Uncomplicating kids’ papers

So everyone is probably a bit stir crazy at this point of #stayathome (is it day 14 or 414?) so I want to offer support and keep you busy. This week’s #uncomplicate will definitely take you longer than 5 minutes but I think that’s the point now. You’ve probably cleaned your junk drawer 8 times already and need something else to focus on.🤣

This week’s uncomplicate is courtesy of A LOT of messages I’ve received requesting help. The typical tidal wave of kids’ papers that parents have to process is usually overwhelming. 

Since kids are home and not bringing home papers, NOW is the perfect time to set up a system to manage these more efficiently in the future. Because you will have kids going back to school. Eventually. And the papers will start coming back.

Uncomplicate your kids papers

I’m talking about the daily papers that typically come home every day, covering your kitchen table, mudroom, desk, and living room. Some need to be read and trashed. Some are homework, worksheets, or school work for you to see progress. And some require your attention and response.
  1. Get an inbox for each child. This could be something that sits on a counter or is attached to the wall. 
  2. Put the inbox close to where these papers come in to your home. It might be on your kitchen desk or wall near the back door. Every home will have its own landing spot. 
  3. Put your child’s papers in their own bin. Label it with his or her name. Later, each child can put his own papers in there. As they get older, there will be fewer papers to process but it’s great for them to know where their stuff is.
  4. Now that the papers have a home, you’ve got to set aside time to go through them.
  5. Anything that requires your attention or signature needs daily action. Add any important event dates or appointments to your calendar immediately. 
  6. Once a week, at least, go through any remaining homework, school work, and art. Put a To Do on your calendar as a reminder. Be judicious in what you keep. You can’t save everything!
  7. Assignments that they’ve written about themselves or something that interests them is good to keep. Art that shows their personality is also worth keeping. Also, save some samples of their handwriting from each year. It’s fun to see it mature as they do.

This week: I want you to create a landing spot for your kids’ papers.

  • Get a pretty basket or bin to be the landing spot for your kids’  incoming papers. Think rectangle, open top, no taller than 3″ high. I like these to be flat and open on top so you can add to it easily
  • Here are links to some solution ideas you can order. 
  • FOR DIGITAL information, create a folder in your inbox called *Child’s Name* School Notifications. You can have a separate folder for each child and school.
  • Move relevant emails to the folder once you read them so you can find them later. Delete when you no longer need,
  • Add future events and appointments to your calendar immediately. Add them to your paper and digital calendars if you use both.
  • Make a weekly date with yourself to go through your kids’ inbox(es) and process it fully. Call it a “School Papers date” on your calendar with a weekly repeat.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw papers away.

Uncomplicate your mail

One thing that constantly plagues my clients is the never-ending bulk pile of mail sitting on their kitchen table, or whatever surface it ends up.

I totally get it. I’ve been there. There was a time in my life when I had the Sisyphean mail mountain. I traveled a lot so it just kept getting taller and wider and scarier. Obviously that caused a ton of stress because I wasn’t on top of things, I missed deadlines and even came close to getting my power shut off because I hadn’t paid a couple of electric bills.

That was too much anxiety for me so I took control and made a serious habit change.

Nowadays, I make a habit to sort my mail every day. The way I do it is:

  1. Sort out all of the junk while I’m walking from my mailbox to my house.
  2. Put the junk mail in the recycle bin so it doesn’t even enter my home.
  3. Open bills immediately and toss out any flyers/ marketing extras in eluded in the envelope.
  4. Put bills with their envelope around the bill on a tray on my desk. It’s fake silver but looks so much more attractive than scattered on the kitchen counter
  5. Catalogs and magazines go in their own basket. I have to admit I get a lot fewer of these than I used to because I just don’t have the time to read them. Hello, Instagram!
  6. Appointments and parties go immediately on the calendar. I’ll paperclip them to my calendar if they are cute or worth hanging on to until the event.
  7. Actual cards and letters are placed on my desk to open and savor in a quiet moment. Those are so rare I want to take the time to read them slowly to soak them in. I do have a special basket for sentimental cards and letters that I want to save.

 It probably sounds like I have 1,000 baskets in my house but really it’s all about assigning a home for everything. When you have a place to put things, you know where they go and where to find them when you need them. 

This week: I want you to sort your mail.

  • Adopt a zero tolerance policy for junk mail in the home.
  • Get a pretty basket or bin to (temporarily) store your incoming mail. Think rectangle, open top, no taller than 3″ high.
  • Unsubscribe from catalogs and magazines that you no longer have time to read.
  • To remove your name from credit card and promotional mailings, go to http://www.optoutprescreen.com
  • To remove your name from ValPak coupon mailings, go to https://www.valpak.com/coupons/show/mailinglistsuppression
  • Make a weekly date with yourself to go through your mail and process it fully. Call it a “mail date” on your calendar with a weekly repeat. Let NOTHING hinder this event. 

It’s not enough to have a place to put all of your mail. You still have to go through it. 😁

Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash