Last week's blog post focused on the PRODUCTS and HOW-TOs of putting the memory box storage system together. This post will address the PROCESS of establishing the memory box storage system as an effective storage system for you.
First, I'll address handling new school papers and other possible keepsake items as they enter your home. Second, I'll talk about how to handle that backlog of memorabilia you've been stashing in piles and in boxes for years.
FIRST: New Papers
TRUTH: Even the most ingenious organizing systems in the world won't keep you organized unless you develop ROUTINES and HABITS to maintain them.
1. Help your kids develop an after school routine for emptying papers out of their backpack. Teach them to SORT what they pull out of their backpack: trash in one pile,
papers for parents in another pile, homework in a pile, and returned school papers and artwork in another.
2. Teach them to PURGE the graded papers and artwork pile. In other words, let them decide initially which of the papers have value to them and which do not. Model asking the question, "How do I feel about this paper or picture?" If their response is neutral or negative, help them to see the value in getting rid of it so the pieces they respond positively to become even that much more important. Keep or discard the items based on their responses. If they are struggling to part with something you feel should go in the trash, keep it. There will be another purging opportunity. If they are really excited about a piece of artwork they brought home or a perfect score on a test, put in on display for a short period of time so the entire family can celebrate the accomplishment. Make sure it ends up in the "In Basket" after its time on display.
3. Teach them to then put each of the assorted piles into their appropriate "homes." Trash goes in the trash. Papers for parents go in the "In Basket" located at mom's command center in the kitchen. Homework goes on the kitchen table to be completed and then put back in backpacks. Graded papers and artwork that made the cut also go in the "In Basket."
I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING...training my kids is going to take so much time and be such a headache!! I promise you, it is SO WORTH IT!! Stick with it and it WILL become automatic and routine, SAVING YOU TIME AND ENERGY IN THE LONG RUN!
AND, WHAT ABOUT ITEMS THAT ARE TOO LARGE TO FIT IN THE IN BASKET OR MEMORY BIN? Large pieces of artwork and large 3-D items, if valued, are perfect for display. If these items are true treasures (not just more clutter!), find a more permanent way to display them or store them in an appropriate storage container. But for most items, enjoy them for a pre-determined period of time and then find a creative way to remember them. For example, video your child discussing his feelings about a meaningful item. Take a picture. There are a number of apps created just for storing pictures of your kids' artwork, and you can even create a book containing these pictures with descriptions (Artkive, Art My Kid Made, Canvsly, and Keepy, to name a few).
1. Develop a routine for handling incoming paper and possible keepsake items. I'll do a future post on this for sure! For now, I'll just encourage you to PURGE as much as you can as soon as it enters your home. After that, any possible keepsake items, whether they are for you or your kids, should go in the "In Basket."
2. Set up a regular routine for going through your "In Basket." I use my "In Basket" for more than just memorabilia items. It is a temporary storing ground for any papers I need to take further action on. I go through my "In Basket" daily.
3. Dealing with the memorabilia items in the "In Basket" is easy because they require no further action, unlike an invitation or a bill. As I mentioned in the last post, I keep my memory bins up high in my master closet. It is not convenient for me to access those bins every day, or even weekly. Keepsakes from the "In Basket" go into temporary boxes.* These boxes should be big enough to fit average-sized papers easily. I have a box labeled with the name of each of my children. These boxes should be located as close to your "In Basket" as possible. My temporary boxes are in a closet a few steps from my "In Basket," but close enough for very easy access. If they are too far away, and it requires too much effort, the papers will not make it into the temporary storage boxes.
*If the items are not dated, it is a good idea to date them at this point. However, you will most likely be filing them at the end of each school year, so the date should not be an issue.
4. Once a year (I do it at the end of each school year), have each child go through their temporary box. This is when a final PURGE needs to be made. For the most part (I do provide some insight), I let my kids make the decisions. These are their belongings and keepsakes. As they look over their entire year of work, they will see that some items hold far more value than others and will be willing to let go.
5. File that years' worth of keepsakes in the corresponding file in the child's memory bin. All done until next year!
1. If you are dealing with a backlog of possible keepsake items, start with SORTING by person. This will take some time, but you can speed up the process by making this is a quick sort. Don't allow yourself to get distracted by the sentimental items. Banker's boxes labeled with each person's name would make great inexpensive temporary storage bins. If these items are not dated or organized by date, you may want to figure out as you're sorting the approximate date of the keepsake. Look for clues from the surrounding items in the pile.
2. Once sorting is complete, EACH person needs to participate in PURGING the contents of their own box (age permitting). Again, encourage them to ask the question, "How do I really feel about this item?" As they compare their feelings toward different items, they will begin to see which things really hold value and meaning and which don't. They may also have a clearer picture of dates for items. And mom, it's okay for you to hold onto some items that you see value in that your child doesn't. I have some suggestions for what to keep and what not to keep, but that is another post for another day.
3. Have each person place the items in the appropriate file in the memory box (age permitting). They may only keep what will fit in the file. You'll be surprised! My kids did this and truly only kept what was most important to them and everything fit perfectly.
If you read this post, will you leave a quick "HEY" in the comments below? I'd love to get a better idea of who is reading so I can gear my posts toward my audience.
And if you need some help getting organized, I'm your gal!