5 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Your Kids’ Artwork (and Not Feel Guilty About It)

From the time a toddler can hold a Crayon or sit still long enough to dip his chubby little hand in finger paint, kids are making art. Lots of art. Some of it is truly wonderful, and—if we’ll allow ourselves to be honest here—a whole lot of it is not particularly special.

But, the worst thing that you can do as a parent is throw away your child’s artwork, right?

My kids are older, but I still vividly remember oohing and ahhing over every blank piece of paper that they drew one line on with a green Crayon; every half-finished coloring book page that festered on our refrigerator door; and, of course, every Thanksgiving hand turkey that came home from preschool. 

And, aside from the fear of my kids discovering a piece of their art in our garbage, it felt like a cardinal sin to throw away something that they had lovingly created. 

But getting rid of your kids’ art isn’t the worst thing you could possibly do. I mean, the artwork is going to keep coming, like a fire hose to your face, and you’ve got to somehow make room, right? What’s a mom to do?

Here are five easy and meaningful ways to get (most of) that artwork out of your house:

1. Send it to family members. 

(Then let them throw it away. #tagyoureit) 

When my kids were much younger, and the artwork was really piling up, I’d grab a few pages of their work, write a short note to accompany it, stuff it in an envelope, and send it to my kids’ great-grandmother, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. 

As the old adage goes, “One mom’s trash, is a great-grandmother’s treasure,” and that has never been truer than when you’re talking about your kids’ artwork. It’s a lovely way to rid your house of the stuff and potentially make the day of people who care about your kids but maybe don’t get to see them that often…all for the bargain price of a postage stamp!

2. Take photos of it and make photo books.

(Then throw it away.)

For the art that is great but maybe not special enough to paste in the baby book, you can snap a photo of it and eventually upload all of the images to make a photo book of your child’s artwork. Your kids will love it and probably reach for it time and time again to flip through, and you’ll have saved their work for posterity’s sake. 

3. Frame it.  

(Then throw it away when you’re tired of looking at it.)

Put the good stuff (and even the not-so-good stuff) in frames and change it out seasonally.

4. Donate it.

(And let someone else throw it away.) 

Check and see if your local nursing home would consider displaying some of your kids’ art on a bulletin board to brighten the day of its residents.

5. Recycle it. 

Tape several pieces of half-completed coloring pages together and use them to wrap gifts for family members or your child’s friends. (Bonus points awarded if the recipient completes the half-colored pages. Points also awarded if they simply toss it in the trash.)

I know that it sounds like I’m advocating for you to throw away all of your kids’ artwork and, truly, I am not. I just know that the piles of artwork can get out of hand quickly, and when the pile reaches a certain point, it’s hard to keep your sights set on quality over quantity. 

I’m also a hypocrite because I currently have several extra-large bins taking up space in my home that hold the contents of almost 13 years of my kids’ artwork that I never had the heart to throw out. One of my goals this year is to go through these bins and purge some of the art. Hopefully, the nostalgia of seeing my kids’ tiny little hand turkeys and finger painting projects won’t cause me to want to save it all, all over again. But, then again, maybe it will. 

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Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two who migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry. Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, and New Braunfels Monthly magazine, as well as assorted other publications. She also occasionally blogs about life as a sober mom at www.introvertsguidetosobriety.com.