With summer vacation in full swing, I decided a little cathartic decluttering was in order. I walked through the kitchen scooping up some papers that had been sitting idle on the counter, and headed in the direction of the trash can. As I spun around, I found myself looking straight into the eyes of a horrified and confused five year old girl.
She was suddenly realizing, perhaps for the very first time, that I was not keeping every single item she had brought home from preschool over the course of the year.
This was a tipping-point moment in our relationship, and I had to choose my words carefully. We chatted about my love of her creative spirit, but my desire for minimalism. She appeared skeptical. I felt like I was in a weird version of Shark Tank trying to convince a panel of one that my craft-keeping approach was sound. She was not convinced. In the end, we agreed to disagree on this particular matter.
I smiled as she walked away, but it did make me think. As parents we often struggle to balance sentimentality and practicality, so here is my list of six observed parent types, and their corresponding craft-keeping philosophies.
To keep or not to keep?….that is really the question.
The Realist: You are a no-nonsense kind of individual. You like to read nonfiction books, and enjoy listening to NPR. Your craft-retention approach understands that it’s not possible to keep everything, and so to avoid the inevitable disappointment, you simply keep nothing. You ever so gently pull your kids’s crafts out of their school bags. You smile a warm motherly kind of smile as you proceed to toss their hand print turkey and watercolor tree directly into the nearby trash can. You are a wonderful mom.
The Analyst: You value creativity, and have an active Pinterest account. You also enjoy spending your evenings watching reality television, because you love a good underdog tale. As you open the school folder, you assess each craft in order to determine if it possesses an acceptable level of symmetry, and a pleasing glitter-to-glue ratio. You will praise your child for their artistic eye, and after they have gone to bed that evening will gently place your children’s crafts into the recycling bin. You are a wonderful mom.
The Strategist: You crave structure. You head to the gym at least three times a week, and have two non-medically necessary gluten-free items in your pantry just because you think diversifying your grains is a good idea. You want to keep every craft. You feel bad that you can’t keep more crafts. You however simply have no room in your house for a Smithsonian exhibit of crafts. So in an effort to balance your sentimentality, you have made a dedicated craft area in your home. This crafty nook, or clothes-pin string, or cork board approach allows you to feature a few select favorites each month. You are a wonderful mom.
The Pragmatist: You prefer balance. You are an avid supporter of the arts, but you file your taxes early each year. When you go on vacation you prefer to have one scheduled activity each day, and allow the rest of the day to evolve organically. You used to keep every craft, but by child number two you quickly realized this approach was not going to be sustainable. So you photographed the best of the craft items, and then upload the images into a digital scrap book for space-saving posterity. You are a wonderful mom.
The Hoarder: You consider yourself a free spirit. You are always on the hunt for a good bargain. There was a brief time that you thought Beanie Babies were actually going to take off. You never thought scrap booking would go out of fashion, and so you kept everything. Striving for organization, you have installed shelves in your storage room, and have labeled each box. You have elaborate ideas for what you intended to do with the crafts once your children graduate. You are a wonderful mom.
The Bone Collector: You are an enthusiastic individual. There’s a high likelihood you have tried hot yoga….and liked it. You deliberately purchase kale each month. You have ziplock baggies labeled “baby teeth” and “first hair cut.” You aren’t at all certain what you plan to do with all the saved items, but you may require the services of a handwriting analyst when you are ready to confirm which item belongs to which child. You are a wonderful mom.
When it comes to parenting, there is no one perfect approach. Each child has their own unique strengths and challenges, and each parent has their own natural style and preferences. Whatever kind of craft-keeping philosophy you have adopted, just make sure it works for your family, and remember….you are a wonderful mom.
No real or imagined crafts were harmed in the creation of this list. This breakdown is strictly for entertainment purposes only, but in case you were dying to know….I’m a craft-keeping strategist.
About the author: Summer Smith, is a speaker, writer, and blogging mother of four. She and her family are currently navigating the suburbs of Northern Virginia. She believes the secret motherhood formula is a sense of humor, copious amounts of coffee, and Amazon Prime. You can find her memoir style stories on her website www.motherhoodintechnicolor.com, or follow her daily Facebook musings at https://www.facebook.com/motherhoodintechnicolor/.