By Debbie Williams
School starts this month for most of our children, but the kids bring home more than just brighter minds and recent knowledge – they also fill up your homes with more paper! Short of allowing your home to be wallpapered with the artwork of your young Picasso, what's an organized parent to do?
Don't start looking for a bigger house just yet - I have a couple of quick solutions to solve your display dilemmas. Both take up very little space and if done routinely, take up little time as well.
Create a simple art portfolio using two pieces of poster board taped together on three sides. Leave the third side, or top, open for dropping in artwork as it is received. You can use this same principle for other schoolwork as well. Each day, or week, when your daughter or son brings home her treasured work, write the date on the back in pencil (or use a date stamp to save time). Drop it into the portfolio for safekeeping. Or, date it, then replace the "display of the week" with the new one, and file the old one away.
At the end of the semester or quarter, it will be time to purge your portfolio. Begin by sorting by type of art: paintings, drawings, collage, mosaic, seasonal, writing samples, tests, awards, etc. Then choose a sampling from each category, perhaps several scattered throughout the school year.
File the keepsakes, and get rid of the rest. If you can't bear to throw them away, recycle them by giving them to relatives. Mail in a cardboard tube, or shipped flat between two pieces of cardboard. Or scan the artwork, email it to relatives, and throw away the original. You can turn that scanned graphic into note cards, stationary, or greeting cards.
If your child can't bear the thought of you tossing any of her artistic samples away, delegate this task to her. Move the storage into her room with her things, and let her be in charge of sorting, dating, stashing, and even purging. Amazing how they will decide they can actually bear to part with things when their closet is filling up faster than they can find storage containers!
Purchase a stackable cardboard storage chest from your favorite organizing company, such as Lillian Vernon or The Container Store. These sturdy units have removable drawers to fill with archived treasures, then stack vertically to conserve space.
Use them as your sole art storage system, or for "keepers" only with the portfolio system I described above.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
If storage is really a concern, take photographs of your daughter's artwork and discard the original. Either take individual pictures, or line them up for a group shot. A disposable camera kept on hand is a perfect solution for this task, or you can use a Polaroid camera and take them individually.
Dedicate a special photo album or box for these treasures to be shared and enjoyed.
Encourage your child's creativity, and eliminate the dread you once felt as you saw them dragging an oversized self-portrait out of their backpack. Create a home in which these masterpieces can safely and securely reside for years to come. Share them with friends and family, preserve them, and relish the creativity of your blooming Rembrandt. And save the wallpapering job for another day.
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