As a parent, it can hard to throw away your child’s artwork from school, the stories and poems they wrote and even awards they have won, but we don’t always know the best method for storing artwork. And, you can only keep so much of that stuff in your house – it piles up quickly over the years. (Especially if you have several children.) Most likely you cannot bear to get rid of it, so you need somewhere else to keep it. Great news! Using a self storage unit is a great solution to this problem. Here are some steps to follow to preserve those memories for years to come.
Step 1 – Secure a Storage Unit.
We suggest choosing a 5×5 or 5×10 storage unit, depending on how many kids you have and how much stuff you have to keep in storage. If you plan to use your self storage unit for other items as well, it may be best to go with a 10×10 or 10×15, which are essentially a small garage size.
Because most of that precious artwork is done on paper or pieces of paper and other items glued together, you need to consider the type of storage unit that is best to preserve it. Selecting a temperature control unit will ensure the temps remain between 55 and 80 degrees all year, preventing any damage from excessive temperature swings. If one of these are not available at your storage company of choice, take extra precautions to protect your belongings. Ask the property manager for tips and tricks when storing delicate items.
Step 2 – Purchase Storage Containers or Boxes.
After you have your storage unit secured, you need to purchase some storage totes and/or boxes to keep all the memories safe. We offer a variety of box sizes in our retail store inside the rental office. Our boxes are crush tested and specially treated specifically for long periods of time in storage. Because our boxes are designed and manufactured for the storage industry, they will not break down, crush, tear or become soft for a long time. They also prevent mildew growth, adding an extra layer of protection to the items kept inside.
If you decide to go with storage totes, it’s best to get the long flat ones with lids that are designed to be kept under the bed. These are perfect for papers and school projects that need to be kept flat. They are often over-sized as well, fitting all those odd shapes and sizes of your child’s artwork.
If you have several children, it’s best to keep their stuff separated into their own boxes or totes. This will keep it all sorted as you add to it over the years as well, making it easier for you to keep it all safe. And, when your kids want to get it out over college break and relive the memories, they can simply grab their box or tote without the worry of “ruining” their siblings’ stuff. (Come on, we all know how kids can be with their brothers and sisters, at any age! By keeping it separated, there is no risk of “your stuff is touching my stuff” or “He ruined my favorite painting from kindergarten!” and so on.) Plus, when they decide they want to keep all their stuff at their place instead, you can just give them their boxes and totes and they can share the fun memories with their kids.
Step 3 – Get Organized.
Boxes and totes aren’t the only thing you need to keep your child’s artwork safe. You should start saving those little silica gel packs that come in all sorts of items you buy; like electronics, luggage, purses, backpacks and more. These are designed to pull moisture out of the air and off the items they are kept with, making them perfect for your boxes and totes full of memories. They are meant to last for long periods of time on warehouse shelves, so you won’t have to replace them that often. Stop throwing them away, and start hoarding them now! You can also purchase them at bulk retailers like Uline and even on Amazon.
Go through all your child’s artwork that you have accumulated over the years. You probably have it stashed here and there and everywhere, but the first step is to gather it all up and get it to one location. We suggest using a spare room in your home, and setting up a table in there to organize and sort it all. Depending on how you like to work through projects, you can sort it as you find it, or gather it all up first then sort through it all at one time.
After you have it all together, take some time and really look it over. It may be hard to part with any of it, but let’s face it – not everything is worth keeping! Decide which pieces are worth keeping and ones you can both look back on and laugh or cry together. If you have no idea what it is or it is torn or damaged, it’s probably best to toss it. If you are unsure, you can always ask your child if he or she wants to keep that item as a memento. If you still cannot decide or you child wants to see it first, just keep it for now to be safe and decide later.
Next, purchase some file folders and large envelopes. Look for ones that are acid-free so they won’t cause damage to what’s kept inside, and get the ones that are over-sized. You can find 10″ x 13″ and 11″ x 14″ sizes at most office stores, and you can easily find larger ones online if they are not in stock where you shop. Avoid the ones with self-sealing strips or glue strips, because the glue can turn things yellow that are inside. Also purchase labels and a black marker so you can clearly mark each one with your child’s name and the project name or description and the year it was created. As you label each folder and envelope, keep each child’s piles of art separated.
Step 4 – Start Packing It Up.
Once you have it all sorted, in folders and labeled, it’s time to start packing it up! If some projects are inside several folders, keep them all together and be sure they are numbered or tied together somehow. You can use twine or string, or simply write “envelope 1 of 3”, “envelope 2 of 3” and so on so it is clear how many pieces go with that project. If you were able to find a large enough envelope, try to keep it all together in one to make it easier for you later. Take your time and be gentle. The last thing you want is to cause damage to all the items you are trying to preserve.
Start packing by placing the larger and longer items in the bottom of the box or tote. As you layer some folders and envelopes, add the silica gel packs in between. Repeat this process until you have it all inside the boxes and totes. As you fill a box, label it with the child’s name on the outside, on at least two sides, and write what’s inside. For example: “Joey’s School and Art Projects”.
That’s all! You are done with the hard part now. Take all the boxes and totes to your self storage unit to complete the final step. Stack the boxes and totes evenly and keep them flat. This will prevent shifting inside which could damage the fragile contents. For an added layer of protection, purchase a DampRid or similar moisture reducer product and place it inside your storage unit. Make a note to replace it every 6 months so it works as best it can. And when you are feeling nostalgic, you can easily visit your self storage unit and take out the boxes or bins and enjoy all the memories.
If you are ready to organize and protect all your child’s school projects and get them out of your home, you can reserve or rent a storage unit online and get started now! You can also give us a call or stop by and our friendly property manager will be glad to help you out. If you have more storage tips for keeping your child’s artwork and school projects safe, leave them in the comments below to share with others.