I often feel like a fraud writing parenting posts. I may know my points to be true, but much like the spiritual life, the facts that I know the facts doesn’t necessarily mean that I live them out.
Take, for instance, my post about ruining kids’ summer. As the first full week commences, I have yet to implement a plan, a routine, a budget. I have a vague idea that we will join a friend once per week for a swimming date. I’ve asked my older kids what their goals are for spiritual growth (blank stares from the lot of them!). And I’ve decided to blow it all to perdition and take a couple of them on a short trip. We’ll just figure out that routine thing later.
With that caveat, I’d love to share one simple organizational trick that American moms, in particular, may find helpful, especially when it comes to the children’s overflowing collection of artwork, school projects, and inheritance-worthy (no, no they aren’t) handmade creations.
What exactly are moms to do with all of these masterpieces?
The dilemma is real: pack and label a box per child, per year, that holds every legible story, clay creature, and drawing, store them in your closets and attics, and plan to hand them over either after they marry or when they read your will. That’s one option.
I don’t recommend it.
We could throw every child’s content into one box, to be organized later. Yeah, I don’t recommend that either. It takes too much time to unload and reorganize. Possibly, each child deserves one box. This might hold award certificates, special medals (NOT trophies…just say no), truly memorable memorabilia (see how those go together?). This can be difficult for highly sentimental moms. Even if we toss homework and tests, we still feel obligated to store all the artwork, all the report cards. Might I suggest a hybrid alternative? Keep it down to one box per kid.
This idea comes straight from my friend “Coach Mom”—author and mother of 7, Brenna Stull. Grab her book, titled Coach Mom, for a much more comprehensive collection of home and family organization practices. (She also taught me the trick to making lunches for multiple children: PB&J sandwiches freeze and thaw quite well. Make a week’s worth on Sunday. For six years, my children witnessed and approved this time- and sanity-saving prep method. Huge!)
So, keep one physical location for each child’s treasures. Add manila folders labeled by year to keep them even more orderly. But what about all the rest of their creations? The ones that are too big, oddly shaped, not-quite-heirloom quality? Those may be just as meaningful, so how can you do them justice?
Go digital. Take pictures of everything, load them into your computer, and store in an orderly fashion. Then toss that paper into the recycle bin.
Child’s name/year/month/subject—get as detailed as you wish (but I’m betting that the youngest children’s folders might just be organized by name/year). Celebrate every masterpiece that comes home, but do not guilt yourself into storing boxes of scribbling painting. The trick to this solution is to make it happen at least once a year (but hey, every few weeks would work great too!). Early summer might work best—school’s out, all the work has been sent home, and your boxes are overflowing. Git’er dun.
Like me. Who knows, I might post an update after I’ve tackled these boxes.
After my trip.