The end of the school year has arrived, and school-aged parents know, 9 months worth of paper and artwork has or is about to flood your home. I want to encourage you to deal with it right away, so it’s not an annoying moment come fall. The fact of the matter is, 99.99% of it is garbage, or rather, recycling. It’s that .01% that always trips us up - the actually decent artwork, the surprisingly well-written or thoughtful essay. I’ve got some solutions for you for those. Let’s start with paperwork.
Gather up the piles of paper in the backpacks, on your desk, your kitchen counter, the back of the minivan… wherever it got dumped the last week of school and have a seat. It’s up to you whether to engage your kid in this project or not. Sometimes it’s the parent who has trouble purging, sometimes it’s the kid. Put the recycling bin right by your side, and have a box to put supplies like binders and dividers that might be good for another year. Sort into two simple piles - keep & toss. Toss stuff foes straight to recycling.
Take a second look at the “keeps” and reconsider them. To help you decide whether it really should be kept, ask yourself these questions:
Is this something I’d like to look at again and again?
Again and again is key here - if you love it, but will hide it away and never look at it, it’s time to live in the moment, appreciate it and let it go. Then ask yourself:
Is this something my child will get a kick out of seeing in 20 years?
If the answer is no, then there’s no need to save it, no matter how good it is. If the answer is yes, then save it.
What to do with what’s left? This works great for me:
Years ago I created this box, putting a tab for every year right up to 12th grade. Great work that comes home goes into the grade, also report cards, school pictures... This is a box I will give back to my child one day. I only want one box, so that helps me keep it to the really good stuff. Jen at iheartorganizing.com has some cute free printables you can use to label each folder.
Artwork is a Special Case.
It comes in bigger shapes and sizes and dimensions. It often feels more special, more important. The questions to ask yourself about the artwork are similar.
Is this art worth displaying?
If so, then DO display it; don’t shove it in the closet. Mount it, get a rotating frame, put it on the wall.
Will my child love seeing this in 20 years?
If not…you know what to do.
Is it likely a very similar piece of art will come home again this coming year…?
Again – unless you want your home to become an art storage facility in your childrens' honor, you have to limit the work you keep. I’m a big fan of going digital with kids’ art. Taking a picture of it and making your screen saver all kid art will allow you to enjoy it all the time without it taking up a lick of space in your basement. To take it a step further, my favorite product is Artkive. It’s an app that allows you not only to take a picture with your phone, but identify which child did the work and at what age. You an even create a share circle to share with family. To take it a step further, upload the work and have a book printed out of all the work. Then you have a nice book on the shelf, not a box in the back of the closet. Artkive also offers a concierge service which allows you to pack it in a box and they do all the work for you. If you decide to use this service, be sure to use promo code: steponeorganizing to get $15 dollars off your order.
If you just can’t let go...
If the physical art that your child’s own hands made is just too difficult for you to part with, I recommend underbed sized boxes that can also stack easily – they can usually accommodate those large sized papers and raised macaroni noodle items. Ceramic projects make great pencil holders, coin catchers, and jewelry holders.
Happy Summer Everybody!
I’d love to hear any of your tips on dealing with kid schoolwork? What tricks work for you?