The Under-$10 Fix to School Paper Clutter and Chaos

Getting down and dirty today. Do you ever feel like you're being covered by children's papers, projects, and homework? I do, or I did. Here's how I'm showing this year's clutter who's boss.

Our kitchen is the hub of our house. It's located off of the garage and mud room, and it's where we enter our home most of the time. The kitchen had also become the final resting place for all paper and kid clutter. Typical meal prep would involve a grand shifting of piles, that would lead to misplaced papers or unchecked homework assignments.

But that era, my friends, is over. For under $10, we have a new system to keep the counter tops free and clean, to keep kids school work in the right places, and to allow all of us (parents included) to have a piece of responsibility in the process.

It's a simple three-step process. I share it with you in the hopes that it might alleviate your own piles or missed 

Step One: It all goes up on the calendar. A paper calendar these days, you ask? I have my Google calendar that tells me when to sit and when to stand. :) It also has important dates for my husband and children on it. But with children the ages of 9, 7, and 4, I don't have a way to share this electronic info easily with the people who need to understand it most. 

So this rainbow pad from 3M is where it's at. I complete it only a week at a time (too many things shift for me to go much further in advance), and post it on our chalkboard wall in the kitchen. It's helping all three to take responsibility for prepping their after school bags, squeezing in time to practice instruments, and buying school lunches. Each child has a row, and Mom and Dad have one, too. Guess who gives us helpful reminders, too?

Step Two: Next hurdle to tackle, the unpacking of the backpack. Each child has their own hook and drawer for shoes. This was not a problem. It was the, "Look, Mommy, what I did today!" moments. Folders undone, papers here and there. 

Now, I spend time with each child individually (yes, we're all practicing patience) going through the folder. We look at what homework needs to be completed, and we get right to that. The papers that have come home just for review get clipped by the child to the "Done Door." Go with me on this gimmick. This door is also the door to our garage, a metal door that, thanks to the use of these strong magnetic clips, has a ton of space for everyone to use. So oldest on top, middle in the middle, and youngest on the bottom. It's still in our main traffic area, but it's gleefully off of the kitchen counters.

This activity is a fun one for L, the youngest. The task of clipping and sticking the magnet to the door has proven endlessly entertaining.

Step Three: Because my hubs and I look over work at different times, we ran into the challenge of keeping the papers in a central location for him to see. Now, they all hang on the Done Door. Most of the time, each child brings over things they want to show him.

He has a chance now to see them as a stack of one child's work and talk to them about what's going on in their learning. And he's the last step in the chain. When he's done looking at school work, he puts completed work in each child's box. 

Children can now return to that one paper from last Tuesday that they really want to see. :) And I don't need to fish it out of whatever pile it might have landed. Or even worse, rummage through the recycling, because I DO love to recycle. 

These boxes are cereal boxes covered in neutral contact paper. On the end of each, I attached colorful chalkboard labels to entice everyone into keeping up this process. It's cute! Let's do it!!

And it's full steam ahead, friends. We all have our role to play, but my children are movers in this process and not passive participants. And I love that. 

Also, I love my countertops.

xoxo, MJ