Get it Together!

I consider myself an organized person.  “A place for everything and everything in its place” is pretty much how I keep things from getting too out of control around here.  But lately I’ve been working on a new project that is not really that pretty.  Believe me, I’d rather be painting the basement walls!  I am organizing our filing system.  Bleh.  There really is nothing creative about this process.  It’s very mundane, but at the same time it takes concentration.  When I’m painting, or hanging pictures, or doing laundry, I think about all sorts of stuff.  I pray, I talk on the phone, I have conversations with myself, I think about outfits I could wear on my hot dates with The Hubs.  You know, the usual.  But this filing project is pretty intense.  It’s bringing me back to the four summers I worked for my dad at his doctor’s office.  Now that was a glamorous job.  Just think Rob Schneider on SNL, “Making copies.”

I can Martha-fy pretty much anything, so I’m doin’ my darnedest to pretty-up this bleh project.  I have my trusty labeler:


And my fancy filing system:


We bought this filing system when I was expecting Bright Eyes.  I was in nesting mode, and wanted to get control of our files before we had our third child.  We were also buying our first home, so I knew that would bring on a lot of important paperwork.  It’s a fantastic system, really.  This description from the Container Store says it best.  The only trouble is, actually filing the paperwork as it comes in to the house is a challenge for me.  And believe me, when you have four children, there is plenty of paperwork!

~Birthday cards

~school work


~medical records

~report cards and school records

It is a lot to keep track of, and there’s really no way around it.  I came to the conclusion that I needed to remove all the keepsakes from the file cabinet.  That sort of stuff piles up fast and was taking up a lot of precious filing cabinet space.  Each Friday, I take a pile of the three school aged children’s artwork out to the porch.  I spread a white plastic table cloth on our picnic table, and I photograph each piece of paper separately.  Then I upload the photos to my laptop, and save them for digital scrapbooking.  I save a few things every now and then, but mostly, don’t tell anyone, I throw them away!  Yes, I throw away the artwork.  Can you believe it?  Each year I make a yearbook for the family, and each child gets a couple of pages, covered with the photographs of their work.  They absolutely love this, and of course, so do I.  No more hanging files overflowing with construction paper projects!

As for the keepsakes, I just recently found these boxes at Target:


In it are their Baptismal candles, hospital caps and bracelets, various awards, a few memorable pieces of artwork, birthday cards, and maybe a few photos.  I labeled them and have them displayed in our basement just because I love the pop of color and I am hoping that the older children enjoy taking them down and looking through them.  They’re really not that big, so eventually I think we’ll have to upgrade to something bigger, but we’ll see.



Vital documents are kept in a binder in our fire-proof safe.  I used this book as a guide when putting it together:


In the binder are our birth certificates, Social Security cards, Baptismal certificates, marriage certificate, vehicle titles, and Passports.  Currently, I’m working on a User Name and Password list to add to the binder.  This will include all of our bank account and credit card information.  Two copies of the binder are being given to two different family members, hopefully by the end of this week.  I know it sounds like a lot, but if you’re an office supply geek like me, it’s pretty fun to put this together.


I guess I have my work cut out for me today.  And for us moms, well, these things happen at a pace that fits into our already busy day.  So this giant pile of filing should get finished sometime this summer.  Hopefully sooner though!


Categories: Homemaking


12 Responses to Get it Together!

  1. You are inspiring me. This is so important and yet I continue to put it off…but it is such a big job! We have much of our stuff randomly shoved into the fire proof safe, but to have it all in a binder is so important. And, *gasp*, I have official, hard to replace adoption paperwork on my closet floor…b/c it won’t fit into the safe. I’m asking for big problems. I guess I need smaller goals, right? HELP!

  2. this sounds great!!!! i just began cleaning things out have an overwhelming stack of boxes of artwork and stuff i “intend to do something with one day and probably never will” makes me want to change my name and run away instead! i guess your idea is much better. 🙂 oy vey! wonderful wonderful wonderful ideas, mary! love love love it!!!!

  3. This is so inspiring for me right now Mary! I really need to hire you to come over and help me get our files in order (well, maybe not…travel costs!). Our struggle is that I’ve always delegated this task to my husband, but he hates it and usually stuffs things in a basket until it is overflowing with old papers and he can’t find the important stuff. We don’t even own a fireproof safe and our stuff is in two different rooms. Man, oh man do I ever need a “system”! I really like the binder idea for important papers/documents. I think that is one thing we could implement soon! I’m curious what other homeschooling mamas do with old workbooks and assignments etc.? I have been saving everything, but it seems to be taking up too much space in the basement. Hmm…

    • Start with the binder. That will force you to go through all the stacks to find the important stuff. At the very least, you could start creating some categories in piles. Then later start a filing system that works for you. But for now, the Vital Documents binder is do-able. Let me know how it goes! Abby’s e-book is awesome. I highly recommend it. I printed it out and put it in a binder for future reference. She really is very wise.

      • Question for you: How do you know when it is time to pitch certain pieces of paperwork? Example: we pay most of our bills on-line, but we still get the paper versions of them coming into our home. Hubby likes to save the paper versions for at least a year, but he isn’t very good at going back and throwing stuff out later. When I start purging files he is not impressed. We’re both more on the disorganized side of life, but I’m hoping to improve. I didn’t have good modelling of this growing up so I feel like I’m starting from scratch. I’ll check out the e-book. I know I’ve looked it up before!

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