Asking a group of mothers whether they are looking forward to the start of school can create more drama than a discussion on politics or plastic surgery. For me the answer to that question has been different every year. It depends on the child’s age, my personal stress level and a myriad of other factors. One thing we can all agree on is that this time of year presents some unique organizational challenges. For me the biggest challenge is the paperwork. I conquered the clutter with a Mommy Command Central. Steps to creating this area in your home are as follows:
1) Identify an area. Whether it’s a spot on the wall, a table in the entry way or a spot on the kitchen counter, you need an area where paperwork will land. This location must be convenient for both you and your children or another spot (not of your choosing) will quickly take form.
2) Identify your family style. Are you stackers or sorters? I realize this may seem overly simplistic, but it works even for me. (My children are actually crumplers—they prefer to transport their school paperwork in a tightly formed ball.) If you are stackers a file box system might not work, but letter trays will.
3) Identify your tools. If you will be using wall space then you need magnetic wall pockets, if you will be using the counter then you can use letter trays, file boxes, magazine files or a binder system.
4) Identify the who and what. Use printed labels or color to identify what goes where. I have three children so I’ve always been partial to color (as long as it isn’t so visible it disrupts my décor.) One child is green, one child is red, and the other is blue (not literally). You can use color dots to label their box or basket. Too complicated? A simple printed label with their name will also work.
1) Keep it simple. Add complexity only as needed.
2) Review the system prior to implementation, so everyone in the family is clear on how it works and what is expected of them.
3) If it’s a new system remember that building good habits takes about 30 days, don’t give up on your kids or your system prematurely.
1) Toss anything that is available online.
2) Use sheet protectors, paper pockets and a binder to create a quick reference place for phone lists, schedules, etc.
3) If you have multiple children at the same school make sure to discard extra copies of notices, etc.
4) Purchase two art boxes per child. Collect important artwork or homework in one box. At year-end they choose 1-2 items to keep and you choose 1-2 items. Those keepsakes go into the second box. The collection box is emptied each year.
5) Encourage high school age children to keep a file box with graded homework and tests until grades have been finalized. Teachers are busy and have many students, keying in the wrong test score can happen.
6) Print several sheets of labels by subject and with your child’s name. Keep them in a paper pocket in your Quick Reference Binder (see number 2). You’ll have them available throughout the year.
7) Give each child a plastic pouch to bring home paperwork that needs to be signed by you. That will prevent the crumple issue I mentioned earlier.