If you’re anything like me, you find it hard to part with the drawings made by children, especially when they are made just for you! Plus, let’s face it, everything they make is just so darn cute! In high school I would hang every picture made for me by a child I babysat. The walls of my bedroom were literally covered with drawings taped up. Well, we all know what happens when you tape things to walls, not only did the paint on the walls get damaged, but many of the pictures ripped, clearly not ideal.
Growing up, drawings and paintings were hung on the fridge, but with today’s world of stainless steel refrigerators, even that is not necessarily a possibility. So what to do? Well, the storage project of saving children’s artwork in a way that leads to future browsing instead of hoarder stockpiling is a multi-step process.
The first stage begins immediately after creation. Some artwork you will love and want to hang. You might want to get it framed, tack it up on a cork board, or (my personal favorite) frame a piece of cork board so that you can easily swap out the displayed picture! Some artwork will just not make the cut. The child might not really like it or not have really put any effort into it and you are both willing to part with it pretty quickly (these go in the trash!). Then there is the group you want to save, either it’s not great enough to hang, or it has already been hanging for a while; you don’t want to display it, but you just can’t throw it away! You need one storage bin for each child where you keep this “saved” group. Ideally, the bin can slide under the child’s bed or tuck in their closet. It needs to be readily accessible because many children create new artwork every day!
However, this pile will not just continue to grow indefinitely, that would lead to the storage issues you want to avoid! Instead, head to the second stage, review. I like to have an entire birthday week celebration! Not that you actually need to celebrate every day, but you are nice to the person and they get to make some extra choices that week (like what’s for dinner). The birthday week is the perfect time for stage 2! Each year, you should sit down with your child and go through the picture bin. They can keep 10 of their favorites and you can keep 10 of yours. The actual number you keep may vary, but remember to set a number beforehand and stick to it! If not, you might find the review stage turning into a keep-all, which is again what you are trying to avoid!
Okay, so you’ve both picked your favorites. The picture bin is now empty and returns to its “home” under the bed or in the closet. Time to label the pictures you are keeping. On the back of each picture write the child’s name and age they were when the piece was created. It’s also fun to write notes on the back as to why you want to keep it – any memory it brings back or what the picture is depicting.
For the pictures too big to store in a binder, it is decision time. You can get it framed, purchase an artwork portfolio folder or roll them. If it won’t damage the artwork, it is best to fold it so that it can fit in a binder.
Once they’ve been labeled, purchase two binders, one for you and one for the child. For each picture small enough, slide it into a page protector and put it in the binder. You can keep your binder on a bookshelf and so can your child. Then, all of the artwork is easily accessible and can be viewed continuously as a reminder of their great work! After 18 years, when they leave the house, you will both have a great memento of all of your favorite artwork that they completed. You should be able to fit 180 pages in a 2” binder that you can keep forever to preserve and share the masterpieces!