Choose to sort "the box"

Me, my grandma, my mom, my daughter and my 2 nephews

Me, my grandma, my mom, my daughter and my 2 nephews

20 years ago I was a first time mom, wearing a hunter green jogging suit (nice, huh?!), listening to my mom talk about the really tough decisions that she and her sister had to make regarding where my grandma should live, the health care she should get and generally how they would balance it all. It was hard.

20 years later, my 3 children have 8+ grandparents (divorces and remarriages) and my husband and our siblings are faced with the knowledge that someday in the not too distant future, that will be us. The questions are piling up.

Recently, a group of colleagues and I started a Facebook Community called Club Sandwich St. Croix Valley. Our goal is to provide resources and relief to the sandwich generation for situations exactly like this. It's a place to go to get information and ask the questions.

At Capture Your Photos, I get to work with a ton of 'sandwichers'. It's about this time in our lives where boxes of photos and memories tend to relocate from mom and dad's house to the 'kid's' house.

This can be either awesome or overwhelming...let's choose awesome.

Here's what you do with the box...

The first thing you need is a process (I teach my clients the ABC's) and the following supplies:

  • a good size workspace (e.g. dining room table) where you can make piles

  • a photo safe pencil to write on the backs of photos (soft lead black pencil, I like Stablio's brand 8046)

  • post-it notes

  • a photo-safe storage box

From there, you start pulling things out of the boxes and placing them in piles using the ABC's:

  • A = Album worthy - photos or memorabilia that are important to you and that you want to save and preserve long-term (ultimately you'll want to get these scanned)

  • B = Box - photos/memorabilia that you aren't ready to part with, but you don't necessarily need to preserve

  • C = Can...trash can. Have a bag right next to you for things that you really don't need. These might include doubles of photos, photos that aren't very good, photos of scenery that you have no idea where the pic was taken, old packaging such as developer envelopes, etc.

You will likely have some sub-categories under both your A's and your B's. For example, you might want to make some family categories to share pics with siblings and others. You might also have piles for holidays, friends or vacations.

Once you have sorted through the boxes, it's time to have the conversations. Share the photos and ask mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/aunt/uncle to tell you the stories. Beautiful things happen to relationships when photos and memories are shared. I can't tell you the number of people that have told me that they wish they would have asked [insert family member name] about [so many topics]. Don't have those regrets. Old photos are beautiful conversation starters that can be such a gift.

Once the stories have been told...capture them.

Without a doubt, this process can be emotional, especially if you've already lost a loved one. Be assured that clearing out the clutter and focusing on the memories that matter, will feel amazing. Studies tell us that telling our stories not only builds relationships, but helps our children understand that they are part of something bigger, which can ultimately increase their self-esteem. 

Let's choose awesome and touch some hearts.