapbook full of birthday cards or holiday cards from their childhood is another idea for utilizing this memory preservation method. Digital scrapbooks are also an option for parents who are not as crafty.
8. Time Capsule Jars
A few empty mason jars can become a pretty way to preserve your kid's childhood memories. Simply fill a jar with mementoes and display on a shelf. These can be event-specific, a jar for each year in school, a jar made every New Year's Day, or however you want to do it. You can even decorate the jar lids with different keepsakes that symbolize what events or years the jars represent. It's also fun to take the jars down every once in a while and let your kids go through the items inside.
9. Keepsake Jewelry
Create a memory of your child that is wearable by having custom keepsake jewelry made. This could include miniature versions of their baby footprints on a necklace, their preschool handwriting on a bracelet, or their thumbprint on a ring. There are plenty of sellers on Etsy who can shrink a photo of your child's handprint down or transfer their handwriting and put it on a piece of jewelry. These are also wonderful heirloom items that can potentially be passed down to your kid's children one day.
10. A File Box
It might not seem practical to keep every single piece of school work that your child brings home, but keeping some of their more memorable assignments in a file box with dividers for each grade level is one easy way to preserve your kid’s childhood school memories. You can also include mementoes like awards, notes from their teacher, or even report cards that you are particularly proud of. When your kid is all grown up, they’ll have a blast reading their old book reports or the haiku they wrote in the second grade.
11. Custom Photo Puzzle
Turn one of your kid's favorite childhood photos into a custom puzzle to create a unique keepsake that lets them relive a special moment from their childhood over and over again each time they put it together. If a photo is worth a thousand words, a photo puzzle is worth that much and more. Ordering a photo puzzle from an online retailer like Piczzle is one option to create a photo puzzle that your kids can cherish for years to come.
12. Photo Collage Canvas
Hanging a canvas with a massive photo collage of your kid's favorite photos from childhood is a fun way to preserve their childhood memories. This could be something as simple as a combination of all of their school photos or as intricate as a giant compilation of action shots from all of their sporting events. The canvas can pull double duty as wall art in your home where everyone can see the memories proudly displayed. Online services like Snapfish make the process of creating photo canvases simple and easy.