Friday, December 10, 2010

Kids, Don't Break the Family Heirlooms!

I have a few things around my house that were passed down to me from my parents. I prefer to display them and be surrounded by them rather than protectively tucking them away in the attic.

In my house displaying family heirlooms poses some challenges with three boys under 12 years old constantly running around. Occasionally we do have mishaps. Earlier this week some wood and paint got chipped off an item. (I sigh and move on.)

I thought I would share with you my technique for keeping children from breaking the family heirlooms. Mind you this is not a fool proof technique but it works.

I say to my kids, "This is a very old thing that is important to our family. Someday it's going to belong to you. If you break it, you won't have it."

It's a very simple technique. The boys usually never say anything in response but they always leave the room and take their roughhousing somewhere else.

Please note: This does not work well with children under six years old. My youngest is only five, hence the continued occasional "chips." ** sigh **

If you have any techniques of your own for thwarting accidental youthful destruction, please share them with me!


  1. Think of the chip as added history. How 'bout taking a photo of the object and indicate where the chip is, and write a note about how it happened. (Don't forget to sign and date it!) I bet your son will love showing his family someday where the mishap occurred when he was five.

    My great-grandfather always rested his hot pipe on the arm of the rocking chair he made for my great-grandmother after the civil war. It eventually made a hole in the wood. I am sure that my great-grandmother must have been annoyed about that. However, that is my favorite part of the rocking chair, and my family loves passing that story through the generations.

    Positive spin, Marian!

  2. When my son was real little I sat our tree inside a play pen so he couldn't reach it. This was after I tried bells on the lower bows to alert me and he almost pulled it over on himself. LOL

  3. What Cathi said, I was just going to write the very same suggestion! LOL

  4. Whenever possible, I display heirlooms up high out of reach of little fingers. That way I can still enjoy having the items around without constantly worrying about them being broke.

    Tammy, we tried putting the tree in the playpen one year. My daughter, never one to back down from a challenge, simply piled up her toys and climbed up them to get in the playpen.

  5. Amen to the positive spin. I, too, preferred to have the heirlooms around rather than tucked away. We use the quilts, etc. However, those items that would not survive the day-to-day ruckus were put away for a few years. Once the children/animals/husband were civilized I was able to put the dishes and glassware back out.

  6. I agree that that tactic doesn't work with the little ones. My daughter figures everything in the house is already hers, so no need to wait. I put most of the breakable heirlooms away when she started walking, and I've slowly begun bringing them back out. I recently brought the wine rack out of the closet (mostly because I was sick of having it in there). So far, everything is still intact!

  7. If it's furniture, perhaps a less-trafficked corner for it, or even those corner bumper thingys you can put on furniture for child-proofing? (assuming they're removable w/o damage)