Where do you keep yours? At the back of the wardrobe, or up in the loft? Under the bed in the spare room, or perhaps hidden behind a load of clutter in the garage?
I'm talking about the box of mementoes you have for your first child, along with the much smaller boxes you keep for subsequent children (such is the nature of having kids). It's the box filled to the brim with nursery paintings, his first milk tooth, birthday cards, and all the rest of it.
Keeping a few mementoes for your child to look through when they're older is a great idea: but here's how to take it to the next level.
Email your kids
This might sound impersonal, but hear me out. When your child is born (or even before), set up an email address for them. Then, every time they do something funny, or draw you a cute picture, you can email it to them whilst it's fresh in your mind. You can even just write them a nice message: it takes seconds but will last forever.
Then, when your child is 18, give them the login details. Each of the hundreds of emails they'll find will be like opening an amazing gift.
Keep all their pocket rubbish
It's crazy the kinds of things you can find when emptying your child's pockets just before putting their clothes in the washing machine: buttons, notes, coins, ticket stubs, and so on. Without them knowing, keep it all in a jar and present it to them on a special occasion, such as their 18th birthday, or their wedding day. All of a sudden, that random tat has collectively become a stash of great memories.
'Open When' cards
No matter how hard you try to protect your son or daughter, there will be times in their life when they feel a bit down. Perhaps he's getting picked on at school, worrying about an exam, or nervous about a job interview.
He's never too old for your support, and that's where 'Open When' cards come in. Write a number of cards for specific occasions ('Open when you're feeling worried', or 'Open when you leave home') and he'll only be an envelope away from knowing how much you care.
Frame their favourite toy
The clue's in the title. Every child has that one toy they carry around wherever they go, and when they get too old for it the temptation is to chuck it in the bin. Instead, frame it, along with a photo of them enjoying playing with the toy, and it'll make a great wall feature.
Plant a tree together
It's so simple, yet so effective. Plant a seed with your child, and over the years nurture and water it as it grows into an impressive tree. Not only will it be a reminder of what you've both achieved together, but when you're gone it'll be an eternal memorial to a wonderful memory, and a wonderful parent.
Ugly photo album
Photo albums filled with pictures of you as a baby are great, but after a while they can get a bit tedious. Instead, work on an album filled with those photos which usually get deleted right away: the one where you're half-blinking and look completely drunk, or the one where your child has filled his nappy at the moment the photo was taken. It'll be a hilarious gift when they're older.
Good times jar
There can be so many great memories you make with your kids that it can be easy to forget them. Not any more: whenever something good happens write it down and pop it in a jar. At the end of the year you and your child will have loads of little notes to open to make you both smile.
Blank wall photos
Every year take a photo of your child against a blank wall, and use the magic of PhotoShop (other, simpler imaging software is available) to write things on the wall which characterise your child in that year: 'Terry likes muddy puddles, wrestling, Spider-man, falling over in the snow', that kind of thing. Put them in an album for a great year-by-year gift charting your child's growth and loves.
Make a patchwork quilt
You know all those babygrows and tiny clothes you never wanted to throw away when your child grew out of them? Instead of just stuffing them in a box, cut up the fabric and turn it into a quilt for a blanket with a difference. If you're not great with a needle and thread, there are plenty of companies online who will do it for you.
Turn your voice into art
Soundwave art is simple but unique. All you do is record yourself saying something – 'I love you', for example – and you can get the soundwaves turned into canvas art, jewellery, and a whole range of other products. It's something your child can look at time and time again, and know that your voice created that pattern.
Have you done anything like this? What mementoes have you kept and what do you regret chucking out?
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