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Decluttering with Kids: How to Handle Kid’s Artwork

Decluttering with Kids: How to Handle Kid’s Artwork

Decluttering with kids often presents its own unique challenges. In today’s post, we’ll address one specific aspect of decluttering with kids: how to handle the artwork they create.

Kid’s artwork can accumulate quickly

If you have kids, you probably know how quickly they can create artwork. And how quickly you can become overwhelmed with drawings, coloring pages, crafts, worksheets, etc!

It’s great to see your kids creating, drawing, coloring and experimenting with arts and crafts materials. But without a plan for how you’ll handle it, kid’s artwork can quickly and easily accumulate. Adding clutter to your home and becoming overwhelming.

In today’s post, you’ll learn some simple and practical tips to help you handle kid’s artwork. Including how to sort it, simplify it and store it. All without feeling overwhelmed or like you’re drowning in drawings and paper!

Let’s turn your kid’s artwork into something you enjoy instead of something that leaves you overwhelmed and stressed!

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Decluttering with kids: get in the right frame of mind

Before you start sorting and deciding which pieces of artwork to toss or save, it’s important both you and your kids get in the right frame of mind. That way you’ll be able to be more decisive and confident in your decisions about the artwork.

Know why you’re saving artwork

The first step in learning to handle and declutter kid’s artwork is knowing exactly why you’re saving it in the first place.

When you know why you’re saving your kid’s artwork, it helps you focus, sort and prioritize what to keep and what to get rid of.

Take some time to reflect on why you’re keeping your kid’s artwork.

Is it because you love their artwork and want to save some of it to remember special moments, milestones or projects?

Are you saving it for your kids, to give it to them when they’re adults?

Are you saving it because you think you “should” and feel guilty not keeping everything your kids create?

Next, decide if that reason makes sense

After you’ve gotten clear on why you want to keep your kid’s artwork, decide if it makes sense.

Once you have a reason that makes sense for you, use it to guide what pieces and how much of their artwork you keep.

For example, if you’re keeping everything they make because you feel like you “should”, start letting go of those “shoulds”!

It doesn’t mean you don’t care if you don’t keep every single piece of paper your child makes a mark on. You can appreciate their creative efforts without needing to keep it all or feeling guilty about tossing some of it!

If you’re keeping your kid’s artwork because you want to save it for them, think about how much and what they will likely realistically want as adults.

They may appreciate a small selection of carefully chosen artwork from their childhood. But they likely won’t want boxes and boxes of every single piece of paper they ever drew on as a child.

If you’re keeping your kid’s artwork for you, because you love it and it makes you happy, let that guide your decisions.

If something is especially sweet or special for you, keep it. But don’t feel obligated to keep every single thing they make if it doesn’t hold special meaning for you.

Focus on the process more than the end result

Another key to decluttering with kids and helping your kids be more willing to let go of artwork is focusing on the process of creating more than the end result.

Remind and encourage your kids that the process of creating is often more fun and more important than what they end up with when they’re done.

Encourage them to explore, experiment and be creative with their materials and artistic endeavours. Encourage them to try things and have fun.

And remind them it’s not always about making something “pretty” or something you’ll even want to save when you’re done.

The fun is often in the process of creating.

And when you’re done creating, you don’t always need to save what you created.

Putting the focus on the process of creating rather than the end result can encourage your kids to feel less attached to the things they create. Making it easier for you and your kids to let go of artwork without feeling guilty or like you “should” save it all.

Decluttering with kids: 4 steps to handle kid’s artwork

Now that you know exactly why you want to save your kid’s artwork and are focusing on appreciating the process of creating more than the end result, it’s time to put a plan in place to handle artwork.

Step 1: Immediately filter artwork

Get in the habit of immediately filtering (or having your kids filter) artwork on a regular basis.

What is a regular basis will depend on the volume of artwork your kids create. If you have very creative kids who love drawing, coloring and making art, you will want to filter their artwork frequently. Probably on a daily basis.

The purpose of immediately filtering their artwork is to get rid of the things that don’t need to be saved right away. Things like half-finished drawings they’re done with, generic coloring pages, papers with a few crayon marks, etc.

Take a few minutes to filter the artwork and get rid of anything not worth keeping. Remember your “why” for saving artwork to help make these decisions easier.

If there are things you or your kids really like or your kids are very proud of, find a place to display them and enjoy them.

You can hang them on the fridge, a bulletin board, an art line, a gallery wall, clipboards on the wall, hang them with washi tape on the wall, etc. Do a quick Google or Pinterest search and there are so many ideas for displaying kids’ artwork!

Hang up their work, display it, enjoy it and appreciate it!

Step 2: Re-evaluate what you’ve kept

Rotate the artwork on display regularly. Taking down what’s currently up and replacing it with something new.

As you take down artwork, re-evaluate if you want to keep it or are ready to let it go. Again, let your reason for saving artwork guide your decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.

Toss, recycle or repurpose what you’re not keeping. Then pull out the things you or your kids want to save.

The key to saving kid’s artwork is being very selective about what you choose to keep.

Remember, if you keep everything, it will quickly feel overwhelming and make it hard to appreciate any of it.

But if you are very selective about what you keep, it feels manageable and makes it easier to appreciate and treasure what you keep.

Choose pieces of artwork that highlight new skills, touching or sentimental pieces, things they worked hard on or are very proud of, special pieces, etc.

What to do with artwork you’re not keeping

There are plenty of fun ways to use and repurpose artwork you’re not keeping as well.

You can mail or give artwork to extended family. They will likely love to receive a piece of your child’s artwork and your child will feel good about giving them something they created.

You can use artwork to wrap gifts in or to make cards for birthdays or holidays. Both are great ways to add fun and personal touches to gifts. And again, makes your child feel good about using the things they created.

Step 3: Set up your system to save artwork

When it comes to saving artwork, there are two ways to approach it: saving the physical artwork itself or digitizing the artwork and letting go of the physical item. Or a combination of both!

Digitally saving kid’s artwork

Digitally saving kid’s artwork not only frees up space in your home. But also means you’ll never have to worry about water, fire, bugs or just the passage of time ruining or degrading the artwork.

You can scan or take a picture of each piece you want to save. Or take a picture of your child holding each piece. Including your child holding their art is a great way to remember the age and stage they were at when they created it.

There are also a lot of apps that make it easy to scan, store and organize kid’s artwork. This is a great article comparing a few art archiving apps.

Once you have a digital copy of the artwork, you can let go of the physical copy.

Make sure to record the date of each piece if you’re not digitizing them close to when they were created.

It’s easier to stay on top of digitizing artwork if you do it regularly. If you let it pile up, it will take longer to digitize it all and feel overwhelming. But making an effort to digitize artwork on a regular basis means it’s easy to do in only a few minutes once you have your system set up.

Store the pictures on your computer or on a hard drive. Or for even more security and ease of organizing them, store them in cloud storage, like an art archiving app, Google Photos, iCloud storage, etc.

If you want to take it a step further, you can use the digital photos to put together a photo book of your child’s artwork. Making it fun and easy to enjoy and reminisce about their artwork.

Saving physical copies of artwork

The second option is to save the physical copies of your child’s artwork that you want to keep.

Start by recording your child’s name, age and date on the back of each piece. You might think you’ll remember, but it’s easy to forget or get artwork mixed up between kids!

Then decide how you want to store the pieces you’re keeping. Choose a system that will make it easy to keep the artwork organized. Making sure it won’t end up in a big, overwhelming mess, where you can’t enjoy and appreciate it fully.

Two great ways to store artwork are in a plastic filing tub, with a file folder for each year or school year. Or in a binder, with dividers or page protectors for each year or school year.

Using a filing tub or binder, with a specific space limit for each year can help you be more ruthless about what you save and keep how much artwork you’re saving in check.

Step 4: re-evaluate what you’re saving every so often

It’s a good idea to look back at what you’re saving for previous years every so often and re-evaluate it. Especially if you’re saving physical copies and want to keep the amount you’re saving under control.

Sometimes once a little time has passed, it’s easier to see what’s really special and worth saving, and what you’re willing to get rid of.

Again, remember your reason for saving it in the first place and make sure what you’re keeping is aligned with that.

Decluttering with kids: the process in our home

To give you an idea of what this process looks like in our home, here’s what we do!

My kids love to draw, color, paint, create, etc. I quickly learned there was no way I could keep everything they make or we’d be drowning in artwork!

First, we get in the right frame of mind

I have decided to save their special artwork because I love it and enjoy looking back through it. That guides my decisions about what to keep.

I keep what I love because I’m saving it for myself. My kids may want some of their artwork one day, or they may not. But either way, I keep what I love, think is special and brings me joy.

I prefer keeping physical copies of artwork. Personally, I love holding my kids’ artwork in my hands. I love the smell, the feel, etc. So keeping physical copies brings me more joy than digitizing their artwork.

Again, do what works best for your preferences, lifestyle, storage space, etc.

We focus on enjoying the process of creating in our home. I often remind my kids that the best part of creating is often the process not the end result. This helps remind them why we don’t need to save everything they make.

Step 1: sort immediately

I aim to sort through artwork every day or two. I recycle a lot of what they make right away. Then I hang a few pieces on the bulletin board in their playroom so we can all enjoy and appreciate them.

Step 2: Re-evaluate

Once the bulletin board gets full, I clear it off and re-evaluate what to keep and what to get rid of.

I keep the pieces that are truly special to me or the kids, being very selective about what I keep.

The kids can also choose to keep special artwork on display in their room if they’d like.

Step 3: My system for storing artwork

I keep their artwork in a plastic filing tub, with a hanging folder for each year. This folder gives me a good space limit to remind me to be selective about what I save.

Step 4: Re-evaluate what’s being saved

About once a year, I take a quick peek through the previous year’s folders and see if there is anything I no longer want to save.

I’ve found I’m more sentimentally attached to artwork in the moment, but over time I am better able to be more selective and weed it down to a smaller selection of the really important and special pieces.

Decluttering with kids: how to handle kid’s artwork

I hope this gives you some ideas about decluttering with kids and how to handle kid’s artwork so you don’t feel overwhelmed by artwork or like you’re drowning in paper!

I’d love to hear how you handle decluttering with kids when it comes to artwork. Leave a comment and share your process, or what you’re planning to change if this post has given you some ideas!

Decluttering with Kids: How to Handle Kid's Artwork
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

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Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Hi Melissa, I just found your website, and for the first time in my 60 years I really feel like I can accomplish decluttering. Our condo has way too much stuff in it, every category. And our garage walls are filled with a multitude of boxes full of my kids' artwork and everything else, down to every little stick and rock they ever collected. They're 22 and 26 now. Probably 20-30 boxes of their stuff. I can't wait to start in on your workbook, because the clutter in my mind (the why) is a big part of this I'm sure! :) So grateful to have found your wonderful posts.

Simple Lionheart Life

Thursday 8th of September 2022

Thank you so much for your comment. Hearing your story and knowing you feel motivated to declutter totally makes my day! Thank you for sharing your experience and I'd love to hear about your progress as you work on decluttering. Thank you for reading and happy decluttering!


Sunday 28th of February 2021

What a great post! As a retired teacher, I totally agree with reinforcing the idea that the process is more important than the final product. This inspires creativity as opposed to perfection. As a mom and now a grandma, I’ve become very selective in what artwork I keep. I’ve included some in photo books and framed a few selective pieces. With my boys, I tended to keep their precious journals/stories more often than their artwork.

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 28th of February 2021

Thanks, Denise! I'm glad you enjoyed it! And I'm so happy to hear about your experience as a teacher. As a recovering perfectionist myself, I definitely want to help my kids avoid the toll perfectionism can take on a person! I love saving the sweet stories and journals my kids write too! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights :)

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