It seems like there is a never-ending trail of paper entering my house all of the time. As soon as I feel like I am on top of the situation the mail man, the kids, my husband, the dog (OK…not the dog) brings in more paper that I have to sort and decide what is trash and what we will need next week, next month or next year. In this post I am going to steer clear of financial statements and paperwork that requires a CPA to know if we need to keep it until we die. I want to focus on the mail, invitations and school papers that when left ignored (or fall behind the bookcase) can be a real irritation.
Be a good friend and respond to invitations ASAP! When planning any event from a kid’s birthday to a black-tie auction all the hostess wants to know is “Will anyone show up?!” So the sooner one can alleviate her worst fear the better!
When I receive an invitation I open it up immediately and check the date on our family calendar. If I know we can’t make the event I send my regrets immediately. If I need to check with others in our family, I put it on the fridge to remind me to check with my husband or children when they get home and RSVP as soon as we have an answer. Then I put the invitation in my daily files so I have easy access to the details if I need them.
We keep our household paperwork that my husband and I both access (utility bills, mortgage statements, receipts, etc.) in a filing cabinet in our home office. However, I have a Bigso Stockholm Desktop File box that I keep the paperwork that I access often. I have it in my favorite color with colorful hanging folders to make looking inside more fun!
I keep information that I access regularly but doesn’t need to be kept as secure as other household information. The information I keep in this box is usually replaced annually, at the least. Some sample files are:
Current School Information: Includes the Parent/Student Handbook, The Student Academic Calendar for the district, the Cafeteria menu (in case the one hanging in our pantry needs to be replaced mid-year), handouts form “Meet the Teacher” and any other information about school that I might need to reference through-out the year.
Extra-Curricular Information: Each child has a file in this box and it includes hard copies of practice and/or games schedules, rehearsal and performance schedules, receipts I might need for proof of purchase (think band instrument that was never delivered to the school!) etc. Some activities such as Girl Scouts requires its own folder due to all that is involved in that activity.
Invitations: After I have RSVP'd to an event and it is scheduled on my calendar I put the invitation in the front of the File Box. That way if there is a detail about the event that I overlooked I can easily refer back to the invitation. Once the event passes, I recycle the invitation.
Current Projects: I often find ourselves involved in projects that last just a season of the year – fundraising event chair, room-parent coordination, Summer vacation planning etc. I keep a file for each of these. Once the commitment is over I re-label the file for the next season of activities.
I use a similar process for kid’s paperwork. Most schools send home all their important papers on the same day of the week each week. Ours comes home on Tuesday so I sit down after school and go through the Tuesday folder. I recycle the fliers that don’t apply to us. Then I sign permission slips, put in money, and record on our calendar the information that does pertain to our family. I keep the kids’ important papers such as report cards and achievement certificates (academic, arts and sports etc.) in a 6-Pocket Plastic Expandable File Folder. I have had the same folder for each of my kids since they were in kindergarten so I am pretty strict about what goes in it. At the end of each school year I make sure there is just the most important information and just the end-of year report card.
As for school work that comes home – each of my children has a bin near their desk that we put it in. At the end of the year we go through the bin and only keep what is important to them (or me). As they have gotten older this process has gotten easier since they don’t insist on keeping every piece of paper they put a scribble of crayon or glued a piece of macaroni to!
Those are the papers I have had to tame in my house. What paperwork do you have the hardest time controlling? Share with us in the comments.