A Rescue Rope For Mothers Drowning In School Papers
Let’s get something straight before we start…I am not a naturally organized person. At all. One glance at my side of the bathroom counter will put to rest any notions that I was born with any organizational skills.
However, I do naturally thrive WHEN things are organized, so I’ve learned to develop systems that keep my home running as smoothly as possible.
One of the biggest organizational challenges for moms is school papers. School forms, school notes, school invitations, school homework, school art, school avalanche.
Last year I figured out a system that worked extremely well for me and I’m going to share it with you today. The thing I want you to remember, though, is that it won’t work for you perfectly until you tweak it. Whenever you try a new system, expect to tweak.
Here is what we’ll cover in this post:
- The Command Center
- The Beauty of the Inbox
- Get a Birds Eye View with Bulletin Boards
- What to do with ALL.THE. ARTWORK.
- A Great Calendar Solution
- Paper Purgatory
- The Quick Decision Solution
- The Resource List and FREE Printable
The Command Center Solution
I’m an “out of sight – out of mind” kind of person. I need to see what is on the calendar and what papers I need to process, so I created a Command Center in our kitchen. I moved the table over to one side and put an Ikea desk, wall files and bulletin boards up on the other side of the breakfast area.
The Inbox Solution
I use wall files that are labeled for each child (I share one with my son). When my kids get home from school, they put all their papers that I need to see into my box.
While they do their homework, I go through the papers, sign things, ask questions and add events to our calendar. When I’m done, I put the papers that need to go back to school in each child’s box so they can put them in the backpacks for the next day.
Sometimes papers pile up, so I also try to make sure that each weekend we clean any leftover out.
Solution for Small Spaces
If you don’t have room for wall files, they make magnetic files you can stick on your refrigerator. You could also just keep a file box on the counter or in a cabinet with a folder for each child.
The Board Solution
I love to see everything we have going on in one glance. So, I have one bulletin board where I pin all the great homework, artwork or certificates. I also pin event invitations and announcements so that I can reference it in case I write it down wrong in my calendar. Not that I’d ever do that…ahem.
The other board used to be used as a weekly calendar, but I found a new system that I’ll show you in a bit. I think I’ll use the board for chore lists and reminders. Not sure.
The Check List Solution
I don’t want to be a nagging mother. By our door, I have a little printable hanging up that reminds the kids of everything they need to do when they get home from school.
We don’t always follow it perfectly, but it is SO much easier for me to say, “Did you do your list?” instead of, “Did you wash your hands and hang up your backpack and turn in your papers and…”
The check list prevents me from being a nagging mom…as much.
The Artwork Solution
My favorite recent solution has been how I handle artwork and mementos that I want to keep.
I bought a stacking tray set, labeled a tray for each child and put it in our cabinet. When the kids bring home something we want to keep, I put it in their tray. If it’s too big for the tray, I take a picture of it (but most things we actually wanted to keep fit just fine). If they tray starts to get full, then we need to thin it out.
Each child only can keep as much stuff each year as fits in the tray.
Yearly Manila Files
At the end of the year, I glance through the papers, thin them out and put them in a large manila file. I label it with the child’s name, year and school grade and stick it in the top shelf of their closet.
It has been an incredibly simple way to tame my sentimental desire to keep stuff without overwhelming our home with papers.
The Rotating Calendar Solution
This is my favorite new find. As I mentioned before, I am a visual person. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist and probably won’t get done.
Even though I keep my calendar on my computer. I needed a calendar I can see while I’m cooking or talking to my kids after school. A month calendar on the fridge wasn’t really helpful because I wanted to see several months at a time and by the time it was the middle of the month, I could only see two weeks ahead.
At Target, I found these magnetic, wipe off, weekly calendars and picked up 4 of them.
I’m in calendar heaven. I fill out a month at a time and as each week passes, I erase it and rewrite it with all the info from 4 weeks ahead.
I can always see 4 weeks at a time, but I only have to update one week at a time. I simply rotate this week to the bottom. It’s been SO helpful for me.
The Paper Purgatory Solution
Another solution I adore is that I created a Paper Purgatory. It’s for all those papers that my kids might ask for or might need for school. I “think” it’s okay to throw them away, but I’m not quite sure. So I placed a bin in our laundry room and I simply toss those questionable papers in there. If the kids need them or ask for them, I don’t have to be the mean Mommy who threw away their first picture of potato stamped Angry Bird even though it’s torn and stained.
The Paper Purgatory has saved me on several occassions while still keeping our actually paper pile quite manageable.
The Quick Decision Solution
It will change your life if you can learn to make quick decisions about things. I know that’s hard in life and with big choices, so starting with school papers might be a great training ground for us indecisive moms.
Practice making quick and clear decisions about every paper that you pick up. Keep it, throw it away or put it in purgatory, but never just put it back down without making a decision.
The Resource List
If you’re inspired to create your own paper solution, I’ve organized all the resources I use into a handy list so you can get a jump start on tackling those papers. I searched for the best solutions for you so some of these are affiliate links and some are not.
Weekly Magnetic Calendar I couldn’t find the one I bought at Target on their website, but you can get this similar one at Amazon. If you decide to see if your local Target still carries them, it’s the Mead OrganizHer Weekly Calendar.
Ikea Desk – since I always get questions about my desk, I thought I’d add that link here as well. It’s called the Vika Veine and it’s kind of awesome.
FREE Checklist Printable for you – You’ve taken the time to read this whole post. I think you deserve a prize. How about a copy of my simple after school check list. Enjoy!
Share Your Ideas and Tips!
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