Just yesterday my husband was cleaning out the desk in the kitchen, when he stopped to sweep his hand across all the colorful kids' artwork tacked to the wall above it. There was the Abraham Lincoln puppet my daughter made in 2nd grade, my son's self-portrait from when he was in 3rd, and various other images and poems crafted in a chaotically happy mix of crayon, marker, and paint, on paper plates and faded, curling construction paper.
"Don't you think it's time to get rid of all this?" my unsentimental spouse asked me. "I mean, our kids are 15 and 12 now."
If I could have divorced him in that moment I would have. Because while he looks at the mess of sketches and drawings stuck haphazardly on the wall and sees "clutter," I look at them and see a bunch of amazing moments frozen in time. And that, according to tidiness expert Marie Kondo, is the key to deciding which pieces of your kid's artwork should be kept and treasured... and which should be ceremoniously trashed.
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"When you decide to keep something or throw something away," she explained to a bunch of parents in a video for the Wall Street Journal. "You should make that decision based on whether or not that item sparks joy."
Every single one of my kids' creations makes me smile. Which basically means, I win. So in your face, husband!
Kondo then offered the following tips for how to keep all your kids creative expressions from getting out of hand.
1) Designate a limited amount of space for the artwork (You know... like the wall above your kitchen desk)
2) When it overflows, put all the art on the table and ask if each piece sparks joy (Check!)
3) If it doesn't spark joy, throw it away (Wait, what?)
"I don't like that idea!" said one of the moms in the WSJ video emphatically.
"I would rather get rid of toys and de-clutter that way, and keep these works of art," added another.
Preach, sister! Because while my son's self-portrait may look more like Abraham Lincoln than my daughter's actual rendering of Abraham Lincoln does, they both give me sparks of joy for the simple reason that my kids made them.
You know what doesn't spark joy? Kondo's game plan. Into the trash you go!
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She'd probably make the perfect wife for my husband, however.