Oh, kid art. So sentimental, so adorable, so… prolific.
On the one hand, the creations are a constant, colourful reminder of your sweet children. On the other hand, you are beginning to wonder about silverfish infestation, fire hazards and general lack of living space. So, what to do? Keep some? Keep it all? Where to keep it? Why?
We’ve all grappled with how to honour our children’s budding creative expression while maintaining a reasonable amount of paper-free space, especially when it’s a new year and many of us are shifting our minds to spring cleaning and clean slates. Here to help us unpack this unwieldy dilemma is Caley Byrne, a Victoria-based mother of two and founder of One Small Space Organizing. Caley can help even the most sentimental among us restore some much needed minimalism to their home, one small space at a time. Today, she’s here to share her best tips for how to tackle the Kid Art beast.
Ask yourself why you’re hanging onto everything
First things first, people tend to feel more sentimental when it comes to parting with kid art, because…your kid did it. Take off the veil of sentimentality for a minute and think, ‘will I really want to look at the 27 pictures my child did every week, from the time they started preschool? Was I personally offended that my parents didn’t keep all of my artwork? If they did, do I care? Do I even know if they did or not?!’ Secondly, I firmly believe the world will not crash down if you get rid of some (most!?) of the artwork; your children will still grow into well-adjusted adults! If you are just keeping items stashed away and never, ever looking at them, it may be time to ask yourself why you’re keeping them. What is the reason?
With that in mind, here are some hints and tips to allow you to love your children’s artwork while still keeping to your goal of minimalism and less clutter. The first few are for keeping items in your home relatively clutter-free, and the last few are how to get rid of pieces.”
Beyond the closet-stashed ‘art folder’
If you like the idea of a display: create a hanging wire with clips somewhere in your home. Only put on a specific number of clips (my recommendation is 5 or 7, as odd numbers look better in a display). I urge my clients to follow a “one-in, one-out” rule with many parts of their lives; artwork is no exception. So, once the clips are full, switch something out (or have your child choose). You can also create a three-ring binder with plastic sleeves so you can flip through pieces. This can stash away nicely in a home office or bookshelf so it doesn’t create more clutter.
Curate your collection
For those of you who just can’t quite get rid of things as easily, have one specific drawer, box or shelf where artwork gets stashed. When it gets full (not overflowing!) comb through and choose the few pieces you really want to keep. Keep those there, and get rid of the rest. Repeat, repeat, repeat. After a time, your space will be full of just the ones you have chosen. Choose again! This is also good for those with kids who ask after their art later. It means you still have it on hand if they do ask (note, I find they don’t ask often…).
When it’s time to Elsa that sh*t (let it go)
Have your child hold the item up and take a picture of them with it. This captures the piece in time and space, which will be more meaningful for you/your child down the road. It’s also helpful if you have more than one child and can’t keep track of who made what (we’ve all been there). You can take this one step further and put the digital images as a revolving backdrop or screensaver on your computer, or onto a digital picture frame if you really want to see them more. Then, discard the original. See below for how.
Send pieces to family members (grandparents love this!), or use them as cards or wrapping paper (*bonus, money-saving win*). Or use them as letter-writing stationary. The recipients will be charmed, and your kids will love it too! Art with a purpose beyond occupying a dark corner of your kitchen closet. Something that will bring a smile to someone else’s face!
And for those mediocre creations that just don’t make the cut (they can’t all be masterpieces, after all), redirect to garbage or recycling. Yup, I said it! Breathe. Your little Picasso is an endless fountain of creativity — there will always be more art. Pro tip: Do the purge the night before garbage/recycling day, so that your little ones don’t accidentally stumble upon their art in the trash pile.
Caley Byrne is a busy working mom of two (mostly) charming kids, juggling this organizing endeavour amongst a busy life. She believes in a minimalistic approach to provide clients more physical and mental space, a clean aesthetic, and more space and time for the things that matter. Caley uses a coaching philosophy to ask clients the questions they may not ask themselves when decluttering, leading to many “a-ha” moments during client sessions!
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