Brace yourself, this is the best thing I will ever share here. Okay, I guess I should rephrase that statement: If you are a mother and your children go to school, the following post is the best thing I can possibly share with you.
It took me about 10 years and a whole lot of failed systems to figure out what to do with ALL THOSE PAPERS. I’m talking about report cards, school photos, class photos, notes from teachers, soccer certificates, dance awards, hand-drawn mother’s day cards, hockey photos, award winning art projects, non-award winning art projects, turkey hand prints…okay, you get my point. We all have a lot of STUFF. What to keep? What to trash? And where in the world to keep it?
After lots of frustration with binders and various boxes, I finally combined a few different ideas I’d seen and got ALL our paperwork organized in a simple and hassle free way. Though it does take a bit of time to put these memory boxes together, it is well worth it in the end! The second my children hand me any kind of paper, we decide if it’s going into the trash or their box…or sometimes the fridge, but we’ll get to that in a bit! They know exactly where anything they want to keep goes and it’s immediately filed away.I made these boxes for each of our kids a few years ago and have been so SO very happy with this system. Seriously, out of any organization project I have done, THIS has by far been the most effective and used system in our house. My kids just finished up their first full week of school and I decided it was the perfect time to sort through the boxes, make a few updates, and share with the world…
- File Box (I purchased mine from Staples, but linked a similar MUCH cheaper option)
- Hanging File Folders
- Label Maker (Optional)
- Memory Scrapbook Page (Optional)
- Dye Cut Letters or Stickers
- Clear Packaging Tape
First things first, you will need to label each folder. Simply use the labels and plastic tabs that come with the file folders. I used a label maker, but you can write them by hand as well. Since I do not scrapbook in any way and have yet to finish my 12-year-old’s baby book, I made a “baby” and “toddler” file as well. In those files I keep any special photos or documents we cherish…Now you can leave your folders as is, or add a fun memory page to each file cover.You can download mine (linked above), find a cute scrapbook page, or make your own. Glue a memory sheet to each file front……and you’ll be all set to organize AND document fun memories each school year.If you’re playing catch-up, have your kids (or yourself) fill out any sheets from past years. You’ll both have fun reminiscing about all the ups and downs a school year is sure to bring!Next up, you’ll need to add your child’s name to their special box. When I first made these I simply used stickers. Draw a line with a dry-erase marker right on your box to help you lay the stickers out straight, then wipe it off when you’re done.
I did not love the stickers I used, so I decided to cut out some letters using my Silhouette. I next dabbed each letter with a bit of glue, and then laid them out on the side of our file box.The glue helped hold the letters in place while I covered the entire surface with packaging tape. Whether you’re using stickers or paper cut-outs, you do not want to skip this step! If your children are anything like mine, they will pick those letters off in less than five minutes!
Okay! Now you’re ready to organize ALL those papers, but more importantly STAY organized. I’m not sure how things are in your family, but my kids are often offended when I trash their papers the second they hand them to me…so we tend to “file” way more things than I actually keep. My kids are responsible for filing their own papers and a few times each year (for sure at the end of the year) I go through their current file and secretly get rid of a few things. Now that may sound slightly evil, but learn from my mistakes: YOU DO NOT need to keep every little thing they bring home. This will quickly become a problem, especially if you have more than one child.
So how do you know what to keep? Ask yourself if you (or your child) will care about this in a year from now? 5 years? 10 years? If the answer is no, toss it.
We save a few really great test scores, favorite art projects, special awards, and of course lots of pictures. I try to keep 10 to 20 documents in each grade.
What about the very most special artwork? The one that took first place in the art contest…or the one they are just so very proud of?I created a place in our craft room for all our special artwork. Each kiddo has a few pieces on display at a time, I simply throw them in a frame and up they go!This is honesty my most favorite display in our entire house, it makes us all happy to look at it. If you don’t have a designated place in your house for kid’s artwork, I suggest you start one! Whether in their own bedrooms or playroom, or even just the refrigerator door, the kids feel so very proud when their work is on display!
We are all back into the swing of things and off to a great start at our new schools…I’m enjoying my time at home with Baby Jean and ready and waiting for all that paperwork!