This is a guest post from Tracy at Simple Living Country Gal (Tracy is one of my best blog friends and I am so excited to have her share her post with me today!) 

If you are a sentimental parent, parting with anything that has to do with your child can be quite traumatic. From their first sliver (um, don’t ask) to their first prom you want to cherish every single moment forever.

When my boys first began going to school I would save every piece of paper they brought home.  I would oooh and aaah at each colored picture and lovingly place it in a large plastic tote I had for each set up for each of them.

I remember one day going into my attic to find my oldest son had 4 large totes FULL of school papers and he had yet to enter high school!  It was then I realized I had a problem and needed to pare things down before they got completely out of control.

When setting up a new system it is important to visualize your end result.  This will help you determine the best process to reach your organizational goal.  My end result was a place to keep papers, artwork, and journals from each of my son’s school years along with any class photos.  I wanted a system that I could pass on to my son when he became a father himself.  Something compact, yet still able to share a complete story of his life so he could, in turn, someday share it with his own children.

In other words, I needed to find a way to get a lot of information into a compact space.

I began my search but nothing quite fit the bill.  I have seen the file totes on Pinterest, but these were just too large to pass down.  I wanted something small, something simple.

Then one day I came across one of those accordion organizers and realized I found just what I was looking for. It was so simple I knew it would work perfectly. I found one that had 13 pockets that I could use for each of his years of school.  I labeled each pocket for a school year from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Keepsake File folder how to

I thought the hardest part of this project would be sorting through all the papers, but it was such a joyful journey down memory lane that I really enjoyed it.  I was able to pull out pieces I loved, tests that were proud moments for him and a few papers that he flopped on just to show he was human. 🙂  I saved about 20-30 items from each year along with some photos and art projects.

keepsake file folder sorting papers

This step may not be an easy one for you. It’s okay, I get it, letting go can be hard.  Guess what, you don’t have to.  I give you permission to keep it all.  Seriously.  I just want you to do it in a different way.  So instead of one keepsake file for your child, why not make two?  That way you have one for yourself to cherish forever.

If you find it hard to let go, why not make a 2nd keepsake file for yourself?  Do you still have items left?  Don’t worry, just scan them onto your computer and transfer to a zip drive.  On the drive, set up a file folder for each year so you can keep them neat and organized.  Keep the zip drive in your keepsake file so you know where it is and you can add to it as needed.  Not a fan of computers?  Then take photos and print them out to include in your file.  This process doesn’t have to be painful, it should be a joyful one.

Learn to respect the memories by keeping them in bite sized pieces so they do not get lost in a pile of clutter never to be enjoyed.

At the front of each section, I created a school themed cover sheet.  There is a large section to attach photos along with a section to record the year, grade and teacher’s name. This really will help sum up what items may be found in each pocket.

Want to get your hands on this printable for your own keepsake file?  You will find your free copy below. Don’t you just love free! 🙂  Tip:  Print out all your cover sheets onto sturdy cardstock for each year and put them in your file folders now.  This will ensure that you don’t lose the original and all the cover sheets match.

keepsake file folder cover sheet

Finally, the outside is labeled and decorated to show more of my son’s childhood personality.  The sky is the limit here, you can use his artwork or create some of your own

keepsake file folder diy

I cannot tell you how much room this one tip freed up in my attic.  I was able to widdle down tons of unorganized papers into a file of treasured memories.  Ever year on my son’s birthday we enjoy looking through his keepsake file and laughing at all his childhood photos.  Now his papers are seen and remembered as they should be rather than forgotten in a pile of plastic totes.

When faced with a daunting organizing task it is best to start with the end result.  Ask yourself what the purpose of your final product will be.  In this case, it was a file of memories that could be passed on to the next generation.  Knowing exactly what I wanted in the end, helped to more easily find the perfect product that would do the trick.

Sometimes you need to work backward in order to go forward.  Sounds like something Confucius would say and not a small-town girl from the farm, but hey, it’s all about growing my friends!

(Click the image below to print our your cover sheets! )

school days cover sheet

Tracy Lynn lives in Northern Pennsylvania with her Hubby, 4 boys, chickens, a crazy dog, cat and loving gang of always hungry goats.  She loves to write about all things simple living, gardening, decluttering, and frugal tips with a few goat stories thrown in for fun.  You can find her hanging out over at her blog simplelivingcountrygal.com. She has a free bonus for you today at http://simplelivingcountrygal.com/food-cheat-sheet/ stop on over and check it out. 🙂


how to organize kid's school projects