Children and Mom and Paper

Memorabilia - Children can create enough artwork for an entire gallery in a few short weeks. The key here is choices; establish a particular place-e.g., basket, drawer, or shelf - for each child to put artwork. When that space is full, have one-on-one time with Mom and select your "three favorites". This is a lesson in life, which is continually full of choices. Then create a Memorabilia Box for each child where the favorites are kept. Keep the box in a convenient place, with the lid off, so it's easy to add new items. Use the same approach for photographs. A great parent-child activity is "scrap booking" - have your child help make a family album, or get double prints, and let the children make their own. If you're not into albums, use attractive boxes. If you're on a tight budget you can use shoeboxes. Label the outside of each packet with the contents (e.g., Lee's 5th birthday, Mary's soccer outfit, etc.) with the date. At the end of the year, store your calendar with the photos in case you decide you want to create albums when the children are grown and you need to retrieve more specific dates. The key here is "Less is more." A few great photos are far superior to boxes of unidentified ones! One of the biggest causes of clutter - and family disagreements -- is paper. Create a filing system for important papers. Create one file for each child for each area. For example, Medical Records - Mary, St. John's High School - Tom. Children can begin their own filing systems as soon as they start school. The key to any effective filing system is a File Index. This can be a handwritten list, a word processing document, a spreadsheet, or you can use Taming the Paper Tiger software (see below). A File Index will help you avoid making a file for "Summer Camp" when you already have one for "Camp Wesley." Here's a sample of some other file headings for information that children might like to file: Cartoons I like English Homework Family Information Friends Fun Things to Keep Gift Ideas for me Gift Ideas for others Hairstyles I like Math Homework New Year's Resolutions Phone Numbers/Addresses Recipes I can make Savings Account Scouting Information Summer Camp Information

We live in an age when children spend a significant amount of time with computers - for doing their homework to spending time with their friends. Taming the Paper Tiger software (Check out for a free 30-day trial!) is an easy way to organize many of the things that matter to kids of all ages - paper files, like the ones described above, as well as audio and videotapes, CDs, collections. The principle is simple. Simply attach a number to the item and tell the computer what the number means. Items are automatically cross-referenced, so that searching for something in your own room is as easy as searching for something on the Internet.

Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at

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