As we near the end of the school year and start revving up for what hopefully will be an amazing summer (Toronto weather, I’m looking at you), you may suddenly find yourself in a sea of random abstract art pieces created at school by the little Monet in your household. And if you are moving, like me, you may find yourself facing all of it head on, contemplating what to actually do with all this shit. And by shit, I mean, insanely awesome pieces of art – one from every 180 days of the past school year.
If your kiddie is a wee-kindergartener, you may still have the idealistic hope of cataloguing every single piece of artwork, scribble, and craft piece your child has ever created. Maybe you have this wild imagination that says, “Yes, I will file according to age and type and date, and when I have all the free time that I always have, I will painstakingly look at these wonders and marvel in the artistry of my child”. For you, I applaud your Goliath endeavour, and wish you the best of luck.
But, for the rest of us, it’s actually a thing to figure out what to do with all this stuff. Keep, toss, burn, the possibilities are endless. If, like me, you dream of having a minimalist household, this inundation of craft paper with three meticulously Crayola painted lines can cause you a lot of stress.
In the beginning, I was parent A – naive, optimistic, delusional. Then quickly, ever so quickly, I became parent B – wise, realistic, and a real purger. The truth is, you may want to keep all that stuff, but you really don’t have to. And this absolutely does not make you a shitty parent. The thing that still persists though, is what to do with all this stuff?
Well, here are six great things that will help you feel less guilty, make your kid feel super important, and basically make you mother of the year!
Make all the pictures into an awesome book
- So you may want to catalogue and keep everything, but no one says you have to keep it all in it’s original form. Every time your child brings home a piece of art (which, if yours is like my 6 year old, it’ll be every damn day), take a picture of this craft. If you want to be super artsy, choose the same neutral background (white or black, works), use the same lighting and camera angle, and take a picture of this fabulous-not-so-fabulous piece your child put together. Then, come June, go online and print a book using one of the million online publishing companies. Someone is going to have a deal going, so you can print this book for nothing and it’ll take up 1/100th of the space the originals would have taken up. *And for those of you who love dates, mark that with every picture as well.
Use it as artwork for your child’s room or their playroom
- Sometimes your kids bring home the most amazing stuff, and sometimes they bring home memorable pieces, like the first piece of artwork of the year, or ever. These are the ones you need to display. And if you don’t want to have this in your family room, curate a bunch that can go in your child’s room, or in their playroom. Take a trip to IKEA or HomeSense and pick up cheap white or black frames with matting and voila, automatic artwork for your walls. Better still, you can change them out with more current pieces as they get older, and it won’t cost you a thing.
Have your children curate their own selection
- Kids are amazing at telling you the exact story that accompanies each picture or craft they’ve created. And I bet if you got them to curate their own pictures, they’ll surprise you with how good they can be at being selective with what to keep and what to toss. For example, I had twelve of what seemed to be the exact same scribble of blue lines and when I asked Thing 1 her thoughts, she said, “Oh, only keep this one, this one has coral reef in it. That’s what we’re learning about”. Et voila! So long to 11 other useless pieces of paper, and without any of the guilt. Now put the keepers in cute little boxes that act as keepsakes, and out of sight, out of mind.
Turn them into invitations
- Truth be told, this little ditty came from my own child. This past February, I got a call from a mom in my daughter’s class. She asked whether I knew my daughter had sent out invitations for her birthday party to students in their class. These little “invites” said we were having a Rock Climbing party on February 28. Guess who hadn’t booked shit for the 28th, let alone a Rock Climbing party??? Nevertheless, I thought, hey, maybe if you can type up something cute on hardstock and glue the picture on the back, you can have the most inventive little card. Better still, you now have gotten rid of twenty other pieces of artwork! Yippee!
Use them to teach literacy
- Every chance I get, I try to incorporate literacy into learning at home. Why not use the picture as a gateway to your child’s storytelling skills? Get them to tell you a story about the picture, and if they are too young, write it down. If they are old enough, get them to write it out. Trust me when I say they will eat this little exercise up. And better still, this can keep them occupied for a ton of time – screen free.
Grandparents take everything!
- Mother’s Day? Father’s Day? Grandparent’s Day? Birthdays? Any day? Get your kids to pick out a special piece and gift it to grandma or grandpa. And guess what? They’ll have all the room to store, cause they didn’t save shit from you!
And if all else fails…..
- Or recycle it. Or whatever. This one makes you mother of the year, basically. I think we all know that no one is really able to do this to every piece, but don’t lie and say you haven’t thought about it at least a half a dozen times this year.
And there you go, a few tips to help you deal with the pile that’s been coming home all year and the huge portfolio that will make it home at the end of June. So whether it’s your first year as a parent of a school aged child, or your last, good luck sifting through the piles this summer – you’re going to need it!
Featured image via BabbleDabbleDo