Back-to-School: Winning the Never Ending Paper Battle

Photo courtesy of ArtKive

Our kids are about to head back to school and this can send us into a state of panic with all the looming expectations and coordination involved in managing a household. This year, make the goal of taking control rather than letting the chaos control you!

Let’s talk about the endless papers that make their way from our kids’ backpacks to every nook and cranny of our living space. It’s difficult to relax with stacks of school papers surrounding us and constantly reminding us of our “to-do’s.” Without an established family paper flow system in place, this can lead to missed deadlines, last minute planning, and a lot of unnecessary weight in our valuable space.

While I don’t want to add to your “to-do’s,” DO consider creating a command center in your home hub. There are a ton of Pinterest ideas to excite (or overwhelm) you and get you started. Please keep it simple with what’s relevant to your family, and remember that “done is better than perfect.”

Once you have a home for paperwork, the key to managing the paper flow is to set up a daily routine and have your kids help! In my home, this process starts on the car ride home and ends before dinnertime. Have your child summarize the contents of each paper, highlight important events, and then jointly decide whether the paper needs to be purged or made a priority.

Insignificant papers can be recycled immediately, important dates can be recorded on your calendar, and paperwork needing completion or follow-up can be added to an Action Board. Assign a routine time of day that works best for you and encourage child involvement. They can handle it and are gaining skills along the way.

I’m regularly asked how to handle all the lovely artwork that spews into the home. I love my child’s art but I don’t want it to monopolize all my walls and counter space. Artwork should be a source of joy rather than stress. Consider temporarily displaying special projects on a “wall of fame” (a fridge works fine) to boost your child’s self-esteem.

If your child wishes to save his or her masterpiece, let them take true ownership of it and store it in their own personal memory box, portfolio or container. This not only gives it a home but also puts a limit on the keep quantity.

Other options are to take a picture of it or use one of the many digital portfolio apps out there like Artkive or Keepy. Encourage educators to use Artsonia or other apps that archive art and provide customized purchase options.

Again, our kids can routinely help in this decision-making of what to keep and what is purge-worthy, or what I call the “love it, or leave it” approach. In my home, my son and I make a joint decision of what we truly value and what has fulfilled its purpose. I no longer have to feel guilty for discarding on the sly and together we can make room for those items we really love.

*Photo courtesy of Artkive

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