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There are not a ton of areas of life that I end up as organized as I would like to be in because…well…#momlife.  But I am really excited about this post because there is one area I have truly streamlined and made work for us!  It’s an area I know moms struggle with because my mom friends and I were just talking about it and I think it’s a big deal for moms!

If you have kids in any type of school yet, you know that they come home with so much stuff.  Whether it is absolutely-adorable-want-to-keep-every-single-item or what-is-this-supposed-to-be-again-and-what-do-I-do-with-it? depends on the mom (and the kid!).  I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I am definitely a keeper of all the things in life…cards, letters, postcards, decor from my dorm rooms (seriously?!)…you name it, I want to keep it.  BUT it was obvious to me after about 2 weeks of Pre-K last year that it would be just impossible to keep everything, so I knew I needed a system!  And especially now with 3 kids, 2 of them in school, there had to be some organization…and I am so excited to share it with you today!  I am going to break it down into steps to try to make it clear and explainable!  These steps include everything that comes home from school…crafts, writing assignments, report cards, drawings…you name it, it gets filed this way!

How I organize my Kid’s Art-Work

1). We try to make an effort to get their papers out of their bags and make sure the kids see us looking through them and smiling/commenting on them.  While we don’t always talk to them about it, it is important to us that they know that we are paying attention, and care so much about what they are doing at school. This also helps us keep track of what they are learning, how they are progressing, and gives some good dinner table conversation!  They have to know that school is important, and that starts with our reaction!

2). Next, more likely out of their frame of view, their papers/crafts get sorted into two piles: Keep, and Recycle.  The recycled ones often go RIGHT out to our bin so they don’t see them, because we learned the hard way that if they know we are getting rid of anything, suddenly it was their favorite worksheet EVER and how could we ever get rid of it.  That made us feel sad…but we also realize they just don’t have a clue about it all, so it’s ok. 🙂 My “Keep” pile has changed already since my kids started school and become much more selective because because seriously moms….there is so much paper.  We probably get 10-15 pages a day total from both kids. We just cannot keep it all! Let it go! So now I keep things that are either particularly cute/meaningful, things that specifically make me have some sort of emotional response (laughter, smile, etc), or things that clearly show a major advance in their work or a lot of a certain type of work.  Our son is learning to write and we don’t keep pages where he writes the letter Z a million times. But when he was asked to write about 5 things he loved for Valentines day (and we made the list!!)?! You bet we kept it.

3). The Keepers go into a cute white filing bin I have right there in the kitchen to be stored.  Also in this file go the school handbook, schedules, forms for field trips, information we need to keep, all related to school so we know where to look when we need anything from school.  Here it is:

4). Here’s where it gets good. Once a month, the keepers come out and get photographed on my phone. Nothing fancy…find great even window light, photograph from straight above, fill the frame as much as I can.  1 item per photo.  Those photos get sorted into “albums” in my phone for each kid.

5). Then I sort out maybe 1-2 favorite favorite thing from that pile per month per kid, and put it in their permanent storage bin, separated by grade level.  They will get to have these one day (I have one from my childhood!) and at this point, everything fits. One day, I know big posters will come home, and I am thinking at this point those will not stay in the keep forever pile…but we will see.  Here is what the bin storage looks like:

6). The key here! Those iphone photos? I upload them with about 4 different taps to Chatbooks, an app that is on my phone!! The app is great (and can automatically pull from social media and make books), and I use it by uploading the images (you can have 60 in a book), in addition to some sweet photos that have come through the teacher-parent school app or that we have from school events to Chatbooks and print the artwork in their adorable 6X6 photobooks! The quality is great and they are the perfect size for this sort of thing. And they are super affordable- as little as $10 pre-shipping! You can usually find a coupon code or two on the internet for free shipping– and I have a code to give you your first book for free!  Just Click HERE to get started!!  The app took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to do everything I needed, and another 10 to get the book ordered start to finish and is just called Chatbooks! Amazing!  Here are some pictures of it:

You can put dates and titles on the spines, and captions on the photo pages if you want!  

After making my first one, I decided that I might prefer to photograph my kid’s artwork on a cleaner background than our light wood floors (a white poster board from Walgreens will do the trick!) and I am also going to combine the images into 4 on one page for most items except for really special things, in an attempt to get a whole school year + in one book!  I did that for the last page of this book to test it out, and I think it will work well!  I used the app Layout on my phone to combine the images, and then easily uploaded them to my Chatbook.

Click here to get started with chatbooks!  I hope this is helpful– I know it took me a long time to get this process together, and I am excited that this one thing is organized! 🙂

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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic Aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!). 

As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids.  I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!

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I'm so glad you are here!  Teaching Photographers and other small business owners how to run more joyful, successful, and profitable businesses is one of my favorite parts of my business!  I specialize in working with photographers to make their goals a reality (or figure out what their goals should be in the first place!).  

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