This post contains Amazon Affiliate links to products. If you use the link to make any purchase through Amazon, a tiny percentage will help support my blogging habit.
I suffer from serious mommy guilt (about, well, a lot of things) particularly regarding how to keep up with all of the schoolwork, pictures drawn, and crafts completed by my two boys. What about the endless amount of school, sports, and activity pictures? What about those cute little things that they say that make you laugh or say ‘Awwwww’? How do we keep up with what is important and discard the rest?
I have a few things that have worked for me that I wanted to share with other moms out there who feel similar paper/drawing/picture induced mommy guilt. Keep in mind that I only have two children. I’m not sure what you folks should do who are outnumbered by your children. You must be swimming in preschool papers!
Obstacle #1–Work from school
My youngest just completed pre-school where he came home each week armed with papers from school: worksheets, coloring sheets, tracing sheets, Bible stories, handprints and footprints made into all variety of holiday displays.
When these papers come home, they theoretically go into one of three places. They actually sit in a big pile on our desk in the kitchen until we are expecting guests and we do a mad cleaning and straightening up of the house. Then, they go in one of these three places.
1.The trash can
Yep, I said it. Just don’t tell Liam. And do not make the mistake of putting said papers on the top of the trashcan, you must put them down deep, preferably way under something disgusting. The majority of the papers end up here, especially if they are just the typical color and trace kind of paper that you see hundreds of throughout the school year.
- The artwork banner
I strung up pieces of twine for Liam’s 4th birthday, which was a craft party, so the little ones would have a place to hang their artwork to dry. It has stayed up ever since, and we use it for displaying drawings, artwork, Sunday school papers, and it was great for Christmas cards in the winter. I keep more of the papers that have the kids’ own artwork, handprint, footprint, or are personalized in some way.
I asked for the set of three one Christmas. I love how they look on the wall and they are easy to add a sheet on top of another sheet until it gets too full. In hindsight, I would actually opt for three of the regular paper sized ones (8.5 x 11) because my kids did not come home with many sheets that fit the other two dimensions.
I used to switch the papers out very frequently, now I usually leave the same pieces in them for quite awhile to enjoy (hence the hand turkey).
Now what next? I can’t leave these papers on the banner forever to fade and wrinkle. So, now I do one of three things with them.
1.The trash can
Yep, there it is again. Lots of times after I have displayed papers for a while I do not feel as guilty about throwing them away and am content to choose the best one or two to keep.
My mom kept a similar book for me as a child, and it includes a few introductory pages and then a two-page spread for each grade. Each page is also a pocket, so you can slide the best art examples, certificates, pictures, and report cards in there for safe keeping.
- Make a photo memory book
I have only done this once when my sister was keeping Liam full time, and they did a letter craft per week. They were beautiful, multi-sensory crafts with cotton balls, pasta, feathers, you name it. I took a picture of each craft and made a small photo memory book (view it here) with one picture on each page A-Z. It was easy to do because I did not have to hunt for the pictures and only put one on each page. The bonus is it doubles as an alphabet book and a portfolio for my sister if she interviews for a preschool position.
Obstacle #2–My Quotable Kids
I bought this little book in a boutique store in Richmond before Patrick could really even talk. I started with his first quotes right before his second birthday, and had to buy one for Liam when he was about the same age. I have loved preserving their quotable quotes here on these blank quote bubble pages. I keep them on a notes app in my phone quickly noting the date, situation, and what the kid said. I always try to write Liam’s phonetically because the way he would say things made them so funny. Then when I get some spare time (or during a forced PD session), I update the pages.
The kids love to read each of their quote books and will say things like “remember that time I said, ‘_____'” that they never would have remembered if we didn’t write it down.
Obstacle #3–Sports and activity pictures
Once Patrick was five-years-old he had already played on six teams (3 soccer, 3 baseball) and had two medals and four trophies. That is a whole other topic for another day, but I was already getting overrun with sports pictures. I was not willing to not order the pictures because they are typically some of the cutest ones, so I had to find a solution.
I went out and bought a generic sports scrapbook, paper that matched the size of the book, and some scrapbooking tape. I dedicate one page to each season for an individual picture, team picture, and quick little write up. If we are out-of-town on picture day, I just include a few candid shots from the season. I could fill up multiple pages with pictures, but I knew I needed to keep it manageable.
Help me! Candid pictures and videos
Now, what I need help with is how to get my pictures from my phone and Shutterfly into books that do not take hours and hours (what am I talking about? months and months) to create. I’d love to hear what you use to manage everyday pictures and videos. Even making a calendar at the end of the year for each grandma is total torture.
Also, a good way to keep up with the paper and memory load is to actually work on preserving these memories rather than writing a blog post about it. Now I better get to it.
Spelling perfection, or This week I burnt the beans
Real childhood milestones to celebrate
Click here to receive a once monthly newsletter in your inbox from The Learning Curve.
Adrian, thank you for the great ideas. I especially appreciate the Lil Da Vinci frames and love the layering aspect. I too have been documenting my daughter’s sayings in my phone and I wasn’t sure what to do with all her words like saw-bee (strawberry) and honeybird (hummingbird).
As a mom and AP teacher, how do you balance your grading? I’m always curious to know how other successful teachers do it and would love some insight.
I absolutely love that little quote book. In theory, you could write them down anywhere, but having the book helps.
Grading is a never ending battle. For timed essays, I try to grade in manageable chunks (ex. 6 before school before I open my email, 6 before I go to lunch, 6 during a quiz in another class, then 6 before I leave=1 set done). Of course, this is all in theory! I also like to give kids options…choose from these 3 Q3s. Variety helps speed up my scoring. I also don’t mark-up papers, but do whole class mini-lessons as needed and conference when I can (but I need to do more of that).
Chatbooks for the phone photos! Or what I’ve been doing lately is using the Free Prints app and ordering ALL of my photos in print form every 6 months or so and then toss them in a photo box for each child. Whatever works! Love this post. So helpful!
I will have to try those. Girl, I don’t even want to think about all the photos you have! And they are all frame worthy to boot!