It’s the start of summer break for many of us and if you have children; your kitchen, dining room table or some living space in your home is full of papers, school projects, school supplies and more paper. What do we do with it? Where do we store it? What should we keep? What should we pitch? Here is a 4 step plan to guide you.
First, as you go to address your mountain of papers, remember to:
1. Deal with one paper at time or project at at time.
2. Don’t move to the next item till you have decided on the first one.
3. Don’t beat yourself up if you kept more than you wanted to. Time is your friend in this. You and your children can be and often are more discerning as time passes. So, something you kept 3 years ago may not be as important now.
4. Go through the bin each year to purge it if necessary.
5. Enjoy some alternative options that don’t take up as much space or can be useful to your child as they grow up. See suggestions at the end and a personal story.
Then, ask yourself these 5 questions:
1. Ask yourself if this item will be important next year or in 5 years?
2. If you took a picture of it with your child or just the item, could you pitch it then?
3. Are you keeping it for you or for your child or your child’s children?
4. Does your child want it? I know this is a hard one since a lot of children want to keep it all but do it each year and hopefully with time and encouragement you can show them to keep the most important items and not everything.
5. Is this a duplicate? In another words, do you have 5 drafts of the same paper? Consider just keeping the final draft.
Next, once you answer these questions then you need to address your keeps. There are a few options for storing your keeps below.
1. You can store them chronologically by year. A file box works well.
2. You can store them all together in a bin appropriately sized for each child. Don’t go too small since larger projects won’t fit and don’t go too big or you’ll keep it all.
3. Or you can store the keeps in 2 categories: my child’s keeps, my keeps.
4. Get one bin or system per person so it’s less to keep up and manage. The more you must address, the more you may delay it.
Lastly, once you select how you will store them, I want you to remember to do these 3 things:
1. Date everything, make sure it has your child’s name, month and year or season or school year. Adding the age works too.
2. Consider being creative with your child’s old t-shirts and make a blanket rather than keeping them to just keep them. See a personal story below.
3. Another creative way to keep their memories is to make a book of their art, handprints, or essays. You can share it with grandparents too.
I have been keeping my soon to be college student’s t-shirts since he was 3 and this year was blessed with the opportunity to make a t-shirt blanket for him with a lot of help and guidance from my sewing hero, Julie Mladenoff. I am so grateful to this woman and thankful to even know her but that is a longer story for a future writing.
My son Jackson was thankful for his blanket and is going to be taking it to college this fall. So, the moral of the story is, it’s ok to keep our kid’s stuff. Don’t get bogged down by it and find some creative ways to put it to use or have it on display.
You can do this! Happy saving and happy purging!