Reader Victoria submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
My husband and I our expecting our first child in July. Being the responsible adults we are (ha?), we took the child-birth and breastfeeding classes to prepare. Now I’m overwhelmed by all the handouts on everything from heartburn to pre-term labor to when to start feeding solids, etc. I’m at a lost at what to do with it all. Should I keep some of the handouts for future reference, or recycle them and look toward other resources for answers when needed? Help!
A giant congratulations to you on your expectant little one! The first thing to do is remember that thousands of years of women have given birth and raised children successfully without any of those pamphlets. So, if anything happens to them, you’ll be fine. I’m not saying you should get rid of them, but if you do, you’ll easily be able to ask your doctor, friends, and family for advice, as well as consult numerous books on these same topics once your child is born.
That being said, a nice resource guide is never a bad thing to keep around, especially if it provides advice you trust. I recommend getting a three-ring binder and filling it with sheet protectors. Sort through all the pamphlets and handouts you’ve received, and put those that you think are worthwhile into the sheet protectors. You might also want to store important numbers, track your child’s measurements, and keep any valuable papers related to your child in the same notebook. A three-ring binder is perfect to take with you to all those doctor’s visits you’ll make the first year and easy to use when you need the resources at 2:00 in the morning when your child is crying for no apparent reason.
I think you’ll be surprised, though, at how rarely you consult those resources. I really only looked at the chart I had about when to introduce certain foods and how to identify possible allergic reactions. The notebook was more of a security blanket for me. I’m glad I had it, but now that my son is about to turn one, I’ve already recycled the vast majority of papers in it.
If you’re worried that you’ll need something after you’ve recycled it, simply scan it and just keep the information digitally before dropping the handout into the recycling bin. Also, the notebooks are great to keep even after your child reaches his or her first birthday. They’re perfect for keeping track of your child’s sports schedules, preschool phone tree, and all those random papers your child will acquire. If you have another child, get a new three-ring binder for him or her, too.
Thank you, Victoria, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. And, again, congratulations on becoming a parent! Be sure to check out the comments for more ideas from parents about how to organize your child-related documents.
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