Conquering Clutter: What To Do With Kids’ Artwork

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Our two oldest children are both artists. (Honestly, whose kids aren't?) My husband and I find it fascinating to watch each of them create, because even as very young children, they have two very different styles when approaching a piece of paper.

The problem comes, however, in that we end up with several drawings each day that need to be honored in some way, shape, or form. Tears ensue if drawings are found in the recycling box, yet Mommy herself sheds tears when the living room is littered with masterpieces and chaos abounds.

What to do?

I was inspired by Tsh at Simple Mom awhile back by her post on this very topic, so I'm sharing a few of her suggestions that resonated with me, as well as sharing a few other methods we use ourselves. Perhaps you have a few ideas you'd like to share?


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Create a coffee table brag binder.

Get a 3-ring binder and fill it with clear sleeves. As your child creates pieces that are especially share-worthy, add them to the binder. When the binder is full, choose just a few to save long-term and recycle the rest. Usually by that time, the child is no longer attached to each individual creation.

Use them as gift wrap or as cards.

When your kids head to a birthday party, using some of the art as gift wrap or as a card. Not only will you save money, but your child's artwork will be part of the gift. I especially like this way of using kids' art because it helps teach the habit of creating thoughtful, homemade gifts.

Create collages on the wall with painter's tape.

If you have a wall you don't mind putting painter's tape on (theoretically it shouldn't mark at all…), hang the pictures up using painter's tape on all four sides to create colorful frames around each piece. Painter's tape comes in many colors, so you can create large, colorful collages on the wall and change them easily at will.

Display large works in classy frames.

We have one of these lovely easels (which we love), but it means that some of artwork created is LARGE. I found a classy, appropriately shaped frame at our local thrift store and display the especially well-crafted paintings on the wall along side our Klimt and Picasso prints. The best part is that they can be rotated easily every few weeks or months.

Designate clutter boundaries with an “art only” bulletin board.

Hang up a bulletin board for each child just for their art. They can hang as many of their creations as they like and they get to decide when pieces come down, but ultimately the rule is that all art has to be on the boards. This keeps tangible boundaries on where the pieces of paper end up but still allows them to feel that their creativity is something to be celebrated.

Keep only one long-term storage “memory” box.

Keeping your child's art really is about being able to remember what your child was doing and what he or she was like at this age. To do that, you only need a handful of pieces from each year.

After you take your child's artwork out of the binder or out of the frame, select just 1-2 to keep long-term. Write the child's name, age, and date on the back, then toss it into the box.

Toss it. Teach kids the value of decluttering.

This is my favorite thought from Tsh on this topic!

“When push comes to shove, a lot of your kids’ art is more for the process of creating than for the result. It’s okay to throw away some of their art. In fact, it’s fine to toss most of their art. When you save only the artwork you love, you’re increasing its value. And when you get your children involved in deciding which ones to keep and which ones to save, you’re teaching them the value of giving loved items a specific place of honor… If you don’t want your kids riddled with a cluttered life as adults, start teaching the principle of living with boundaries now.”

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  1. I have a wall in my family room with a small “gallery” of frames which hold the best of my daughter’s works of art. They helped me choose them from a filing box I had been storing all their crafts and art in, and allowed me to recycle the rest, after they chose the ones they liked best.
    Another thing I have done is hang a string along a wall in their bedroom, with cute miniature ladybug clothespins from the dollar store. Many pieces of art can hang at the same time, and the girls could hang them up themselves and arrange them as they liked. It even doubled as a drying line for wet paintings 🙂

  2. We have an Ikea wire curtain rod under the window in the playroom that we clip papers, art and certificates too on a random, rotating basis. Last year for mu husband for Valentine’s day, I went through 5 years of kids artwork, tossed a LOT of it (bittersweet, of course) and scanned the rest. Then I put the sized the scanned pictures down to a few inches and created a grid for each daughter and printed them out at Staples. They are framed in the playroom:

  3. I hang up the good pieces on our china cabinet as they’re created. I photograph them while they’re up and store the really nice ones in my account. Then, as new nice ones are created, I stealthily recycle the old ones. The kids don’t seem to notice (although I’m not sure it’s a bad thing if they would notice), and their artwork is always on display in the most-used room of our home.

  4. I keep a few pieces each year, the Rest I take a photograph of and make them a photo book of their artwork. Cuts down on all the clutter.

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