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What do I do with the end of year school clutter?

End of year school clutter including a school bag, papers and stationery

End of year school clutter filed in folders sorted by year and then in a plastic tub

The End Of Year School Clutter is as reliable as Santa himself. 

It’s mid December and we are dragging ourselves to the finish line. There are outings galore, presents to buy, and a Christmas Day menu to plan. Not to mention the camping holiday that needs organising. There is stuff everywhere, because who has time to keep on top of it amidst end-of-year shenanigans? The cat has attacked the tree again so the mess looks even worse than usual. Your mum is on the phone from Westfield asking what the children need and what size shoes they wear. You literally have no idea.

Then the children clamber into the car on the last day of kindy or school and you see their bulging bags and arms full of poster paper. They are holding a clay sculpture, a paper mâché tower and a fist full of lolly candy canes. End of Year School Clutter strikes again.

What to do with the End of Year School Clutter?

Set aside some time
I know it’s tricky at this time of year, but it’s gotta be done. They have worked hard all year. Spending time celebrating their efforts with them is far more important than expensive gifts or a perfectly decorated tree. Allow up to an hour per child to:
1. Empty the school bag, including all those pesky compartments. Be gone, old Blu Tac blobs and food wrappers! 
2. Give inside the bag a bit of a wipe while you’re in there, and hang it in the sun.
3. Go through their academic and artistic achievements and ask about their favourites. Between about three and ten pieces is good. Focus on these and put them aside as keepsakes. Put the rest in a rubbish pile and remember that they have done their job – teaching your child academic skills. Feel free to kiss them goodbye.
4. Test out the textas and glue sticks. My kids love doing this.
 
Then make some piles
Rubbish – Dodgy textas and glue sticks, broken plastic folders etc.
Recycling – Lacklustre artwork, heavily-used exercise books, uninteresting scribbles and worksheets.
Reuse – Lightly-used exercise books, decent stationery. Put these in a storage cube or back in the schoolbags to look at next year before your Officeworks run. Or if you never want to see them again, pop them on your local Buy Nothing group.
Keepsakes – The favourite sheets of paper you both put aside as well as anything else you deem worthy. This includes school reports and school photos. Label with the year and put them into a folder, an expandable file or loose in a tub. You could consider putting one on the fridge if that’s how you roll. There are some incredible examples of school keepsake tubs on Pinterest, but here at The Decluttering Co we are all about using what you have and creating something maintainable, rather than trying to impress your Instagram buddies. Pinterest-pretty or not, properly managed End Of Year School Clutter can become a neat snapshot of their schooling achievements.
 
Other ideas
– Pictures and paintings made by little hands can make great wrapping paper.
– The school stationery lists for next year can get be a bit over-the-top. I take them with a grain of salt and keep things as minimal as possible. You can always top up supplies later. This reduces End Of Year School Clutter for next year.
– High school text books and novels can often be sold through the school, or on Gumtree or Marketplace. Do it right away for the best chance of success to snap up a buyer. A text book from three years ago is about as useful as last year’s Christmas ham.
– Put those candy canes in the bin. Nobody really likes them anyway.

Get in touch for more ideas or hands-on help.

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