In my last post I wrote about my own trial and error and the solutions I have created for making a manageable, functional art creation space for my kids.  I am proud to say that the space still proves to be a great solution, though maintenance is definitely required on an almost daily basis.  One thing I have learned about organizing with kids (and adults) is that no organizing solution is ever a means to never having a mess ever again.  Kids are erratic and spontaneous, and unless your kids are from another planet or have received impeccable training from their parents, they will likely walk away from a mess now and then without cleaning it up.  Below I will explain the steps I have employed in maintaining my children’s art space and creating a system for archiving their work, as well.

1. Corral the Paper

If your kids are like mine, their art and creative writing projects don’t live in a neat pile in one area of your home, instead they can be found just about anywhere you look.  From their home-made creations to their school papers, I find paper on every surface. Therefore, on a daily basis I (and ideally my children as well) scour the house, collect returned school work, drawings, random art supplies, notebooks, and everything else that ideally lives in the art area, and bring it home.  We put all the supplies away, place the notebooks in their bin, and a stack of paper begins to form.  As an organizer I am also realistic about time.  The pile is a necessary part of a mother’s life because finding time to address every piece of paper every day is perhaps a little much to expect.

2. Sort, Purge, and Store


19.5″x13.5″ Art Storage Box by Container Store

Next, I would say once ever week or 2 or 3, I take about 20minutes and I tackle that pile that has grown quite large over time.  I stand at the art table with a recycling bin, and I sort.  There are the obvious scraps that I place in the recycling and the random pieces of clean paper that can go back in the paper bin. I also create 2 piles, one for each kid.  The gems, like their most current example of their drawing style or their attempts at writing (my 5 yo) and their beautifully written and illustrated stories (my 7yo) get set aside in each child’s respective SAVE pile. I can safely say that in this process, the majority will end up in the recycling.  The few  or many keepers, and I am generous with the keepers, I place in each of their 19.5×13.5 Art Storage Boxes.  One for each child.  This collection grows and grows throughout the year.  At the end of the 20 minutes I have a cleared art table, a few stand-outs tucked away for safe keeping, and a full recycling bin.


9″x12″ Art Portfolio by Itoya

3. Create Art Portfolios from Stored Art

At the end of the school year (or sometime before the new school year starts) I pull out those boxes.  This part of the project is the most time consuming, but so rewarding.  And the end product is very exciting for you and for your kids.  I purchase one 9×12 Itoya Art Portfolio for each year for each child.  They seem to be the perfect size for pretty much everything your child creates. There are 24 pages in each.  This means that using both sides of each plastic sleeved page, placing the pieces back to back, you will have room for 48 keepers over a year’s time.  I find this is plenty of space.  Next, begin sorting out the stored artwork from the art boxes.  I recommend doing one child at a time, creating piles for each year.  Then begin loading the pages with all their creations.  I found that there will be (especially in the earlier years) many repeats of the same drawing.  I recommend saving the best 2 or 3 representatives of that period.  I like to save drawing samples, writing samples, reports, awards, certificates, report cards, notes from friends and teachers, and a few photos, especially if they are photos from school that wouldn’t make it to your family albums .  This portfolio is for you and your child both so maybe even let them throw in a couple things they want to save.  There will likely be more things to throw away after this step.  In the end, you and your child will have a year by year collection of their best work and so many memories.  To be honest, if you are a person that has been saving everything since the first time your child picked up a crayon and they are now in 3rd grade, this is going to be a cumbersome project to begin with.  But you will find it so rewarding when you are caught up.  And with this new system in place, subsequent years will be tackled in no time.

artportfolio1 artportfolio2

If the result of this project sounds appealing to you, but the prospect of tackling it alone seems daunting, call a Professional Organizer for help!  I would love to help you document your child’s development and create a way to honor and cherish all the years gone by as well as to come.

Remove overwhelm.  Insert joy.

To schedule your organizing consultation with Sorted Nest, fill out the contact form, and Beth will get back to you ASAP.