One of the biggest causes of clutter for my clients with young children is school paperwork. Like junk mail, there is a never-ending stream of artwork, written materials, and handouts coming home with kids. Unlike junk mail, these things have sentimental value so it’s much more difficult to get rid of them. Here is some advice I’ve shared to help tame the clutter of school papers.
1. Limit incoming papers by storage space – Designate a single storage container for the current year’s paperwork. I’d recommend using a closed bin that is at least large enough to hold 8 ½ x 11 inch paper. Containers designed to hold 12 x 12 inch paper are available in craft stores and will accommodate larger, odd-shaped projects. As papers come in, do a quick sort and try to limit what makes it into the box. Once it’s filled, weed through and keep only the things that are truly meaningful. Think about the projects that say something about who your child is at this moment in time.
Use a file box or a drawer in a filing cabinet for long-term storage. Label a hanging folder for each school year. At the end of the year, purge the box of papers and keep only the most precious items in that year’s folder.
2. Don’t hang on to big projects - Kids make all kinds of huge creations in school, usually from paper, that are virtually impossible to store without destroying them. For these, I recommend taking photos and then getting rid of the actual item. Have your child pose with their projects to capture the memory of their work and how they looked at that age.
3. Get your children involved in the process (if they can handle it) – I’ve met some kids who are great at decuttering and can easily decide which of their things they want to keep and toss. Others simply want to hang on to everything. If your child is good at purging, get their input on which items are most important to them. If they are a packrat, make the hard decisions when they are not around.
Remember, the more you keep, the less meaningful each thing becomes. Years from now, you and your kids might enjoy looking through a single box of mementos from their school days. But keeping much more than that guarantees it will never see the light of day.
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