Papers, Piles, and Projects: What is the Status of Your Home, Midway Through the School Year?

It’s hard to believe that the school year is almost halfway done. How can this be? Weren’t we just sending the people on their way to the first day of school?

Depending on your school district, winter break is starting soon. Now is an excellent time to assess your counters, mud rooms, desks, tables, magnet boards, the list goes on and on. Did you read my post on back-to-school systems?

Maybe you implemented a new system for your students and family. Now is the time to determine how that system is working for you.


You’ve undoubtedly accumulated may amazing projects since August. Before school ends for break, get a grip on them. Go ahead and collect them all. Determine what you will SAVE or TOSS. If you are TOSSING place in a solid bag and put directly in the outdoor garbage can. Do NOT put them in an inside trash can, assuming you will take it out before your child sees it. This will not work! You will get distracted and accidentally forget.This will be a complete catastrophe. Trust this seasoned mama and take it right outside.

If you have decided to keep every precious paper they have touched, I ask you to reconsider. Separate projects into piles:

  • One-Of-A-Kind Masterpieces
  • Great Work
  • Random Scribbles

SAVE the masterpieces. Consider TOSSING the rest. If you must SAVE them all, no judgement here. Be sure to write their name on the back of each paper. If you think you will remember which children created which art, I guarantee you that you will not. In ten years, you will TOSS it all in frustration and anger at your failing memory.

Gather everything to SAVE, and put them in memory boxes now. Go through every school paper and recycle everything that has an expired date. As you release these papers, release any guilt or shame you are holding on to for things missed or forgotten. You are human. There are too many papers.

High School

Follow the above tips for school papers. This includes your computer inbox. High school aged children a different breed. These are the years of learning self-sufficiency with the gentle guidance from your teachers and parents. It’s always gentle, right?

This time of the school year is an excellent opportunity for a deep clean and organization of teen bedrooms. Do NOT start this process until all semester finals are completes. Do NOT do this for your child. Teenage bedrooms have a mystical and delicate balance and parents need to tread with caution, as well as respect. I recommend giving your child a deadline to clean things up with a clear consequence if they blow it off. You know your child. Be specific when communicating expectations, “I would like your entire floor picked up, put away, and vacuumed by 4:00 on Saturday afternoon. If you fail to do this, I will take away your phone for the rest of your life.” (Or something like that.) If their room is a hopeless pit of despair, simply close the door and know they will be out of the house in a few years and you can fumigate then.


My husband and I have two daughters in college. One (#2) comes home this Sunday, and the other (#3) is home next week. As you know, or can imagine, this is a time of jubilation and glee for most parents. Freshen up their rooms with an essential oil, throw some flannel sheets on their beds, do a quick organization refresh of the pantry and refrigerator. Enjoy their return! (In 4-6 weeks you will oversee them as they pack up and head back to their respective schools. It’s okay to look forward to this date midway through their break.)

Adult Kids Returning Home for the Holidays

  1. Encourage them to drive and bring an empty car.
  2. Enjoy them every minute they are home.
  3. Load their empty car with the trophies they insisted you keep, their preserved wedding dresses, and their childhood memory boxes.
  4. Plan what you will do with your newfound storage space.

If only it were this easy.

Bottom line is this, take some time before the people are home for their breaks. Get things in order for the next semester and start 2019 fresh and ready for anything!

It’s time to assess and update your systems for school papers and projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *