My son scatters the contents of his Take-Home folder on the dining table faster than a low-flying bird taking care of business over unsuspecting pedestrians. I need a moment to breathe.
I make my way over to the source of my frustration (surprisingly, not my son) and take a queasy look at all of it. I squint. Yes, they’re all still there. A few papers have fluttered to the floor.
I notice with some relief that some of the papers are old homework – an immediate rim shot into the paper recycling basket. Score! Never look back, that’s my new declutter rule – one good look and it’s gone forever.
Other papers seem to glow with their sense of urgency and self-importance, like your child’s unique passwords and instructions to access school apps and websites. Isn’t it ironic that when schools go digital, they still need to send home paper instructions on how to use their snazzy new tools? (Should you lose those pages though, your To-Do list has a new annoying and tedious task of recovering that stuff.)
And let’s not forget, the ultra-important report cards that arrive quarterly, threatening the electronics privileges of many…..or result in a family trip to the local ice cream shop. A good grade is a treat for all, I say!
Then, you have the sentimental keepsakes like the time they did something in school that was totally in sync with the school’s PR goals and *FLASH* your child and his classmates are in the local newspaper! Or the awards they receive throughout the year that need a permanent home when summer rolls around.
Where, oh, where to put all these papers?!
I don’t have a photographic memory and that’s probably for the best – some of my more awkward photos from early days (a college snapshot of me on a hike in the woods with my ex-boyfriend and his new love interest and four other friends who all know the story) can remain blurry forever.
I thought about scanning them but I doubt I’d find them quickly when I need them. Do they go with my old bills in my hanging folders? Shouldn’t I just leave them around my desk area, silently thanking the ones that are neon-colored?
Finally, I had an idea.
Why don’t we take all these pieces of paper, a mixture of pragmatic and keep-so-you-can-show-your-grandkids, and file them in a neat, sturdy binder?
Maybe like this one?
Ah, you see where I’m going with this. Let’s take another look.
It’s nothing fancy and definitely not my best work. My DIY dividers had been an idea casually tossed to me by my uber-creative friend, Andrea. (She can take the remnants of last Christmas’s gift-wrapping frenzy and present you with an exquisite work of art that she crafted overnight … a one-of-a-kind spiral-bound photo album that you pull out to show off to friends instead of actually using it).
But this binder idea isn’t meant to be a work of art. It’s the new home for all your kids’ school papers.
Like this plan? Then, here’s what you need to do:
You can make a cool cover sheet for each of your kids' binders or let them design it!
Here are some ideas for what sections you could set up:
- Anything related to their progress at school (report cards).
- Instructions for accessing school websites (including user names and passwords). You can easily purge these as your child advances.
- Class rosters
- A special note from a classmate or teacher; or perhaps a favorite story your child wrote
- Here’s what I don’t save: homework, test results and school newsletters (unless my child is featured in one).
- Certificates or letters of recognition (use acid-free sheet protectors for these)
- Flyers for the extracurricular activities or special clubs that they’re involved in (teacher’s contact information, dates they meet and so on).
- Summer camp or winter break registration forms and receipts
- I choose to file my child’s personal savings account statements here. It’s good for them to see how it fluctuates or grows as they get older.
Artwork and school portraits are a whole other category. More on those in future posts.
You know what’s the best thing about this binder? It’s versatile. If you like, you can keep these papers forever. (Hoarders Anonymous meets every Thursday night, I’ll meet you there by the donut table.) When the binder fills up, start a new one.
Ultimately, you can hand it off to your child as they graduate high school. Then, be prepared as they politely hand it back to you, crushing your enthusiasm as they politely say in that new grown-up tone, “No, mom, you keep it…it means more to you”. Smile. Say nothing. Payback is coming in the form of grand kids.
If you just need it for a year, toss the contents over the summertime and start fresh. Ahhhh! Like lying on the bed on top of warm, freshly laundered clothes you’re too tired to pack away.
Wait, that is a thing, right?
Anyway, you go out there and get a binder and have some fun with it. And finally, let me hear you cackle with delight as you tackle those dreaded backpack dumps with glee.
Take that, pigeon!