Between crayon scribbles on scrap paper and art class assignments, children are prolific artists. As parents, it’s tempting to hold onto everything they create, but most of us simply don’t have enough space to store all of those mini masterpieces.
So what should we do with all that kid art? We talked to Libby Kinkead, co-founder of Potomac Concierge and a professional organizer with 15 years of experience, for tips on what we should save and what we can safely say goodbye to.
Kids often bring home artwork on paper that’s larger than 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. Rather than folding their masterpieces to fit in letter-size file folders or binders, Kinkead prefers storing artwork in portfolios—those big, black cases with handles that artists use to carry their work.
Another option is to store both flat pieces and three-dimensional creations in clear plastic bins. “You can have bins per year, per child, per school,” says Kinkead.
Label, Label, Label
“You’re not gonna remember a watercolor when you have more than one child,” she says. As a favor to your future self, write your child’s name and the date on the back of every drawing or painting they bring home. And don’t forget to label the outside of the portfolio or bin, too.
Toss the Noodles
Unfortunately, certain pieces just won’t store well. “Anything that’s made out of macaroni or rice or whatever … those aren’t good keepers because they attract bugs, they break, then you open it up and there’s all those pieces at the bottom,” says Kinkead. If you simply can’t part with a preschool noodle craft or feel emotionally attached to something fragile, wrap the piece in tissue paper before placing it in a bin.
At the end of the school year, sort through your child’s portfolio or bin and ask them to pick out their favorites. “So instead of keeping 75, keep 25,” she says. But don’t stop there! Continue the culling process regularly to keep their growing collection of artwork manageable. And remember: If they can’t remember what they drew, it might not be worth keeping.
Rather than saving physical pieces of art, preserve the memory of your child’s handiwork by snapping a photo. Display their artwork on a digital frame or print them in a coffee-table style book. “It’s kind of like the photo album of your trip to wherever, you also have a photo album of the art from grades three to five,” she says.
This article originally appeared in our March 2020 issue.