Back-to-school is a busy time of year for families and often coincides with the beginning of an avalanche of paperwork that piles up quickly. From deciding what to keep and what to toss (or recycle), to storage solutions and organizational hacks, busy parents could probably really use these tips (and maybe an adult beverage)!
Decide Ahead of Time What to Keep
Let's not kid ourselves: you'll be proud of everything your child brings home. But does that mean you should hang onto it? Should it take up valuable space in your home? Do yourself and your kids a favor and keep only the important stuff - awards, achievements, programs of activities they participated in - and throw away the quizzes and daily flyers. Keep the volume manageable and remember it's a long race to the end of schooling - there are many years to accumulate papers!
When it comes to art and other creative keepsakes, consider a separate storage solution that takes into account the three dimensional nature of different keepsakes.
Get as Much Done at the Beginning of the School Year as Possible
Being organized in August gives you a better chance of maintaining that system throughout the school year. Designate a space that is easy for the kids to reach and remember and show them how to put the papers for parents in that spot for at least the first two weeks of school or until it becomes a habit. Using positive reinforcement (read: a healthy snack) always helps too.
And being realistic about the time you'll devote to maintaining the system doesn't hurt either. Keep it simple and use self-limiting storage - aka commit to one hanging folder bin per child and one folder per year per child and then work within the defined space.
Make Sure Everyone and Every Paper Has their Own Space
The type of paperwork and papers that any given person contributes to the home depends on a lot of different factors. Each person's routine and needs should be considered when designating their space. School kids have homework, paperwork that requires parent action, info on school events, etc. Ideally, each child or type of paperwork will have its own spot and parents work together with the children to commit to a routine.
Which sometimes means parents have to be flexible. If the routine you lovingly crafted and have tried to implement for four weeks is just leading to frustration, it might be best to try something different that accomplishes the same goals.
Learn from Others
There's no need to reinvent the wheel every year just because last year's system was abandoned by November. YouTube has hundreds of videos of people sharing their lessons learned and ideas for organizing hectic family life and the paperwork that accompanies it. Pinterest is practically overflowing with organizational hacks and tips for any specific problem. And there's always your parents and friends, ready with advice!