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.

Organizing Kids’ Papers

Oh, the rushing tide of papers that comes in with your child every afternoon as they come home from school! From permission slips to homework to worksheets, how do I keep it all organized? You need a system, quick, for the incoming and outgoing, but you also need a way to store the papers you want to keep. Here you go!

I’ve written about organizing Kids’ Artwork so if you’re looking for those tips, click here.

For the papers that come in but need to go out, set up an inbox for each child. This can be a cardboard box or basket but it needs to be large enough to hold the paper without them folding over or falling out. I like to use an inbox from an office supply store that is designed for the work environment. Select one in your child’s favorite color and put their name on it.

You also need a system for storing the paperwork that you want actually want to keep. Some examples are:

      • report cards
      • progress reports
      • samples of school work (emphasis on the word “sample“)
      • certificates of activity participation
      • school play, dance, or concert programs
      • important letters and cards from confirmation or kindergarten graduation
      • class photos
      • team photos
      • mentions in newspapers

For all of this I recommend getting a plastic file box with a lid (the one pictured here is from the Container Store or you can get it off of Amazon by clicking here) for each child. Get a different color of hanging files for each child’s box. Create labels for each school year/ grade and put them in the box. As these papers come in and you want to keep them, file them in the appropriate year. As your child grows you’ll be able to give them this responsiblity and eventually the whole box.

Click the photos below to see what I’ve used.

organized kids paper childs paperwork

THE PERFECT FILE BIN FOR EACH CHILD’S PAPERS

THESE HANGING FILES ARE GREAT QUALITY & COME IN LOTS OF COLORS

Just so you know….

          • there is no set rule for what you should keep
          • you’re not a bad parent if you throw some things away
          • not everything is a treasure worth keeping

Happy organizing!

What Every Family Needs to Organize Their Kids

One of the most frequently asked questions I get about organization is “how do I organize my kids’ constant paperwork?” While the same principles apply to organizing adults’ paperwork, typically a parent will get this started and then it gets passed down to the child to maintain, thus teaching them valuable organization skills. The problem comes when no system is in place and it feels like a herculean task to get it sorted out to begin with, much less come up with a system to maintain going forward.  This is where Neatsmart offers you an easy method to manage the paperwork and activity-tracking chaos:

  1. Get a small filing box for each child. This is where you can get creative with your choices.  Everyone from Container Store to Office Depot has an option for you. Choose something with a lid to protect the papers from dust and other damage and so you can stack them if necessary.
  2. Fill the box with hanging files in a pretty color or your child’s favorite color. Create a tab for each year of school.
  3. Here is what goes in the box: at least 1 school picture for each year, copies of recital programs, honor roll announcements, sports brackets, newspaper clippings, report cards, special cards or letters sent, etc. Think of this as the school memories box that you’ll eventually pass on to your child (because you will) and fill it with the little things you never really know what to do with but you’ll both enjoy looking back on years from now.

This accomplishes 2 things: it gives a home for these types of papers and it helps to teach your children organization skills. You probably won’t file every paper every day but I would designate an area of your home to temporarily capture these papers and then as your children get older they can help you put these papers away. It will be a fun trip through memory lane each time you look at old pictures and report cards that your kids will ultimately be glad you saved.

Here is what does NOT go in the box: birth certificate, passport, adoption papers, social security card, and artwork. The first 3 or 4 items should be in a separate file where you are storing the family’s important papers. These are not things that you’ll need to readily access and you don’t want your kids rummaging around in at this point.

Artwork can be handled a variety or ways, depending on the volume. Some should be displayed in the house whether it is on the refrigerator or a large bulletin board where it can be admired. Important pieces that you want to keep can go in a portfolio binder. Others can be photographed and later made into a book or just viewed online. I know it is hard to throw away any of these pieces but you just can’t keep everything unless you have unlimited storage and time to catalog it all.

Another thing every family with kids needs is a calendar that everyone can see. Most often this will be in the kitchen or mudroom or family room. All activities that involve the kids should be put on this calendar: birthday parties, sports practices, sleepovers if they are scheduled in advance, birthdays, doctors’ and dentists’ appointments, games, vacations, application due dates, church events, I could go on and on. It is especially helpful if this is kept close to where mail is opened so that you can immediately put the event on the calendar when you are advised of it via mail like invitations and appointment reminders. Everyone in the family can see what is going on and start to take responsibility for their activities. This doesn’t mean everyone remembers everything J but it does mean everyone knows where to find out what is going on. I know lots of us have personal planners that we keep with us either in our purse or briefcase or on our phone and, yes, this is duplicative. The benefit of this calendar is that everyone can see it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to write things twice to help remember better!

So spend a little time putting your file box and file folders together and they’ll serve you for many years to come. You’ll have a box full of memories ready to pass down to your kids who I promise will thank you later. J Get your calendar up and start putting all of the family’s activities on it to keep everyone schedule straight.

Happy organizing!