Oh my friends, it has begun. Teachers are sending all the schoolwork from the year home with the kids.
Monday is was a file of worksheets with various stickers and notes in the margins. Wednesday it was tests and reports. Friday, oh Friday was the most terrifying of all… artwork.
That’s right, ten months of art— construction-papered, elmer-glued, magic-markered art work.
All lovingly planned and executed by their teachers, I am sure, but as the kids announced they got their art work back, I had visions of my kitchen table COVERED with papers from the school.
Like most mothers, I “Ooh” and “Ahh” while the kids are presenting them to me as if they are pulling out golden eggs from a potato sack and not nightmarish cluttered from a mildew-smelling knapsack, because it is our divine responsibility to feign enthusiasm.
But when they run off watch yet another episode of Steven Universe, I trash them. With glee.
I mean, I try to recycle what I can, but when in doubt I throw it out.
That is until I was caught by my daughter, Trinity.
I was cleaning the kitchen and came across the pile of worksheets and without a second thought moved them from the table to the recycling bin and you would have thought I desecrated a teen beat poster of Justin Bieber the way that child shrieked and ratted me out to her brothers.
I realized at that moment that I needed to come up with a plan to manage the end-of-the-year schoolwork deluge, because my ear drums can only handle so much tween screeching.
Here are three strategies to manage the end-of-the-year schoolwork clutter:
1. Let the kids have input.
Really, all the caterwauling was because Trinity was caught by surprise.
So, I called the kids into the kitchen and explained that I hate clutter. Clutter makes me feel anxious and discontent with our home.
Also, starting the summer off with a huge mess accelerated the cabin fever so, they had two choices: sit with me and decide what to do with the work or release me to discard as I see fit.
Only one kid cared— Trinity. The boys were fairly chill about the schoolwork.
2. Make three piles.
Trinity and I went through the work and created three piles.
One was discard: shocker of all shockers most of the worksheets and tests when into this pile.
Two was keep/display: these were the art pieces she was most proud of or she designed specifically for her room.
And the third pile was give-away: pieces I couldn’t bear throwing away because of the quality of the work, but didn’t fit on our fridge.
3. Give away.
Most of our extended family and good friends do not live in California and I’ve often struggled with how to stay in touch in real life apart.
Social media is helpful for current updates, but relationships are built on tangible expressions of our commitment to each other.
My daughter and I looked over the items in the give away pile and designated a family member to receive it.
Once we had a plan in place, the hard part was enacting it. Hence the piles on the kitchen table.
So, first thing this morning, Trinity and I went to my favorite office supply store with the pieces we wanted to mail to make sure we were purchasing the right size envelopes, addressed them, wrote little notes to the recipients and put them in the mail.
I’ve also heard that snapping pictures and storing them on the phone is helpful to store art work.
My phone is constantly griping at me because I nearing my storage limit, so that doesn’t work for me.
For now, I’m really enjoying how this practice of simplifying our clutter and staying connected to the people is making me feel more in control these last few days of school.