We parents have a common problem, and I think it’s time to address it. Our kids all go to their respective schools or preschools or daycares or grandparents’ houses, and they make crafts and pictures and dough balls and glittery-gluey-popsicle sticks, or just plain paper cut up into a million tiny jagged pieces. Then they bring these things home, into OUR homes, and we are expected to love these items and cherish them as much as our children do. These are their CREATIONS, and they are just SO very proud of them and eager to show them off to us, which is very sweet and adorable until we actually have to figure out where the bleepidy-bleep in our already craft-saturated homes we are supposed to put them. I’ve got to admit, it’s hard to love and cherish a construction-paper ladybug that was mostly made by the teacher, except for a single, thick, wet blob of red paint on its wing, which was my child’s contribution.
If you ever watched Ducktales, back in the nineties, you will remember Scrooge McDuck, a very wealthy and cantankerous old quack* with a giant vault full of gold coins that he would swim around in. Well, if I had kept all of my children’s crappy craft creations over the years, I’m quite sure I would now have enough to fill a Scrooge McDuck-sized vault, and could easily swim around in them until I was simply covered in glitter and paper cuts. But we would not be able to truly enjoy our children’s artwork if it was just laying, crumpled up in a giant vault, would we? Besides, we need our Scrooge McDuck vaults for the MONEY that we all have just lyin’ around. And speaking of wastefulness, how many more trees must we kill, make into paper, and allow our children to scribble crazily on with a single brown felt pen, making a precious artwork that we will then be forced to agonize over whether or not to keep? We have to stop the madness, people!
But seriously, we all know that this will never stop, because our children are too cute and we are too soft when it comes to the adorable things they “make,” and getting them craft supplies is way better than getting them more toys, and so we will ask for those for them for Christmas and their Birthdays (that and clothes, if Nana and Papa are reading this. Sizes 5 and 7).
And so, I have come up with several helpful solutions to this problem, that I will present to you now. My hope is that these might help reduce YOUR Scrooge McDuck’s vault-sized stack, if you have one, and increase your sanity. It is also my hope that I will begin to follow these instructions, too.
Here we go:
1) Save ONLY the special things. And don’t be afraid to cut a “special piece” off, if there is a cute PART of it, but not ALL of it is cute. Then, put that special piece in one of your Everything Bins (I suggest your Everything Drawer), and keep it there until a day that you are feeling nostalgic and crafty, and will have time to, I don’t know, put it in a scrapbook or some such nonsense. That day will probably never come until after your children are grown up and gone, but maybe by then you will want to make a scrapbook, because it will give you something sweet to do to remember these “precious” days.
2) When presented with the item, congratulate your child on how hard they must have worked to make such an INTERESTING item, and comment on it, but not in a judgmental way. Just in a way that indicates that you are really noticing that they put that blob of paint there, and that they tore a hole in it there, and put a single googly eye in that pile of glue there. Then, after they are ASLEEP, bury it in the trash, the recycling bin, or the back yard. Your child will DEFINITELY forget it ever existed, as will you. However, DO NOT PUT IT ON THE TOP OF THE TRASH/RECYCLING BIN, or just leave it laying in the back yard, hoping that the raccoons will make off with it. This is very important, because then your children WILL find it, and it will break their tiny hearts that you didn’t immediately frame it and put it on display. Another option is to quietly dispose of it at a neighbour’s house. You might even want to work out a system with your neighbour, where you dispose of their children’s crafts, and they dispose of yours. Because it is much less emotional throwing out someone else’s child’s craft crap, is it not?
3) Decide that you will screw over your future self by simply leaving the craft crap in a pile on the kitchen counter with some other stuff that you intend to go through, one day. Because what has your future self done for you lately, anyway? NOTHING, that’s what. However, make SURE you look through that pile to find your child’s notice for hot dog day so you can fill it out and submit it ON TIME, because if you don’t, hot dog day WILL COME, and your child will receive NO hot dog, and that will break your child’s tiny heart. Also, if you come across the school photo order form in there, you should order some of those before the deadline (which was last week, btw).
4) Insist that it be up to your spouse to decide which crafts and pictures should be axed and which should be kept, because you work SO hard, and you deserve a break from such emotional decision-making. Also, remind them that they need to clean up the pee on the bathroom floor.
5) Look up ideas on Pinterest about how to adorably display such things, such as hanging them from clothespins, or taking pictures of them all and making an album, or making and framing a cute collage of everything. Then put the Pinterest ideas you want to do on your list of “things to do one day when I have time,” alongside such things as finally making a baby book for your 7-year-old, or learning to play the Banjo.
So there you have it, friends! I hope that this helpful guide will give you some good ideas and/or permission around how to deal with your children’s crafty crap. And, if you happen to be looking for someone to organize a “craft crap disposal exchange” with, let’s be in touch. I have a one-eyed sock puppet with YOUR garbage can’s name on it.
* Pun very much intended.