The second you have a child you start to create memories and collecting paperwork that goes along with these memories. From birthday invitations to school photos to their cute handmade artwork, you’ll start to collect it and eventually become overwhelmed! Now that I’m 5 years into this motherhood gig, I’ve worked to tackle that ever present kids artwork and paperwork solution using storage boxes for our home.DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, which come at no cost to you. Know that I only promote products I personally use and stand behind. To learn more about my affiliates, please review my disclosure policy here.
Now that we moved into a new home and my oldest is in kindergarten, I decided to tackle the artwork and paperwork clutter that was starting to get overwhelming. And since I know MANY of those who follow me on social or through this blog are in the same parental situation, I thought it would be worth documenting how I’ve done it!
Now I don’t claim to be an expert in organizing and I have no doubt I’ll massage this as the girls get older but I also think it’s just as important to JUST START or else you get ever more overwhelmed!
- IRIS Split-Lid letter size file boxes (I got a 5 pack, one of each daughter and 3 for general home organization)
- Colorful hanging file folders – This set includes the clear tabs to label them.
- Manila file folders
- Photo box – right now there aren’t many hanging folders in their boxes so I’m able to include a photo box in the back of them to hold 3d items that aren’t flat to file. This will eventually find a new home.
I personalized the front of each of my daughter’s boxes using my Cricut and adhesive vinyl to make it easier to tell them apart without opening. Inside I created file folders with the folding categories for each box.
- Invitations & Cards
- Birthday Cards – I typically do photo cards so I always order an extra.
- Christmas Cards – Again I order extra so they can each have one. Tip: if you design your own card, make sure to always put the YEAR in the design!
- Milestone announcement cards – pregnancy or birth announcement, cards from when we moved etc
- Artwork – Within this hanging folder are different folders that will split out by age or grade. BE SELECTIVE
- School photos – This yearly milestone might not be hung in your home but should be saved and stored for the kids to laugh at when they’re in high school and beyond!
- Sports photos – For a while we felt obligated to buy the package with their single photo and group shot so in this box they go! PS we no longer get them as we take plenty of our own pics during the seasons!
- Milestone trackers – I won’t be keeping their teeth (eww, why?) but I do have a lost tooth chart printed to track the milestones in case they were ever curious on when these milestones happened
- Awards – So far this includes certificates for graduating preschool and Safety Town but I’m sure it will be filled with more down the road!
- Misc – Ya gotta have a miscellaneous folder to put all those odds and ends paperwork items inside! I also have a folder here for “gifts from others” where I’ve put a few cards I’ve saved from grandparents (some of whom are no longer around, unfortunately)
Tips for artwork and storage organization:
- It’s never too late to start organizing. You can’t get organized if you don’t start! If it’s too overwhelming to organize it all, first collect it all in one spot. You’ll be more likely to find time to sort it if you first have it in one place and not in 12 places around your home.
- Make more than one round of review. You might have sentimental love towards certain items right after they were made, but if you give yourself some time to look at them again, you might feel differently. Prior to creating this system, I had a general tub of kids artwork that I just recently went through again and couldn’t believe which items I decided to keep. The tub was cut down more than half in round 2.
- Be ruthless. You CANNOT keep every handmade thing they have created. Choose one or two handprint gifts and toss the rest.
- Consider going digital with some items. I’ve been photographing some of the girls’ art and will eventually make a photobook of these creations versus saving them all. I love Brielle’s little kid handwriting and drawings so I want to document, but I don’t need EVERY unicorn drawing saved in this box.
- Think about why you’re keeping something. Is it a gift for your child to review or yourself? Maybe there’s a different tub for YOUR favorites you don’t think you can part with, versus what you think your child will appreciate when they’re older. (We’ve all been there as the adult and your parent brings you things and you have no idea why they kept them. Try to avoid that.)
- Review your process. It might change over time so allow yourself to adapt to the storage needs or to your child’s hobbies and habits.
- Don’t organize around the kids. Luckily my girls are not too sentimental about certain items, but also have a poor memory about some things. I gladly toss plenty of things while they’re in school or not looking. You’re more likely to get rid of things when they aren’t around saving each unicorn drawing from going in the trash!
Good luck on the organization process!