It's the end of the school year and my pile of collected school papers from one third grader and one preschooler is piling up. For as long as I can remember, I have saved just about every paper my children have brought home. I was stumped with how to decide what to keep and what to toss, so I kept it all. Until recently, that is.
I am a sentimental mom. I like to keep stuff, but I also like to toss stuff. It's hard to decide what's important, and what is just fluff. In the end it comes down to what's really important to you, what you want to look back on and remember, and what you want to share with your kids when they are older about their school days and what their personalities were at that time in their lives.
Give the Papers a Place
This is real life here. This is my entry way to my house. It's not grand or pretty, but it's functional. I have two boys with extracurricular activities, homework, and just life. I've found that this little vertical space saves us a LOT of headache.
See those two plain white boxes on the second shelf? Yup. That's where all the school papers go. There's one for each kiddo and all their papers go there. Sometimes I sort as they come home and throw away things I know I won't keep, but in reality, most if it goes there. I know where to find it if I need it, and the oldest can put his own papers in the box. I almost made fancy name tags just for this photo, but decided to just keep it real.
The other bins hold karate gear, soccer gear, Cub Scout gear, there's a bin for seasonal items like scarves and sunglasses, and the other has yet to really have an everyday purpose. If all that gear gets back in their boxes, getting out the door for school, meetings, and practices runs a lot smoother! (And for that, I am grateful!)
The Sort: What to Toss and What to Keep
So now that the end of the school year is approaching, it's time to sort those boxes. I try not to spend too much time worrying about what gets tosses and what gets kept. In the end I know I'll keep just enough to enjoy, but not so much that their future spouse is going to resent me for sending piles of childhood items into their newly purchased homes.
Here's where the sorting comes in. To the left of the box is my trash pile. While I know a ton of time was spent on test prep, I can't say I really see a need to keep all those worksheets. What I'm interested in is the meaty stuff. Those juicy stories written by third grade hands, thought up by a wandering and incredible third grade imagination. I keep art work and book reports, special projects, and a few tests (not just good grades, either!). I keep some random doodles too. My son likes to draw, and those drawings have speech bubbles that crack me up. I want to remember that.
I do keep another pile of work that goes into my son's progress binder. He was diagnosed with dyslexia in second grade, and I keep a separate pile of work to show his progress in a much more condensed, central location. Maybe I'll show you sometime if you're interested.
Sorting for my preschooler is a little more simplified. To the left the trash pile, then papers that show progress (coloring in the lines or learning to write), fun artwork, and absolutely anything with a hand print goes into my keep pile. I decided to toss most coloring pages and projects that are already flaking glitter, because I know that once that glue is a few years old, that glitter is not going to be where I left it!
For either age, I take photos of art that I love in particular, 3-d objects, or really oversized things that are really not the easiest to keep. I cut down 9x12 construction paper projects to 8.5x11 size when feasible, which seems to be much better for storage than folding.
t took me some time to refine my keep piles. When I first started sorting (remember I had saved everything for years), my keep pile was still a little too large for my liking. A second, or even third sort might be necessary to get down to what's really important to you. If you can't decide if it should stay or go, keep it, you can always change your mind later.
Don't feel bad about tossing things - or keeping them either. In the end it's your decision and you should feel good about what you decide. No matter what kind of Momma you are - whether you toss or keep it all, save a little, or save a lot, you're doing a great job, and you're a great Mom!
Need a little help while you sort? Download this free guide to help you get started!
So Now What?
Exactly. Now what? What do I actually DO with these condensed piles of artwork, handprints, and stories? This was my problem, and there was no solution that I was happy with, so I created my own, and I'm going to share it with you! But not until Friday! So go grab those stacks of papers and get sorting. Sign up for my email list here, join me on Facebook, and on Instagram so that when this launches, you're sure to see it! I'm so excited and I just know you're going to love it as much as I do.