O: Not that one, Momma. That one is the dust cloud that made all the dinosaurs get dead.
K: How about this one?
O: Yeah, you can cut up that one. It's just a dragon eating a princess.
O is as prolific as Picasso. And sure, each painting is a precious delicate flower and I’m going to save all of them. Except, I’m not. We live in a very, very small space, and we like it that way, but it means that choices have to be made and clutter must be vanquished. Here are four of the ways we’ve come up with to deal with the artistic output.
Warning: the below suggestions involve the destruction of your tiny one’s masterworks. We generally go through the stack together and pick a few that are not to be altered. I generally lean towards ones that O can tell me a story about; O gravitates toward anything sparkly. If you are a completist and cannot imagine parting with even one of these treasures, in the interest of your home not becoming the next episode of Hoarders, let me recommend ArtKive, an app that lets you photograph, tag, and date your kid’s work. They also make lovely coffee table books from the images. It is quick and easy, and the app is free.
1. Wrapping paper-We usually give books and those large preschool paintings are just right for wrapping picture books.
2.Thank you cards-Just find something blank on the back and cut a rectangle, fold in half and write a note in the middle. Bam, homemade thank yous.
Bonus: This year O wasn’t going to go to school on Valentine’s day because we were planning a long weekend. We didn’t pack in time and ended up deciding to send her at the last minute. I grabbed a stack of paintings that leaned red, cut out twenty hearts, and she scrawled her O on the back. The cheapest (read free) and most environmentally friendly Valentines ever.
2. Packing material-Ok, I know, this one hurts a little, but remember Artkive, and remember Hoarders. It makes it a little easier as you are crumpling up those paintings and shoving them in a box. Plus, I can not tell you how many thank you notes we have received that have said more about the packing material than the gift.
3. Papier Mâché-Cut long strips of the paper, blow up a balloon, dilute some white school glue with water and go to town. This is a messy proposition. A drop cloth is advisable. Outdoors is preferred. Younger kids like to just layer the sticky pieces on the balloon, but you can encourage older kids to create masks. You can always go back and cut eyes and mouths with a pen knife once your creations are dry. Note: any kind of shiny paper is not a great choice, the closer you can get to the look and feel of newsprint the better.
Full disclosure: This doesn't actually solve any problems, but instead creates a new one. Now you have to throw out three dimensional pieces of art instead of just paintings, but, hey, it kills an afternoon.
4. Grandparents-There is no shame in making them someone else's to throw away.
Any storage tips from the parents who keep it all?