"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Is this what it feels like to dig through a slush pile?

So I finally got around to something I've been putting off for months. Actually, for years. You know all the art and homework and stuff your kids bring home? The colored in menus from restaurants? The worksheet where they've written the letter "H" twenty times?
Since my son's birth almost seven years ago, I've shoved them away.Two bins and four brown bags worth. I moved the whole stack into the dining room a month ago, but it's been sitting there taunting me this whole time. So yesterday I dug in.

What to keep? What to pitch? I can only imagine it's kind of like an agent or editor digging through a slush pile, looking at each piece, searching for a compelling reason to not toss it in the garbage.

Basic homework - trash.
Crayon scribbles - trash.
Anything three dimensional - trash.
Anything with beans or pasta or some other bug attraction device - trash.

And so it went. I whittled it way down. Then I got to the laminated stack. I swear when my son was one, they laminated every thing he did at daycare. Dot paint. Crayon. Paintbrush. I picked out the exceptional ones, and tossed the rest.

Really, one thing I see no reason to hold on to are the generic projects they do. The ones where every kid does the exact same thing. Cut on the lines here. Glue to the paper here. Write these words here. Gone.

Luckily some of the sentimental stuff I may have had a hard time ditching spoke for itself. The votive candle holder made out of the can had rusted. The Advent clay sculpture had dried and cracked.

So now both kids' things are in less than one bin. Seeing as how they are only six and three, I figure I have plenty of art ahead of me to save.


Note: Of course I kept everything that said "I love my mommy". These are the gems in my art slush pile.

16 comments:

Kelly said...

I SO need to do this. Bring on summer!

Christine M said...

I use pretty much the same criteria. If something shows individual creativity - it stays - if it's general stuff - it goes. Otherwise we'd drown in paper!

PJ Hoover said...

Kelly, it took way longer than I thought it would. I figured maybe an hour. Four hours later..

Chris, exactly on the individual creativity thing! It if tells me something special about my kid, it stays.

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

I think that's a nice comparison (perhaps too generous to the editors). And...I have a similarly sized stack of things to go through myself. Ack.

PJ Hoover said...

Hi Anamaria! It was so nice to finally accomplish it. The filing cabinet is next :)
Yeah, I figured I could go farther with the comparison, and I'm sure if I had a new stack of 100 pieces of art to go through each and every day, I would have :)

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this every day! They create so much stuff!
N

PJ Hoover said...

It is overwhelming! I don't remember doing this much when I was little. Or maybe my mom just tossed it while it was still only in short term memory.

Shelley.Livaudais said...

Ugh. Well, good for you for doing that. I'm still avoiding eye contact with the big underbed storage tub from hell.

:)

PJ Hoover said...

Hey Shelley! At least yours in under the bed. I made the mistake of dragging it out in plain site!

Barrie said...

I am even more impressed with you than ever!

You are a de-clutterer!!!

Karen said...

I need to do this too. I have the kids' stuff shoved all over the house. Which means I need to clean first to find them....

PJ Hoover said...

Barrie, I am a de-clutterer. I may not keep everything spotless, but clutter drives me nuts!

Hi Karen! I guess putting it in a huge stack in the middle of the dining room was a good way to get it done!

HipWriterMama said...

I take pictures of my children's art projects or scan them. Easy to keep a record of, you can send them to family, and, even create pretty cards, stickers or magnets. Wait a minute...maybe I've just created more clutter...

PJ Hoover said...

So, HWM, do you pitch them after you've scanned them?

Sheri said...

PJ, I don't know if you're still reading comments for this posting. You write so often, I miss so much when I check in only once a week.

Anyway I wanted to share what I do with my girls. They are now in 5th and 3rd grade, so they can help. During the year, they each have a HW bin where they store HW that has been returned. Then the first week of summer, they empty the bin on the floor and they sort through; keep, toss. Then I give them big sheets of construction paper and they make folders. They call it, my 5th grade work, say or some such title and put in there all the stuff they want to remember from that school year. Then I file it in the basement. I've been doing that with them since Kindergarten. It's not perfect, but it works... I've heard of a similar process with boxes instead of folders. Those are easier to store, so I wish I had started out that way, but... My mom did the same sort of thing for me and I still have a picture I drew of my father when I was 3 years old. It is neat to have something so old... yes, so very, very old...

PJ Hoover said...

Good idea, Sheri! I will start this moving forward. We had so much stuff to go through, I just had to plow through it on my own. But now that it's manageable, I'll let the kids help too!