“Clutter is synonymous with delayed decisions”
The artwork. The papers. The crafts. The worksheets. The drawings.
You know what I’m talking about. If you have kids then the mere mention of these items either makes you roll your eyes or makes your heart race in panic. Most moms have a secret stash somewhere that they are avoiding. We silently pray that the pile will either organize itself or disappear completely.
Most kids love to draw, color, and/or make crafts, but when they start attending a mother’s day out, preschool, or elementary school, the amount of paper that comes home can easily morph into a mountain.
Just do some simple math with me. Let’s say that there are 36 school weeks approximately, and if your child brings home 10 items a week (that’s being conservative) then THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY items will come into your home. Not to mention any other craft or drawing from another source. Don’t even get me started on holiday crafts.
That’s a truck load of school/art work PER KID. Just keep multiplying that number based on how many kids you have, and anyone can easily see how this amount of “stuff” can become burdensome and overwhelming.
So how do we deal with it? Like Realistically?? Right now the weeks fly by at warp speed, and I’m doing good just to make lunches, sign folders and get kids to the actual school building roughly on time. I have to keep it simple for my own sanity. Here are a couple of principles that guide my approach to artwork clutter:
Keep the best of the best
After school, we usually look at the work they bring home so I can ask questions and “admire” what they have done. I oooohhh and ahhhhh as they proudly recap their latest projects. However after they go bed, mommy purges. Most papers go straight from the folder/backpack to the trash. Based on the previously stated logic, you just CANNOT keep everything. Or even most things. So when it doubt, throw it out. No guilt allowed. Ideally, you have to do this daily. I only keep items that are outstandingly creative, or something that they are extremely proud of. Then these little treasures have to have a place to go. A basket is my holding place for anything that survives the initial purge. I have found that keeping items in a basket works better for me, because not everything is 8 ½ X 11 size.
Involve your kids
Next, I deal with it on weekly/monthly basis WITH kids. I aim for weekly, but it might be after four weeks when my basket is overflowing. I pick a number and tell them that’s how many items they get to keep. To me, this is the critical part. I want them to know HOW to deal with stuff, how to say goodbye and how to throw it away. At first this was challenging and there were some tears (not on my end of course). But I gently remind them to “enjoy it one more time,” and that part of the fun was creating in the first place. Now it’s time to let it go because there will be more fun projects, crafts and drawings in the future. Yes, this takes some practice, but it’s well worth teaching the life lesson.
Keep it Accessible
If we can’t enjoy it then why do we keep it?? That principle struck a chord with me from Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” So I bought a binder and some sheet protectors, and that’s where the final clutter lands. It’s nothing fancy and actually super easy because the key is ENJOYMENT. My daughters look at their binders All. The. Time. So now it’s in one place, relatively protected, and easy for little hands to access. I try to view it their binders as a “sample overview” of their growth, development, and creativity from the year.
For each calendar year, my goal is to keep 25 artwork/school items TOTAL. Whittling it down is really hard and does take some discipline, but purging along the way keeps it manageable (and keeps my heart rate down). And yall. I’m just talking about artwork. There’s plenty of other kid clutter such as birthday cards, toys, memorabilia, clothes, stuffed animals, pictures etc. to deal with. So keep the artwork simple. And don’t keep more than you can enjoy.