At the end of each school year my daughter brings home a staggering amount of stuff. Art projects, notebooks, half used school supplies, papers and more papers. I learned early on that we need to go through the bags of stuff within a day or two of the last day of school. If we don’t those items either end up scattered around the house, or they are left in her backpack for me to find when she is getting ready for school in the Fall. I’ve done it both ways and it is far better to handle this stuff right away.
Step 1: Set Up Your Sorting Space
Determine where you are going to do this project - the kitchen island, dining table, or living room floor. Have a trash can, recycling bin, household cleaner, and two boxes. One box is for any sentimental items you want to save (art projects, certificates, pictures, etc.). The other box is for items that belong somewhere else in the house.
Step 2: Jump In!
I like to go through one bag at a time. I start with the backpack and empty everything out. I make sure any crumbs or gunk hanging out in the bottom of the bag goes into the trash can, then I decide if this backpack will be reused, donated or thrown away depending on the shape of the bag. School supplies are either saved to be reused next year, stored in an arts and crafts bin, or thrown away depending on their shape. Most papers can just be recycled, but I try to save a few that have some meaning. Art projects are the same. I try to get my daughter’s input on what she is really proud of and would like to save. The rest go in the trash. I always find candy wrappers and spare snack food floating around that should have been thrown away months ago. Beware you can find some gross things during this clean out project. Once you have sorted all of the items you can move on to step 3.
Step 3: Put Away Items That Belong in Another Room
Take the items from this box and find them a new home in the house that makes sense. Sweatshirts in the laundry, office supplies in the office, you get the idea.
Step 4: Set Up an Organizing System
This doesn’t have to be overly complicated or expensive. I like to use clear storage boxes and I combine about 3 grades together in one box. I don’t save everything and I really try to pare down to the special items from the school year.
Another organizing system that works well is hanging file folders in a file folder box. This system is great for certificates, paper, and smaller items. It does not work well for large art projects. You could easily have one box for each child.
Lastly you can go digital and take pictures or scan the items. You can make a book on Shutterfly or similar photo site that includes their pictures, artwork, and certificates from the school year. This would take up the least amount of space because you are not saving the physical items after the book is created.
Step 5: Repeat Next Year
Do this process at the end of each school year and you will make your home a lot less cluttered. You only keep what’s important and the rest is quickly removed from your house.
Do you have a special system for organizing your child’s school memories? Please share in the comments!