Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

Tag: art

Four Ways Decluttering Gets Easier Over Time

I’m just two months shy of my minimalist project anniversary and there are some tasks I’m starting to do for a second time, albeit on a much smaller scale. This weekend, I sorted through my daughter’s art from her second year of preschool. Unlike last year when sorting took me several hours, this session took me 15 minutes. Decluttering gets easier over time and here’s how!


Last year, I saved every scrap of paper my daughter so much as doodled on and then waited until the next school year started before sorting through it. I took pictures of EVERYTHING (pictures that I haven’t done anything with, by the way), and finally kept only five of the most special pieces of art.

O is for Owl


For round two, I still didn’t sort throughout the year (which is what I should have done). However, this time I quickly sorted my giant art pile into two: memory-worthy pieces and those that went straight into the trash (no pictures). I ended up with 15 pieces, took pictures of each one, and saved the best five.



Four Ways Decluttering Gets Easier

#1 – You’re Not Afraid to Get Rid of Things

After nearly a year, I’ve realized that there’s nothing inanimate that you can get rid of that’s irreplaceable. I also haven’t needed anything I’ve thrown away (I missed a couple of things, but realized I’m much better off without them). I am much more confident in my decisions.

#2 – There’s Less of Everything

It took me two evenings to sort through toiletries last fall and less than 30 minutes to do it two weeks ago. Everything in the same category is located in the same spot in our house and there’s a LOT less of it.

#3 – Nobody Questions Why You’re Doing This

Your whole family gets used to your purging and, if you’re lucky, they might even start to look forward to the cleaner living space.

#4 – You’ve Already Learned The Hard Way

Never, ever save artwork with marshmallows on it. They only get stickier with time. I’ve also personally decided that trying to sell items worth less than $25 is not worth my time. It’s far easier to donate them or throw them away. There are a hundred other lessons you learn through decluttering and they make future sessions much more smooth!

Craft Table Before

Craft Table Before De-owning & Decluttering

Craft Table After De-owning & Decluttering

Craft Table After De-owning & Decluttering

So, get out there and get started! Decluttering gets easier from here.

Kids’ Art (Weekend Project)

I officially have a problem. I can’t bring myself to get rid of my kids’ art. When my oldest daughter first learned to hold a crayon, I saved page after page of her art, mostly consisting of a few lines, possibly in two different colors jutting haphazardly across a page. I put everything in a folder and kept it. A year later, I looked back and realized how ridiculous this was. By then, she was drawing small figures and the hundreds (literally) of pages of her early drawings just didn’t seem that special anymore. I wonder if I would feel differently if I’d saved one special drawing instead.

Post-photos art pile

My Mound of Kid Art

My daughter finished her first year of preschool last year and, again, I saved every art project that was sent home. Maybe it was because she’d had an incredibly talented teacher who did amazing, creative projects, but the real reason was probably that I was a bit sentimental and indecisive. I couldn’t bring myself to make any choices on which masterpieces I should keep or pitch.

How to Declutter Kids’ Art

In came some amazing advice from an audio book I read quite a while ago called It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh. He points out sentimental objects are hard to throw away because of the memories they evoke. It’s the memory you want to keep, not the object, so take a picture.

Years later I read about a mom who used ArtKive to take pictures of all of her kids’ art projects and created a photo book. Then she threw away the projects. It’s brilliant, saves space, and keeps the memories.

Have a Goal

So, this weekend I took pictures of everything and set aside a small pile of art to keep. My goal was to save just five pieces of art. It was surprisingly easy to recognize my favorites. They were cute and represented an important stage in my daughter’s development or, in the case of the bear drawing, the good laugh we had when we realized we might be sharing a little too much information about how nature works (she’s the daughter of a Park Ranger, so there’s a little pride behind that).


I set out to create a book, but realized that was unnecessary. I’ll save the photos on a thumb drive instead. Knowing they’re preserved allowed me to pitch, without regret, the physical copies and create a new empty spot on my craft table.

When & How to Purge

Waiting until the end of the year gave me a chance to review everything at once. If you have space out of sight to keep a growing pile of art, I’d recommend this method again. However, a better way to approach the problem throughout the year is to keep your five favorite pieces at all times. Each time a new piece shows up, compare it to your favorite five and if it’s not better, throw it out (perhaps after temporarily displaying it for a specific period of time). If it surpasses the existing five, replace one of them with the new piece.

Other Ideas

There are a lot of other ideas for using and getting rid of your kids’ art. Check out this article by Sherri Reed or read about it in Joshua Becker’s book Clutterfree with Kids.

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