People say time is money, and there’s no doubt that lack of organization can cause lots of wasted time and clutter. I “met” Patti through a local Facebook group where she shared a brilliant tip for organizing home life and the never-ending paper piles for her family and asked her to share it here. Life is busy, and she has an easy, budget-friendly system for safely storing keepsakes like star homework, not-quite-ready-to-throw-away scribble drawings, achievement awards, birthday cards etc. The start of this new school year (and all of the paper that goes along with it) is the perfect time to put together your file box and start organizing your life! Read below to find out how Patti organizes her paper piles.
Like most parents, I work hard to go to bed at night knowing I connected and communicated the message “You matter!” to each of my children. As a work from home mom to 3 kids (ages 10, 8, and 5), this is not always easy to do but I know it is my most important job! Homework, sports teams, and volunteer activities don’t only fill our schedules but managing the influx of papers documenting their progress and accomplishments can be a full time job.
We are grateful for the budget-friendly and time-saving routines that help keep us organized and grace our home. One of my favorites is a keepsake organizing system that leaves less clutter in my home and helps create an easily accessible home for all of those important awards, certificates, programs, photographs, tickets, and more. My favorite part about it is when the kids ask to look through the box, because when we look through the paper trail of memories I have saved for them, they see that they matter to me and to this world.
With the help of a portable filing box and some hanging files it only takes a few minutes to create an inexpensive and easy to maintain keepsake system for special school/work, extra curricular activities and personal and family life keepsakes.
What you need:
- 1 portable file box with handle*
- 1 pack of recycled hanging folders with tabs
- a writing utensil or label maker
When you are labeling your hanging folders, keep in mind that I really like to have both the age/grade AND the dates because in hind site some things are easier to track by age and some by date…it’s all about thinking ahead to how you might use the box later and what works for you!
Step 1. Label folders according to the ages/grades of members of your family:
- Ages 0-3 (or before preschool) = 1 folder per year
Label the file with the child’s initials and age description
i.e. P.J.S. birth-12 months old (6/13-5/14) or P.J.S. 12-24 months old (6/14-5/15)
- Preschool-HS: 3 folders for each school year
1. “School work” (graded assignments, copies of report cards, etc.)
2. “Activities” (sports awards, performance programs, Sunday school drawings, etc.)
3. “Personal” (b-day cards, summer reading program chart, pictures drawn at home, etc.)
Label the folder with the child’s initials, file type, grade and dates.
i.e. P.J.S. School: k (9/14-8/15) or P.J.S. Activities: 2 (9/14-8/15) or P.J.S. Personal: 4 (9/14-8/15)
- 18+-parents get a folder too!
I like to keep notes the kids scribble me, birthday cards from family and bibs from my races.
Label parent files with the year: i.e. Patti: 2014
Step 2. Now, create a few additional folders for each family member that will stay in the portable file for longer than one school year. These folders can coordinate with each person’s interests.
-Autographs: (PJS Autographs: birth-5 grade)
-Ticket stubs: (PJS Tickets: birth-5 grade)
-Pictures: (PJS Pictures: birth-5 grade): The pictures file is not for ALL pictures…it’s for special pictures such as class photo, family photos or special keepsake photos that are special to your child.
Step 3. Create a keep handy folder for the things that you need to be able to quickly locate for the current year, medical or prescription information (booklets for pediatrician appt with growth chart), vet records for pets, reservations for travel, rebates or receipts (if you think you may need to return something).
Step 4. File away!
Frequently asked questions:
How do you know what to keep?
I try to keep a sample of work about interests or areas they are exploring for the first time, growing and improving on, or have mastered. If you are on the fence about keeping something, go ahead and file it for now. At the end of the year you can look through the folders by grouping and weed out what isn’t necessary to keep…when you are comparing apples to apples it’s easier to decide what stays and what goes.
What do I do with all the artwork:
I snap a picture and then LET GO! I use a MyPublisher program to display kids artworks in photobooks once I upload the pictures to the website. This is not a new idea, but it is a good one.
Where do I keep my file box?
I keep it next to where I pay bills! You can put things directly into the file when you receive them or make a small stack to sit down and file at least once a month (like bills!). Don’t forget to label each paper with the child’s name, date, grade, and a brief description in the bottom corner or on the back if possible! It should only take a minute or two to put papers away and keep your keepsake organizer clean and, well, organized (pun intended).
We’ve been doing this for 10 years and it works!! I have found that this system affords me the peace of mind to know that this is one simple but important way I am successful at showing my kids that they matter. If you follow the directions you will be ready to file those memories and keepsakes in an easy and effective way too!! If you create a box feel free to tweak it to meet your family’s interests and needs. Let me know what you do…I love to hear others ideas and the more we learn from each other the better we all are!!
*Bonus Tip: Guess what, if you buy an additional file box for each person in your home, next year you can drop these hanging folders into the respective child’s box and start fresh…overtime, each family member will have their own keepsake box full of organized memories for a minimal cost! My kids love to pull down their boxes (when I’m around!!) and we look through the box together. This is really where I experience the truth behind what all those little old ladies said…the days are long but the years fly by!
Patti Scherer is a work-at-home mom with 3 kids and a life mission to love others thru everyday acts of kindness. She has been a leader with It Works Global (Have you Tried This Crazy Wrap Thing?) since May of 2012 and loves the freedom of balancing her own business, helping others get healthy and keeping family matters a priority. Patti is passionate about living for what matters most and hopes her tips help others be intentional and encouraging with one another as we journey together to live out our God-given purpose-filled lives. You can find her on Facebook for more tips on organization and parenting approaches.
If you live in Columbus and have a money-saving tip that you’d like to see featured on Columbus on the Cheap, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.