5 ways to organize your child's artwork

5 ways to organize your child's artwork

A child’s artwork is one of the most common types of clutter for a busy parent to contend with. Not only does it just keep accumulating, but since it is something that your child makes, you tend to feel compelled to keep it around. 

While covering your refrigerator with all those “paintings” might be good for your child’s self-esteem, there are solutions that allow you to foster your child’s creativity and keep your home clutter-free.

1. You don’t have to keep everything.

Yes, I am officially giving you permission to “edit” the collection. Recognize that you are honoring your child’s creative impulses by being selective. When everything is special, nothing is special.

2. Keep this, toss that.

The general rule of thumb is to keep three examples of artwork per year per child. As a mother myself I know this seems a bit extreme, but I do like to use it as a guideline when choosing a number that makes me a bit more comfortable. 

The logic behind it is understandable: if you save 10 items per kid per year, and have three children, then after only five years you have to contend with 150 macaroni necklaces, scrap paper scribbles, and tissue paper flower collages. I say five to seven is a more realistic number – for now.

So how do you determine what makes the cut? Here are some ideas: Artwork that reveals important milestones, like the first time your daughter writes her name, are always good to keep. 

Self-portraits that really bare a resemblance your child will be fun to look at later, as will artwork that provides insights into your child’s personality at that point in time. 

You also might not want to part with items with special sentimental value, like that collage made from leaves gathered on a mid-autumn family stroll. Basically, toss anything that is not truly special and unique. 

3. Honor your child’s artwork.

Once you have whittled down the pile, create a special area in your child’s bedroom or playspace to display some of these artworks. Affix cork squares in a row along an empty wall, or create a unique design using magnetic paint. 

Systems like these allow artwork to be changed easily and frequently and give these items a distinct home.

4. Let your child play curator.

When your child hands you his most recent creation, provide the requisite “oohs” and “ahhs” and ask if he wants to hang in it his “art gallery.” If the answer is yes, place it there. If the answer is no, then set the picture aside and, when he is not looking, toss it. 

Again, don’t feel guilty – if it is not important to him, it does not need to be to you. Empowering your child to make decisions like this will get him invested in the organizing process and teach him valuable lessons about managing his things.

5. Manage long-term storage.

Inevitably, you are still going to have more artwork than you will have room to display. Use an under bed storage box to store your “keepers.” This container is large enough to hold over-sized pieces of paper and can neatly fit under your child’s bed. 

Now, here is the key to the system: when the container fills up, resist the urge to buy more containers. Instead, revisit step two and edit the contents. 

With the passage of time, certain artworks will no longer seem as important as they once did and letting them go to make space for other things will make more sense. 

About this Angie’s List Expert: Sarah Giller Nelson is the owner of Less is More, providing professional home organizing services in Chicago. Since 2010, Less is More has specialized in personalized organizing and maintenance plans, guided de-cluttering and an array of home organizational services. You can follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @LessIsMoreSarah.

As of February 3, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.