Sunday, October 2, 2016
The Mail Bomb: Part 1
This picture was taken in June. It's our former school room, now my mail sorting room. It was taken AFTER I'd worked for several hours a day for several day, trying to catch up. It's worse again now. I can't stand back far enough to get a picture that shows the true horror of just how much mail is in here, but there are 7 tables and 2 school desks full of mail, plus what's on the floor. Even the tables have multiple level shelves created from scraps of wood and large cans of marinara sauce. Funny thing about the sauce, too. I went to make spaghetti last month and couldn't find any sauce in the pantry. I bought a ton more on my next shopping trip, then a few days later went to have another go at the mail and saw that I did have several cans of sauce and I'd forgotten how I'd been using them to make the shelves.
How can mail be such huge a problem? Well, let me tell you, sometimes I get the exact same piece of mail 5 times, one for each family member, from the same organization. I've even gotten the same piece of mail, one for each family member, from the same organization, sent twice, dated two days apart! After finally being able to figure out why I received these, I was told to throw them away! That meant I opened 10 envelopes for nothing.
Again, how can mail be a problem and such enormous one at that? Let's add four kids with special needs and all of their doctors, therapists, insurance, etc... On any given day, I may receive as many as 6-7 pieces of mail just from Kaiser alone. Then there's the other medical centers, like Shriner's, the eye doctor, the speech therapy reports, Easter Seals, etc... The list never ends.
I recently house-sat for My Firefighter while he was gone for exactly 2 weeks on a wildland fire. Two weeks worth of his mail made how much I get in only 2-3 days.
So, the problem is multi-fold:
The amount of mail is staggering.
The time is takes to sort it.
The time it take to open all the envelopes.
The time is takes to figure out what it all is.
The time it takes to take the necessary action, whether by phone or in person or on the computer, often adding up to hours and hours spent.
Then, the big question... What do I keep? How do I keep it? Files? Binders? By kid? By program?
Which programs need copies?
And there's yet another problem...
What do I do with my kids while I deal with all the mail? It takes HOURS to handle the mail and my kids can't be left unsupervised. Should I pay and hire a sitter just so I can sort the mail? Even if they are engrossed in something, they still come in and interrupt several times - or the phone rings and it's an important call - or I simply run out of time and need to get lunch made, dinner made, a child needs tending to, or I simply need to go to bed because it's 4am and I need to be up in 3 hours.
I did buy a cool little shelf today at a garage sale for $15. It will mean I can put away one table and have more room in there to work. I'm going to have a go at it tomorrow and see what can be done.
I have started binders for each child and have a well-established filing system. I'm hoping that I've also gotten more skilled at knowing what to keep and what to toss, but I always find I've been too optimistic about this and freeze up when I can't figure it out.
I'd love to hear how other families with an over abundance of mail handle it all.