When my children began preschool, my home became bombarded with mountains of artwork that they would bring home every day. From glittered dried leaves glued to cardboard squares to colored popsicle sticks with fluffy pom-poms, I would save each and every item that their little hands created. I mean, how could I not save a sweet drawing that says “I luv mom” to cherish when they become distant teenagers?
Throughout the years, my prolific artists have created so much artwork that my house has become cluttered with paper in all of its forms. When my home is cluttered, I feel anxious, unorganized, and my patience runs thin. I feel guilty that my children’s mounting creative work gets me so distressed. They are so proud of their creations – as am I – and I don’t want their artistic endeavors to become a point of contention.
It’s always a battle between heart and mind over what treasured work should be kept and what should be tossed. Should I keep the out-of-shape pottery flower pot with scribbles all over it or the cardboard cut-out of a puppy with staples, glitter glue, and finger paint?
For sanity and practicality reasons, I know I can’t keep it all, so I’ve devised a simple system to help keep the clutter at bay.
1. Create a storage solution
I have a medium-sized basket that I place near our front door where all paperwork is placed upon entering the home. This includes mail, artwork, school forms, etc. At the end of each day, I go through the papers and place mail and school forms on my desk for follow-up, recycle any junk mail, choose one piece of artwork from each kid to be placed in a storage bin.
The storage bin is tabulated by age/grade, and I’ll place each piece inside its respective tab. I keep the storage bin by my desk next to another storage bin that holds all of our receipts, paid bills, and anything else we may need to reference for taxes. Can you tell I love storage bins?
2. Store digitally
Every six months, I will go through the storage box of art and choose a few pieces to display in our home in frames that can be easily switched out. We like to display their work beside the stairwell to our basement. Placing the art in frames with large mats give off a more professional vibe. Both kids beam with pride when guests ask where we bought our beautiful artwork from.
For the other pieces that don’t make the cut, I take pictures of them on my phone and upload it to my Dropbox account and onto sites like Snapfish or Artsonia. From there, I can create customized photo books and/or gifts like ornaments, magnets, and quilts all personalized with my children’s creations. Photo books are a great way to preserve artwork without taking up too much room and personalized gifts make great one-of-a-kind keepsakes for family and loved ones.
Realistically, you won’t be able to keep everything your children bring into the home. But I’ve learned the hard way not to recycle or throw away art without asking your children first. What may seem like no big deal to you could be very meaningful for them.
For pieces that you want to recycle or throw out and they want to keep, agree to hold onto it for a few weeks and then either save or toss. After a few weeks, they will either have forgotten about that particular piece of artwork or if it’s still meaningful to them, then you know it’s worth holding onto either digitally or in a frame.