Another great Ask-Design-Mom Question:

I would love to know what you and your readers do with the myriad of papers/schoolwork that comes home with your kids. As you well know with more than one in school, the amount of stuff coming home is a bit daunting. What is your criteria for saving/throwing it out? And how do you store what you save? Much love, Jenni Mouritsen

Design Mom Answer:

Great question, Jenni. This is a daily challenge and every family I know handles it differently. I’ll tell you how I do it and I’ll tell you how another family I admire does it. Then, hopefully, readers will chime in with their own excellent ideas.

This is my solution — please keep in mind I have a huge unsentimental streak in me and that my kids use a ream of paper in drawings and projects about every 2 weeks — basically 90% goes directly into the trash. We clean out backpacks after school each day. I examine homework and art projects. Give lots of positive feedback and then throw everything away. Exceptions to this are as follows:

1) If they’ve created something without any direction, meaning it wasn’t an assignment or a follow-these-steps art project, something really out of their own head, then it will stay around — at least for awhile. Large or 3D Artwork will usually end up on our huge kids-artwork bullitin board in the family room and eventually replaced by newer artwork. Anything in the 8.5×11 range will end up in a folder (a different folder for each child). Then, when the folder is full, I take it to Staples/Kinkos to get all the work bound into one book.

2) If they really love it and are proud of it and it required substantial work, then it can stay. It will end up in one of their desk drawers to eventually be thrown-away when they’re not feeling so attached to it.

The Brad and Karen Perkins family keeps a schoolwork dresser. As I understand it, they have a drawer for each child and the child can put any work in it that they want over the whole year. So they might put in bigger projects like artwork and book reports mixed with random math worksheets or even misc party invitations.

At the end of the school year, they each clean out their drawer and are allowed to keep 3 things, which go into a sort-of keepsake box that will eventually represent their whole childhood.

I love this solution. I especially love the idea of systematically editing the collection down to one childhood box full of photo albums and schoolwork and birthday cards and projects.

No matter what kind of management you implement, I recommend keeping this in mind: how much stuff-from-their-childhood are they going to want when they grow up and start their own family and home. If my mom or my mother-in-law had handed me 10 milk crates of albums and schoolwork as I entered adulthood, I don’t know that I would have been very pleased. Of course, when Olive ends up President of the United States, we’ll be glad we kept as much as we did, so her museum will be well stocked.

Pic via Getty Images.