Got Paper Clutter?
Summer is officially over when the kiddos are headed off to school once again. Instead of days filled with camp, beach and pool fun, it’s early to bed, the making of lunches, homework, sports practice, studying and PAPERS. Oohhhhh…. the PAPER!!!!! There’s the artwork and art projects, class assignments, permission slips, school notices, testing information and the list goes on and on. While working with clients over the years, the mountains of papers we come across from their kids is quite daunting and overwhelming. Paper is one of the biggest challenges that clients face. Parents have a hard time deciding what to do with it all. Should it stay or should it go? While they may temporarily get thrown on the kitchen counter, or the desk, or left in the backpacks, they should all have a “home” where they live. So, what do we do with it all you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
Let’s start with the daily assignments, class work, etc. The problem a lot of people have is that they like everything because it is cute. They are learning to read and write and color and add, etc. Yes…I know. It is just adorable seeing their handwriting when they are little munchkins and it’s even cuter as their handwriting progresses. But the reality is you don’t need to keep these things or at least not all of them. It is fine if you want to keep a few. The reality is they will all learn the 3 R’s and more.
Then there’s the artwork. And there’s a lot of artwork. It seems like every day they have a portfolio of new pieces especially when they are younger. If you are being honest with yourself you know that they are not all museum quality. So, the ones that aren’t your favorite can easily be thrown away. Just don’t do it in front of your child. You don’t want to traumatize them. You can always display the nicest ones in your home but do change them out as others come in. Another option is to take pictures of the nicest of the bunch and make a photo book out of them. Now you will actually be able to enjoy the art instead of it sitting in a bin in the garage or under the bed. Once the pictures are taken they can then be thrown away, especially the ones that are three dimensional and are hard to store. In the event that your child is extremely artistic and could be the next Picasso, you can always store the pieces in an actual art portfolio. That will at least house them in an organized, safe manner.
As parents it is our job to keep track of the paper. That means we should routinely check the backpacks or check in with the older kids about school notices and permission slips. The dates of the events should be put on our calendar so we don’t forget. The signed permission slips become the responsibility of the child to return to the teacher and it now becomes a teachable moment as well. One of the ways to get the kids to remember to return it is clipping it to their notebook so they see it. A lot of kids need to see things to remember them.
These tips help parents in the battle against paper. The other thing to remember is this. There is not a person alive that has ever asked to bring their artwork or school work with them to college or their own apartment. It is very doubtful that your child will be the first.
Here’s to a happy, clutter free school year!