Mini Minimalists #7 Decluttering & Storing Children's Artwork

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As soon as our children can draw and paint, we become cluttered with artwork…

We declare each one our favourite, from precious sploges on paper, to those first recognisable drawings. We hang them up and put them on display until slowly but surely we run out of space. So we then start paper piles, to be dealt with another day - artwork on countertops, shoved hidden in cupboards and piled high on dining room tables.

And then our children grow a little and drawing becomes a hobby. Pages and pages of paper exchange hands and then we all start collecting/hoarding artwork, like a bride collects confetti. Characters are given names, paintings are worked on again and again and the piles, get bigger.

We end up spreading our piles even further, we buy pin boards that become magnets to paper and storage boxes which never see the light of day. But at least the paintings are there, where we can reach for them, should we ever need to.

I mean we’ve all been the parent that tried to sneak artwork out the house haven’t we? Those pieces, that we think wont be remembered are sent to be recycled and we feel victorious - until our child demands to have back that precious picture that we deemed rubbish weeks, or even months ago.

So what do we do when we want to honour our children’s skills but want a minimal home?

Well, this is what I did;

I started off by setting aside a designated space, for artwork. We have an A4 box, that holds complete and incomplete drawings and paintings, which sits neatly on top of our craft cupboard. We also have notebooks and diaries of course but these are kept inside the craft cupboard, or in the children’s rooms. This box is solely for loose paper, that the children want to keep.

At the end of every month or whenever the box gets full, I set aside some time to go through the box with the kids. We start by making three piles; Display, Keep and Recycle. I love doing this because we get to look and talk through the artwork together and I get to see gems that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, had there been piles everywhere that never got dealt with..

The children have a few frames in their bedrooms, with their most loved art on display. Sometimes they switch this artwork out if they find a new favourite, when going through the pile. They love framing these pictures because it makes them feel proud having their drawings on the wall but also means, that they have to regularly decide - the pictures that spark the most joy.

It’s a really good way to flex the decluttering muscle and learn the mantra “when everything’s important, nothing is.” For me, it’s a win win.

We also invested in a scanner, so that we can scan drawings onto the computer, leaving our home clutter free. We really like this, as it means that the children have a folder on the computer, dedicated to the artwork they want to keep but leaves no mess! Also if we wanted the physical paper copy at any time, nothing is lost - we can simply reprint the picture in A4 size, thanks to the scanner.

For other drawings, that the children maybe don’t want to keep or throw away, we turn into cards for friends or family and send them some happy post! And then anything we are unsure about, gets put back in the box and usually a decision is made the following month, when we do the same.

We’ve found that this method makes everyone happy. The house is (mostly) free of piles but we are still respecting the children’s creative nature, which we are really keen to nurture. They have ownership of their artwork, deciding what is important to them, without it being overwhelming.

I recently saw the idea of a picture book, a bit like the printed photo books but for artwork, which I think is such a good idea. It’s giving the children something tangible, while also removing the piles of clutter and it’s definitely something, that I may try.

So there you have it, this is what we do to keep our home clutter free, whilst showcasing precious artwork on the walls. Let me knew if our method helps, or if you have any other ideas that you love and use!