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How to Manage the Kids Paper Avalanche

on May 25, 2014

It was our last week of school this week.  One day my daughter brought home a paper grocery sack full of creations–her art portfolio for the year.  The next day, she brought home a giant paper folder (I’m talking almost as big as her) of artwork, writings, and other memorabilia from the year from her classroom.  This does not include the almost daily influx of papers we found in her folder every night.  Luckily, I learned in pre-school a few tricks to honor the wonderful work and creativity she put into everything she did while at school without letting our house become overrun by paper.  Here’s my few tips and tricks for dealing with the kids paper avalanche.

1)  Display it.  We have a metal board hanging in our kitchen on which we post current art work.  We got the board from IKEA a few years ago, but I would guess you could find something similar out there.  I’ve also seen this done with empty picture frames and clothespins on pretty string or ribbon.  Basically, anything new that comes in that you or your kiddo is excited about goes on display for a short time.

This is our magnet board.  It fits really nicely on a small wall in our kitchen.

This is our magnet board. It fits really nicely on a small wall in our kitchen.  This board also gets all of our “groovy” magnets.

Then, in our house, one of three things happens.

2)  Recycle it.  Honestly, you cannot keep every single bit of paper that comes home.  Some of it is not sacred.  You probably don’t have the room to store it, and trust my your kid will appreciate not having to go through boxes of keepsakes whenever they finally move out.  Whatever you don’t want to keep, recycle it.  If it is a piece of artwork or writing that you don’t personally want to hold onto but you think a family member would enjoy, pass it on.  I have my daughter select items to go to specific members of the family–and grandparents seem to be always happy to proudly display artwork.

3)  Take a picture and then recycle it.  Some of the items my daughter has made are really and truly adorable, but they probably won’t be hanging around our house for years, and yet I don’t want to just pitch them.  So, instead, I take a photo.  Then, this is the kicker, I do something with the photos.  I make an online photo book every year that we keep and that each of the grandparents gets at Christmas.  The artwork makes an appearance in the photo album–and it is around to enjoy for years but in a much more manageable way.  I also started making desk calendars with the artwork.  Every once in a while you can get a pretty sweet deal from places like Walgreens or Shutterfly to make photo gifts.  One of those gifts is a photo desk calendar.  Since many of the art pieces kids make in school are seasonal, they fit perfectly in a calendar.  My husband, my mom, and I all keep them on our desks at work to enjoy all year round.

Here is an example of what you can do.  This is our desk calendar with artwork from last year.

Here is an example of what you can do. This is our desk calendar with artwork from last year.

Here is how you can tie in seasonal artwork easily in a calendar.  Halloween themed items...

Here is how you can tie in seasonal artwork easily in a calendar. Halloween themed items…

4)  Keep it in a memory box.  I have a plastic file box by Rubbermaid that is my daughter’s memory box (it has the runners so you can add in hanging file folders).  In it go cards, certificates, and other precious memories like artwork or school work.  Items that are not recycled, that I or my kiddo deem special, go to live in this box.  One rule is that they have to fit!  Some of these items are also photographed and stored/shared, but some of them are not.  I have two file folders for each year of school.  One will hold cards and papers and the other is for artwork and school work.  I can tell by the amount of things I wanted to keep from this year that we will have to go back and make a purge at some point, but I just can’t do it quite yet (and we still have plenty of room for now so it’s not a big deal if we wait a little while).  We will probably go back through the folder together in a few months or a year to see what we still think is special and want to keep.   I got the idea for the memory box from Jen over at I Heart Organizing–and it has been so wonderful.  It fits perfect on the wire shelf at the top of my daughter’s closet, so it is easy to get to whenever we need to add more to the folders.

The outside of the memory box.

The outside of the memory box.

File folders inside...

File folders inside…

So far, I am pretty happy with our system.  And, I know we can still easily enjoy her creations for many, many years!  Does anyone else have any clever ways they deal with the kiddo paper clutter?


8 responses to “How to Manage the Kids Paper Avalanche

  1. Valerie says:

    Ok, I am LOVING your #3 idea – take a photo and recycle it! And those desk calendars are super cute!! 😀

  2. […] that lovely magnet board I wrote about last week and how I use it to hang up the most recent kiddo art?  Well, in the summer she won’t be bringing home as many creations, so it has been […]

  3. Laura says:

    Love these ideas! I want to do a file bin just like this! What size is it? Are the hanging files letter size or legal size folders? Thanks for sharing!

    • Hello! I can’t claim that the file bin was my original idea. Since you probably found me through a link party on I Heart Organizing, you’ve already become familiar with the fabulous Jen. I borrowed this idea from her. The bin I used is made by Rubbermaid Office Solutions. The label says Letter/legal file storage tote. It has built in rails to hold letter and legal size hanging folders. So, you could do them either way. I used letter sized folders, because that is what I had handy. There is also a rewriteable contents sticker that says Office Max at the top of it (so that must be where I got it–which seems right as to where I would have been living at the time I purchased this. It was many years ago, but I would guess they would have something similar still).
      Thank you so much for stopping by! I am glad you were able to get an idea or two from this post!

      • Laura says:

        Thanks so much for taking the time to share! I found a bin like this online and I think it is probably the right size. I love the picture book of artwork idea, too. So cute!


  4. Charissa says:

    Which company did you use to make your desk calendar? Great idea!

    • Hi Charissa!
      I used to make the calendar, but I know you can make them other places like Shutterfly. On Walgreens they are $9.99 (as of July 2014) and sometimes go on sale. I usually wait for one of those times to order mine.

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