Here’s a tough one for so many parents — your kids’ artwork. You want to keep it ALL because it shows growth and creativity and best of all they GIFTED it to you! But then one day you realize it’s every where and there’s so much of it, so you get folders or a bin and save it, tucked away so if your child ever asks you if you saved every single piece of artwork they ever made you can proudly say YES! And pull out a tote FULL of art. (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this post.)
Here’s a secret – the kids don’t ask if you kept it. They’re actually surprised that you did. If you reverse the situation – would you expect your parents to have kept all of your drawings from when you were a kid? Not likely.
There will be the odd piece that strikes you as extra special. Saying “but they’re all special!” is not truth. It’s truth on a superficial level, but not on a real level.
When my kids were young, I had two strings that hung across a section of wall with little decorative clothes pins. They would hang up artwork and when the clothes pins were full, I took a picture. As they created more artwork, they chose which pictures were taken down and discarded to be replaced with the new artwork. I’d roughly gauge when the artwork had been changed over and take another picture. These pictures are in their photo albums. I have only a couple pieces of artwork that I kept and placed in their baby books.
If we keep it all in a bin, as this is a popular solution – in the future, when we look through it, there will be so much in that bin, that it’ll be overwhelming. We don’t look at the artwork, we rifle through it, get overwhelmed, close the lid. We may stop at the odd piece and make a little pleasure sigh at the memory – maybe that’s the piece you keep.
Other options are scanning them and saving them digitally. If we’re doing something with the files once they are scanned in – like printing a photo book – then fine, they are serving a purpose. Otherwise, we are spending a lot of time scanning and cataloguing for what end?
If you’re struggling with this idea, have your kids help you sort through it. It doesn’t matter their age. Maybe what you’re really needing is permission to discard much of it. If they are younger and want to keep some pieces for themselves, set a reasonable number for them to keep, and set this number for yourself also. I can’t tell you what a reasonable number is for you and your family, but I would suggest maybe 10 pieces.
Some people frame their kids’ art work in a prominent place in the home and then change out the pieces in the frames. This is another great idea and a way to keep your kids involved in what pieces are showcased and what pieces are replaced and discarded.
Sorting through your children’s art can be an emotional experience. Their artwork tells a story of them growing up. All the things parents treasure. Feel the feelings. Take pictures of the pieces if you feel that will help you. Remind yourself that it’s the memories that you are treasuring more than the artwork itself. A photo of a collection of works will bring back those same memories and feelings. For the pieces you keep, get a frame and hang it in a place in your home where you’ll appreciate seeing it. Change out the work on display once in a while. There’s no point in keeping the pieces in a box where you never appreciate them fully.
I welcome your ideas, thoughts, and questions in the comments below.
Remember you can share your journey with me and others by using hashtag #MarchMicroMinimizing and tag me on Facebook or Instagram using handle @suzannegouldenILC.
Here’s me talking about our kids’ artwork!
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I still have stuff from my kids even though they are long grown up and on their own. I wish I would have known about the string strategy so that my kids could have been involved in the decision process of what to keep and display, and what to remove and perhaps discard. Great idea!