Organizing All That Paper

My children have been in school for two days and already the amount of paper coming into my home has doubled. Worksheets, school notices, lunch menus, art projects. They all land on my kitchen counter. And if I'm not careful all that paper ends up covering the kitchen counter.

I'll be honest. I'm not always the best about dealing with all the paper that comes into my house. Too often my kitchen counter looks like a war zone. My kitchen counter is the landing place for everything. I can clean it off every day, and it will still have stuff on it that doesn't belong there. And it drives my husband nuts.

I've decided that this year, I have to get a handle on all the paper that walks through the door in my children's backpacks. It's my way of fuflilling the instruction in Ephesians 5:33 to respect my husband. He hates clutter, and He especially hates it on the kitchen counter. So, this school year, I'm going to do my best to keep all that paper from living on my kitchen counter.

If you struggle with the volume of paper that comes home with your kids, join me in changing the way you deal with it.

Touch it once. Don't take things out of your kids' backpacks until you're ready to deal with them. My biggest failure is taking the papers out of their backpacks and thinking I'll get to them later. Go through your kids' papers once. Make a pile to keep and a pile to throw away.

You can't keep everything. All of your child's art projects are beautiful. Perfect spelling tests are achievements. But you can't keep them all. Cut down on the paper by getting rid of most of what comes home. Take pictures of art projects. Have a space on your refrigerator or bulletin board for papers that are well done. As soon as a new paper goes up, take an old one down. Use your recycle bin.

Have a system. Have a place for papers that need to be signed or notices that need to be kept. Get them off your counter, table or desk. We have a 3-section file holder that hangs on the wall behind our door to the garage. My kids' agendas and folders go in there. The third section is for notices and other papers that need to be dealt with. It gets the stuff off my counter but is easily accessible for me and the kids. Every morning, they grab their agendas to pack their backpacks. A bulletin board or a binder with a section for each kid work really well, too.

Don't let it sit. The easiest way to end up with paper clutter is to not deal with things as they come in the door. Avoid the temptation to toss it on the counter, table or desk and deal with it later. If you must wait to go through the papers, then have a specific spot that papers that need attention land.

Getting organized so you can deal with the avalanche of paper that your kids either create or bring home will go a long way toward keeping your table, counter or desk from looking like a war zone. Bring that paper under control. Not having to sort through a mile-high stack of paper to find the lost field trip permission slip will help make this the best school year ever.

I've decided to extend our The Best School Year Ever series by a week. I find I've got a few more topics I want to cover. Don't miss next week, when we'll talk about afternoon routines, making time for family, getting your kids to talk, making friends and how to make what you've learned work for the long haul. Plus we'll haveĀ a fabulous giveaway to finish it all off. Have a great weekend, and I'll meet you back here Monday morning.