When my first child started kindergarten, a note came home after a couple of weeks asking for
donations of household items for art and craft. Things like empty egg cartons, tissue boxes, yoghurt
containers, card board rolls from paper towels, bits of string and spare office paper.
That’s where the trouble began.
Being a middle class parent wanting to do the best job of mothering my first-born I took to
this task with gusto. I knew you shouldn’t do your child’s homework but also that parents involved
and engaged with their child’s education encouraged the best in school outcomes.
I proudly sent him to school with an egg carton. Then he told me that Lucy and Stevie* didn’t have a carton
as they didn’t eat eggs or their mother (shock horror) forgot. I started collecting things in anticipation of homework projects and the second child who would follow three years later.
But now I have a problem. My youngest child is now in year 6, admittedly the last year when home sourced
craft materials will be required, requested or indeed, desired. In fact the ubiquitous $2 shops
mean any manner of previously homemade items (cards, Easter egg collecting baskets, toy binoculars
– my own favorite from the Play School “Useful Box”) can be purchased with a minimum outlay of
time and money and the added cache of having something new and trendy to take to school.
“Emma’s mum bought her shiny, sparkly poms poms! I don’t want to take the crooked ones you cut
from crepe paper even though you stayed up half the night cutting them.” You and I both know
that Emma’s mum probably spent less than I did – have you seen the price of crepe paper lately?
No more Easter hat parades or Book Week costumes or home-based projects of any magnitude (our
school heavily encouraged these items be made from “found” items – a nicely worded re-branding of
I will have to start culling. But no, my inner conservation warrior protests, there are so many presents
I could make myself! Yes me. So I have started to collect recipes and articles on making jams and bath salts to fill
up my many glass jars, re-fashioned nice boxes and perfume packaging into holders of pencils and
make-up brushes. My boys have matching Lindt chocolate containers in the bathroom.
I now collect all sorts of packaging simply because it looks nice and/or useful.
But it’s getting out of control and taking over my kitchen. After long spilling out of the
kids crafts cupboard (where I’m still storing fabric scraps, cardboard, interesting plastic
tubs, origami paper and millions of stickers accumulated over the years), it’s now
spread to the hard to reach cupboard above the range hood in the kitchen. Glass
bottles and jars of every size, ice cream containers, large yoghurt containers and
anything else that looks too useful to throw out. I can’t, and don’t want, to make jam
and bath salts all the time.
That’s where I seem to have come unstuck. I see a use in just about everything now.
Well, if I’m not collecting for my own use then it’s for others. For my niece’s daycare;
for the ladies at church and school who make craft items for fetes; for other people
making jam for fetes. Thank God for fetes!
I got addicted to that self-satisfied feeling when, at the last minute, I was able to
produce a small perfectly shaped plastic cap for Ned Kelly’s helmet in a school project.
I had the perfect item. I was the perfect mother.
I think I might have a problem.
(*Names changed to protect the forgetful.)