One Small Thing: Give Meaning to Those Piles of Paper Your Kids Generate
One small thing is a series of short posts that I am writing for myself as much as anyone else during this pandemic. You can find the other pieces from the series here.
I can’t tell you how to keep your home clutter free. Especially during a pandemic, especially if you are at home even more that usual with your children.
However I can tell you how to give meaning to those papers that pile up everywhere: Name them and date them.
I have been doing this since my kids were tiny. (I keep hoping they’ll take over and do it themselves but it has yet to happen. It doesn’t mean anything to them, but it does to me.)
You don’t need a date stamp. (I’ve tried it, it’s a faff and my kids wanted to play with it all the time.) I just use whatever pen or pencil I have to hand.
Sometimes a pile of papers has to be put away in a drawer. Or a box. Or under the stairs. Or – let’s be more optimistic – a folder, or box file. But when I pull them out again to go through them, they are not just random child drawings – they are drawings by specific people, done at a specific time.
I can compare the drawings/writing etc, and see how it has changed over time. I can pull out a piece or two for their folder.*
I can reminisce, because I have given myself a context that I can hang my memories on.
I know this works (for me – your mileage might vary), because when I find a drawing that isn’t dated and which is obviously from years ago, it’s still precious, because it was done by one of my children when they were small, but it doesn’t feel the same, because it lacks that context.
And on a related note – I still throw a lot of it away. Sorry kids. There is not enough room to keep everything, But I can I can give some away to the grandparents and aunts and uncles, and I can make sure to keep our favourites from each year.
PS. *You are not legally or morally obligated to have a folder of work examples in the UK.