To all the newish parents out there, how did you feel when you got the first piece of artwork from a nursery? Or when they first splashed paint around on a piece of paper to produce their first painting? Or the first craft project that they made? How proud were you of your talented little person? Did you think, my little person could be next Picasso?
Well, maybe you didn’t, but in any case, fast forward a few weeks, months, maybe years, and now you have piles of artwork and craft projects and it is taking over your workspace, your kitchen worktops, your dining area and your bedroom, your living room…but…I digress. Unless you are one of those people disciplined enough to throw them away immediately you get them, you may have run into this problem at some point. As one such dad fondly told me, they have a special box in their home for them, it is called a bin!
Anyhow, I was not one of those to immediately throw away artwork that came home. The sentimental part of me had to hold on to them. And what about those cute handmade mother’s / father’s day cards, birthday and Christmas cards, that they make for us, it simply cannot go straight in the bin. Also, it may be because I am their mum, but I actually think my children are talented in that department. My daughter creates more than just paintings, like this tissue paper house with windows that open; I call it interactive art.
And my son, the toddler is pretty good with a crayon too even though he is only two, let us see what else he is producing in a few years. You may have your own opinions, but I think my children are talented, end of story. Still, I am a mum of young children now; ask me again in 10 years, when they are teenagers, and I will probably be like “what artwork?” :).
Nonetheless, when you have piles and piles of paper coming home from one child and then from two and more, if you were to keep them all, you would need a whole house for them by the time they are teenagers. And let us be honest, a whole bunch of them are…well…let’s just say not art gallery material. But for those that are worth keeping, at least for a while, what can you do with them?
Stick them on the fridge
By far the most common and popular option for displaying your children’s artwork, or finding something to do with the pieces of paper. If you have an exposed fridge/freezer this is easily done with some fridge magnets. If your fridge is built-in and so fridge magnets are not an option, a stick-on corkboard and some drawing pins mean you can still use this option. Or a noticeboard turned art display board. But some may find this chaotic solution a bit messy, so if this is you, read on for more options.
Why spend money on expensive art for your walls, when your little ones can make you some for free? Think their artwork is not good enough to display? Put them in a frame and see what a difference that makes. You can some simple frames at good old IKEA and Next Home also do some nice ones. You may try Etsy for more interesting and bespoke frames but the point is the there are endless options of how you can display your little talents work. You can get creative with displaying them along with other items, to create a gallery area. Artful Parent has many more ideas on how you can display your kids artwork.
As we approach Christmas, there will certainly be many festive creations coming home in the weeks ahead. Why not include them in your Christmas decor.
This natural jute twine hanging line and pegs with decoration clips to stick on the wall is a great way to display some of the wonderful creations alongside your Christmas cards, and all the Christmas cards your little people will receive from their friends at nursery/school.
Get an art box
Get a box to collect the artwork and sort through them periodically to discard those that are no longer sentimental, or simply not worth keeping. And then start the collection again! For those that are worth keeping…for a while…see other ideas on what do with them. We have this foldable box from IKEA which they no longer make, but really any box will do. My kids know about the art box, so they just add anything they do to it. Then we have a day where we just go through them and decide what to hang up and I decide secretly what I throw away.
Create a mosaic
For those that did not quite make the keep pile, but also did not outright make the bin pile, you can take photos of them and make a mosaic out of it to print and frame, and then you can put them in the bin. I found Pro Photo Mosaic Creator app did just the job. You can select the (source) image that you want to create, and the cell images (photos if the artwork) to create the mosaic from.
Create greeting cards and materials
There are many online services (such as Moonpig, Snapfish, Photobox and many more) that allow you to upload your own photos to create greeting cards. You can create Christmas cards from their festive artwork, or any other type of greeting cards with any artwork and other gifting materials – wrapping paper, gift labels etc. This way you are also sharing your child’s brilliant artwork with friends and family. And then, you can throw them away!
Create other gifts
Similar to creating cards, most photo printing services also provide a service to create gifts with images of their artwork. Some ideas are mugs, cushion covers, calendars, phone cases etc. These would make great personalised gifts for dad/mum, grandparents, aunts and other family members and friends; and your children can take pride that their creations have been put to good use and shared with their loved ones.
But if all of the above, just seems like a waste of time to you, and your kids’ artwork has no sentimental value to you, then find that special box called the (recycle) bin, and put them straight in as soon as they get past your front door! After all, this article from the Atlantic suggests that as parents, we are only holding on to them to hold on to their childhood, but just like their childhood, their artwork too, is ephemeral, and they rightly belong in the bin.
What do you think of keeping your children’s artwork? When do you finally throw them away? And what interesting things have you found to do with them?