Updated: Jul 22, 2018
Too Much Stuff!
My kids do not want to throw anything away. Mo scratches one little red mark on a paper and calls it a masterpiece. And if that masterpiece is found on the top of the trash he will pull it out and cry, "Why is this in the trash? I MADE it for YOU."
Nothing stresses me out quite like my house looking like a disaster. (Or the inside of my van.) I want an organized house. My external environment effects my internal environment. The more stressed I feel the more order I need in my life. This might be because, as I just learned, I am a Highly Sensitive Person. But I think it is true for most people that a tidy house means a less anxious mind. My problem is that I have children. They like stuff. No, not just like, but cherish. They do not like finding their special papers in the trash. And ALL the papers are special. I need peace between my 5 year old artist and myself.
Photograph it. Pile it. Sort, Sort, Sort.
As art work is sent home from preschool or created at home I photograph it with my phone. A few pieces are hung on a cork board dedicated to children's art. The rest grows into a hefty pile on a closet shelf. Every six months I sort the pile. I pull out anything that I know I want to keep, usually 2-3 of the most original and creative pieces. I place these in a special box labeled with the child's name and the current year. I toss anything that looks like a mindless scribble or a worksheet from school. The remaining pile is manageable. I ask the kids to pick out 4-5 things they want to hang in their gallery. I take down the old gallery and ask them to pick one or two to store in their box for posterity.
This is where the plan gets fun for the kids. We upload photos of their art to private Instagram accounts created just for them and then we toss the pile of average art in the trash can together (or if I'm not brave that day I toss it in the dumpster behind my house while they watch Daniel Tiger). On Instagram we can include dates, locations, descriptions, or anything else we want with each photo. Chatbooks! Brilliant, right? There is no need to hang onto volumes of physical artwork when you beautifully document it and have it printed on 30 awesome pages, soft cover, modern design, 6 x6 size, and bound. For $10. I teach them this is what all artist do. You practice and practice art. It takes a lot of work. But most of the art is average. And gets tossed or recycled. Then you keep the best items in a portfolio or you display them on the wall. My kids are really young so they don't understand, but we are building a culture of "NOT keeping all that crap around forever and ever" AND "we value art that is truly their best work".