Friday, 27 June 2014

Year-End Organization (Or, "How to Balance Between Hoarding and Holding Onto Memories") (Or, "How to Organize Your Kids' School Crap Without Being a Bad Mom Who Obviously Has No Sentiment and Throws Everything Away)

It's the beginning of summer vacation. For the last couple of weeks my kids have been lugging home backpack full after backpack full of artwork, worksheets, workbooks, writing books, scrapbooks, activity sheets, poster board projects, paintings, drawings, cut-and-paste crafts, tests and quizzes and God knows what else they've done at school over the last ten months.

As much as my OCD fingers have itched to tackle those piles and pick through and purge, I've been very disciplined and avoided temptation thus far - but now that school is officially over and everything is home I can start organizing and tossing to my heart's content.

The business of sorting through the kids' work is tricky for someone like me. Most people are either of the "school year's over, toss it out" school of thought or "my sweet angel made this/drew this/wrote this/worked on this; of course I'll keep it forever and ever and never throw it out ever as long as I live." I fall somewhere in the middle.

I am a leeeeetle on the obsessive side when it comes to organization. Oh, how I love a good, organized space - everything packed away all neat and tidy, everything exactly where it should be and easy to find, like items with like items, sorted by colour or size or alphabetically.

And what's the opposite of a hoarder? I'm that. Like, if there's something I haven't used in fifteen minutes I will actually think seriously about whether we actually need it or not. We don't have shelves and tabletops full of suffocating knick-knacks or trinkets or tchotchkes We do not have clutter in our house. Clutter makes me twitchy.

But at the same time, I am a mom - mushy and sentimental, obsessed with making memories. I want to keep everything.

So I have a system. Everything they bring home from school gets thrown into a great big bin - one for each boy. All of their artwork - except for those masterpieces that get put up on the fridge or hung on our gallery art wall - and spelling tests and math quizzes and social studies research projects and short stories and poems and even the crafts they make at home are packed up into a plastic bin. At the end of the school year I pull everything out and sort through it ruthlessly. Or as ruthlessly as I can, being a mom.

It's a lot easier to be objective about how many of your babies' little art pieces need to be kept when you're looking at a stack of hundreds of them than when each one comes home. I can usually get rid of about half of it in one go with no guilt whatsoever. After a second pass to edit out a few more items the entire year's worth of kids' work is culled down to a single drawer's worth of items which I store in a Rubbermaid drawer tower in the basement storage area.

My need to sort and organize and purge and keep my house free and clear of clutter is satisfied. I have the most special of my little boys' precious creations to hold onto and look back on when they're all grown up. And the recycling man will find a couple of full bins at the end of the driveway this week.

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  1. Lol. Love the title!

  2. Do your kids get to choose their favorite pieces that they want to keep too?

    1. Lol - of course! The boys pick their favourites as we go and they go into the "must-keep" pile immediately. And the most favourite favourites go on the gallery wall in our family room!