I have a confession to make. One of those ‘I’m pretty sure this makes me a bad Mum but I’m going to carry on doing it anyway because I don’t know how to stop’ things, and I feel bad about it but, I’m pretty sure most of you do it too.
I throw away my children’s artwork.
I know, I know, I do feel really guilty about it but honestly there are piles and piles of it, if I started keeping it I’d need to buy a second house to store it all within six months. I mean I usually keep it for a while, and of course I do the whole,
‘Oh my gosh that picture is so good I love the colours you’ve used there!’
and then I prop it up on the side to ‘show Daddy later’. Daddy comes home and oohs and ahhs over the brilliant picture and then it stays on the side for as long as I can stand it before, making sure that no one is watching, I quickly stuff it inside a cereal box on my way to the recycling bin.
But I feel guilty about it I really do. After all I totally believe in valuing and encouraging each child’s individual creativity, and I try to do exactly that at every opportunity… but still, shamefully, most of the unending pieces of artwork end up crumpled on the floor, with no name or date or title to jog our memory of what it’s about, and half the time with bits missing that Ernie thought looked rather appetising for some reason and I had to retrieve from his mouth while shouting ‘oh god, why would you try to eat that?’.
And anyway how are you supposed to go about storing a piece of paper with 6 pom poms and 3 giant feathers stuck on it? Or a margarine tub with 3 bottle lids taped to the sides? They don’t fit in a folder easily I’ll tell you that now.
At one point I did think I’d found the solution to my Mama guilt over this and I started snapping photos on my phone before tossing still wet paintings into the bin without a care. But I still had the problem of not being able to remember who’s picture belonged to who and what it was supposed to be. And to be honest, once in my phone they were lost to my camera roll, sandwiched between endless toddler selfies and photos of random bits of technology in my house that had been sent to Carl at some point with the hurried message ‘Won’t work. How can I fix?’. It’s hardly pride of place…
But I do want to keep all of their work really. I want to cherish it, I want to show them how much I love it and how clever I think they are, I want to look back in a years time and see how far they’ve come, and when they are all grown up, I want to get it all out 20 years from now and oo and ahh (and probably shed a little tear lets be honest) over the ‘good old days’.
So when Children’s Art Galleries offered me a subscription to their website, a hassle free way of storing all these amazing works of art (and margarine tub cars, kleenex box crocodiles and pieces of paper with a few scribbles on) with all the information that you’ll want when you casually scroll through your child’s personal online art gallery at a later date… well I couldn’t have been more thrilled. It seems like the perfect compromise, we get to show our children exactly how much we value their creative pieces by displaying them in a beautiful way but without taking up any valuable space, or leaving them to clutter up the side until someone spills a drink on them, the cat is sick on them, or someone tries to eat them.
You upload a photo of the artwork to your child’s gallery and you get to add the date of creation, the title and a description, which is fantastic for quickly recording what they have said about their picture or model in their own words. It’s really quick and easy to do and I can imagine that a child a few years older than Mabel would be able to grab a phone and take a picture and upload it to the website all by themselves.
Children’s art galleries kindly sent us a get busy box to make our first creations for our galleries and the kids loved getting stuck in to the prompt ‘how I feel today’. My favourite way of getting creative with the kids is to just give them some exciting looking materials and sometimes a prompt and then seeing what they come up with. My nephew Tommy was round on the day the boxes arrived so he got to join in the fun too. Mabel and Greta made a few pictures and we popped them all in their galleries, which was lucky because by the time Daddy had got home from work Mabel’s favourite one was missing half it’s pieces and Greta’s picture was nowhere to be seen.
Once you’ve uploaded your pictures and they’ve been moderated and approved as safe for little eyes, you can share them on social media or by email, either a specific picture or even the whole gallery which I thought was nice. What a lovely way for Grandparents to get involved if they don’t live nearby! You can even explore the main gallery on the home page and have a look at what art works other children have been creating for a bit of inspiration if you feel like it. Children can earn awards for how many pieces of artwork they have uploaded, which is a great way to encourage them to get creative as often as possible (not that my children need much encouragement!).
Children’s art galleries have kindly gifted us a year’s subscription, but to pay for an individual gallery for three children is only be £7 a year, which I think is pretty reasonable. I can’t wait to sit and scroll through the kids galleries with them in a few weeks time when there should be lots to look at, I know they will be so excited to see all their artwork displayed so nicely online where anyone in the world could see it!
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