Curbing the Children's Craft Clutter

Curbing the Children's Craft Clutter

 

Children’s crafts and paper projects have a way of filling every area of the house. It’s cute stuff, so we tend to allow it:

Once, our younger kids wrote every family member’s name on a 3×5 card and taped it above their bed. It was cute! I had a “I [heart] MOM” on my headboard for a month, because I just loved seeing it.

We’re an artistic family… Things like this happen frequently and, if I don’t stay on top of it, the crafty clutter starts evolving into an out of control craft monster.

So, how do we keep it all under control??

Well, first off: I’ve used it to my advantage on many occasions. I implement the “1 thing in, 1 thing out” rule. So, if Naomi wants to keep her bead-clad princess painting, I have her get rid of something else. Sometimes it’s another piece of artwork, but often she loves her artwork so much, she trades in a toy. (Although I got rid of the toys, they still seem to acquire cheap plastic junk. I think they reproduce, annoying little beasts.)

I personally would rather have a pile of artwork on her dresser than cheap plastic junk that just gets pushed into a corner.

She does have an empty drawer in her nightstand where we put her “extra pieces”. As long as it’s contained, I don’t make her throw it away.Curbing the Children's Craft Clutter

The kids have a clothesline (or in Naomi’s case, a pennant bunting we made) on their wall to display their work. They have 7 clothespins that can hold their work. These pieces rotate as new masterpieces are created.

For the works they create for us, we have a couple art cabinets on our wall. They hold quite a lot of pictures, but, I toss old ones as they build up.

Before I throw them away, I lay the art on the floor, have the kids sit next to them and I take a picture. I really do love all their artwork and they are so creative and fun.

I do not keep a memory box. It’s a lovely idea, it really is. But the hard truth is, most (if not all) aCurbing the Children's Craft Clutterdults do not want to hang onto a box of their childhood artwork from 30+ years ago. (Sorry Mom!) If you, as the parent want to look it over regularly, go for it: get a 3-ring binder and plastic sleeves so you can thumb through them. But if they just sit in a box and get moved around from place to place, consider getting rid of them. You can take digital photos of them, if you like, so they can take up less space.

We also have a chalkboard door. We painted it with chalkboard paint when we remodeled the kitchen. It’s in the kitchen and I can write lists and routines on it, but often it is confiscated by the kids. This particular piece is from our second oldest, Jesse.

Ok, but what about the craft supplies??

Ah yes, another form of evil. Ha. I love craft supplies. Being a creative person, I see endless possibilities and my mind starts flooding with ideas and oh the fun we’ll have!

But I do keep it limited. I have this storage unit:Curbing the Children's Craft Clutter

One bin is for my paint supplies, (it’s my coping mechanism of choice) and 2 are for the kid’s arts and craft supplies. I don’t allow any more to be purchased unless there is room in a bin for it.

Having a limited amount of space for supplies is helpful.

The kids are required to put all the supplies away when they are done: garbage is to be thrown away, all supplies in their proper bin and all finished work hung in the designated spot or thrown away.

The same rules apply when they bring in artwork from church or friends houses. The kids know by now that if it’s laying around, I’ll toss it in the trash.

It’s not cruel or insensitive, I warn them first.  And it’s teaching them that when something is important, we take care of it.

 

What do you do to keep crafty clutter under control?

 

 

About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.

14 Comments

  1. Sage on 08/14/2014 at 3:05 PM

    Great tips! My toddler has an easel to hold her markers and I keep a rectangular basket beneath it with her watercolor paints, paint brushes, kumon books, extra paper for painting, and a few stickers. I literally used to have tubs filled with pants that I had held onto for years, among other craft supplies. I finally donated all of it and I haven’t missed it once. Now my toddler has things that she can access safely and enjoy more often.

    • Rachel on 08/14/2014 at 7:36 PM

      Oh, very cool! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Jennifer on 10/29/2014 at 9:30 PM

    Any ideas for my daughter, 8, who got about six different types of crafts for Christmas last year and now they just seem to have taken over? This is on top of the normal white paper, craft paper, drawing supplies that I keep on hand.

    • Rachel on 10/30/2014 at 11:25 AM

      I encourage my kids to give things away when they finish a craft. But for many finished projects that she wants to “keep forever and give to her own children”, they eventually end up in the giveaway box and I’ve bribed her in some way to get rid of it. I have also removed things from her room when we’ve cleaned and stored them until they’ve been forgotten. I wish it was easier- but my daughter is the only one that gets attached to things.

      I also toss all supplies when she’s completed it. If we had several at a time, I would only let her open a new one when a previous one is completed.

  3. Jen on 10/30/2014 at 11:48 PM

    I love your blog! I was a serious minimalist and found it so easy before children so I love to be inspired on how to keep it up as a mother. I am also an unschooly Christian and enjoy simple food as well. We just made the Halloween faced oranges and my kids enjoyed it.

    I have 3 children and my 6 yo just loves to craft (she even brings art supplies in the car!) I have a rectangle basket and when I see paper out, I put it in there. If she asks where her art is then it is in the basket, but she will usually forget about it in 2 days. When it gets full I throw out anything that is more then a couple days old. My husband and I call it “craft purgatory” where paper waits to meet its fate 🙂 It is has really helped keep the paper under control while letting my girl create lots of art.

    • Kaci on 07/05/2015 at 5:59 PM

      Oh my goodness, I LOVE this! I’m so glad you shared this tip.

  4. Lauri on 05/04/2015 at 11:35 PM

    I have crafty young daughters as well, and it can be tough! We have a similar shelf, and it’s been great to use their crafting supply bin as the limit of what supplies can be kept.

    I also keep a small box for drawings/projects, and when it gets full, I try to quick-sort and send artwork to family members all across the country. The rest gets tossed at that point.

    Thanks for this post!

  5. Kaci on 07/05/2015 at 6:03 PM

    I just found this blog and while I’ve been a minimalist for many years (even before it had a “name”), I have found the content, ideas, and philosophy on this site to be incredibly helpful and useful in the maintance of a pared down lifestyle. Thanks for this little space of Internet heaven.

  6. Nicole on 07/17/2015 at 1:44 PM

    Ah thank you for re-sharing this on FB! My daughter is staring jk in the fall and we already have crafts taking over every space in the house. I’ve managed to get the supplies under control, but the finished works, especially those that can’t go on a wall are a dilemma! Love the idea of a specific number of clothespins and the one-in-one-out rule!

  7. Kerri on 07/09/2016 at 11:35 PM

    Thanks for this. I love all your material but this piece applies to me more than most. Both my daughters love art but one is particularly draw to it. She can fill a notebook in hours with sketches! I apologize weekly for all the trees (paper) we consume. I love her creativity and have fed it with supplies and have finally realized that less is more applies here too. But now she’s old enough to have an opinion (8). I give her lots of chances to curate and occasionally choose what stays/goes myself. She would keep every scribble if given the chance! Thanks for your encouragement and support on this front!!!

  8. Amy@moretimethanmoney on 01/05/2017 at 5:37 AM

    I used to try and pretend my son’s kindergarten art work was created by the other child in the class with the same name!

  9. logan on 02/22/2017 at 12:13 PM

    great tips thanks! we also hang our kids art on a line in the playroom. another suggestion is to digitize and organize the kids artwork with an app like Arkiver – it’s free and is available for the web (www.arkiver.com), iOS (http://bit.ly/iOSArkiver) and Android (bit.ly/AndroidArkiver). One great thing about Arkiver is that everything you add is stored on your own Dropbox or Google Drive account so you keep control of it. You can also easily turn that artwork into photobooks, canvases and many more cool products. I also use arkiver to add other memories like quotes from my 3 year old daughter who says some crazy stuff!

  10. Melinda J Mitchell on 10/14/2017 at 4:11 AM

    I use her art as stationery to write our family. They love it, she loves seeing it used, and it’s out of the house in a happy way! Win-win-win!!

  11. S on 01/30/2018 at 4:12 AM

    House of 4 girls and we all craft! We have a clear tub with lid that they can place their crafty (non paper) projects in ie. sock puppets, sewn purse, mini pillow) that they don’t use, but can’t seem to part with. It stays there until full, get photographed, than I toss it. Yes I toss it. We homeschool, so life is full of papers, crafts, sewing projects, clay pottery, bejewelled objects. Our house is full. So either they stop creating or it has to go. We are trying to move away from paper projects so at least it might have practical use other than simply looking at it ie, a coffee mug.

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