The economy of space


Collin has just finished his first semester of preschool, leaving me with a file cabinet’s worth of art projects. It’s exciting to pick him up and receive visual and tangible evidence that he is learning (along with a globs of wet glue and dusting of glitter and feathers to decorate my car seats). When he comes running up to me, beaming, bearing a painting, Collin shouts, “Mommy! Look what I made for you!”

For a time, said masterpiece takes dominance on our refrigerator, until it is covered up by a superior piece. The old work is always there to look back upon, to compare, to fondly remember.

But the economy of space comes into play. The numerical side of children’s art is daunting. In our household alone: 1 preschooler x 2-3 pieces of art x 3 days a week x 36 weeks = a self storage unit gallery.


So where should it go?

It’s painful for me to put the projects into the recycling bin. The red tempera painted handprints on blue construction paper, the paper plate snowman with the Mona Lisa smile, the colorful clay candle holder: all were created for me with love while we were apart.

We could save everything in an album or a plastic bin, but where would we store the collection? Why would we keep EVERYTHING?

Some art might be nice gifts for grandparents and other family members who might appreciate an original piece by your young artist.

Another suggestion is to take a picture of Collin holding the most important of all of the artwork, then throw it away. For me, a photograph it just isn’t the same. Seeing the actual size of his hand as it changes and touching the texture of each brush stroke makes the piece more real or more meaningful.

One last idea is to find a nursing home that might be able to spruce up its rooms with some color courtesy of my petite Picasso. Kids’ art has a way of reminding us of our own childhood. Perhaps the elderly need that sort of cheer the most. And to think that something that mattered so much to us can be even more meaningful to someone else makes it much easier to part ways with the product of little fingers learning and playing. 

It’s a simple law: matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Couple that with our Christian duty to give, and we have a perfect solution to decluttering our lives. So what are some of your favorite ways to reduce your amount of stuff while being charitable?

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.