As moms, we want to hold on to every precious little scrap of art from the heart that our little angels make - the crayon scribbles, the fingerpaintings, the early attempts at letters, the construction paper crafts, the homemade cards, the sweetly misspelled meandering stories - we want to keep all of it forever.
But that's simply not practical. Kids generate a lot of art - at home, at daycare, at school - and it's all heart-achingly adorable. If we kept everything they ever touched our home would soon be filled to the rafters with stacks and stacks of boxes filled with drawings and paintings and macaroni art and play clay figures and handprints cut out of construction paper, and later journals and book reports and essays and creative writing. It's simply too much.
But how do we decide what to keep and what to purge? And what do we do with the pieces we're keeping so that we can enjoy them without having them take over the house?
I have a system
Everything each child creates at the craft table or brings home from school gets put in their own big bin. Once a year, usually at the end of school or before the beginning of the new school year, I sort through the bins and purge as ruthlessly as I possibly can. I can usually get rid of more than half - it's much easier to make the decision to toss one of your baby's precious pictures when faced with a pile of hundreds of similar pieces. I then pick my two favourite pieces out of each child's pile and hang them on the gallery wall in our playroom where we can see and enjoy them every day.
But what of the rest of the pieces? If I just left them in their bins they'd get packed away in the basement, never to be seen again. I made the decision to keep them because they're important and special and I want to have them to remember a particular stage of my baby boys' lives. How would I enjoy them packed away in a bin in the basement?
My solution is to create artwork photobooks for each of my boys. A digital photo of each piece of work, printed and bound in a separate photobook for each child, either one for each year or each grade in school or several years together, depending on how artistically prolific they were during that time. Through the magic of digital photography those enormous craft paper projects and awkwardly shaped crafts can all be sized down to be enjoyed just as they are in the photobook rather than folded up and scrunched into a box where they get torn and lose those all-important bits of feather, macaroni or sequins.
A perfect solution to keep those memories of childhood art out where you can enjoy them always.
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