Back to school or back to paper? With the start of school inevitably means tons of paper clutter. It’s everywhere. Constant flyers coming home telling you of upcoming events in school. Of course you get the lovely packet that you have to fill out of all of the emergency contact phone numbers and whether or not you want insurance. I’m still trying to fashion a stamp for that. My hand gets tired. Or the school needs to start giving you the option of doing it all online. It would save a tree if they did. I think I have a hand cramp already just thinking about filling out the packets 3 times over in just over a week.
Lets not forget about the artwork and A papers that come home that of course need proper display and respect. So just what do you do to not end up swimming in all of that paper? Well, I have some suggestions for you.
The one thing I miss about being the PTA president is telling my kids all PTA flyers can go right in the trash. I didn’t need to even look at it because I probably helped make it or print it off and put it in the mailboxes. But now that I have taken a step back from my involvement I need to actually look at everything.
My best advice with flyers and really this goes for party invitations too is to take care of them right away. Look at them, check your calendar, and decide if you’re going to go. If you will, then fill out anything you need to to send back and place it with your calendar. Whatever your system is for that. I like keeping all invites and flyers right by the calendar. Marking the calendar and making sure to rotate out as soon as the event is over.
If you’re not going to go toss it. If it’s a book club order form or maybe a Box Tops sheet, then have a file for such school things that’s accessible. When at all possible though do what needs to be done with it right then and there and toss it. Because otherwise you’ll end up with about 5 copies of the same thing in varying colors around the house.
Believe me, PTA people love sending out reminders in varying eye catching colors. When you do get those reminders toss them immediately because you already have it on your calendar, or already know that you can’t go. Trust me, it’s the only way to stay sane. And if you have more than one child in the same school you’ll have double or triple the amount of the same thing. In that case I tell my older daughter to toss her copy of school wide flyers for me. Just don’t even bother handing it to me I don’t need it more than once.
School Business Papers
The first day of school my kids always get such a hoot because I have homework and they don’t. The monotonous task of filling out paper after paper after paper of emergency contact information. It’s a pain, but it needs to be done. And my belief is again that it’s best to just bite the bullet and get it done right away. This way it gets into the backpacks for the next day of school and you don’t get a million reminders to return it.
This is good practice for the other times paperwork comes home that needs to be filled out. Like permission slips. Fill it out and send it back right away, then you don’t have to worry about it.
Art Work/School Work
This is probably the biggest paper clutter and hardest to part with. The big blue painted art work and the A+ on the math test, or even the B- on the spelling test that was studied for hours for because of course you want to acknowledge the hard work. And that’s important.
So here’s how it works in my house. Good grades go on the fridge, but only on the side, never on the front and only one paper per child on the fridge at a time. When the next good grade comes in they have to remove the other good grade. My children hang onto these papers because I want them to have it for help in studying for midterms or finals should they need it. At the end of the year they go through and decide what to keep and what to toss.
All of this was groomed into them though with their art work. The art work gets a spot on a wall. Currently it’s in our hall. The artwork is displayed there all school year long. A new piece added as they come home. At the end of the year we go through the art work and keep some of it in a box marked with their name and grade. Not all of it. Only a few really important pieces.
Another idea if you’re so inclined is to scan them on a computer. Then save them to a CD. The only thing is the macaroni men don’t scan too well.
The rest of the school paper like the graded school work and homework gets checked and then thrown away. My middle daughter sometimes asks to keep some. My oldest generally has to keep it in her folder. But again this goes with the do now to keep it all manageable. My kids don’t usually mind and seem to understand that we just can’t keep everything.
If you start them early on tossing the clutter as it comes into the house, then it makes it a little easier. And they will be able to make these decisions eventually on their own. Well, for the most part. My middle daughter has a hard time throwing things out, but that’s only because her creative mind sees some sort of purpose for every piece of paper.
So that’s how I contain the school paper clutter in our house. Take care of it right away. And no guilt when things get tossed. How do you deal with the school paper in your house?
If you haven’t already read the rest of my Back To School Guide be sure to check out my getting back on a schedule and preparing lunch and snack. Then be sure to come back tomorrow to learn more about the benefits of the PTA/PTO.