The goal in all this is to be able to find what we need when we need it, but also to limit the amount of paper "keepsakes" to what will fit in one large file box that can be handed to a the child when they graduate.
The original idea came from a Pinterest pin for "Baby Boxes" here and I made two sets for my younger sister as a baby gift. You can see my original post about her boxes here. (It's been pinned almost 4k times on Pinterest!) Of course it took me a while to make some for my own kids, but I finally got it finished. After a couple requests from friends for details, I thought I'd write out the details for anyone interested in making one for themselves or to give as a baby gift.
- Plastic File Box. I picked up a Sterilite Large Nesting Show-off at Walmart in the storage solutions section for about $6. (They only sell as a 6-pack online at Walmart or Amazon). I like the clip-on lid and handle and will work for several years. Eventually I feel like I'll need to replace it with the Legal/Letter File Box but I don't have room to store that for now.
- Hanging File Folders. For my project, a box of 25 is enough. Since I was at Walmart, I just got boxes of the red/blue/yellow/green and used them along with some I had at home to designate one color for each child. They have much prettier colors available online at Walmart or Amazon if you want to pay more. I got the jewel-toned files when I did some for my nieces.
- File Labels. You can certainly hand-write on the file labels that come with your folders, but I created mine on the computer, then printed them on cardstock, cut them out, and used them in the clear file tabs.
I used a table in Microsoft Word with each row 0.6" high and each column 2" wide and typed in the file name. I also added a shape on the left side and put a symbol on it to correspond with each label. I created a blue (shown below), red, and gray version and I am happy to share the file with you! The PDF is ready to print. If you feel like messing with the fonts or colors, I have made the Word version available too. It's a little tricky working with the text boxes on top of the symbols, but feel free to mess if you want.
|(Sample of the blue version)|
Here's a list of the files and my plans for each one:
- Baby Info: footprints and bassinet label from the hospital, birth announcements, etc.
- Medical: immunization records, check-up records
- Certificates: copy of birth certificate, awards they earn when they are older
- Church: baptism certificate, projects they complete in church
- Cards/Letters: a copy of our Christmas card/letter each year and any special cards/letters they receive that they want to keep
- Pictures: professional photos/school pictures. Just a few from each year to use for graduation display, etc.
- Sports: certificates, ribbons, articles as they get older
- Interview: I want to do an "All About Me" interview on their birthday, so I printed 18 of this version so they are all ready to be filled out each year.
- Age 0-3: artwork, projects from the early years, notes of funny things they said or did
- Age 4-5: preschool report card, special art projects, CD of pictures
- Kindergarten-Grade 12: report card, special projects or papers, etc. The goal is to limit it to only what FITS in the file.
- Blank: I added one extra file just for anything else that might pop up as a category according to their interests, like Music, 4-H, etc.
Now, it's just time to put all the files in the box, add all the folder labels, and fill them! I did my boxes from right to left, one space apart so I could see the symbols.
That's it! For less than $20 and in just an hour or two, you can be ready to keep your kids organized for the next 18 years! This is also a much-appreciated baby gift!
It's definitely worth putting together while your kids are young and you can modify it to fit your lifestyle. You can keep the files in a filing cabinet, add files as needed, purge things at the end of the year to keep only the most important things, etc. It's just a system to get you started.
If you have more ideas for staying organized, please leave a comment!