How to decide what school papers to keep and how to create a keepsake system

in Kids - Lisa Van Groningen - 7 min read

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Sound familiar? You get handed another piece of paperwork or art craft, you quickly congratulate your kid on a job well done. While thinking about what am I suppose to do with it now. Stop the madness finally figure out what school papers to keep. This easy to do file & keep system will help end the mom guilt and piles that add up.

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Let’s start from the beginning.

Children's school artwork

That paper it gets added to a pile of stuff you can’t seem to bring your heart to toss out because of mom guilt. Resulting in a pile that grows and grows.

You are not alone and it happens to even the best of moms.

After years of trial and error, I finally developed a system that works. As I enter the next phase of motherhood with my senior in high school I am now seeing the benefits of it.

How to create the school paper keepsake system

School memory file folders

School paper filing system

  1. Create a file folder or keepsake box

    In order to keep the school paperwork organized, you need a home for it. Create a hanging file folder and use a tab to label it. (Title ideas: school memories, school keepsakes etc)

    If you want to do a keepsake box here are two ways. You can find one that either blends well with your home decor or a colorfully decorated one that stands out.

    It does not have to be anything fancy either. Being a budget mama I have 18 years worth of my daughter’s stuff and it survived a hanging file folder just fine.

    The point is to create a permanent home of where you will put the paperwork once it has been designated as a keeper.

  2. Declare order

    In order to stop the chaos of paper piles and mom guilt, you must declare order. You do this by asking your self questions in order to determine what needs to be kept.

    Question #1 –
    Did my child have a whole story behind their paper/project?

    So let me explain. If my kid hands me a paper and explains this is my home, my family, our vacation, my story about my life, etc. Then to me, the paper/project is a keeper. This project is a creation from your child’s heart of their life.

    Now if your kid hands you a paper and says look we got to color this page and put some dots. It’s not something I think is high on the priority list. Listen to how your child speaks about the project this will tell you if they created it with love.

    Question # 2
    Does this paper/project have a handprint, photo or something unique to my child?

    When it comes to their handprints and photos as kids. Those are obvious keepers. Those little hands are so little for so long.

    Question # 3
    Is this paper an award, or recognition for a job well done?
    Then those are keepers for sure. You can share those proud moments with them and let them see their own accomplishments over time.

    Question # 4
    Is this artwork a very special piece? Was this artwork an interpretation of something?

    The artwork is one of the hardest things moms have with mom guilt. I get it your precious baby created this artwork. You love it because you love looking at it.

    This is a little grey area. But still, with some basic guidelines, you can pair down your art gallery collection as a mom.

    Coloring pages are one of the areas I consider to fall under artwork. For example, if this coloring page was the first coloring page ever, then keep it.

    If the coloring page is just scribbled and you have gotten multiple of those let’s say within the same month. That’s something I would not keep multiples of.

    Note: I am not saying my kids’ scribbles aren’t special so don’t think that’s what I am saying. It’s more about reflecting on the pages your child created and how the artwork reflects them.

    I love keeping one of a kind artwork pieces that my children create. In other words a blank canvas and their creation.

  3. File right away

    In efforts to piles of paper from starting. I file the school paperwork/project right away. It may not be the same day but weekly when I do my purge of mail. I file the children’s school paperwork then.

    In the meantime, it will sit in an inbox/pending area to do.

Benefits of deciding what papers to keep & using the paper file system

So fast forward my teen will be graduating in 2020 from high school. Recently, I grabbed her school papers file and when through it.

Now I chose not to look at this file and all its contents until now. This was done on purpose. I wanted to celebrate and relive her childhood as she now enters into adulthood at 18.

Almost like a time capsule. You don’t necessarily have to do this. Some people love to look at their memories year after year. I do that with pictures of our life but not their school paperwork.

Benefit #1

Paperwork is organized and ready to be turned into a permanent book instantly.

Benefit #2

No sorting through papers or piles. You have an organized file folder instead of spending hours to try to sort through tons of school work/artwork when you can’t stand the messy piles anymore. I can spend hours just reliving it and sharing it.

Benefit # 3

This space-saving filing system reduces paper clutter

Benefit #4

Easy to transport if you have to move or reorganize your space.

I am not a huge fan of the art portfolios. Not because they are not functional, but mainly because they are awkward/hard to store. They are traditionally larger and oddly shaped. Making them a bit more difficult to find a permanent home for them.

Cool Kids School Memorabilia Organizer

This organizer from SmileLoveDesigns Etsy shop is right up my alley and keeps with my file folder theme that I started years ago. I love that it is all prelabeled and comes in a plastic tote.

That is so easy to store. Also, the easy done for your organization is amazing. It includes 15 legal-size folders to fit construction paper projects. Each file folder has a cover sheet to help spotlight some of your child’s favorites and attach their school picture. Lastly, each file folder has a tab with the grade included.

Create your permanent keepsake for life

So earlier I mentioned my daughter will graduate high school in 2020. I am getting ready to now create her book of memories. I want something permanent. That can be shared and looked at whenever we want. I also want something that becomes a decorative piece to my home.

For some people that means a binder with clear view pages but I personally want to view it as a book.

While there are many options to create a memorable book. I am choosing to go with a company called (Forever Bound). I love how you get to keep the original artwork and it’s all bounded in a book. There is something about being able to still touch and feel the originals.

Tips & what I wish I had done differently

With two more little ones growing in our family. I am in the works of creating their keepsake folders. There are something things though that I didn’t do with my oldest that I wish I had done.

  1. Record the story – remember I told you that keeping the paper’s that your child gets excited about and tell’s you the story of it. I wish that I would have written those little stories on the back of the paper or on an index card. Also dated it.
  2. Filed the paper by school year – While my paperwork is filed as I received them. I wish that I would have filed them by year and recorded the dates.
  3. Taken a picture once a year with my child and placed it in the memory folder.

I will have to say that in the end keep what you truly love. When the day comes to relive those precious memories you will be so happy you did.

Do you have a special thing you keep from your child’s life? What ways do you enjoy keeping your child’s precious memories? Let me know in the comments below.

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Lisa Van Groningen

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Hi, I'm Lisa

I am your former career-driven mom turned stay at home mom of 3. Here you will find real life solutions to help you manage your home. Tips to help you organize and clean. So you can create the haven your desire while making time to do the things you love most. Check out the shop for printables!


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