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School Memorabilia

This episode delves into the minefield of school memorabilia. Join Lily + Bonnie as they chat about what school memorabilia to keep, how to organise school memorabilia, and ways we can honour your child’s efforts. If you’ve got piles of old schoolbooks and stationery taking up dark spaces in your home, this episode will shed some light, so you keep only what is special.


Episode Transcript

BONNIE: Hello and welcome I am Bonnie

LILY: and I am Lily, and this is Little Home Organised, the podcast dedicated to helping you declutter, get organised and reclaim time for the things you love.


BONNIE: Hello and welcome, this week we are talking about school memorabilia, we will chat about what you should keep and how to store it, ways to honour your child’s efforts and what to do with all the unused books and stationary.

LILY: Bonnie before we dive into today’s episode, I am really excited to announce our little challenge which is coming in December

BONNIE: Yes the 12 days of decluttering starting on December 1, I can’t wait.

LILY: Din din din din din, couldn’t resist.  It was hard to stop

BONNIE: You know earlier this week I spoke to someone who said oh my goodness every time you guys laugh it is like I hear it in stereo

LILY: I wonder if it is the same with our singing


LILY: So the 12 days of decluttering is just like the 12 days of Christmas starting on December 1st, so you will head over to the Little Home Organised Community Group and you can join in there and basically we are going to tackle some spaces in your home, small manageable, should take about 12 minutes each day

BONNIE: Oh I like that


BONNIE: 12, 12, 12th month

LILY: And it should help you get on top of your stuff heading up to Christmas because Christmas can be really chaotic and it is nice to get on top of things so lets get a little bit more organised this year.

BONNIE: Yes so head on over to Facebook to the Little Home Organised Community and join us for 12 days of decluttering starting December 1.

LILY: So we are at that time of year, it is heading towards the end of the school year, and what a school it has been here in 2020, my goodness a lot teachers are going to be like collapsing into a heap, a lot of students are going to be collapsing into a heap, it has been wild.

BONNIE: Well they have actually given in the states schools anyway, they have given um the teachers 2 extra days off, so school is actually finishing for us 2 days earlier than normal.

LILY: Is it really? I didn’t know that

BONNIE: Yeah  which I think is a great idea because when I was teaching, yeah it is tiring, it is overloading um you do feel like your constantly pushing a huge boulder up the hill and I think teaching has kind of being on of those professions that has long being under recognised both in pay scales and other sort of recognition, like I remember when I was going through uni and starting out in the teaching profession people would basically see the amount of holidays you get as a teacher and be like oh you get so many holiday.. and I would just be like, I want to punch you, like I have no life the rest of the year and your, and you are having a crack because

LILY: So after re rehabilitated your anger issues and you came out the other side, well know it is true isn’t it, like the amount of the work they do behind the scenes is intense and I think many eyes have been open this year in many ways to things going on in the world and one of those things is parents have had to put on yet another hat and doing the teaching with, working from home, students doing distance education and so yeah it has just been crazy year, a lot has been learnt and one of the things that comes out of every school year of course is the things you accumulate over the year, the works and the projects


LILY: and the stories and all the memorabilia, what do we do with it.

BONNIE: Yeah, yeah there is a whole lot of stuff that your kids will do every year because they are doing spelling tests, they are being creative and writing and you know I have got someone in Prep and he is created a whole lot of stuff this year and because in Prep they are focusing on mastering all of the sounds and all the letters in the alphabet and then all of the numbers and all the recognition and stuff like that, almost every week there is a little book that comes home for a particular number, so I think we are up to about number 20 by now and it is just something that is helping reinforce the kids with these numbers and the number might be 16 and they will do a bunch of different activities in this little booklet and they have got to colour in this and they have got you know attach this to there and draw a line here and just helping that kind of repetition of okay this is the number 16 and this is how it is represented visually and all that sort of stuff so these things can really accumulate at a rapid pace.


BONNIE: And especially at the end of the year where the teachers are cleaning out their classrooms, they are sending home all the books, they are sending home all the left over stationary like there is a huge influx that comes in and 2020 is a little different to other years in that we don’t probably have as many end of year celebrations going on as we normally do but it is a busy time of year so often what happens is that stuff comes home and it just gets dumped somewhere to deal with later

LILY: Yes, classic case of delayed decisions and it can be hard to know what to keep and how do I even begin to approach it, it can all seem a bit too much and so it gets put in a box or it gets put in that spare room or shoved in a cupboard and then before you know it, you keep bringing the stuff in and in and in and then you are going to have an entire wardrobe full of memorabilia and it is how do I even know where to begin with this.

BONNIE: Yeah well I remember a client a few years ago who only had one daughter and she was maybe 8 or 9 at the time and the mother had never had the time to stop and go through all the school memorabilia with her and when I came along she said I don’t know what to do with it all, like I don’t think I am ever going to look at it again but I have just been buying these boxes and sticking absolutely everything that comes home from school into these boxes by year level and then she already had probably you know 10 or 12 of these kind of A4 sized tubs full of school books and she said


BONNIE: And she was only 8.

LILY: Yeah and you can imagine it is not going to stop there


LILY: And the space is going to continually get smaller and smaller as those boxes add up, so lets cover that, what are some of the things firstly that come into the house, that come home from school at this time of year, what are the things that we should be keeping.

BONNIE: Okay so to figure out what we need to keep you need to look at your child individually  and think about what their strengths are, are they someone who is really good at writing and maybe their, they have got some really great stories, are they quite arty and they love to draw or sketch or other art mediums, are they someone who is really brainy science wise or maths wise so keep the stuff that reflects your child’s strengths or their creativity because what you want is a snap shot of the year and you want to be able to look back over their schooling life and see this is where you were in Prep, this is where you were in grade 5 and this is where you were in grade 10 and have kind of a bit of a comparison stick.  So for me I have got a preppie, he is learning to read and write this year and he is doing very well with it and so I will keep things that that reflect his writing ability but for someone else who has a child who is really mathematically motivated and really mathematically strong they might keep some stuff that represents some really hard mathematical stuff so equations or you know things like that so it will be different for every person or you might decide well actually I want to keep kind of one page from every subject so that I have got a snap shot of every subject and that is fine too but what is important to remember is that when everything is special nothing is special so make sure that you just keep a certain number, set a limit so for me I will probably keep maybe ½ a dozen pages and I would kind of suggest that you don’t actually keep more than 12 in total for that year because once you get over 12 it kind of becomes all the same sort of stuff and then you don’t have that special quality item it is just a quantity thing

LILY: I really love that idea of the snap shot, like if I sit here and I visualise say a bed and it is covered in all the creations and um studies and works of my child, well considering mine is like 10 months old probably nothing really exciting from him, but you know if you are imaging with your own child

BONNIE: creative poos

LILY: Yeah, we are getting some of those at the moment, like we are filling the nappy and going woohoo, um


LILY: Hey you brought it up, so if you imagine a bed covered in their works and you took a step back and you were just looking at it, that is like visual overload right, that’s like it is hard to process all the successes and strengths of the year but out of those 30 items that you imagine laying out in front of you if you pick like you say your top 6, your top 3, your top 10 that helps you be able to capture the most special, the most strongest, the whatever it might be as you were just say before. So it is not like you need to hold onto every effort that they put in that year just pick a few of those things and hold them up on the pedestal, put them in the box, cause otherwise you are going to end up being the person who has wardrobes full of this stuff that you may never even look at because it is all over whelming and one thing we know about delayed decisions of course is that in the moment it is easy because you have put it either in the too hard basket or it has just been done mindlessly to put it over, you know to put it away until later but when those things accumulate you have actually, it is like it expediential

BONNIE: And it might be easy now but is hard later

LILY: Oh year

BONNIE: And something that I think is really important to remember when we are looking at what do we keep for school memorabilia is look at the age of your child, because if you have got a younger child there tends to be a lot more stuff being created and you have a lot more to choose from, when you have an older child it tends to be a lot more repetitious type work unless they are doing creative writing or some other forms of particularly creative medium.  Get your child how is older to actually pick what items they would like to keep, delegate that responsibility to them because as parents our job is actually to be teachers, we are to teach our children basic things like, how to dress yourself, how to clean yourself, how to eat food, how to prepare food

LILY: How to take care of yourself

BONNIE: How to take care of yourself, our job is to raise up these little independent people who grow up, move out and this is one of those really important life skills of helping them learn how do I make a decision about what is special, what is important and what are the things that can go, so if they are older get them to do it

LILY: It is a great skill and honestly it is something that you can do with like the educational side of things, they can do it with creations that they make and we talked about that previously on our children’s art work episode but it is something that you can get them to practice in like lots of areas of their life that things are finite and that some things are more special and some things can be let go of and it is a really important process for kids to go through.

BONNIE: It definitely is and I think even younger kids, get them involved in the process of what you want to keep, get them to say to you oh mum I remember doing this, let me tell you about this, you know actually sit down and celebrate with them and that is the next thing that I really want to talk about is how do we actually honour the efforts that our children have put in during the year more than oh just dump all those books over there and we will deal with them later.

LILY: It is interesting because you get to the end of the year, it is busy, you may not even thing about the concept of doing something like that where you take the time to actually go wow especially with a preppie, you have grown and learnt so much this year, you have put in a lot of hard work, how can we honour that.

BONNIE: Yeah that is exactly right um I think if I could give one tip to parents, it is when your child comes home with those books set aside 10 minutes, get them to have them all laid out ready for you to go if you are in the middle of doing other things but get them to set out that stuff so that you can spend 10 minutes with them actually going through and celebrating their success because what I have found with my children in particular and they are still young is that they want time with me, they want time where I can say good job

LILY: Oh yeah we forget

BONNIE: Validation

LILY: We forget the simplicity of how important it is to just spend one on one quality time with kids like that

BONNIE: Yes, yes and especially when you are looking at all these books and they represents an entire school years worth of effort, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is whether your child is an A, B, C, D, F student, if they have put effort in, you need to celebrate that with them and you know what if it has been a rubbish year for them academically for whatever reason you need to actually sit with them and let them know that you still appreciate the fact that they tried anyway because kids need to know that our love  is unconditional

LILY: Absolutely, which means without condition


LILY: Which means even if you gets E ‘s & F’s, we still love them even though we are little bit sad about it.

BONNIE: That is the most important thing that you can actually tell them with looking through their school memorabilia stuff is that you love them and that you appreciate the effort and if they didn’t try that hard this year talk about ways that you can make it better for next year, like the relationship you have with your child is so precious and it is the key factor in creating a happy and healthy home

LILY: I just to go down like a totally, a little bit of a tangent here but I will try to keep it brief

BONNIE: You love a tangent

LILY: I do, I mean who doesn’t love a tangent, but back when I was working in the States in summer camps and then working in New Zealand in the camp industry as well, one of the things that we were taught and it became very clear is that when you are working with children and you want to manage their behaviour, you need to spend at least 10 minutes one on one with each child in your cabin each day, so like

BONNIE: so every day

LILY: Yeah so if you are cabin councillor and you have 8 children in your cabin and it is you and your co councillor so in Australian terms you and your co leader, to have effective behaviour management and to help create depth of relationship with your children to effectively manage behaviour 10  minutes each child, each day and in the busyness of our modern day lives you might hear that and think

BONNIE: I can’t do that

LILY: I can’t find 10 minutes to be alone with one of my kids you know

BONNIE: I can’t find 10 minutes to be alone

LILY: I can’t find 10 minutes to be alone with myself

BONNIE: On the toilet especially

LILY: But it is absolutely true because you would see when a child have been invested in, in the time and someone had taken the time to sit down and go hey how was your day? What did you get up to today?

BONNIE: How are you doing?

LILY: Show us this thing that you made in that activity and when you spent the time with children one on one and you do that with multiple children they just felt heard, they felt seen, you know the relationship had depth and then when there was behavioural challenges and as a councillor you would turn to that child and help them understand their behaviour and why that wasn’t appropriate and help correct the behaviour things went so much smoother because you are putting that time and effort and so you know as you talk about taking the 10 minutes when you come home to sit at the end of the year to sit down and go, oh lets go through your books and lets blah, blah, blah blah, great idea and honestly if that’s something that you can try and even do a couple of minutes of each of intentional one on one with your kids, it is going to be a really positive addition.

BONNIE: You know another way that we can really honour the effort that they have made is that we can pick a couple of those pages that they are wanting us to keep and we can stick them in the hall of fame,   we talked about that in our children’s artwork episode as well, put it on your fridge, put it in your hall of fame, where ever it is, celebrate it for a couple of weeks or over the school holidays and then go and file it or store it, pick that one thing that your child is really super proud of from that year and put it in a place, make sure that if your spouse is not home at the time when you are actually going through the school books that you pick out a couple of things, or the things that you are going to keep and you allow your child to show them to your spouse because that is a really important bonding time for them as well, like especially if you know your husband works a lot and doesn’t get to see the kids a lot during the week, make sure that on the weekend when they get to spend one on one time with dad, oh dad here is like the 5 pieces of work from my school year that I am really proud of, let me tell you about them because that once again validating that child, it is great quality time with that parent and it just helps that relationship to really bond even deeper.

LILY: All right we are going to jump into how we can store all of this school memorabilia after the break.

BONNIE: I think it is high time Lily that we actually get a clutter confession from you.



LILY: I have been thinking over the last couple of months about what my clutter confession could be because I wanted to make sure I found the perfect thing and I think I have found it.

BONNIE: Really

LILY: Yes, so walk with me Bonnie or don’t because we are attached to headphones and microphones but walk on this journey back in time with me, imagine you are in the mountains of North Carolina

BONNIE: I am closing my eyes for this

LILY: The summer is hot, you are sticky, the sun is shining bright

BONNIE: I don’t like being sticky

LILY: And you can hear, you can hear this sound in the background, clang, clang, clang, you Bonnie are at blacksmithing the activity


LILY: I know! The activity run at your summer camp in the mountains at North Carolina in the US, yes we had so many awesome programs, we had all different kinds of crafts obviously like the classic tie dye, we had horse riding, we had climbing, we had mountain biking, all kinds of things and of course the lake but we also had blacksmithing

BONNIE: That is so cool

LILY: Oh my gosh I could go on all day about it, but in blacksmithing I made a fire starter


LILY: Yes I know very old school and this fire starter basically looks like a knuckleduster


LILY: Yes, you use it, it is a rounded piece of metal to strike against something like a rock and then creates sparks and start a fire, but it is a clutter confession because if you walked into my house you would be like that is weirdest looking piece of metal, what on earth it that

BONNIE: Like it is trash

LILY: You would look at it and be like oh that just looks like a scrap end bit of metal um wouldn’t you just use matches, absolutely not it is so novel and cool I love it and I am never getting rid of it.

BONNIE: And I am sure Bear Grylls has one so you know

LILY: Oh my gosh Bear Grylls, do you recon he listens to this podcast?

BONNIE: Um I don’t know but Bear Grylls if you do reach out to us, we want to talk to you

LILY: I would love to have Bear Grylls on the pod

BONNIE: Do you have a fire starter?

LILY: Do you have a clutter confession? Let us know write in, but if you do have a clutter confession at home we would love to hear it honestly, head to the Facebook page, send it in and we will play it on an upcoming episode.


BONNIE: Ok so we are talking about school memorabilia, lets talk about ways that we can actually store it, so how to organise and store the stuff that we actually have decided to keep.

LILY: So Bonnie and I are pretty passionate about digital where possible, there is something beautiful about tangibly and physically holding stuff in your hands and I think things like artworks and memorabilia commonly fall into that because we like to touch and look but I think at the very least having a digital back up of what ever is physical that is precious to you is a good idea and if it is something that you can just keep digitally and get rid of the physical version of it that is kind of even better in my book, that’s how I would do it

BONNIE: Yeah I have to admit like I am very much digital with all that of stuff as well and what I am kind of planning on doing is once my children have finished grade 12 and I have seen a few people do this, is I want to create a photobook of, I am not sure if it will be just be the art work or if it will be like other school work stuff as well

LILY: I love it

BONNIE: But yeah like for the 12 years of artwork

LILY: That would have been so cool to look back on because you know we are talking about picking like the most special pieces

BONNIE: The snap shot

LILY: Yeah like if I was able to open a book now and look at what my handwriting looked like at grade 1 and see how it is still the same now as a full grown adult, pencil grips failed me

BONNIE: You’re not even a doctor I mean what is your excuse

LILY: I know all my scrawly hand writing um but yeah that would, what a cool idea

BONNIE: Yeah cause then you can have like a really great visual representation of 12-15 years of artwork because let face it we don’t just start creating art when we go to school we do it before hand as well and we need to get some of those stick figure type scribbles in there because oh my gosh they are hilarious

LILY: We have talked about this before, the advancement of like how they like learnt to add the different body parts and everything so like how awesome to open

BONNIE: the eyebrows

LILY: Yeah your daughters eyebrows, love it so that is a great option is if you can keep things digitally it would make it easier to then put it then into a photobook and that you know is going to be everlasting and that is something you can physically flick through that is really important to you to be able to touch it.

BONNIE: Yes and another way that you can organise if you are more of a physical hardcopy type person is you can do something like clear stackable containers, so you might just have like one A4 kind of like a filing box, get it to be plastic, get it to be clear so that it is dust free but you can see what is in it, plastic is easy to label, and then just file it in their, make sure that each page actually has the name of the child and the year on there

LILY: Yes, it is so interesting that you bring that up because it is something that takes no time at all but if we forget this step to think that in 15 – 20 years time you are going to remember every article

BONNIE: Not true

LILY: Every book, every spelling bee, every any of that, like that is just it is not humanly possible, no don’t do that to yourself.


LILY: And then you are there trying to decipher whose handwriting is this and what year does this roughly look like and what was happening in our lives at that time and it is just that suddenly just became a bit hard job.

BONNIE: Yes be kind to your future self and just actually write it on now

LILY: So write their name, write their year and potentially that they did it in school and maybe write their age as well

BONNIE: Yeah and so a clear stackable container is one option, and expander file is another great option, if you would like to have a kind of less and more of a carry option and it is obviously got the little filing sections in it, which you can do in the clear stackable boxes too because you can buy like a filing box that has a hanging file

LILY: The expander file is good because it is a bit smaller and it means that you can potentially do one for each child and it is like this section is grade one, this section is grade 2

BONNIE: Exactly and they are usually maybe 13-15 slots in them so you can just do the 12 years

LILY: And because the space is smaller too it helps you have boundaries

BONNIE: Yes boundaries are good

LILY: We love boundaries

BONNIE: We do love boundaries

LILY: Having those zones helps you choose as we have said earlier the few special items to keep.

BONNIE: Mmmm yeah and it is easy to give it to your child when they move up and grow out when it is in an expander file or when it is in kind of a small like A4 filing box

LILY: Yeah on the day that they turn 18 and you have packed up their bedroom into boxes

BONNIE: See you later

LILY: Boxes and here’s the expander file.

BONNIE: You have turned 18, you can vote

LILY: Off you go, out the nest

BONNIE: You can smoke

LILY: And you can move out.  Please don’t smoke, we have learnt so much about smoking, don’t do it.

BONNIE: Oh yeah no don’t do it at all I am totally not advocating for that ever.  Um you know what, this is a total digression when I was a child

LILY: Oh go on

BONNIE: We had a neighbour who was very more worldly than I was and he made a cigarette out of paper and pencil shavings and I didn’t even get it to my lips before inhaling the smoke, coughing my absolute guts up and I have never looked at any form of smoking twice since because that was the most horrible feeling ever

LILY: Oh good, there is a lesson for you all out there

BONNIE: Mmmm Yep, if you want to put them off it for life, pencil-shaving cigarettes.

LILY: The things I learn about you even now surprise me.

BONNIE:  I am just a mystery.

LILY: All right so you might be in  a  position where you are thinking okay I have picked the things that are special, what about the rest of the stuff, what am I going to do with all the stationary and the left over books that I have now got at the end of the school year, what am I going to do with this stuff.

BONNIE: Yes because we can get really overwhelmed as parents with all this stuff that is just hanging around, books that are half used what do we do with them

LILY: I know

BONNIE: Do we just kind of keep them in the cupboard

LILY: Do I rip out half those pages


LILY: Make them new books


LILY: What do I do with it

BONNIE: Ok so what we tend to do with our clients is anything that is brand new and unused and is likely to be needed for next year book list, we put that aside, so we suggest everybody has a spares stationary box, somewhere in their study or their office so brand new and unused stuff always goes in there and that way you can shop from home first when you need to do your book list, then when you have got the stuff that is kind of half used but you don’t want to keep it, like the books for example we encourage people rip out the pages that are used and then actually donate the rest of book to a charity, we have got one here in Brisbane that we use called Books 4 PNG Kids and they will take gently used stationary items, so they will take the half used pencils, the half used crayons, the half used books, things like that, so make sure that you have a Google search, look in your local area to see what charities are actually out there

LILY: And think of it in the way that you truly are giving these charities a gift when you take the time to do that and donate it because there are kids in other places be it 3rd world, be it locally who don’t have access to these basic resources that our kids may have had the privileged to have access to.  So if you are not quite sure where do I send this, as Bon said jump on Google but if you are local, if you are in Brisbane region we will also throw in the show notes a donation cheat sheet which can help you find some of those really awesome charities as well.

BONNIE: Mmmm absolutely.  Okay I think it is time for this week’s tidy task.  So your tidy task for this week is to sit with your child once all the books have come home from school and spend that 10 minutes with them, if they are older get them to pick what they want to show you, if they are younger involve them a lot in the process of oh should we keep this one, should we let go that one, which one is more special to you, what is it that you want to tell me about this one, spend that time with them one on one so that they can really feel like hey my mum, my dad have really celebrated this effort with me.  Like I feel really validated in my efforts at school this year.  Pick those 5-10 or 12 pages to keep, scan them or file them however you want to organise them, get your school memorabilia system set up and then the last thing I want you to do is go on a stationary hunt around the house, go and find all of the spare stationary around the house, create a spares box and get ready for book list.

LILY: Absolutely and we always love being so organised that we are ahead of the game and prepared, so by doing that you are setting yourself up for success ready for school next year.

BONNIE: And you are being kind to your future self

LILY: Absolutely and on the point of being kind you know what 2020 has been a huge year and we just want to give a shout out and congratulate and thanks to each and everyone of you out there who has managed to survive and battle through distance education, putting on a new had and trying to help your children maintain a good education throughout the year of 2020 it has been crazy so if no one has thanked you yet…. Thank you well done, you have done great, sit back, relax at the end of this year, take a deep breath, you have earned it and lets do a little bit of the hard yards now so that 2021 can be a more positive year for everybody

BONNIE: Absolutely and thank you for choosing to have us in your ears because we know that it is a very busy time.


LILY: See you later


We would love to see the conversation continue, head over to the Little Home Organised Community group on Facebook, ask questions, find motivation and share your before and afters, and if you enjoyed the show please help us going by hitting subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify or where ever you listen.  It is free and ensures you do not miss and episode but if you really want to share the love leave us a rating and review.  Trust me it makes all the difference in the world.




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