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Monday, October 17, 2016

Managing All Your Kids' Artwork

If you have young children at home, you know that there seems to be an endless supply of artwork floating around, and no matter how many times you organize and purge more appears almost instantly! I always struggle with staying on top of the mountain of drawings because I want to appreciate the pictures my girls are making, and I want to make sure I'm saving a few choice pieces from each stage of their lives to look back on later, but the sheer quantity makes it difficult to find the time to sort through everything to find the ones to keep. Plus it can often be really hard to throw away something made lovingly by a 4-year-old! Although I won't say I never have piles of pictures all over my house anymore, I've come up with a system for managing all of the artwork at our house that has been helping me to keep everything more manageable.

To be honest, I don't really have time to think about what to do with all those pictures during the week- I empty out any pictures that they make at school and make one big pile for each of my daughters with all of their artwork (I do go through and take care of any paperwork that comes home on a daily basis though). Once a week (sometime over the weekend), I go through the pile with each of them to put everything away.

I essentially give my daughters 3 options for their artwork: display, dispose, or store. 

One of the key elements to making this system work is having several options for places where we can display any artwork that they want to have up. It needs to be easy to change out the artwork but also have enough space to display several things at once. I've come up with two spots in the house where we display their artwork (one in the basement and one in their bedroom). If you want to read more about either of those systems, just click on the pictures to go to the respective posts where I've described them in more detail:

The second key element is, of course, a method of storing artwork. I didn't really have anywhere for the girls to keep artwork they wanted until recently (mostly because they weren't old enough to understand the concept). After reorganizing my own closet, I was able to free up two under-the-bed sweater boxes to put under each of their beds. I told them those boxes were theirs to keep whatever they wanted- basically they are their "treasure boxes". However, I made it clear that they could only keep whatever would fit in the box and no more, so they would need to choose wisely (and may need to get rid of something else if they want to add to the box and it's already full). So far they have been very good about choosing only the most important items to keep in their box, and they have also been asking to occasionally rotate things that they have displayed in their bedroom with other things they had in their box, so I know they aren't completely forgetting what is in the boxes.

Of course the final element of the system is throwing out some of their artwork. I often will take a picture of pictures to share with family and friends beforehand (I've posted a few gems on my Instagram recently), but the girls and I are all learning to let go of a lot of those drawings that they didn't put a lot of time into instead of holding onto them forever and letting them pile up.

Having this system has made it much more manageable for us to sort through the piles of artwork and find a place for each one. I'm also hoping to go through everything that's in their boxes and on display once or twice a year to see if there's anything that's ready to be taken out of rotation. Hopefully this will help us keep everything under control, while still being able to enjoy their creativity, for the next few years!

What do you do with all the artwork your kids create? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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