How to Tame After School Clutter in 4 Easy Steps

Some friends recently asked me about solutions for taming after school clutter; not surprisingly, I am really, really into this topic! In general, clutter makes me crazy, but it feels particularly disrespectful (or not mindful) when it’s a result of the “I’m home, and now I’m dropping everything in the doorway and dumping everything all over the counter!” phenomenon. Here’s how to tame after school clutter in 4 easy steps:

1. Give your kids specific jobs...and be persistent about having them complete the jobs. Your first step is to enlist your kids to help. Instead of a vague directive such as, “help me clean up” give kids specific after school jobs. For example, Laurel is responsible for emptying her lunchbox into the sink (sometimes she washes the containers too) and putting her school papers on the counter for me to go through. (She also is responsible for making sure her homework gets done; see this post on how to help kids develop homework routines if you need help with this.) As I mentioned in my post on how to get kids to do chores, a key to getting kids to take responsibility is persistence. Keep reminding your kids to do their after school jobs and they will eventually do the jobs on their own. 

2. Immediately filter out the junk. My next (favorite and easiest) step is to immediately filter out the junk. I toss irrelevant paperwork right into the recycling. Same goes for most of Laurel and Vi's school artwork (I save select pieces and toss the rest) + the incoming mail. This is a really fast way to reduce your paper clutter pile, which is why I advise doing it right away, versus letting the pile sit and grow.

3. Plug dates into your calendar. Your remaining paperwork will likely be a mix of event notices/invitations, sign up forms, and permission slips. To reduce your paper clutter further (and to reduce likelihood of flakingon dates), immediately plug dates from event notices/invitations into your calendar solution (e.g., Cozi, Google calendar, a family whiteboard calendar -- all of these work well for coding different family members) and then toss the papers into the recycling.

4. Sort and distribute. Distribute remaining paperwork in a simple command center, ordering most time sensitive items on top. There are lots of elaborate school command centers out there and I must admit, they totally make my brain hurt! Not only do I have zero time/interest to construct something complex, but I also find that if there are too many trays and slots and storage options, I will lose sight of the papers. Keep it easy and simple and right in front of you with these three ideas:

You can set up this hook and clip system in a matter of minutes.

Create immediate (and pretty) symmetry with this easy clipboard command center -- hang one for each family member.

Short on wall space? Hang an organizational rack over a door.

Do you have other favorite after school clutter taming tips? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Image credits: all images per links above.

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