Today is National Administrative Professionals’ Day, the perfect day to reflect on your paperwork practices where your toddler is concerned. If you’re a parent, there’s one thing you will know all too well and that’s little ones come with a lot of papers, especially if they are in nursery. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with your child’s paper clutter, here are my top tips for keeping on top of it.
- Scan artwork: You may feel compelled to keep every drawing, scribble or picture your toddler does, however this can mount up pretty fast, so if you want to remember each piece- why not scan them and keep them all in a digital file so you can look back through them at your leisure? You could even give your child a slideshow when they get older to show them how their art skills have progressed. This method means you can keep just a few key pieces for putting on the fridge or framing rather than being buried under paper while still preserving the memories of all the others. For example, I have the Mother’s Day card my daughter made for me sellotaped to the inside of my wardrobe so I can look at it each morning when I reach for my clothes. I tend to recycle the sketches she makes in her pad and take photos on my phone of any that I feel are significant.
- Scan cards: It’s tempting to keep all the cards from the birth of your child, every birthday, their Christening and first Christmas but it’s not realistic to store all of these paper memories. If you have a scanner or while you are using it to scan their artwork- why not do the same for their cards too? Same as with their paperwork- if you want to look at the cards or even read the messages inside- you will still be able to do this if you capture an image of the outside and inside of each card. It may take a while, but it will save you lots of storage room. Plus, once you are on top of these, you can make a conscious effort to do this at each celebration so it doesn’t become such a huge job in the future.
- Keep a separate file for each child: Whether you have one toddler or more, a file for each of your children will keep all of the important papers in one place but ensure that they don’t get mixed up with each other’s or yours. Create tabs for each aspect of their life- child benefit, nursery fees, doctor’s letters, bank letters, birth and other certificates- whatever you feel you need to keep- make sure that if you need something, you can access it in this one central location.
- File paperwork immediately: This applies to all paperwork that comes into your home- but it’s especially important with children because if left on a surface- your child might assume it is drawing paper or paper that can be balled up and thrown about your living area. Young children have no concept of what’s important- they see paper and want to make it into art or play with it. By filing it away immediately, you won’t run the risk of them getting their hands on it.
- Action paperwork as it enters your home: If you get a letter from your local GP for your toddler- make the appointment ASAP, if you get a bill from nursery- call up and pay it immediately, or schedule a time to if it’s out of hours. The sooner you address these to dos, the sooner you can file the associated paperwork.
- Check your child’s bag daily: If your toddler goes to nursery- always check their bag when they return home. Often teachers will put important paperwork in their bag rather than give it to the child as they could lose it. Make sure there aren’t any bills or updates that have been slipped into their rucksack that need your attention.
- Frame key pieces: One good way to minimise the amount of paperwork you have to file is to frame pieces you feel have significance or sentimentality. For instance- I framed a card that my daughter’s Godmother made for her for her first birthday and put them on her wall to decorate her room. I have also framed a card she made me at Christmas so that each year I can bring it out and use this as part of my decor.
It’s cheap and cheerful: The ingredients cost you very little if you steer clear of the pre-packaged variety, so if you are looking for a budget friendly activity to entertain your toddler for an hour, this is a good fallback option. Because it’s so inexpensive, if your cake doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, you can always do it again! Plus, you get to eat something delicious at the end...