End of school decluttering

My parents saved everything. I genuinely feel this isn’t an exaggeration. When I sold my mother’s house, I found bank statements from the 1950s tucked around bonds and birth certificates. It was overwhelming to go through all the envelopes, trying to figure out what was necessary versus nostalgic. I brought bins of paper with my mother when she moved in with us. My mother also saved projects. Thankfully, there were not many, but I found one unidentified turkey handprint tucked in a random folder. It was adorable.

I wonder if part of the new parent process should be tools to deal with the amount of paper, forms and art projects that tag along with every child. It would be a paper intervention. Each new parent has a sit-down to make sure they understand that this helpless human will come with copious files documenting their life.

I attempted to follow the “Toss, Keep and Use” philosophy regarding my children’s clutter. I would toss any unnecessary papers or projects, updating medical, school and sports records. I would ask my children to keep a few items/art from the school year to display. I would then use any other art projects possible as wrapping paper or greeting cards. I created a digital file for each child and took photos of anything else they wanted to remember but not necessarily keep. It hasn’t been a perfect system, but it helped stay ahead of the overwhelming paper trail.

Electronic statements and e-bill pay are another way to simplify our paper usage, but there still needs to be a safe place to store some physical documents. There is always the concern of hacking, compromised data, and computer failure. My regret is that I didn’t include my children more extensively in the electronic process. My error is assuming that an electronically savvy child is an organized person. It’s easy to take a photo and file it away. It’s another thing to be organized enough to retrieve the document when needed.

Keep in mind, a paperless society is not a paper-free society. It’s just society using less paper. It has taken years to whittle my mother’s life into one filing cabinet. The lesson learned is to get rid of my own pile of unnecessary paper. Perhaps this is the family legacy; no fine china and priceless art for my children, just a labeled bin full of files, a flash drive and a turkey handprint.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today