Please welcome my guest today, Carrie from My Favorite Finds.
I’ve been called the “Counter Police” by my beloved husband many times. I just can’t stand it when the kitchen counters are cluttered with appliances, dirty dishes, cell phone chargers, and SCHOOL PAPERS! It drives me absolutely insane!
Then, enter the cute, crafty, child like handwriting papers, first math tests, spelling tests…and the list goes on and on. Not to mention the papers that need to be signed and returned to school, the book orders, Market Day…and yes, that list goes on and on, doesn’t it?!
When my children were 3, and had started preschool, they would come home several days a week with a backpack of treasures. Macaroni necklaces, finger painted turkeys, Christmas trees full of glitter were sprawled on the counters, or nicely stacked to be “put away later”. Then, reality hit me. If I kept every paper, craft, and project that the twins brought home from school, our life would be buried in papers. And, I wouldn’t be able to find what needed to be returned to school.
Enter tool Number One: The trash can.
I know, it’s heartless to throw away my child’s art work-that paper covered with stickers or pencil marks. But in reality, I know it’ll be ok. When I look at my “Keeping Box” now, I am so thankful that I kept the creations that have their handprints on them, an “About Me” paper, or their snowman display that was proudly hung in the hallway by their teachers. I throw away most of their graded homework, random drawings, and a lot of literature that comes home from school. Just as we can’t keep every paper that enters our house, we can’t commit to every outside activity. Sometimes, if the paper is plain white copy paper that is blank on the back, I’ll use it to print coupons.
Tool Number Two: The Keeping Box.
In the “Keeping Box”, I have many school papers and creations I have decided are worth keeping. It might be the “Student of the Week” display we made, pieces of writing that show good effort and hard work, their grade cards and midterm reports, or even some notes from their teachers. The Keeping Box lives in our upstairs closet, and is a medium size moving box. As the year progresses, I set papers or creations into the Keeping Box, and then reevaluate over the summer. Sometimes things are weeded out then, sometimes they get put nicely back in the box. I also go to this box when I want to scrapbook a writing sample or another creation from school.
Tool Number Three: A plastic paper tray.
I have a plastic paper tray in our home office. In this tray goes book orders, Market Day order forms, sports pictures forms, etc. Anything that needs to be returned to school or revisited later goes in the paper tray. I revisit it 2 or 3 times a week to see what needs to be returned or what can be thrown away.
Thankfully, on the last day of school, the art teacher sends home a portfolio of all their artwork through the year. This typically contains 10-12 pieces of art, and it is already in a nice folder that the boys have decorated themselves. It stands up against the wall behind the Keeping Box. I recently took some pieces out to frame for the laundry room.
Storing papers, and keeping those school memories, definitely requires a balancing act. I think it’s important to be reasonable and realistic, without being coldhearted and wishy washy at the same time. What is the long term goal? A display at a graduation party? Scrapbook pages? Show your grandchildren their parents’ artwork someday? Keeping these in mind might help have peace of mind with choosing what to keep and what’s ok to throw away.
Carrie is a pastor’s wife, teacher, and mommy to 8 year old twin boys and a 2 year old princess. I love organizing, cooking, thrifting, and sharing my ideas with others on my blog, My Favorite Finds.