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31 Days to a Clutter Free Life: Kids Paperwork (Day 19)

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Day 19: Kids Paperwork

Children are wonderful, creative—and sometimes messy—little people. While none of us want to get rid of all that creativity, it can be hard to know exactly what to do with all that PAPER. As children reach school-age, bags come home filled with papers: permission slips, homework assignments, reading materials, report cards, and more—and it can all add up to a seemingly insurmountable mess.

Just like your desk at work or in your home office, paperwork should be constantly assessed and organized. It is also helpful to give your child a desk or designated area to store items that they are creating or working on. Hang a bulletin board in your child’s room, or in your kitchen or family command center, and keep a designated box or spot for items that need immediate attention. Important work, projects and art can be displayed in a rotating gallery on the bulletin board. Items in the “immediate attention area” should be handled once and taken care of.

One of the best investments that parents can make is in a high quality scanner, though a more affordable option is to use a handy scanner app for iPhone or other smart phone. (I personally use and love the DocScanner Pro app!)

Once a month, or more frequently, sort through items that are on the bulletin board. “Masterpieces,” Gold Star and A+ work can be scanned and archived after display. If your child is an aspiring artist, or voluminous writer, a portfolio or binder with sleeves can be a great way to archive their work. Encourage them to be discerning with what they choose to keep in its original format, and keep digital copies of the rest.

 Objective: A paperwork system that fosters your child’s creativity and celebrates their best work, while keeping work organized and accessible.

Assess the current situation: What items can be framed or are truly keepsakes? Do you have a system to take care of paperwork that needs your attention—a system that allows you to handle it once and move on? How can you electronically archive your kids’ work to reduce clutter and access items as needed? What is your system for dealing with paperwork now? Do you review your child’s backpack, homework and school communications daily?



{Get Day 19 De-cluttering Checklist here}



 1. Collect and sort. Gather all of the kid paperwork and artwork that may be floating around the house. Create an in-box in your family command center for permission slips and “need attention” items, and a spot on your child’s desk or work area for homework and current projects. Select a few very special artwork items to keep for display, then scan any other items you want to remember but not necessarily keep.

 2. Review. Plan a weekly review system for younger children and nightly for older children, to assess the contents of your child’s backpack, communication from daycare, school and preschool, artwork and creative projects.

 3. Take immediate action. Handle items such as permission slips as soon as they come in and return them to school the very next day.

 4. Enjoy and celebrate. Display artwork on a bulletin board, and once a month scan and archive great work.

 5. Archive. Create a portfolio, binder, or special box for creative projects and keepsakes that can be stored and reviewed, as your child gets older.


Day 19 FINAL PicMonkey Collage.jpg

1. Color Coded Clutter Free Zone (
2. Smart Ideas For Family Organizing (
3. A Place To Study‪(
4. Craft Project Storage (
5. School Paperwork Storage (


  1. October 20 at 10:38AM

    THANK YOU Ruth! I have been looking for a way to get my kids schoolwork and art under control. I currently have a drawer that I stuff everything into but that is getting full! I love the idea of scanning it into my computer and maybe I could put together a digital photo book with these pieces of artwork! I was also thinking about making a portable file case into storage for the kids. Thanks though – this list got me thinking!

  2. October 20 at 12:58PM

    I have reached a ‘burnt out’ stage that has caused me to throw out almost everything- perhaps more than I should. They bring home papers, art, party favors, candy constantly and I may or may not have tossed it in the trash before it reached the door on 1 or 2 occasions.

    Other times, it can be so hard to decide what to keep and what to toss. I have a little guilt that comes from previous generations in my family that kept so many special toys, papers, you name it- loads of clutter.

    Here, we have a stinkbug problem in the attic and outbuildings (there is not a spray that we know of for them- and my husband is a pest control chem dealer) and I have just been getting rid of more and more.

    • October 20 at 01:02PM

      Wow, after reading that over that came out a little negative, but I guess clutter can do that to you!

  3. October 20 at 10:00PM

    I really like the scanning idea. I never thought about that but I am definitely going to put ours to use now. thanks!

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