Part of surviving fall in our house is intertwined with surviving school with my three girls and all the stuff they bring home. ​It came to a head this weekend with a bit of a bad-Mommy moment. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my first and won’t be my last but I’m working to put the odds closer to the kids’ favor than mine.

Last week, my youngest pulled from her backpack yet another diligently and heartfelt made piece of art—a pretend ‘pie’ in a tiny ‘pie’ pan that smelled like…pie.  Since it wasn’t something that I could hang or put on the fridge, I asked her to place it on my nightstand so that I could keep and admire it.  Normally when I do this, it isn’t noticed that it’s gone within the next few days after I receive yet another play-dough dog or wad of tape that looks ‘just like an elephant’.

Flash forward, one week later.

Kelsey spies our recycle bin and I see her world immediately cloud over with a tilt of her head and a squishing of her brows. My eyes follow her gaze and my stomach does a little twist as the words spill from her mouth, “Mommy, why is my pie in the trash?” Since my husband is a maniac about keeping the house clutter free, I immediately throw him under the bus and profess that he must have accidentally tossed it during a cleaning rampage (bad-wife moment too but we won’t fully go there).  Fortunately, she understood completely and agreed that he probably just grabbed it with that mess of tape beside my bed.  So, we sanitized the ‘pie’ and I now plan to bronze it for the centerpiece at her wedding table to relieve my mommy-guilt.

Until this happened, I thought I was pretty clever at accepting, displaying and then quietly recycling the art our girls make for us.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do have a huge box of keepsakes that I date and save and a wall of artwork that we must pick and choose on replacement favorites. But, there is a point when space available meets hoarder tendencies. This is why the pie incorrectly found a new home.

If I could keep it all, I would.  So, I lamented on Facebook and got some great advice. Here are my favorite tips:

  • Scan all pieces of art and save them on a CD or flashdrive. Not only does this help me reconcile my recycling side it keeps my husband sane from clutter.
  • Create a wall of fame. Our hallway is not lined by great arts of work that I’ve purchased because there’s not much more that I want to see than what my girls have made the effort to create. I get 8×10 frames from the dollar store (not always the best, so be picky) and let them chose when they wish to replace their last masterpiece. We either recycle the replacement or store it for a memory book.
  • Share and personalize the love. There are so many community outreach programs that would love to have your kids’ efforts. Fire stations, retirement homes, children’s hospitals. Maybe the piece wasn’t originally intended for these folks but if you let your child know how much you appreciate their efforts and encourage them to share it with someone else, they’ll get that their work matters and gain a sense of sharing for others.

I’m still looking for any other new ideas so feel free to share in the comment section. What do you do with your child’s handiwork?

Featured Photo Courtesy: Andrea Everhart