When it comes to storing items in your home, I am from the less is more camp. I thrive in uncluttered spaces! This process of purging that has occurred over the last couple of years tends to drive my dear husband crazy at times. But, through all of this purging there has always been one area I have had a difficult time with – our son’s things. Warning- this article is a bit personal.
When it comes to purging kids’ clothing and other items, you know for your family that it will save money later on if these items are just stored for the next child. But, for me, the decision not to purge was an emotional one. It began with the coming home outfit and then just escalated until we had four giant Rubbermaid bins stacked in our guest room and a closet full of other items (our son is now two years old). This was after I did pass along a few items to friends. I knew I needed to get a handle on these clothes if I was going to have a guest room for family. I would begin to purge and sort and decide what to do with everything and then emotion would set in and I would pack everything back into the bins breaking my back to stack them where they were previously. I just couldn't let go of anything remembering ever outfit and what he was doing when he wore it.
You may be wondering why I just couldn't keep these items for our next child like most moms do or consign them. The answer is a simple one –our son came after years and years of us longing to be parents. Some people are pretty certain when they are married that they will have a certain size family or they hope to have a certain sized family. In our case, God had other plans.
We tried for a few years to add to our family the traditional way. When we were financially able, we called on doctors to help us and we believed we would be successful. We were wrong. This was an extremely emotional time for us (as those of you who have gone through fertility treatments can attest too). We then felt the call to adopt. Because we followed this call, we had a baby boy in our arms nine months later (we had then been married 8 years)!! It was love at first site and that love for him has grown exponentially over the two years we have had him in our family. He is by far the best thing that has ever happened to us. That being said, you can see why it was and has been so difficult to purge anything related to his being in our home.
We recently joined a group at our church – the Orphan ministry – that offers support to families who choose to expand their family in different ways. These include adoption, fostering, or fostering to adopt. After joining this group, I realized that these items that I was holding on to needed to be used by others instead of sitting in our home. We were so blessed to bring Declan into our lives and our home. I wanted to bless others by giving these clothes to others who could use them now. I have since purged everything baby related down into two bins. This has been an emotionally cleansing time for me. But, there were still those items that have very special meaning to us that we really will want to keep including his coming home outfit and handmade hats and booties from grandparents.
I knew that these items could not just be packed into a Rubbermaid bin. They needed to be stored somewhere where they could be pulled out again years from now for another child or for our grandchildren still looking like they do today.
In my research, these are the guidelines I found to store these items successfully:
· Clean the item completely or dry clean if able. Do not use any added stiffeners or starches on the item. Carefully inspect the item to ensure it is completely clean.
· Use containers that are made of polypropylene (#5 recycling code or the letters PP). These would include Rubbermaid and Sterilite containers. These containers do not need to be airtight. You could also store items in a cedar chest, but they still need to be wrapped in the tissue paper mentioned below. You could also order Archival boxes from a reputable dealer. If ordering boxes, they need to be acid free and lignin free, not just labeled as “archival”.
· Handle the item with clean, washed hands (the oils from our skin can cause stains over time)
· Remove any metal or wooden buttons or other embellishments that could stain the item over time (store these in a polyethylene zip lock bag or wrap in muslin or tissue paper)
· Use lignin and acid free tissue paper to wrap the item (lightly add tissue paper to sleeves, hats or other three dimensional items before wrapping), 100% washed muslin or 100% washed cotton sheeting can also be used
· Add tissue paper to the inside of the storage container
· Carefully fold the items if needed placing tissue paper between the folds and place the item in the container (the best storage will not require the item to be folded)
· Add a container of dried French Lavender to the container to repel pests (do not use moth balls as they are a carcinogen)
· Store the container in a room near an interior wall (not the attic or basement), ideally an interior closet or under a bed. It should be away from drafts or any plumbing pipes which may be inside the walls.
· Inspect the item once every six months to a year to ensure it is still in good condition refolding it differently to minimize stress on the fabric
· Finally, make sure these items are covered with your insurance company (take photos). This would go for antique items such as tapestries that are worth a lot of money.
No matter what items you have in your home that you need to store safely, be sure to follow these guidelines. You can also find more information on storing items of sentimental value by doing a quick google search with the words “textile preservation”.
We don’t know now what the future may hold for our family, but we know we are blessed beyond measure to have Declan in our lives. He has been the best thing that has ever happened to us. We hope to add to our family a sibling for him soon.