Thursday, February 23, 2012

Drowning in Paper? Try Taking Some Pictures!

Tonight I decided to undertake the dreaded task of going through all of the paper that has been slowly accumulating throughout our house. I tend to hang on to paper "in the event that it might someday come in handy." But, I am discovering that this time rarely, if ever, comes. For example, I had a whole file box overflowing with worksheets and workbooks that Autumn has already outgrown or that she didn't enjoy doing. It has been sitting untouched in a corner of our work room for almost 2 years now!!! The reason...we are relying more and more on technology for school work. By the time Alaina is ready to use all of that paper I am sure we will have moved even further out of the world of paper and deeper into the world of technology.

The other big problem is that since we homeschool there are always projects scattered around the house. Now, I know you parents who send your children to public school will argue that you have a ton of paper to deal with as well, and I agree. But there is one big difference, your daily stack of papers comes wrapped up in a nice neat folder all tucked into your child's backpack. The globs of glue, confetti clippings, glitter, string, hole punches etc. all remain at the school! Come over to our house after a day of lap-booking or "art" and you'll think we're running a recycling center in the middle of our living room.

So, tonight I decided to commit myself to utilizing my digital camera to keep my paper clutter from building up again. (If I had a scanner that would be even better). Currently I use our camera to keep track of the books that we read. I used to write the book title, author, etc. down in a notebook. But, we read so much, that this became really tedious and I found myself skipping the task too often. Then I came up with the idea of taking a digital picture of the cover of each book and placing the pictures into labeled files on our computer. It works wonderfully! It is much quicker that recording them by hand, and seeing the cover of the books jogs our memory quicker if we are searching for a specific title that we have previously recorded.

  It is soooo hard to recycle the adorable pictures that the girls draw each day. It can be emotionally challenging to separate with their first letter A, or their first drawing of a human with arms and legs coming out of the jagged circle that is the head. Their drawings and writing are like timelines and they hold so many precious memories. Tonight I had a large stack that I just couldn't bare to part with, so I decided to just take a photo of each to preserve the memory of them, which would then allow me to emotionally let go of the actual paper. I now feel free to use those drawings to send to grandparents or friends or even recycle, because I know I can still see them whenever I want.

I am going to start trying this method with other types of clutter that can accumulate in our house....lists, memos, phone numbers, etc. Everyone in our family also has the bad habit of grabbing flyers for upcoming events. I am going to try encouraging everyone to just photograph the flyer or information wherever it is posted. For these items, which tend to be needed for only a short time period, I was thinking I could keep a constantly renewing slide show of them running on my desktop until they become obsolete, and then I can just delete them! And this seems to be the most exciting aspect of this new idea.....with one click of my mouse I will be able to "clean my house"!

Well, I am really going to do my best to utilize this method to decrease our paper clutter at home, and I'll let you know what I think after a few weeks. In the meantime, here are a few photos I took tonight from the "paper clutter" lying around our house. I put that in quotations, because in this case I would prefer to call the items below art. :)

I love this one by Alaina....the girl's large hands and body position makes me feeling like throwing my arms out with her in joy! 
Another Alaina creation.

Heart girl riding a horse, by Autumn. I just can't help but laugh every time I look at this one, because Autumn's hearts have caused some strange consequences in the chest area!

Heart Monkey by Autumn.

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