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Help! I'm drowning in my child's artwork

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

A practical approach to sorting through your child's artwork

Arts and crafts are the hallmark of youth. But that doesn't mean your child's art needs to be the hallmark of your home decor.

With a few simple steps, you can finally banish the clutter and make the most of your child's crafty talent.

How to sort your child's artwork

First of all, make sure to involve your kid in the curating process, so he or she doesn't lose her mind when you take out the garbage — along with a few craft items — on Monday morning. Explain that you'll pick out the best and most memorable pieces for a special display. You'll have fun going through the art and the memories together.

Make a pile for framing. Select three or four of your favorite pieces to frame and display in your kitchen or living room. These may not be the best, but they should represent a special moment in your child's life that you'll enjoy looking back on for years. Once they're framed, you'll see that they can fit seamlessly with your other decorative items.

Sort the next-best into a portfolio. Create a portfolio for each year of your child's life, and pick your 15 favorite pieces of art to keep. These should represent the most unique and representative pieces of your child's year.

Create a discard pile. Everything else needs to go away, lest your house burst at the seams by your child's 18th birthday. Place paper products in a recycling bin, and everything else in the trash can.

Don't want to throw it away?

Tossing your child's artwork is admittedly a painful endeavor. It feels a little like throwing away memories. If you're tired of the clutter but just can't bear to throw away your child's artwork, find creative ways to share your kid's talent.

Mail it. Why should you hang on to the clutter when it's so easy to share? Place your child's artwork in an envelope addressed to grandparents, aunts and uncles or even long-lost friends who love your kid but don't get to see her all the time. Seriously, they'll feel delighted to receive such a cute letter in the mail.

Re-purpose it. Snip away at your kid's art to make tiny components of scrapbook pages, greeting cards or even ornaments. All those colorful images can look great in a grown-up craft collage, and whatever you create will have extra meaning.

Wrap it. Don't waste your money on expensive wrapping paper when you can use leftover child artwork to embellish your gifts. You can use big pieces of paper to wrap a gift, or tape on small artwork for cute personalization.

Volunteer it. Drop by your local nursing home and ask the administration if any residents would appreciate homemade artwork. Your kid's wild marker drawings might just brighten someone's day.

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