I am known to be a passionate declutterer. However, now that my children are old enough to have opinions of their own that deserve to be respected, I only get rid of their stuff with permission. They are good at cleaning and organizing their rooms (sometimes spontaneously, sometimes on command) but items that they haven’t been ready to part with permanently over the years, especially school artwork, certificates and projects, were sent to “the bins” – big Rubbermaid totes kept in the basement with sentimental items (like their birth certificates) and less-sentimental items (like their Build-a-Bear birth certificates).
A few months ago, when I realized they were each working on filling their third tote bin, I drew the line. We did a huge purge of the bins, and I decided to take advantage of technology (specifically Google Drive) to help us archive some of the things we really didn’t need to keep hard copies of. Within my Google Drive account, I made folders called “Olivia’s Souvenirs” and “Eva’s Souvenirs”.
The girls were excellent at weeding things out, and we took pictures of dozens and dozens of drawings, awards, newspaper clippings, bulky 3D items like dioramas (yay!) and more, which I then uploaded from the iPad into their respective folders – emptying four tote bins! (They even agreed to take pictures of sentimental items like stuffed animals and trophies which then found better homes. Better meaning not ours.)
(I also did the same with the items – some which were 20 years old – in my overflowing professional portfolio binder, which is now digitally stored in Google Drive as well.) If you’re curious why I chose Google Drive instead of just saving photos to a hard drive, it’s because it’s cloud storage which can be accessed from anywhere, and with a click of the button I can share entire folders with anyone.
Now that the school year has ended, they each had another pile of stuff (I mean, precious items) to consider, and today was the day. Again they sorted into piles (Keep, Photograph, Recycle) and I was very proud to see that the Keep piles were extremely small. In fact, everything they have kept from birth to now still fits in one bin each.
They also have school keepsake binders which were generously given to them by two of their beloved babysitters (who happen to be sisters) years ago. I will admit when I first saw the gifts I had a moment of panic at the additional item on my to-do list (filling out the reflection pages with them each year) but the sitters actually sat down and did that with the girls as a sweet annual end-of-school event, until of course they were old enough to start writing everything down legibly themselves – another task they just finished today as well.
Now I’m going to be honest: the digital folders could still use some work. Photos need to be cropped and rotated and I’m sure subfolders (art, awards, etc.) would even be helpful. But while I consider myself a very organized person – and would love to show a picture-perfect folder here on the blog – efficiency wins out for me every time. Prettying up the folders can be a task for another day, when and if the time comes that it’s necessary or desired. While they worked this morning, I worked out, and now we’re all ready to have lunch and head out to the pool for the afternoon. Balance, my friends!
P.S. If you have any questions at all about the tech aspects of this project please don’t hesitate to reach out!!