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As I strolled through the mall with my friend the other day and stopped to say hello to about four people I knew passing by, she asked "how do you know so many people?" "I don't know," I answered. "People from here and there, I guess."

Over the last fourteen years as a counselor specializing in marriage therapy, I have seen many couples co-destroy a once happy relationship. Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship if two people really reveal themselves to one another, but why do some relationships suffer and decay because of it while others survive and triumph life's challenges? Research confirms that the erosion some couples experience is not just due to differences, but how they are handled.

Over the last fourteen years as a counselor specializing in marriage therapy, I have seen many couples co-destroy a once happy relationship. Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship if two people really reveal themselves to one another, but why do some relationships suffer and decay because of it while others survive and triumph life's challenges? Research confirms that the erosion some couples experience is not just due to differences, but how they are handled.

I always find the management of school work, papers to sign, things to know, dates to remember, schedules to keep–times three children–almost like a full time job. Just when I feel like I've gotten pretty good at it, I miss something important and one of my children comes home acting as if I just sent them to school with no clothes on.

Really, there is no fallible way to stay on top of the school information and work, but in getting yourself pulled together on the school-work front there are two essential things you need: a system and a space.

Here's how the two need to work together: It starts when the kids step foot in the door. I am fortunate enough to have a midwestern designed home that has a large mudroom. Each kid has their own locker to hang their things and store their smelly shoes. My children know that the expectation is that the backpacks get thrown in their locker before they are permitted entry to the afterschool snack smorgasbord that occurs in the kitchen. However, I still have to say every time we walk in the door, "backpacks in lockers, please!"

If you do not have a mudroom, you need to create a place with hooks that the kids can reach for their bags; maybe along the wall in the garage just outside the door. Beat it into their silly little heads that they are responsible for hanging their bags there each and every day.

This backpack hanging space should also contain a chalkboard or a white board with the days of the week. Write down each child’s weekly info in the days—who’s library books are due when, what days each child has afterschool sports and activities, and any other things that are due or notable for the week. This is the last thing you should look at as the kids grab their backpacks to head out each morning. It also enables your kids to be on top of what to expect with their day, and take responsibility for their responsibilities (what a concept!).

Upon emptying their backpacks, take the papers, folders, homework, and planners straight to their own space. Nothing else should be kept in the school work spot! No mail, no keys, nothing. I keep a file holder basket on this counter space with a file for each kid. Their homework and notes go directly into their file. These folders are kept right next to the computer so dates can be inserted directly onto the calendar. Every morning before they head out to school, check the folders and make sure they are empty (i.e. their assignments are back in their backpacks). Have their backpacks filled and hanging in their place, ready to go for the next morning.

My system has been working fairly well so far this year, but I want to hear from you: How do you organize your kid's schoolwork and items? Let me know, at  www.thepulledtoghethermom.com.

Parents today contend not only with yesterday’s worries–drug abuse, bullying, teenage sex, and delinquency–but new challenges. The digital age has introduced adult predators and other online hazards, and body-altering decorating such as tattoos and piercing's are popular temptations, says James G. Wellborn, a clinical psychologist with eighteen years of experience working with parents and teens.

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