Why I Don’t Keep My Kids’ Artwork and What I Do Instead

You know how my kids love art and spend lots of time creating? Lean in close, friend. I’ve got a confession to share with you today. I don’t keep my kids’ artwork.

Well, I keep some pieces, but I certainly throw away my share of art.

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Looking back, I’ve never been the mom who keeps everything. I don’t keep every worksheet or project they’ve ever done. I’m also not one to keep every item that reminds me of a specific milestone or season in their lives. Maybe that’s why it’s a little easier to say goodbye to their artwork than you might expect. I sound like a monster, right?

Do you throw away your kids' artwork? You're not alone! #homeschool #ihsnet Click to Tweet

Here’s the thing, I could turn my entire house into an art gallery showcasing their work and still have more art left over. They experiment with art so often that I can’t keep everything they create. Some of it is bound to end up in the trash!

Letting Kids Be the Keepers

When I decide to keep specific art projects, I store them in binders, folders, or display them in our home if I can find an appropriate spot. However, that still leaves us with plenty of art projects that have value, but don’t meet my personal criteria for keeping. What then?

My kids become the keepers at that point. That’s why they do lots of their art in journals that can easily be shelved in their rooms and opened again another time. These art journals serve as a place to store their ideas, work through new techniques, and to showcase their work.

They also have the option of displaying their artwork in their rooms. This is easier when they use canvas for their creations simply because there’s no framing to consider.

Through their art journals and their rooms, my kiddos have plenty of opportunities to enjoy their artwork.

Why I Don’t Keep My Kids’ Artwork

My kids are responsible for keeping up with their art journals and they get to choose what’s on display in their rooms, but that still leaves us with lots of art that needs a home. For those pieces, I become the curator by deciding what has value and what doesn’t.

Why I Don't Keep My Kids' Artwork and What I Do Instead
One could argue that every piece of art a child produces has value. To an extent, that’s true. Even so, some pieces are worth keeping and some are only worth a week of refrigerator display.

I know it may seem heartless to some, but hear me out: when we assign equal value to everything, we devalue the extraordinary. That principle certainly applies to my kids’ artwork and it makes me sleep a little easier at night when I start to feel guilty about tossing certain projects in the trash.

That said, lots of my kids’ art projects do make the cut. So how do I decide which art projects stay and which pieces go? I filter my decisions through the lens of purpose. Here are a few examples of what it looks like to consider that purpose:

  • Does this piece show growth in a specific art medium?
  • Does this piece tell a story?
  • Does this piece provide documentation for our homeschool?
  • Is my child proud of this work?
  • Was this piece a gift for me?
  • Do I have a place to display or store this artwork?

Why I Don't Keep My Kids' Artwork and What I Do Instead
As a curator, it’s easy to see why every coloring page, paint project, and art adventure doesn’t make the cut. Some items deserve a long-term spot in the collection and some don’t.

Letting Go of the Rest

One of three things happens to artwork that doesn’t pass my curation process: we give it away, we paint over it, or I throw it out.

When artwork doesn’t help us document our homeschool work, we always consider giving it as a gift. In fact, there are some items that my kids create with giving in mind. Giving their artwork away is a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day and it doesn’t require any storage efforts on my behalf. It’s a win-win.

All of our kids' artwork has value, but you can't keep every piece. #ihsnet #homeschool Click to Tweet

Sometimes my kids have an idea or we follow project instructions that don’t work out for us. Can you say Pinterest fail? Good intentions and all, those items are rarely worth keeping.

Why I Don't Keep My Kids' Artwork and What I Do Instead
When that happens, I look for ways to reuse the materials. It’s not always possible, but it’s especially helpful when my kids have a canvas project that bombs. Canvas can be expensive so it’s comforting to know that a failed or unfinished project can be repurposed for mixed media or acrylic projects.

Lastly, when we have pieces that we don’t need to keep, don’t make good gifts, or can’t be repurposed, I throw them in the trash. And, you know what? It’s okay. For every piece of artwork that I throw away, they create two more. 😉

It’s your turn to confess. Are you guilty of throwing away your kids’ artwork? Is it intentional or have your trashed projects been accidental?

Maybe you’re dealing with a different kind of homeschool mom guilt. Whether you’re guilty of art-related crimes or something else, know that you’re not alone. Grab some tea and take a look at the Homeschool Mom Guilt Bingo Board from iHomeschool Network.

Why I Don't Keep My Kids' Artwork and What I Do Instead

5 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Keep My Kids’ Artwork and What I Do Instead”

  1. The artwork is absolutely everywhere here. Since me and my girls are all art junkies, it’s taken over our house. I throw so much away when they’re not paying attention, but I still can’t keep my head above water! I definitely agree with repurposing! Thanks for sharing this article with us. It helps with the mom guilt!

    1. Yes! The best part about throwing it away when they’re not looking is that they *usually* don’t even realize those pieces are gone. 😉

    1. I have implemented a wall of fame in our house– just a wall with string zigzagged across it with clothespins. When they have done something that either I or they are proud of, whether that be academic or art, we hang it there. Each kid gets about the same number of clips. And it gets cycled through. I store the things that make the wall in a folder so I can include it in their portfolio. The rest that don’t get immediately trashed get stored in their desk drawer. Then during the summer, I empty the drawer and take pictures of the ones worth remembering to include on each child’s artwork page of our family yearbook. Then I trash the rest. It can be hard to let go of some of it, but we are all happier when the clutter is gone and we can focus on remembering the really good things.

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