Every week, my children bring an onslaught of papers into my house between school, activities, and church. It can make every area of my house cluttered very quickly if I’m not on top of it. My kids would bring paper home from school and sometimes put it on the kitchen table, or sometimes the counter, or the dining table, or their bed, or the dryer…and we would NEVER know where anything important went or what was going on. I quickly realized that this was not going to work with three kids.
Between mail, school, activities, and church, I have a TON of paper coming into the house on a daily basis. If I didn’t have a system for dealing with this, it would quickly pile up and take over the house (like all the drawings taped to our walls by my middle child!).
In “Dealing with Paper Clutter” Part 2, I am writing about how to tackle the deluge of school papers that comes into your house. If you are looking for ways to stay on top of all the mail, check out Part 1 here.
As I said with the mail, the best advice I can give you is this: deal with it RIGHT AWAY. Immediately upon arriving at home (or when your kids arrive at home), look through all of the papers and decide what should be done with each one.
How to get your kids’ school/activity papers organized and keep it that way:
- Immediately look through school/activity papers. Throw away or recycle what you don’t need right away.
- Put the papers you are keeping in a file or basket in a common area of the house. A file for each person is extremely helpful. This should be where people immediately put any papers that are worth keeping. The one we use is a wall file from IKEA. I labeled each section with one person’s name so there is no confusion about where my kids should put their papers. My kids drop their take-home folders in the file when they come home from school so I can look through their stuff. Homework, reading logs, and spelling lists stay in the file until it is time to turn them in or the learning unit is over. (I also keep each of my children’s chore list in their file.)
- Set up a filing system for school work or art that you want to hold on to long term. If you’re like me, you will begin the school year keeping way too many things and will have to go through everything again to decide what to let go of. To keep myself in check, I’ve only allowed myself to keep one hanging file box for each of my kiddos. This is where I put art, projects, and report cards that I want to keep. I found an idea on the I Heart Organizing blog the most helpful, and I basically copied her method. I’ve been using this method for 4 years now, and it has served us well. 🙂
- Keep a binder for each child’s school/activity information. This is where I keep the school calendar, classroom rules, and other information I often get at the beginning of the year. Now it is all in one place for me to access throughout the year without them being misplaced!
- Go through the paperwork currently in your house. If your house is currently cluttered with paper, gather everything and decide if you should recycle or file each item. Take action on any paperwork you have been putting off. Get it done so you can start tomorrow with a clean slate!
- Help your children establish a habit of putting their school papers in the new drop-off zone. If you are at home when they get home, start by asking them to empty their backpacks as soon as they come in the door. If you aren’t there, start by reminding them when you arrive. If you help them keep on top of it, it will become a habit over time. Start young! You might be reminding them every day in pre-k/kindergarten, but as they get older they will need your reminders less and less.
Following those steps will have you well on your way to keeping school paper and activity clutter under control. If you (and your kids) keep on top of it, you don’t need to worry (as much) about important papers getting lost or forgotten.
Here is some inspiration to start dealing with your paper clutter: