Of course your child is a wonderful artist. She constantly gifts you with pieces deemed “too precious to toss”. Until one day you look around and your home is inundated by “art” on everything from post-it notes to fringed notebook paper. What’s a mama to do?
After a little research on the ‘Net’ and talking to a few other moms, I write, equipped with suggestions. Some you probably have thought of already and some may be new to you. Any of these can be easily modified to fit your family and your budget.
The most common solution I found was to display artwork for a time and then put it into a tub or folder to be gone through at a later date. Some mamas display on the fridge, some in a frame and some dedicate an entire wall to their kid’s artwork. There are many ideas on Pinterest for display walls: everything from plain black frames to decorative clipboards, complete with each child’s name. I like the clipboard idea because it’s easy enough for children to replace their work at their discretion and there’s no tangling with those nasty metal prongs on a frame. You can find a diy tutorial for decorative clipboards by clicking here.
The tub of artwork to be saved (we happily named a “treasure box”) can be any size and shape that is easily stored. Under the bed seems to be the most popular area for storage. Once the container fills up, the child has to decide which pieces to keep and which to discard.
If parting with artwork is difficult, consider sending them to relatives or a pen pal, or making it a background page of a journal. Another idea is to put it into a three ring binder (don’t forget to date it).
There is always the option of taking photos of your child with their art. These can be put onto a CD. It’s a neat, compact memory keeper. Or make a photo album of your child’s art. Of course, the CDs and photo books can be given to the child on their 18th birthday or when they move into their own place. One quilt maker designed a personalized quilt of digital photos showcasing her grandchildren’s art. Quite a unique, creative keepsake, in my opinion.
There are other digital options. ARTKIVE is a free, permanent online kids art museum where parents (and teachers) can upload and showcase student artwork. ARTSONIA is another, similar app.
For the conservation conscious parent, perhaps you want to toss the markers and paper – or at least have less of it: designate a set number of composition notebooks for your kids to “practice” in. There are apps that allow and teach children to draw. Consider: KID’S ART GALLERY, INFINITE DESIGN, and HOW TO DRAW.
Now, there are mamas who are on the other end of the spectrum: They have no problem tossing the scribbles, hand tracings and pages with one gigantic pink streak across a page. No shame in that, mamas! The trick is to make sure your child doesn’t see you tossing his art.
One mama announced that she was taking it to work to be “displayed.” She added the quotes, not me. 😉 Whether you display it or put it in (what my fifth grade teacher affectionately called) the “round brown file” is completely up to you. Just have a few pieces at the ready in case your children tend to visit you at work.
One mama admitted to putting them in her car to toss out whenever she got gas, away form her kids’ watchful eyes. I’ve been known to utilize this idea on more than one occasion. I’m just sayin’.
Then there’s the “You Gave It To Me, It’s Mine” argument. Some parents are comfortable being completely upfront with tossing what isn’t particularly sentimental or meaningful. One mama said her kids know that if they gift her with their artwork, then it is hers to do with as she pleases. She gets very few questions as to what becomes of the pieces – her kids know that she’s likely to toss most of it after the initial “ooooOOooos” and “aahhhhs”.
When it does come time to toss on the sly, in order to ease the process, I suggest either pairing the activity with a favorite wine or ice cream flavor (Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough or Karamel Sutra Core are my faves). Don’t forget to put on your favorite music or Netflix series to enhance the experience. You will either need it to fortify your resolve or to help with the boredom of the activity. Trust me on this.
So, what do you do if you get caught tossing? One mama allowed her kids to put the paper through the shredder. Her child ran to his treasure box, offering to shred more. Not a bad plan. My nearly 13 yr old still asks to use the shredder when he sees it.
The last suggestion I came across is so fun. One Omaha mama has her children paint on canvas each time she wants to change the color scheme of her living room. She gives them the acrylic paint in the colors that will match. They create and she displays. Brilliant.
What have you found that works for you? Share them in the comments so we can all learn.