Why Does Motherhood Involve So Much Freaking Paperwork?

I used to be an organized person. My life was orderly, and my hanging files were alphabetized. Yes, I had hanging files. Shut up.

However, when I married a man who doesn’t throw anything away, it threw me off my game — a lot. Suddenly, I felt like the walls (which were actually stacks of random papers) were closing in on me.



I’ve experienced a lot in life. I’ve held a variety of different jobs; I’ve been places, and I’ve done things, and yet nothing on this Earth — aside from purchasing a home — prepared me in any way for the amount of f*cking paperwork that would accompany motherhood. The stacks that started rolling in when I was pregnant with our first child was my first clue; by the time he was enrolled in daycare, I’d become proficient at cramming bills and notices into a drawer (we called it the “bill drawer,” because we are amazing at adulting) and stuffing our toddler’s scrapbook-worthy artwork into a large plastic bin. As my dad always says, out of sight, out of mind.

(Side note: That plastic bin now lives in the top of my son’s closet, because I never did start making him a scrapbook. My other two children don’t even HAVE a bin.)

By the time our second child was born, my husband and I had run out of drawer space, and were forced to deal with our paper mountain. We had a 12-month span when I had the papers under control, mostly because I was clinging desperately to any shred of sanity I could find, but then sh*t got really real because our oldest started preschool. That is when I started to realize that schools are the single biggest source of paperwork in a mother’s life.

So. Much. Paper.

Currently, I have three children enrolled in school. And please don’t misunderstand me, because I LOVE SCHOOLS and I LOVE TEACHERS. I’m not trying to hate on the system, I’m just stating the facts, which are that having multiple children in school means that approximately 368 pieces of paper enter my kitchen every afternoon, and it is my job to either sort through it or accept the fate of being buried alive. I have visions of “Hoarders” filming from our yard, interviewing the neighbors who say things like, “They seemed like such a nice family, but their recycling bin was always overflowing,” or, “Such a shame … I guess you never really know what is happening inside someone else’s home.”

My children’s backpacks and folders are stuffed with order forms, reminders about the order forms, artwork — both official and unofficial, letters from teachers, letters from room mothers, letters from the PTA, and newsletters. Our mailbox is filled with pamphlets, advertisements, invitations to sh*t, magazines, and bills. Even the most organized person can’t remain organized under these conditions. And while I appreciate the tenacity of the people behind it all (Thank you for reminding me about the reminder that you plan to send home on Friday.), I don’t understand why this is happening. Why is it necessary to send a note about a note about a note?

Our middle child, a kindergartner, gets very attached to paperwork. He’s the one who shrieks in horror every afternoon upon discovering that I threw his (completed and graded AND I LOOKED AT THEM) worksheets away. I encourage him to gather what he feels is important, and put it in his room. There is currently a paper mountain growing under his bed.

I hypothesize that the busier we become as a society, the more reminders we will receive, both in paper and electronic form, because nobody can remember sh*t. But what if we just scaled back on the fundraisers and the class parties and the silly sock days and the boxes that we have to initial simply for the sake of initialing? Or is that just too crazy to consider?

In the meantime, I’ll be over here trying not to go out of my mind. Because when my dad said “out of sight, out of mind,” what he really meant was, “Even if it’s out of your sight, you’ll still go out of your mind.”