How To Declutter School Papers And rtwork

How to Declutter Kids' School Art and Papers While Preserving Precious Memories

As a mom, you want to cherish every piece of your child's artwork and every report card that comes home. Yet, the sheer volume of papers can quickly become overwhelming. It's hard to part with any of it because each piece represents a moment in your child's life. But maintaining a clutter-free home and preserving these precious memories is possible with a few practical strategies. Here’s how you can declutter your kids' school art and papers while keeping those special memories alive.

Understanding the Emotional Challenge

Before diving into practical tips, it's essential to acknowledge the emotional aspect of this task. Every drawing, worksheet, and craft project holds sentimental value. It’s a tangible piece of your child’s growth and creativity. The thought of throwing any of it away can feel like losing a part of their childhood. But remember, preserving memories doesn’t mean keeping everything. It’s about curating the most meaningful items that truly capture your child’s journey.

1. Set Up a System for Incoming Papers

Imagine it’s a typical school day. Everyone is home (finally), and you hear the excited chatter of your kids as they burst through the door, their backpacks bulging with papers and artwork. They drop their bags in the hallway, and soon, the kitchen counter is buried under a mountain of homework, permission slips, and art projects. Plus there is your papers, mail, and who knows what else. Sound familiar?

Instead of letting the chaos take over, create a designated space for incoming school papers. Set up a simple inbox or tray near the entryway. This way, as soon as your kids walk in, they know exactly where to put their papers. This small station can transform the flow of after-school chaos into an organized routine.

Once the kids have settled down, make it a routine to go through this inbox every evening or at least once a week. 

This is really the only way to keep up on kids papers, and many other aspects of your home. If it is something that accumulates, or gets used daily, it needs to be taken care of daily. 

I wish I had a different answer for you, but sometimes it's just this cut and dry. 

I go through the papers immediately. Toss what's not necessary and then keep what's left. I generally do a bigger comb through of these papers on Sundays to wrap up the week and reset the counter space. 

2. Sorting & Prioritizing.

I know, I know. I ended that first part by basically saying, “I just do it”. And you're like I came here for TIPS. Here they are…

Here’s a step-by-step process to sort through the backlog of papers methodically so that you can get to  a place where you can do this daily and/or weekly at minimum:

  1. Gather Supplies: Prepare three boxes or trays labeled “Keep,” “Toss,” and “Display,” along with a pen, sticky notes, and paper clips.

  2. Initial Review: Begin by taking the top item from the stack and conduct a quick initial review. Look for the following:

    • Significant Milestones: Examples include first-time achievements, exceptional grades, or creative masterpieces.
    • Routine Work: Daily worksheets, routine assignments, or papers that are more about practice than achievement.
  3. Sorting Process: As you review each item, decide which category it falls into:

    • Keep: Place items that represent significant milestones in the “Keep” box. These could be tests with perfect scores, standout art projects, or reports showing remarkable progress. Use sticky notes to jot down the date and any important context, then paperclip them together for easy reference later.
    • Toss: Place routine work and less significant items in the “Toss” box. These might be daily worksheets, redundant practice exercises, or assignments that don’t have sentimental value. Recycle these items if possible.
    • Display: Select a few current artworks or outstanding papers to be displayed temporarily. These can go in the “Display” tray. Once the display period is over, you can decide whether to move these items to the “Keep” box or recycle them.
  4. Detailed Examination: For items placed in the “Keep” box, conduct a detailed examination. Ask yourself:

    • Does this item showcase a significant achievement or creative effort?
    • Does it hold special sentimental value or represent a memorable moment?
    • Is it something your child is particularly proud of?
  5. Curating the Collection: Aim to keep only the most meaningful items. Remember, you’re curating a collection that tells the story of your child’s growth and achievements. By focusing on quality rather than quantity, you ensure that the collection remains manageable and truly special.

By implementing this detailed and systematic approach, you can efficiently sort through your child’s school papers and artwork, preserving the most precious memories while maintaining an organized, clutter-free home.

3. Let them display their work for a bit!

Your fridge door can only hold so much! Let’s create a special gallery for your little Picasso’s masterpieces. Find a cozy corner in your home, maybe in the kitchen or the playroom, and designate it as the official art display area.

Get creative with the setup: a vibrant bulletin board, a whimsical string with colorful clips, or a magnetic board that your child can help decorate. Involve your kids in the process—let them pick their favorite artworks to showcase each week. This can become a fun Sunday evening tradition where you gather around and select new pieces to feature, giving them a moment to shine.

Rotate the display regularly, allowing your child to bask in the glory of their creations before they are stored away or let go. This not only keeps your home from becoming overly cluttered but also makes your child feel proud and valued. Plus, it turns a mundane task into a delightful bonding activity. Your little artists will love seeing their work celebrated, and you'll cherish the joy and pride on their faces.

By turning your home into a dynamic and ever-changing art gallery, you honor their creativity while keeping everything organized and fresh.

4. Cautiously Consider Digital Storage

Got a pile of your child's artwork that you just can't bear to part with but don't have the space to keep? Digital storage might be your answer! Imagine having all your kid's masterpieces neatly organized in one place without those mountains of paper. Just snap photos or scan their artwork and school papers, and organize them into digital folders. There are so many apps and services out there that can help you create digital scrapbooks or photo books, turning that cluttered mess into a beautiful, shareable collection of memories.

Beware of Digital Clutter

But, be careful! Digital storage can turn into its own kind of clutter. Before you start taking photos of every single drawing, ask yourself if you're just avoiding the decision to declutter. It's super easy to transfer physical clutter into digital clutter, and that can be just as overwhelming in the long run.

Scan and Appreciate

As you scan or photograph each piece, take a moment to appreciate it. Then, decide if it really needs to be kept in digital form. Maybe it's their first-ever drawing of the family, that adorable self-portrait, or the science project they worked so hard on—these are definitely keepers. For everyday worksheets or less significant drawings, think about letting them go after digitizing if they were only kept out of sentimentality.

Organize Digital Files

Once you have your digital files, organize them into folders by year or grade. Apps like Artkive or Keepy can help you create professional-quality photo books, so your child's artwork can be beautifully presented and easily revisited. These photo books make wonderful gifts for grandparents or even a nice coffee table book for your home.

Balanced Approach to Clutter

By thoughtfully curating both physical and digital collections, you can preserve your child's precious memories without letting clutter take over your home—or your digital life. This balanced approach ensures that you keep the most meaningful items while teaching your child valuable lessons about organization and memory preservation.

And speaking of preserving memories, the final recommendation I have for decluttering and sorting through your kids art and school work is to curate memory boxes. 

5. Curate memory boxes after you've decluttered the unimportant and not so special paper and artwork

Ever noticed how kids light up when they stumble upon an old toy or a crumpled drawing from their early years? Those moments are pure magic, aren't they? That's the beauty of memory boxes—they're like time capsules of our family's journey.

Here's a quick podcast more on the sentimental item decluttering process

For kids, these boxes are like secret treasure chests. Each little item—a first lost tooth, a favorite stuffed animal, even a ticket stub from a fun day out—holds a piece of their story. It's amazing how these tiny things can bring back floods of memories and giggles!

And for us parents, these boxes are like a hug from the past. They're filled with reminders of those fleeting, precious moments—like the first scribbled ‘I love you' or a pair of tiny shoes worn on their first big adventure. Opening one feels like reliving all those heartwarming times.

What's even more special is how these memory boxes grow with our kids. Imagine them as adults, sitting down with their own box, smiling at the little treasures that meant so much. That's why involving our children in curating their boxes is priceless—it ensures that what we keep reflects their journey and passions, creating a legacy of memories they'll cherish forever.


Even if you have little time, energy or day to day support