What Do I Do With All This Stuff?

All the wonderful works of art, scribbles and assorted school papers that my 3-year-old has created over the past year or so have been piling up long enough. It’s time to do something with them.

I guess I should have had a plan for them sooner, but, well … you know. My to-do list has grown rather large, and organizing kid papers keeps falling to the bottom of the list. Alert the Bad Mom Police!

So I’ve got scads of her stuff and no clue what to do next. Am I supposed to scan each paper and create a digital scrapbook? Do I include the dates she created them, or at least a year? Do I put everything into file folders and keep them for posterity? Just tossing everything in the trash seems tempting for the short-term, but feels wrong. Maybe I should choose a few of the “best” examples to save and trash the rest?

I’m turning to you, WMAG friends. What can I do to preserve my child’s educational legacy that won’t take up tons of room or my time?

19 thoughts on “What Do I Do With All This Stuff?

  1. BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) says:

    My oldest is 7 and she started daycare before she turned 1 and OMG the papers and artwork!

    I started just keeping artwork that featured her handprint her last year in daycare. Now that she is in real school I hang on to the school papers for about one month (because you never know when they are going to need or ask about some random worksheet.) I keep just the special art projects.

    I keep very little for the 4-year-old. Poor kid. 😉

  2. Marketing Mommy says:

    I snap a digital photo (way easier than scanning) and recycle, recycle, recycle. The digital snaps of her artwork get shared on my blog and on Flickr, and eventually they'll be bound in an iPhoto book.

  3. We keep the most precious and the rest go out with the trash. I know it sounds awful, but to keep it all would fill my house up before the kids finish elementary school. As far as school work (tests, homework, etc), we keep it for the entire school year in case we need the info again.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You have to toss most of it, or it will over run your house. I have a scrapbook that we stick things in weekly, nothing fancy, just get it in there. For large items, or 3D crafts I have the girls hold their craft and I take their picture. Once a month or so I get around to ordering the photos from snapfish, and we stick them in the book too.

  5. I scan the especially cute stuff, or key samples of writing that I can use to track her progress. I put them in my flickr album. I ask the kids what they want to clip on a clothesline with pins in the kitchen/playroom. Something has to go before another can go up. The rest gets pitched.

    When Z started kindergarten, I scanned and posted every day's writing so she could see daily progress. Then it was once a week, now I just keep her journals. It really helped her see her hard work paying off in the beginning.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I'm with Marie; I only hang on to the memorable stuff. Some of the items I have actually framed and put on the walls near their room. Free custom wall art!

  7. Anonymous says:

    My three year old is quite the prolific artist. I keep very special pieces in a large envelope/portfolio. Some I frame, some I give as “gifts” to relatives and other scribbles I toss (painfully!) I also have used larger paintings or drawings as wrapping paper.

  8. Oh! The tons of paper. I piled them up, then started to toss most of them but kept the best of them. The best piled up, so I started to scan, then just took pictures before tossing. Now, I no longer feel guilt (or, I feel less guilt) over tossing without taking a pic. However, some spend some time on my cubicle wall at work.

  9. Happy Working Mom says:

    I save the ones my kids think are important (special art projects from school, etc.) and trash the rest. My daughter is now in 1st grade and going through the ones I kept from kindergarten makes me wonder what I was thinking…there are so many papers that I look at now and think "what was the big deal about this one?" I highly doubt she will ever even go through all of this stuff, let alone appreciate it!

  10. meauxjeaux says:

    i saw a good idea in a mag once – send some to friends/family members to enjoy. what they do with it is their business, but i know i still have some of the art my nieces made for me years ago. it was special to me and was fun to see what they could do since i don't live near any of them.

  11. Grateful Twin Mom says:

    I keep seasonal artwork that I can use to decorate the house next year. We still have Christmas and Halloween art pieces from daycare when my twins were age 2 (now age 7) that go up every holiday season. Also, taking photos of the cool stuff is a great idea. Search online too for a "keepsake portfolio." It's a flat file folder with tabs that holds common-sized kids artwork. It can easily fit under the bed or in an under-the-bed box. Good luck!

  12. Anne White says:

    I keep a bin in each of the kids' closets and what I deem as "special" is put in it, including pictures of them that haven't made it into an album. When the box is full, we mark it, and move it to the basement, replacing it with a new one. My oldest's box (Audrey, 11) has the sweetest stuff in it… favorite blanket when she was a baby all the way to art projects. My 2nd (Isaac), who is now 7, is a fab artist so his contains alot of his creations, and now that i think about it, Ian (age 4 and the completor of the trilogy) doesn't even have one! ruh-roh… gotta go! Have some shopping to do!

  13. Since we are all working moms, maybe this suggestion will help:

    Bring some of it to work! That's what I do. I put my son's art work in my office on my bulletin board. Every couple of weeks I take down the old stuff and put up a few new pieces.

  14. I just KNEW you guys would have some awesome tips. Thank you so much for all your help. Now I just need to carve out a little time to get this organizational party started … (could I BE any dorkier?)

  15. I have a 4 year old of my own and three step children, so the mountain of artwork can be quite huge, we choose the most specail ones and display them on the fridge, and eventually pop them into a binder for safe keeping, the rest we use as wrapping paper for family and friends pressies!

  16. I save everything in a big flat box that has my son's handprints or footprints. I also save funny pictures and things that make my heart melt. But mostly, I toss stuff in the recycling bin or trash. I do it under the veil of darkness after they are asleep and ensure it's all well covered. I've been busted throwing away art projects before, and I felt like a heel.

  17. I've been toiling with this too! I'm glad I ran across this – I was going to start scanning them too – now I've learned taking a digital photo will work best. Then perhaps send off some things to relatives or use as wrapping paper. Now finding the time, like you said…. yah, right!

  18. Even scanning the few of the best is such a PITA. I like Marketing Mommy's idea of taking photos. I might just start doing that. I have an 8-year old and a 6-year old and the papers have all gone into trash can heaven thus far.

  19. Self Taught says:

    Towards the end of the school year I took all of the artwork and VIDEO taped my son as he told me about each one. (I made it even simpler by taking it all outside, laying it on the grass and having my son just grab each art piece and talk about it.)

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