Parents

Kids' artwork: Do you save it or throw it out?

Jan. 28, 2011 at 9:06 AM ET

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Treasure? Or destined for the recycling bin?

Starting with pre-school days -- and even earlier, really, as soon as those chubby little fingers can grasp a crayon -- every parent must deal with an unimaginable bounty of artwork. There are finger paintings and self portraits that look like aliens; handprint turkeys at Thanksgiving and cotton ball snowmen at Christmas. And who doesn't cherish the first time your kiddo scrawls the letters of his name (even if they might be out of order)?

As a story in the New York Times pointed out yesterday, the art may or may not tell us about the nature of the child, but it reveals plenty about the parents. Reporter Michael Tortorello asks, "Do they lavish praise on every piece or barely glance up from the iPhone? Do they frame art for the grandparents or turn it into wrapping paper? In the plainest sense, is the parent a keeper or a chucker?"

The chucker option is easier said than done. (Take it from a mom who has been busted by her kids for tossing prized pictures into the trash bin!) The sting of parental guilt persuades you to come up with creative storage options.

We posed the question on our Facebook page, and while plenty admitted to pitching pictures, others shared ingenious ideas. There's the mom who takes digital photos of favored artwork, uploads them to a photo-sharing site, and then creates a book at the end of the year. And the mom who creates an art gallery by hanging photos on a wall covered in corkboard. Another keeps folders of her kids' art, and when it starts overflowing, she suggests, "Let's send the art to Grandma so she can see it." And another has her daughter make paper chains out of the art that isn't displayed and says, "She hasn't noticed yet how the chains seem to disappear."

There's a happy medium between destroying your child's creative psyche by throwing away every piece of art, and having a house so cluttered with crayon scribbles you could be featured on the show "Hoarders."  Better find it, pronto. The fridge (and bulletin boards and doors and walls) are filling up fast.

What suggestions do you have for saving the masterpieces of your over-producing mini-Picassos?

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