Monday, April 10, 2017


Do you keep a lot of mementoes related to your kids? What about other aspects of your life?

I tend toward the less-stuff end of the spectrum, but I want to keep the special stuff. At home, I prefer calming spaces that are cozy but aren’t teeming with trinkets - it gives me sensory overload. It’s been said that we shouldn’t document our experiences too much, and that with time the most salient features of an experience stay with us, while the lesser details or perhaps the aspects we’d rather forget dissolve with time. I tend to think this is the best approach to take with the past. That’s not to say I never document, but I don’t get caught up in cataloguing everything. And with smartphones, I find my phone pictures act as a diary themselves. 

At work, of course, we document EVERYTHING and often in great detail. As a family physician, my notes range from a sparse, simple visit to a long and detailed assessment. It’s no surprise, then, that with the amount of documentation I do daily, I feel exhausted at the thought of further documenting. 

Long ago I accepted that I didn’t feel the need to journal on a regular basis, as much as I admired those who did. Writing was often what I turned to during challenging times. It still fills that role, and has also become a way to process different kinds of experiences. Recently I did an online writing course that reflected on motherhood that I would highly recommend. But the constant recording of exactly what I’ve done, when — no, that’s too much.

I recently went through old papers at home and found a card from one of my closest friends, written just three months after we’d met back in university over fifteen years ago. Just seeing her handwriting was such a treat, with most of our current communication occurring in fonts. 

With my young kids I’m saving special artwork in binders with page protectors - it’s quick and easy to slip them in and to look through them that way. I let a stack build up then put them in, in my best attempt at chronological order. Overall, though, I'm trying to focus more on the moments.  


  1. I have ONE box for each kid where I save less than 5% of what they've done. I agree less clutter better for me. I do display nice kid art in general living areas of my house. Plans for organizing it all? Maybe when they go off to college.

    Work - don't get me started. About 2 years ago they started making us document every service we do for the hospital (services we don't bill for) in 15 minute increments and turn in a monthly time sheet. Some days I'm better than others, but overall I do pretty good - it makes me so angry I want to show the accountants, who probably don't understand a word of my notebooks, how freaking much I do. And what a waste of my time it is to document it. I think pathologists in general are luckier than clinicians in documentation but they got us here.

    1. I have to ask, how big is the box?? Do you throw out all notebooks, etc. from school every year? Just curious :)

      Your work documentation sounds brutal! Can you use templates somehow and copy and paste? That has saved time with EMR; though I could be better at using them.

    2. It's a pretty big box. One you wouldn't want to put books in, if you were moving, because no one could carry it. I do throw out or donate to Goodwill if in decent condition all books and notebooks after I make sure kids are done with them. There is also spillover - I have a big pile of art under the guest bed that I keep meaning to get framed - stuff that doesn't fit in the box.

      Work documentation is crazy. We hand write what we do in notebooks and tally monthly. I have screamed about it so much to my colleagues and they said it's just what we have to do from now on to get reimbursement from the hospital. It's pretty substantial, so I comply. I'm one breath away from complaining to admin - only thing holding me back is my partners telling me to not "rock the boat." But I'm a boat rocker, so we will see what happens.

      That Mary Silva below is huge spam she lit up my own blog yesterday and I had to delete.

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  3. I have a really young kid but we have started just taking photos of the art projects and then getting rid of them. There are apps that do this too. Of course it doesn't work with 3D type of stuff, but I agree with your approach to minimizing clutter. We just moved and had to throw a lot of things away. I have one large boot box size memento box for our whole family amd I'm going to try to stick to only that!


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