So your kids are back at school or soon to be back at school. One thing is certain, the school year equals a lot of stuff and less time to manage it all. Many of the papers that come home are transient and can be processed and then thrown away. But what about the papers that aren’t so disposable. Artwork and special achievements are the things that tug on our hearts and fill us with pride. While it’s impossible, or just not practical to save everything, it’s important for most of us to save the very special things our children have earned, received or created. The key is to have a system in place to receive the things that are deemed worth saving. A predetermined spot takes the phrase, where do I put this? out of your vocabulary and replaces it with the peace of mind that you can handle and preserve your most precious memories. Here are a few examples of systems that have worked for both me (I use the memory box) and my clients.
Photo books for large artwork. I wish these were around when my daughter first started bringing home her amazing creations full of beans and feathers and lots of white glue. Here is how to preserve the memory without saving the actual artwork: snap a picture of your child with their art each time they bring home a new creation. You not only capture the piece of art but also the pride on the face of your child. At the end of the school year upload your photos to Snapfish or any other service that creates photo books and you have a year of Artwork all in one space saving place. Your child will feel very special. The actual art can be displayed for awhile and then discarded without the guilt. If you already have bins full of old artwork and want to condense them into smaller books simply take the art to an office store that has a print shop, have the pieces scanned and saved digitally. You can make the books from there.
Memory boxes. This is the system that I have used for my daughter and it has worked well for us. Now that she is a teen we love to bring out the box now and then and revisit all the great things that are part of her growing up. We have expanded to two file totes as we filled up the first one at age 8. After that age the things we saved were a lot less bulky. You will need a plastic file tote the size of a banker’s box, hanging files and to make it pretty scrapbook paper. Using the plastic tabs that come with the file folders create a folder for each of the following categories (add anything that is unique to your family or omit ones that are not relevant to you)
Birth, First Year, Second Year, Third Year, Fourth Year, Preshcool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade, Church, Sports, Cards, Portraits.
Take the scrapbook paper and cut it to fit the front of the box, print out your child’s name in the font of your choice and laminate. Attach it to the front of the tote with super sticky two sided tape, or, just slide it down into the tote in front of the first folder.
Now you have a place to organize keepsakes it’s important to create the habits to keep it going. Designate one place to keep your child’s current year school papers and anything else that might be worth saving. At the end of the year choose which are worthy of the long term memory box and pitch the rest. Some of the things that my client’s save for each school year include; report cards, school photos for that year, achievement certificates, valentines from classmates, small drawings and paintings, letters to and from Santa and anything else deemed special by you or your child.
Binders This is another way to save your child’s academic accomplishments. Simply designate a binder for each school year and use page protectors to preserve school papers, report cards and certificates.
Whether you choose one or all of the methods described here, or create one of your own, the important thing is to have a system in place before the random piles start accumulating in your pantry, closet, drawers and cupboards. If you already have the random piles, don’t worry! Simply set up one of these systems for each child, gather all of the piles, and spend a weekend making a treasure that will last for years to come.