In every family, kids come home with a lot of paper. If they attend a child care center or have a babysitter, they create various art projects from the time they’re babies. If your children are school-aged, add spelling tests, math worksheets, and book reports to the pile. What do you do with it? Some parents have no problem throwing things out, while others struggle with the sentimental pull to hang on to everything. But just collecting it all into a plastic bin or box isn’t quite practical either. Even the fridge and kitchen bulletin board are looking tired from holding up those old papers you keep forgetting to toss or switch out for new ones after a while. Are there any other options for what you want to keep? We have found a few ways to maximize the memories while minimizing clutter.
Decide what’s really important. You might feel that artwork with the kids’ hand- or footprints are most worthy of keeping. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts of art could also make the cut. Maybe you have a few favorites because you see some real talent in your little Picasso! Another tip for weeding out a massive pile is to keep things that represent a milestone, such as the first paper your child wrote his name or the alphabet on. It also makes sense to save certificates and awards from school.
Designate a box for future sorting, preserving, and purging. Keep those special items in a sturdy, acid-free box, one for each child is probably a good idea. As the kids come home with new treasures, you can be more selective about what you save or toss, but even if you want to keep it all, get in the routine of going through that box every six months or annually to choose your favorites, then get rid of what’s left so you have room to spare for new additions.
Create a home gallery. It’s art, after all, and the works of your resident artists deserve to be on display. Whether you choose identical frames or frames of various sizes, colors, and textures to suit your taste in decor, give your kids’ paintings and drawings the museum exhibit treatment by hanging them around the house — on the wall leading up the staircase, in the dining room, and above the couch where you weren’t sure what to put on that wall. Keep the same pieces there for years or come up with a plan to rotate the art in the frames seasonally or on some other schedule.
Fill a binder with sheet protectors. It’s another alternative to storage that will allow you to enjoy the memories without packing them away. It’s a simple and fun way to flip through school- or artwork whenever you feel like taking a stroll down memory lane.
Make a photo book. If you’d rather have a more professional-looking memento, go to your favorite photo sharing service and upload photos of your children’s art to be turned into a photo book. Some, like Shutterfly, even have specific layout and design options aside from the standard books we’re all familiar with creating after family vacations. Companies like Artkive will do the work of creating digital images of the art projects for you — mail them your original collection and receive a book in return.
Those same photo sites also offer other ideas to showcase artwork that you can implement now instead of waiting for holiday gifts. Why not make placemats, playing cards, coffee mugs, throw pillows, ornaments, or….? The choices are endless.
Are you inspired? Do you have any new ideas of your own? We’d love to hear and share them!