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Best Practices for Organizing Kids’ Paperwork

Best Practices for Organizing Kids paperwork - columbia sc moms blog

My friends will tell you I’m a neat freak. My friends might be right. I was woefully unprepared for the deluge of paper that comes with children. T-shirt order form, ticket order form, homework, projects, therapy notes, doctors’ forms and arts and crafts routinely litter the kitchen counter, cover my desk, poke out from my calendar and, frankly, just make me want to cry. It’s taken me almost seven years of careful pruning (and lot’s of Pinning) to really organize the onslaught of paperwork.

Therein lies the most important part of any organizing project… You have to make it work for you and your life otherwise it will never be used.

How I Organize Kids’ Papers

Calendar

I have a purse-sized weekly calendar to track appointments and anything date driven – birthdays, holidays, due dates – as well as a dry-erase weekly wall calendar so everyone can see everything at a glance. Paperwork that needs to be delivered (i.e. doctors’ forms) are tucked into the back of my calendar because on the way out of the door, everyone will need to suddenly eat, drink or poop, and the forms will never be remembered.

The Pile

While I fantasize about the perfect accessories to organize my desk (I love office supply stores the way men love hardware stores), my printer is home to “the pile.” Everything that comes in any given day – receipts, mail, school papers – goes to the pile. I love the concept of “only touch it once!” but I don’t always have time to think about it right then. When I try to ignore the pile, it slides off the printer as a friendly reminder to pay attention.

Once a day, I make a point to sit down at my desk and deal with the paper. Papers I may need to reference go into my household binder – class roster, IEP goals, and therapy goals. Worksheets, class work and homework are held together with a binder clip in the filing cabinet until the end of the school year and are recycled. This week’s homework and paperwork are paper clipped and left in plain view on my desk.

Organize Kids' Paperwork

The current state of my desk, complete with my printer pile and sweet tea.

Portable File Cases

Each hooligan has their own team of therapists and doctors, and I often need therapy notes, copies of forms and medical files on the go. A portable file case for each boy was the easy answer. I keep a folder in the front for their VIP (very important paperwork including current photos, doctor/therapist contact list, vaccine schedule and the like). Truthfully, papers collect on top until it no longer closes, and then they get filed and organized.

Digital

Until you have kiddos, you have no idea how much art these mini Picassos can really produce. At first, everything they create seems really special, but I solemnly swear the feeling fades when the school deluge begins. Spiral notebooks serve as good, inexpensive artist’s sketchbooks, organize paper, and can be easily saved, but most creative pieces are displayed somewhere in our home for a while before the next step.

Organize Kids' Paperwork

My six year old’s desk is always littered with “projects.”

Art projects that fit on my scanner bed are scanned, saved and appear in the family slideshow on the computer and television. I take a quick pic of any too large. This is the hard part so brace yourselves… After I scan them, I throw them in the trash.

That’s right. The trash.

I don’t even recycle them because they inevitably find their way back into the house. The really special ones are saved in a box in the top of the boys’ closet with the promise of one day being sorted and organized into cute folders by age/grade in their own cute file boxes (no words for how much I love this idea from Jen at IHeartOrganizing complete with free printables!).

The biggest secret to any organization is to use it; you have to commit to taking time to make it work. What system or systems do you use to control the clutter?

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