Step by Step Guide to Storing your Children's Documents!
Updated: Apr 26
Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by! Once again, I am so pleased to welcome you to the Fresh Space Blog for some more fantastic information on how to manage your paper clutter.
One of the largest groups of paper clutter that we currently deal with in our home is schoolwork. Artwork. Every single piece of work that my children complete is prized and a BIG deal (which it should be), but this can very quickly lead to overwhelm, and us as parents drowning in a sea of cute stick people and guilt.
What is a mom to do??
Well I will tell you my friend. She needs a document storage system for her children!
I will tell you that when I first had kids, the idea of needing a separate place for all of their papers never once occurred to me. Like really, can't we just pop all of their paperwork into our file box or filing cabinet and move on? But I quickly realized that everything they do is a work of art and when mom says to them that I will "just put this one in the recycling because we've all enjoyed it so long" the world was ending!
Not too many years ago, my mom let me know that she was going through our paperwork from when my siblings and I lived at home. She had begun going through it and so quickly became frustrated as she had kept almost everything and it was all together in a big bin. I remember going through the papers with my siblings and we realized that there wasn't that much, if anything, that we wanted to keep now that we had moved on from our school years.
So, armed with the new knowledge that:
A) kids need their own paper storage location and
B) most things get re-evaluated at a later time in life
I decided we needed a location and a system that worked.
My children's file boxes were born!
Let's get into the system!
I have 3 children and therefore 3 storage bins. Each one has the child's name that it belongs to and stores only their items. This way when it is time for my children and myself to re-evaluate what we are storing, they each have their own bin to sort through that belongs to them.
I keep all sorts of different information in these bins. I use it to store any important health records, letters and correspondence, portraits, awards and certificates, all of their schoolwork they have decided to keep, and even the first outfit we brought them home from the hospital in. It's so simple to know that all of my stored information for that child is there in that file bin.
I separate the file box out into categories, similar to how I categorize my long term document storage. If you haven't caught that blog post yet, click here! Otherwise, read on!
Category One: Legal and Important Information
This category covers any important information that we would need to store separately from our family legal papers. This category includes:
Documents & Certificates
Items that we store here include any immunization records or health records, their bracelet from the hospital, and anything else that may be applicable in these sub-categories.
Category Two: Preschool
This begins the area of the file box that stores the things the kids are proud of, their artwork and stories and anything else they or you would like to store here. I split mine into:
I find this the easiest way to separate it as typically there is a good balance between the two folders. If you have a budding artist or storyteller on your hands, feel free to separate this category into every year, or however you find the best.
Category Three: School Years
This is super straightforward and works wonderfully. I have a file for each and every year my children are in school to store their artwork, tests, essays, stories, anything you and your child agree to keep!
I won't list the category tabs as they are simply Kindergarten through to Grade 12 as in the picture below.
I will note that my older children's folders do NOT look this empty :) Along with my children, I go through the previous year's folder around January every year and they are exceptionally decisive in what they think is important to keep and what is not. I find that if you try to do this with them in the summer, the memories are still fresh and they may still know what it was they drew. But once some time has passed, they are excellent at keeping only the things that truly matter.
Category Four: Personal
This is my favourite category of all!
It is so much fun to go back through the items in the personal category of your files. This section includes:
I keep things like letters and cards that were special from grandparents or pen pals. I keep newspaper articles that they were pictured in or mentioned in. I like to keep all of their sport photos from the years in the portraits file. And have you
ever needed your child's swimming lesson progress card and not been able to find it? Keep it in their sports file and you will never struggle to find it again!
When we left Provost to move to Vegreville, the wonderful girls at the daycare made this goodbye book for Georgia. We now have it stored in her Cards/Letters file and she knows where it is whenever she wants to look at it again.
So now that you know what to put in your children's personal file boxes, how do you set one up for yourself? You need 4 simple things in order to set up a file for a child, and these 4 things are the exact same when setting up a long term document storage system.
A location to store the items! Whether this is a file bin like mine or a filing cabinet or a box, anything you can label and keep papers/items in will work! Just designate an area for these items to go.
Categories! It is so helpful to know exactly where in the bin you are headed, especially as they fill up throughout the years. Having things arranged by category is so helpful.
Labels! It is so important to label your folders so you know exactly where you will be pulling things from and where you will be filing them. Labels are the best you guys!! You will never regret labeling something.
Maintenance! I suggest, as mentioned above, go through the box with your child at least once every year, especially as they get older. Of course you get veto power so you can keep whatever is special to you. Veto power also goes to your kids in case they like to keep things and you don't. Be sure to respect one another's opinions. I recommend going through it together just after Christmas.
That's all you need to know! Setting up a children's file bin was one of the best organizational moves I have done as it helped me to complete the circle and have a place for everything.
If you are inspired to start managing your own paper clutter, I have created a workbook you can download by clicking here that will walk you through the steps of creating your own paper management station, and how to do it. It is such an essential part of a well run household!
As always, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment with any questions you may have. I love to be of service!