Today's topic is paper and this applies to everyone, not just wives and mothers.

I was thinking this morning how easy it is to collect paper... No, I'm not saying go start a paper collection. I'm talking about those church bulletins, concert programs, kids drawings, lecture handouts, class notes. You get the idea.

Ask yourself this... "Do I really need these?" If the answer is "yes", ask yourself "Why?"

In answering the "why" you may realize that you actually do NOT need to keep ____.

Paper can take up soooooo much space and its really not worth it. It clutters shelves, drawers and possibly closets. This seems extremely wasteful to me... it wastes space and most of the paper can probably be recycled.

Today, I would encourage you to walk around your house, room, wherever your personal space is and collect unnecessary paper. Throw it in the recycling bin.

There are a few things that are worth keeping, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Now, this is a special note to the moms reading. There are some things you just won't be able to get rid of. Maybe that amazingly adorable first drawing that your 2 year old made you that you can actually tell what the picture is supposed to be, or maybe its that first letter from your husband where he told you how much you meant to him, or maybe its a birthday card from your mother or grandmother. It is okay to hold on to some of these things, but do you really need to keep ALL of them? The answer is simply, "No."

This is a depressing thought, but its worth considering:
Moms, ask yourself this, "When I'm gone, will my kids really want to go through all this?" (Sorry its a morbid question, but lets face it, we will all die someday and someone will have to go through all our stuff.) Shouldn't we want to minimize the volume of things for their sake, if nothing else? If you don't have the energy to go through it now, imagine the way your kids might feel when they're still grieving.

Sentimentality can turn into someone else's burden. Don't hold on to more than you need.

Be ware of convincing sentimental arguments:

"But its cute!"
"I remember when he drew that!"
"We made such great memories that day!"

All well and good, but not worth the clutter.

Bear with me... you're probably thinking, "Enough with the what not to do!"

Here are a few ways to minimize clutter and still hold fast to those memories without creating a burden for yourself or others.

Journal - Seriously. Go out and buy a nice journal. Go ahead and spend $30 or $50 or whatever on that beautiful, thick, leather-bound journal. Fill it with your memories, some photos and maybe even a carefully folded drawing or two. Spend the money on it because you're more likely to take it seriously.

Cards - I absolutely do not believe in saving each and every card that comes through the door - including those from family. But those with special notes or for momentous occasions may be worth holding onto. Maybe not, but if you are of the mentality that you should save them, get a shoebox and decorate it. Or, if you have the money to spend, buy one of those nice card boxes from hallmark or somewhere. Keep it simple and keep it clean. If the box begins to overflow, you need to throw some of its contents out.

Drawings - If you must hold onto SOME of your little one's "priceless masterpieces", get a small binder (like 1-1.5 inches) and store your kiddos' precious artwork in there. This way, it can neatly be stored on a shelf or in the closet and you can go back and look at it to your heart's content. Same principle here as with cards - when the drawing binder is full, start weeding and tossing. If you absolutely must, have one binder for each child, OR, to save space, place a divider in the same binder and place each child's artwork in their own section. This will help to minimize possible paper clutter.

Notes: Sermon, Classes* or otherwise - Why, oh WHY do we take notes and then hold on to them for years on end? Lets be serious here... when was the last time you went back to look at your notes? As a mom of two young kids, I have found that taking notes during the sermon helps me to focus, so I do. There is nothing wrong with taking notes and there is nothing wrong with keeping notes - if you USE them. I have recently become involved with Community Bible Study - CBS - and love the workbooks they give us. After all the time I have put into just this first series, I do plan on holding on to the workbooks for a while, but I plan on writing the year that I took this class on the front and allowing myself 3-5 years to keep the binder. Why so long? I figure it is possible that I may reference my notes as I teach Patrick and Erin about the Bible, but if I haven't used them in that 3-5 year gap, I probably won't. So, out they will go!

If you are a pre-med student, you may want to hold on to all science notes until you are through med-school. If you are planning on attending grad-school, you will probably want to hold on to any big papers/projects that may pertain to your grad work. Otherwise, those notes from ENG101 need to go!

Receipts, Bank Statements and the like - This one is tricky. Bank statemtnts, insurance records, health records etc. all need to be kept for a while. I would suggest using the binder method for each of these. For health records, maybe make a small binder for each person in your household and keep their personal documents in there? For each account, do the same thing. In regard to receipts, you're on your own. I give them to Daniel and they are at his disposal. :-p

Anyway, that is my $0.02 on paper clutter. Now that I've written a book about it, I'm off to dispose of some!


The Sinks said...

I've heard of a good idea of taking pictures of things, like pictures your kids have drawn, and then putting the pictures in a photo album or in a collage, so that instead of having hundreds of random papers by the time the kids are out of the house, you have a record of all those memories in one neat space.

Rachel said...

I had a long comment all typed up, then blogger ate it. I second the pictures idea! I currently have a bag of papers from VBS in August that I haven't taken pictures of yet, though, and my four-year-old would flip out if I threw it away. Not my sentimentality here! I'll be taking pictures for her, not for me. :)

As far as important, need-to-keep papers, I use a small file box with folders instead of binders. It is easier to keep track of a file box than several binders. If you go through it once a year or so, then it doesn't get overwhelmingly full.

Becca said...

I saw a great idea in a magazine the other day about what to do with Christmas cards. They said, pull off the front of the card and cut them up to make gift tags for next year! I think that's a great creative/artsy way to reuse and not have to buy more tags. :)