… on the fridge, in the car, on the counter, bottom of schoolbags, their room, the walls. What to do with all of these works of art from our creative geniuses??
Many of us are emotionally attached to what our kids bring home; it means something- whether we love it or they do. But you have to get into the habit of picking through this stuff at the very beginning or in 10 years you are going to have 14 bins of artwork in the basement and no idea what to do with it. And none of it will ever see the light of day.
How can you parse through this stuff efficiently and painlessly? Have a plan and stick to it.
1- Unload. Empty the school bag, bring the art inside the house, put it on your counter. Try to do it every day, or at least weekly. Make it a habit, like emptying lunch bag.
2- Categorize. I have 3 categories: display, save and recycle. I save and display things my son is excited to show me or if it means something to him/ me (he’s 4, so that could be a especially well-colored Paw Patrol worksheet- because he’s obsessed with them!), or any other reason it feels special and representative for that moment in time.
What do you keep and what do you let go of?? Take (some) emotion out of it. Recycling even 90% of your child’s art doesn’t mean you don’t care about it- it just means your making it easier for them to enjoy their masterpieces in the future. It doesn’t take away how much fun they had creating it, and how excited they were to show you.
I can’t tell you what you should keep, it’s different for everyone. What helps me is I imagine my son looking through this stuff in 20 years, will he think it’s funny? Interesting? Will he pause on it? Or is it representative of something special in his life? Is it memorable? Special? Did he make it himself?
Label what you save (name, date/ age, a “caption” if you’d like).
3- Admire and Recycle. I put the stuff I’m going to recycle on the kitchen table or counter so he knows I’ve looked at it, we show dad that night and talk about it, then it goes right into recycling (well-hidden, of course- let’s not be cruel).
For the art I keep, I am a big fan of the semi-permanent display. I have an Umbra Photoline Display in my kitchen that I love. You can also find some really cool kid’s art displays on Etsy or make your own from a Pinterest inspiration. Simplest DIY? Painters tape and a blank wall.
The kids are really proud seeing their art displayed and it also gives me a second chance to go through it in a couple of weeks- and maybe I decide to recycle a few more things.
Your older kids can tell you what they want you to keep- if it’s more than you can handle, hang some in their room and go through it again in a few weeks. The bedroom photo at the top of this post has a really cool DIY picture display- you just need some wood, paint and bulldog clips.
When I remove art from the display, it goes into their files, something like these. You can also use a clear bin or larger file box. Eventually (maybe when your kids move out?) this stuff will make their way into scrapbooks.
My mom made scrapbooks for ALL FOUR of her kids. She had these big blank paper scrapbooks and taped and stapled our work to pages- layered up- which is a great use of space. My mom had this amazing knack for knowing exactly what to keep- funny poems, cute cards, special drawings- we love looking through them, and that is my inspiration.
If you’re feeling adventurous and already have a big collection of colorful pieces, I also love this idea from The Artful Parent of turning your child’s art into a poster, this is so cool and creative!
Whatever you plan on doing with your mini masterpieces, remember your purpose as you collect. A couple scrapbooks from K-8 may turn into bins for trophy’s and sculptures for your high school kid. Just stick to your system so you and your children can enjoy what you so thoughtfully and lovingly saved over the years.