It's back to school time for many of us and one of the questions I am most often asked is "What do you do with all of the paper?" After having kids in school for several years now I feel like I have a good grasp on the whole paper situation. Here are some tips and solutions I have used throughout the years to control the amount of paper that comes home with our kids each day...
GET RID OF IT
It sounds a little ridiculous but the goal is to get rid of the paper as soon as it comes in the house. The problem that most families face is that we aren't sure where to put all of the announcements, fliers, schedules and homework and so all of this information begins to pile up on our counters and on the front of the fridge. This just causes more clutter and confusion so the best thing to do is to get rid of it. Every day when my kids come home from school I go through their folders and pull out all of the fliers, announcements and homework papers that are in their take-home folder and I write down any important information on one of the dry-erase calendars in our kitchen. If there is a flier announcing the school picnic, I write down the day and time and any other important info for that event and then I throw the flier away. I never keep the flier. This is huge! I used to keep all of the papers and fliers and they piled up on our counter. I would think I would remember these things because they were right there on the counter but of course I would forget things because I didn't write it down. One of the best things you can do to get rid of clutter is to get rid of the piles of paper on the counter and the fridge. Just write down the important information and you are good to go!
Our calendars are from Target but obviously any calendar will do. Everyone in our family has a color that I use to write down their different sports schedules, bday parties, playdates etc. It saves space on the calendar not having to write down names next to each event. We use two calendars because I like being able to look at the month ahead. It helps with planning and keeps everyone on the same page.
I also write the same information down in my planner so I can check things when I am not at home. This is where I keep track of my own clients, meetings, class schedules etc.
There also are so many digital options to keep track of important dates and times. Cozi.com is a great free app that helps coordinate everyones schedules, manage to-do lists and even keeps track of grocery lists. Google calendar is also another great option that most people love. I have tried to go digital but I still love writing things down but I know for so many people digital is what works best for their family.
My kids are still young so we haven't encountered the crazy homework situation just yet, but it is most often my responsibility to remind them what they need to be doing on a daily/weekly basis. These folders from Target have been a lifesaver. Each child has their own and the folder is always kept in the same place in the kitchen. When my daughter comes home on Monday with the spelling words she needs to study throughout the week, the list goes into the folder under the spelling tab. This way we always know where things are. This is also a great spot to put all of the homework policies, routines and schedules for each class. That way you will always know what is expected. When I tell the kids it's time to work on their homework, they can grab their folder and they get to work.
We keep a file box on our counter that has really helped keep a lot of the paper situation contained. If you have the space in your kitchen this can be a great thing. Ours is from The Container Store but you can find one at Target, IKEA or any office supply store. This is where I keep a lot of important information for school such as the directories, class lists, login information for computer programs they use for school and any other paper that needs to be kept throughout the year. This is also where I put tests and quizzes and papers that the kids get back and I want to hold onto for a bit. Most of the time these papers get thrown away after a few weeks (or less) but it is nice to hold onto them for a little so that when your kindergartner asks where her apple paper that she worked so hard on is, you don't have to make any excuses. I also post the full school year calendar on the front of the file box but we haven't received it yet;)
Every family situation is different and what works for our family may not work for everyone but hopefully this helps some of you with the paper problems that we all face. I'd love to hear some of your solutions too! What do you do to help contain the paper that comes into your house. Does your family use a digital calendar?