For a while I've had a "one inbox" paper system in the house, where all paper, whether it's from school or a bill etc., goes into a big basket and then when we're ready to sort through it we do. We just did a big paper sort and found a bunch of old bills that got lost in the shuffle. We now want to make a separate box for all the stuff that comes home from school. But my question is, once it's been sorted, where does it go? I tried creating a hanging file for it in my file cabinet but it's too bulky- esp. the stuff from my daughter's pre-k, lots of artwork with cotton balls and stuff. But even the stuff from my son's 1st grade school is bulky and volumninous. I still have a plastic bin full of his kindergarten work and have no idea what to do with it.
How do you all manage the flow of papers from school? I am torn between not wanting to keep everything just for the sake of keeping it, and wanting to preserve the memories of their dear little drawings and writings.
SAHM to 6.5yo DS and 4yo DD. PCOS with two early m/cs. Married 8 yrs. Certified birth doula, writer, editor.
Some stuff I like:
I scanned or photographed a lot of the kids art and special papers from the early years. At 12 and 16, it's easier because they do almost everything on the computer and I just back-up their files twice a year. I have everything (including family photos) stored on an external hard drive as well as backed up on DVD's. The kids each have a big bin with hard copies but it would be a fire hazard if we'd kept everything.
You'll get less sentimental as your child ages. You'll always want some things but it'll be easier to get rid of others. Let yourself hang onto things now, commit to going through it every year or so. You'll find much of the work is easy to let go of as your child replaces it with others.
Every so often I'll see something I hold out and save. I have a bin I put stuff in to remember or whatever. But almost everything gets touched once as I take it out of the folder and put it in the recycle bin. This stuff becomes clutter at some point. I save a few things every year but not much.
Stuff that has to be put on the calendar or signed and returned gets handled however is needed when I touch it that one time. I don't put stuff in a pile to get back to.
Stuff that is just worksheets, i.e. repetitive work, just gets recycled. If there is creativity involved, whether it be writing or drawing, it gets put in a file folder for that child/that grade. As I've gone along I save less and less. i also ask my littlest whether it is important to her. I will often ask her to go through two weeks worth of papers. She usually wants to recycle most of it.
I had a box (designed for storing files) for each child for 3-D objects, and we kept as many things as would fit in the box. Occasionally, things needed to be sorted out to make room for new things, but I kept my very favorites. My kids are teens now, and we recently went through their boxes of 3D art.
Flat art is easier, and I kept quite of bit. I kept a couple of worksheets -- just samples for each year. Not much.
What I've found is that a few things saved become precious over the years, but tons of stuff saved is just clutter.
but everything has pros and cons
We have about a half-dozen Rubbermaid bins filled with old artwork, projects, stories and essays etc. from school, camp and home. I mostly stopped collecting it when they were in middle school, although I've saved the occasional art piece or essay from high school. I've wanted to sort through it all for some time but it seems like a daunting task at this point. There have been a few times over the years when it would have been natural to sort through it all. Basically, any time we have moved houses. I didn't because I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to make rational decisions about what to keep and what to toss when I was in the middle of the chaos of moving. I figured I would either get rid of too much in a ruthless frenzy of decluttering or I would sentimentally cling to too much in an emotional need to hang on to the past.
I guess I'd just encourage you to be careful if you are going to start filling up boxes with stuff. Don't end up like me, lol! I think it would have helped if I had chosen smaller storage boxes to limit myself. Taking photos instead of hanging on to physical items would have been a great idea too.
I also wanted to recommend starting a scrapbook while your kids are little. I'm not talking a fancy scissor, matching sticker sort of book. I'm talking an old-fashioned, glue stick and paper sort. I keep books for my kids and it actually does help with the clutter. Each child has 2 books... a general and a theatre book (they do a lot of theatre.) The general one has anything from milestones and special activities to awards and band concerts. I limit myself to a page or two on each entry. I just put in a program, ticket stub, a photo or two, an acceptance letter, a picture of the medal, certificate, activity description or flyer, whatever. Not only do the kids love the books but it localizes my sentimentality. I don't keep boxes full of old programs because I have simple, clean, ACCESSIBLE books. The kids love them and in today's digital age, it's nice to have something you can hold in your hand but easy to find a place for in the house.
Just start them early or it's overwhelming to try to do when they are 10. And use an expandable scrapbook. My 16-year-olds books are huge lol.
I toss/recycle almost all of it. Cute art gets displayed for a couple of weeks and then it's either:
--mailed to a grandparent
--photographed to make into an artwork photo book later on (using Shutterfly or the like)
--stored in the file box I keep for each kid
The last option only happens if it's something really cool/special. Only about 5 things per kid per year make it into the file box. Now that DS is in grade school, he usually comes home with a giant portfolio of his work at the end of the year, which I find overwhelming. I'm very into quality over quantity -- I would so much rather keep 1 or 2 things and (as organization expert Peter Walsh says) "honor them within my home" by displaying them in a cute way, rather than just having a giant box full of papers we never look at.
I made a paper holder of sorts and insert permission slips, newsletter, papers we want to keep and go through it periodically.
Anything with dates to remember, consents I deal with immediately and put on calendar otherwise I forget. I keep a few things from school here and there, I am way more choosely than I used to be!. it goes into one space in a closet, then at the end of the school year I go through it all again, and pare it down, each child has one under the bed sized storage box for this stuff. The stuff I don't keep gets hidden in the bottom of the recycling bin or I offer it back to the child ( I have 1 horder in the making, who saves every single thing he can.) with the warning that if I find it laying around the house I am going to throw it in the garbage, and I do. about twice a year I also go through my kids closets and "treasure" boxes and we sort. I let them keep anything they want as long as it isn';t moldy.