It has begun. My child started “real school” this year and the adorable weekly artwork is getting sent home every Friday. I’m talking her scribbling, her worksheets, her name in 29384 different crafts. Don’t even get me started on the crafts that have her picture on it, her little three-year-old handprint, and even her size 7 foot.
My first reaction when I see the binder full of stuff on Fridays: *squeals* OMG SO CUTE LOOK AT HER LIL HANDWRITING AND DRAWINGS AND COLORINGS! THIS NEEDS TO BE DISPLAYED IN THE LOUVRE!
My second reaction when I see the binder full of stuff: …will she notice if I throw some of this stuff in the trash?
I have 1 large plastic bin filled with my things – my childhood music box, my favorite blanket, a middle school diary (yes, it is as cringey and hilarious as a middle school journal can get), and some school work and artwork that I feel especially proud of. My husband also has a similar bin, except his mother managed to keep what seems like every.single.worksheet from Kinder – 12th grade in there and tbh, I’m impressed.
But let’s be real. I have just begun this journey. I have 15+ years left of this weekly school/artwork work exchange. And while my sentimental heart wishes I could hoard all of these precious letter tracing worksheets and dot-letter practice sheets, my house will quickly run out of living space if I did. So, if you’re like me and would like help “Marie Kondo-ing” your child’s school stuff, I present to you 5 ways to keep the preciousness of this parenting journey while also keeping your life clutter free (ish):
1.If you are artsy-craftsy like me, try this: get yourself an empty picture frame, yarn, and clothes pins. I found a frame on sale at Michaels and stapled – fancy, I know – yarn across & use mini clothespins to display the artwork that I find especially squeal-worthy. And when they’ve lived out their time on display? I move on to another option listed below.
2. This “Kids Artwork Picture Frame” from Amazon is a new addition to our home this year. It’s like if a shadow box and a picture frame had a baby. The front stays closed with a magnet, and inside, the frame is deep and has elastic bands to hold artwork. A frame mat on the glass helps showcase the piece of work you find especially pleasing to the eye. Ours currently features my daughter’s beautiful abstract apple made up of torn construct paper pieces, and it will stay there until the inevitable pumpkin, turkey, and/or Christmas tree gets sent home in the next couple of months.
3. Do you immediately sort through the work and decide on the 1-2 pieces to keep and need a place to put them right away? Consider a clear portable file box with hanging folders. The clearness of the box can allow you to see the colors and adorable doodles and it keeps the work filed away in an organized way (like by age, or grade, or type of craft).
4. Fully embody “reduce, reuse, recycle” and turn your child’s artwork into something else! With the holidays coming up, use the whimsically decorated worksheets as wrapping paper. Cut them up into gift tags! Use them as disposable placemats for an especially messy spaghetti dinner! Make them into 4×6 cards and send “just because” cards to loved ones near and far!
5. And finally – when you just need to get rid of the work but can’t handle the fact that they will live in the trash next to last night’s leftovers, how about this: mail it to the grandparents. Not only will they c-h-e-r-i-s-h the wobbly handwriting and hilariously drawn pictures of people/house/animals, it’s time we returned the favor and re-filled their empty homes with school work clutter, amiright??
Whatever you decide to do with your child(ren)’s work, I hope you know two things: your worth as a parent will not be measured by how much work you keep and your child will most definitely ask you where you put that one drawing you never thought they would care anything about. Good luck and happy sorting!