Don’t you just LOVE how much paper comes home in your kids’ backpacks? This is what came home ONE day from preschool last week. One. Day.
I could go on and on about how I’m not quite sure how this happens on a daily basis, why it’s confusing that it seems necessary for children to go through so much paper so quickly, why it’s not the best for the environment, etc. I could. But let’s tackle one problem at a time – the clutter it causes. I also have to remember that these piles are made by my child. The one I watch create fifteen versions of the same creation in a single morning, all of which become dear treasures to her and her little heart would break if we were to get rid of a single one.
So, what DO you do when the art piles up? You could employ a few tactics. First, you could keep it all, but let’s be honest – that just isn’t a realistic option at all. As hard as it can be to throw away the two hundred and eighteen pictures lovingly labeled “Mommy,” you do know you just can’t keep them all, right? With the amount of paper that comes home each day, by the time they graduate that might require the rental of a few storage units.
Another option is choosing to recycle a handful of “treasures.” I’d caution you against this one as it’s completely ineffective. Your little sweetheart can become a raging maniac who instantly burst into tears when she finds you’ve carelessly tossed away a rare piece of her artwork. Not only do you have to spend fifteen minutes explaining that yes, you do still love her and her art is, in fact, beautiful, but after all that therapy, she pulls it back out of the recycling anyway, and you’ve accomplished nothing.
I was tired of dealing with the piles that were on every surface at the end of the day and decided that at four years old, my daughter was ready to manage her own masterpieces. She loves to make decisions for herself and she loves to have a special place to keep her things. Enter: The Art Drawer.
When we look through her papers from school, we choose only a select few to keep. Most are really just worksheet or learning tools, not art. For at-home made art, after she’s finished creating her projects, I ask her to put them in her art drawer. The Art Drawer is located under her bed – it’s just a simple little plastic drawer. These are her projects in her own space. She is in charge of what goes in and what doesn’t and it’s neatly hidden under her bed – easy access but out of site.
When it fills up, we sort. I keep her company, but have very little to do with the decisions. She takes everything out of the drawer and decides what goes in the recycle pile, and what she will keep. The only time I guide her is if she’s about to throw away something I think we should keep, which, to be honest, isn’t that often as I’ve likely already stashed away my favorites in a safe place.
We’re controlling the clutter and keeping the peace. There’s less for me to keep track of, she’s learning responsibility and how to prioritize, and I can’t get in trouble for what’s in the recycling bin if it was her decision. Everybody wins.