When I decided to be a stay-at-home dad, there were lots of things I thought about and looked forward to doing with my kids – reading books, science experiments, Legos, playing catch, building forts, blocks, tea parties, etc. The one thing I never even considered doing was arts and crafts. It just wasn’t on my radar.
Little did I realize that one of the main job descriptions of a stay-at-home parent is curator of an arts and crafts museum. With three ‘artists’ in elementary school and one in preschool, the number of pieces in our collection is truly AMAZING.
We are just a small museum with limited space. At times, I am overwhelmed at the amount of thought I must put into appraising each newly arrived piece for the collection, especially when new items arrive daily. (Harder to keep up with than laundry sometimes.) Other curators I talk to are ruthless about culling potential pieces from their collections as they come in the front door and take no prisoners, but our artists have long memories.
What Chinese New Year project? Oh, from preschool? I recycled that over five years ago! Please don’t cry – I know you’re very disappointed and that was a fun project, but we can’t keep everything.
It’s especially hard to manage the collection when I am just not an arts and crafts kind of guy (sorry SmartySusan). I try to inventory and take pictures of the pieces as they enter the museum and ‘repurpose’ them after being on display, but it’s hard to keep up with and my artists push back on their hard work being ‘repurposed.’ Consequently, I overcompensate and keep most things to avoid feeling like a heel when the inevitable tears flow over a culled piece they ask about months or years later.
I am not a fan of arts and crafts, but I understand and appreciate their value along with the joy the kids get from doing them, so I deal with it. I put up with the mess of their sometimes extended ‘work-in-process’ projects because I think it helps improve their attention spans, imaginations and creativity. They are developing the “if Dad won’t buy it for us, we’ll make it ourselves mentality,” which is fun to watch in action. (Of course they want to keep all their homemade Halloween and Christmas decorations for next year. ☺ )
Admittedly, having so many projects in process at once does not lead to a very tidy house. After feeling outside the norm about letting my kids leave an in-process mess for days for multiple projects, the New York Times ran a story that made me feel a little better.
How do you handle your curator duties? And how do you handle their projects that take days to complete? Do you let them work on multiple projects at once? Or one at a time?