Friday, March 18, 2016

Organizing your crap...I mean treasures

The first thing that people tend to notice when they go into my garage is Brownie the large ugly (...sorry Lauren) paper mache gorilla who has been taking up residence on a high shelf in there for almost 25 years. “Brownie” was created by Lauren’s first grade class. It was part of an enormous class project that ended up on display at a local mall many years ago. When the school year ended there was a drawing to see which lucky student won the right to keep Brownie for ever and ever.

Lauren was the lucky winner. She was beyond delighted. We were horrified. For years, when we would do the occasional garage clean up, she was still not ready to part with him. Now he is simply a large barnacle. He has taken root and we barely notice him unless someone asks the usual "What on earth?..." He is part of the garage.  The garage is full of many other objects that we likely don’t remember we have and don’t really need. Brownie is just the shining example. At least we can manage to fit our cars in (which probably makes ours better than many). To be fair, if my husband was left to his own devices, the garage would be immaculate.

It is always a delicate balance figuring out what to keep and what to toss when you have a budding, prolific artist in your life. You want to value their creativity but there is only so much room on the fridge. Sadly more and more refrigerators are no longer even magnetic!  On a side note, please make sure that your child is given the opportunity to create with real paper. Electronic programs can be amazing with what they can do, but they should not be a substitute for for crayons or water painting. Ceramic, or 3-D artwork is even more of a challenge for storage or display, especially when many folks in SF have limited room.

One of the things I did when my girls were fairly young was to start organizing early, and it is something I am grateful  for. Having a simple plan in advance can be very helpful. If you have room, get a display board for the special pieces, but just like a museum, art gets rotated.

When it is time to make room for new art, what happens to the old stuff?
The choices are recycle (a much kinder word than throwing out,) save, or give as a gift. If something is getting recycled, get it out of sight quickly. You don’t want your kid to find their art crumbled in the trash. For the things worth saving, each child should have one expandable file folder per year for things that are flat. My kids had one folder for each grade, as they got older the things that were saved morphed from art to school papers and projects that were keepers. For Lauren, my actress, that was where we kept programs and newspaper clippings.

The files have limited space. Have your kids be part of the committee that decides what gets saved. At the end of the year we always had a lot of fun going down memory lane by looking through the folders. At that time we were able to do some further culling; not everything needed to be kept.

Another option is to take photos of the art which can be kept in an album or stored digitally. These days art can easily be turned into calendars, mugs, birthday cards  or anything really!

Thinking about giving away some of the special pieces that you don’t need to keep? That is what extended family is for!  Warning, there is always the danger that it will land back in your lap 20 years later. When my husband's parents passed away, there it was, a pile of art done by our kids that had been proudly displayed in their home for years. That art now belongs to us again, and it is keeping Brownie company in the garage.

1 comment:

  1. You are right that we often gather so many things in our lives that we gather and they are of no use to us. It is better to give them away to needy. This will not just clear the clutter but will also give you satisfaction.