Like most mamas of school-age kids, my “new year” does not start on January 1st. The first day of school is what marks a brand new year for us – our calendar is full, there are changes to almost every part of our lives, and we jump right in to a brand new routine.
With a son starting 8th grade and a daughter entering 5th, our routine looks so very different from what it looked like just five years ago. They switch classes and have at least a dozen teachers between them. My son will now carry a laptop to and from school, where most of his work will be stored and shared. And activities after school are… Well, there are many.
Last year, I made a pledge with myself at the beginning of the school year to keep all of their important paperwork in one place. And I actually stuck with it (for the most part)! I kept a binder at my desk. When either one brought home a paper from school (or dance or football, etc.), I punched holes in it and stuck it in the binder. Obviously the paper load was heavy at the start of the year and dwindled from there, but I used the binder all year long. When they needed to see their orthodontist, I pulled out my binder to find their class schedule and figure out the least disruptive time to set the appointment (always an impossible task, isn’t it?!). Field trip form? In the binder. Teacher’s list of “favorites” when her birthday was near? In the binder.
I breathed a little sigh of relief every time I pulled it out and actually found what I was looking for.
Over the summer I decided (now that I knew I could actually stick with this organization plan) to kick it up a notch and divide this year’s binder into more-manageable sections. Last year I placed things in as I got them, with no rhyme or reason, which helped me figure out what kind of sections I actually need and will use. And while keeping a separate binder for each child is a great idea, for me it just works better to have everything together in one place – only one thing to keep up with means I have less opportunity to lose/forget/stop using it, right?
So this year I have a section for my son’s classes (his schedule is there, along with a syllabus for each class and other guidelines for each that I’ll receive on Curriculum Night in a couple of weeks, and then I’ll add papers throughout the year as they come in – instructions for special projects, reports, field trips, etc.), my daughter’s classes (ditto to the above), and then an extracurricular activities tab for each of them – my son’s tab will be full of football paperwork and schedules in the fall, soccer in the spring, and my daughter will have dance and choir info all year long.
Then a last section is just for me – my life, like yours, is spread out all over the place but when looking through last year’s binder I realized that I had stuck my own papers in between the kids’ because I’d gotten in the habit of keeping everything there, and it was nice having it all together.
Obviously the same system doesn’t work for everyone but after a year of experimenting and realizing I actually could keep all the craziness in one place, I’m here to tell you it did make life a little easier. I’m sharing this printable here to get you started – just add a binder and we all know one thing is certain: the paper will come.