Permission slips, soccer schedules, contact forms, fliers, homework, report cards … it can seem easier to prepare your income taxes than to organize your children’s paperwork!
Here are some tips to keep your cool now that the kids are back in school.
Use a Master Family Calendar Whether you use an old-school wall-mounted calendar with spaces for each family member or an electronic version linked to your smart phone, being able to track everyone’s schedules at a glance will keep you on top of all your family’s activities. Assign a different color for each person to make it easier to see who’s where, when. Transfer the information from schedules, initiations and fliers to the calendar and toss the papers.
Attack the backpacks Use a family in-box to gather any papers that need your attention from kids’ backpacks as soon as they come home from school. Process these papers every day and you’ll never miss the notice of an upcoming field trip or school play. It’s an in-box, not a storage bin; don’t let things pile up! Put a brightly-colored translucent folder in each kid’s backpack for the papers they must bring back to school.
Create a Command Center Designate one place for contact lists, schedules, directions and other papers that you refer to often. You can use a binder, a bulletin board, or file folders. A desk-top file box keeps a variety of papers organized at your fingertips. Put your command center in a convenient spot so you can easily access the information that you need.
Save the Treasures Collect the best of your kids’ drawings, writing samples, and report cards throughout the school year. An under-the-bed box for each child is a great place to store them. Take a photo of anything that’s too large for the box and that you don’t want to display. At the winter break and after the school year, weed out anything that’s no longer a keeper. When summer comes, transfer the treasures to a more permanent memory box and you’ll be ready for the start of the next school year.
Have Some Perspective About Paper Piles To paraphrase Phyllis Diller, “[Organizing] your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” If you can keep track of the most important things, and keep your sanity, you’re in pretty good shape!