Ever feel overwhelmed by all the papers, notices, artwork, and other items your kids bring home from school? Don’t be a pack rat!! We’ll show you how to “Trap the R-A-T” (RETAIN, ACT, THROW)
1. School flyers: Nearly every day, your child brings home flyers announcing some school activity, bake sale, field trip, or other such notices. Unfortunately, these notices tend to pile up quickly unless acted upon. As soon as practicable, read the flyers and perform the following R-A-T exercise.
- RETAIN: All school flyers that contain information you are certain you need to keep (class lists with phone numbers, emergency procedures, etc.)
- ACT: Make sure you have your calendar while reviewing the notices, and mark any important dates. Once you mark the date, you should be able to "throw."
- THROW: Anything you suspect you won't need in the future, or have already acted upon. Don't be afraid to THROW, as you can almost always go back to the school or your child’s teacher and ask about the content of the flyer, if necessary. The most important questions to ask yourself in deciding whether to RETAIN or THROW are:
(a) What's the worst thing that could happen if I threw this away? In almost every case, you will find that, at most, a minor inconvenience may occur.
(b) If I THROW it and discovered I needed it later, could I replace it? Again, it is a very rare occurrence where a notice or its contents cannot be replaced, and
(c) By the time I might need it, will it be obsolete? While it’s always hard to predict the future, most notices have a “shelf life” of a few weeks at most, after which the information they contain goes stale. As a rule of thumb, there should be approximately a 4 to 1 ratio of "THROW" to "RETAIN.”
2. Artwork: While it would be great to be able to keep all of your child’s artwork in perpetuity, most of us don't have enough room in the house!! I recommend that you follow the 3 "F" rule.
- FRAME:Some outstanding pieces of artwork deserve framing. Buy several acrylic frame boxes at The Container Store and hang the framed artwork around your house, in your basement, or in your child's room. Your kids will appreciate the recognition they get when you go the extra mile to frame their art.
- FLUSH: No need to keep random scribble, or works that don't meet your standards.
- FILE: Not all art is frameworthy. But it may not be “flushworthy” either! Keep those items which demonstrate talent, and those you may someday decide to frame. Make a file box for each child, and let them decorate the box. When they bring something home they want to keep, ask them to file it in their very own keepsake box. And don't forget, much of the "filed" art can be used as gifts to relatives. You may also consider taking digital photos of your child's art, and storing it on disk. Although it's not the same as the original, this is a good way to reduce the clutter of the overwhelming amount of art that comes through the door.
3. Art Supplies
: To create a masterpiece, your child needs the proper tools. Everything from markers, crayons, paints, and brushes need to be organized or they will quickly overtake your home. Keep everything in a portable box that they can bring from room to room, and separate the crayons, markers and other stuff into baggies. Make it clear that they are responsible for maintaining order for their art supplies. You may also consider purchasing a small "art desk" and a bookshelf so they can have their own area in the house to do artwork. Put the supplies in separate lined baskets in the bookshelf for them to use.