Every child is a prodigious Picasso.  As parents, we have a difficult time knowing what to do with the plethora of masterpieces crafted by our children.  If we toss them, we feel guilty,  If we display them all, we might as well wallpaper our refrigerator.

Kids have no shortage of inspiration and creativity, and if yours are like mine, they can create ten works of art in a single afternoon.  Logic demands that we can’t keep every one of them. So what do we do with them?

Here are a few ideas.

1.  Pass some along to the grandparents.

Grandparents love handmade creations from the grandkids.  Set aside a collection for each set of your folks, and surprise them with a book of art for their coffee table or for their cubicle at work.  What grandparent doesn’t love bragging about their grandkids? Give them a tangible way to do so.

2.  Use it as gift wrap or as cards.

If your kids go to a birthday party every six weeks, save money and declutter by using some art as gift wrap. Your kids will beam with pride, and you’ll pass along original art as part of the gift. You can also make cards with art and get the same results.

3.  Rotate the best artwork in frames.

Assign a few frames throughout the house to displaying recent works of art.  Have your kids pick out their favorite, and hang those in their bedroom or playroom.  Select your favorites, and display them where you’ll enjoy them.  Rotate the collection every few months.

4.  Keep clutter boundaries with a designated bulletin board.

If there’s still a ton of art you or your kids love after framing the best, designate a bulletin board in their room just for their art.  They can hang as many well-loved pieces as can fit on the board, which keeps tangible boundaries on the quantity.

My daughter, at 3, creating art with her friend.

5.  Keep storage boundaries with a designated box.

Many times, the real problem isn’t displaying the art, it’s storing the art.  You want to save your kids’ art so they can look back as they grow, and so you can walk nostalgically down memory lane in a few years.  That’s completely reasonable, in theory. The problem lies when you keep every. single. piece. of. art. created.

That’s just not possible.  You can’t save it all, because mostly likely you’ll run out of room; if you don’t, then your head will spin with trying to organize and catalog it all so that it’s enjoyable.  When you keep too much, it lessens the value of the artwork you truly do love. Your collection is watered down.

Assign a sturdy, acid-free art box for each child.  I like this acid-free storage box

because it’s inexpensive, sturdy, large, and has a space to label the contents.  If you want to keep your child’s recent painting, write down the date or their age on the back (you think you’ll remember, but you won’t), and toss it into their box.  At the end of each year, go through and select three or four of your favorites to keep for posterity.  Get rid of the rest.

6.  Take photos of the art.

If it breaks your heart at the thought of tossing the art and somehow losing its memory, take a digital photo of the piece before getting rid of it.  It’s still clutter, for sure, but at least it’s not physical clutter.  You can digitally store their work on a CD, and one day, you can look back at it via computer.

7.  Toss it.  Teach kids the value of decluttering.

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, and that it’s really good to not hoard.  If you don’t want your kids riddled with a cluttered life as adults, start teaching the principle of living with boundaries now.

What else do you do with your children’s masterpieces?

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