Inside: How to declutter sentimental items without the guilt.
I picked up a tiny, pink cotton dress, and put it to my face. Inhaling deeply, I felt the tears coming. Sitting on the living room floor, I looked around at piles of tiny onesies, rompers and itty-bitty shoes with dread.
Why is it so darn hard to get rid of sentimental items?
Even though I know how to declutter, I hate doing it.
If I’m being honest, I’ll admit I’m a clutter bug at heart. Sure, I love a decluttered, clean, organized home.
I am most relaxed when my surroundings are clean and neat. But here’s where I struggle: I also love to keep things. Especially sentimental things.
Everywhere you look, everyone is talking about clutter. Declutter. Simplify. Be mindful. It makes sense, but it’s hard!
A lot of us struggle with decluttering in general, but when we declutter sentimental items, it’s the worst.
Hanging on to things that have meaning is okay. But when clutter causes stress or frustration, it’s time to let it go.
In my case, baby clothes were taking up a lot of room, causing stress. By the way, my baby is now ten.
Which means we had ten years of adorable little clothes accumulating. Yikes! I ran out of storage space and my husband ran out of patience.
Look, clutter affects your mind and your health. Less clutter in your home means less chaos.
And let’s not forget – an uncluttered space is energizing, empowering, and can help reduce anxiety. Couldn’t we all use a little less anxiety? I know I can.
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So obviously, it was time for me to declutter sentimental items. It wasn’t fun. But I did it.
Here are four simple strategies I used to get rid of sentimental clutter.
Get Rid of Guilt
For some reason, we feel guilty when we get rid of sentimental things. I tend to hang on to things from my grandparents, memorabilia from high school and anything relating to my one and only child.
But it’s important to remember, as much as we love people and experiences, there comes a time when letting go of mementos is okay. It’s necessary.
You can let go of the item without letting go of the memory.
I made this my mantra.
Once I acknowledged that getting rid of the clothes had nothing to do with my feelings and memories, I could start letting things go without guilt.
Create a Digital Scrapbook
If you’re really struggling to declutter sentimental items, take photos you can look back on later.
I’m guilty of keeping stacks and stacks of art, homemade cards and schoolwork from my daughter. If you do this too, you can take photos with your phone and preserve everything digitally.
I also use an app called Artkive that keeps digital copies of anything I scan in. It’s been a lifesaver.
You don’t have to limit your photos to art and schoolwork, either. Take pictures of any sentimental items you want to remember and include it in a digital collage or digital scrapbook with photos of loved ones.
Repurpose Sentimental Items
Another option – repurpose sentimental items into something useful or decorative. Winning!
Although I did end up donating most of the baby clothes, I did keep some. I think it’s find to hang on to a few things. Remember, hanging on the items becomes a problem when it causes stress and frustration.
In this situation, holding on to a few special things wasn’t harming anything. Plus, I planned to repurpose some if it by having a quilt made.
My mother-in-law made a quilt using some of her dad’s old plaid shirts and its awesome. I love the idea because now, the clothes are service a purpose that is functional and practical.
Get creative about how you can repurpose other things like jewelry and accessories. Years ago, my grandma gave me a beautiful cream-colored, felt hat that she wore in the ’50s.
I don’t wear it. I decorated with it. It looks great sitting on a hat stand on my dresser.
Ask Hard Questions
Still struggling? Look around. Imagine a tornado blew through and destroyed everything. Sure, it’s an awful thought, but it puts things in perspective.
Think about it. What would you miss the most? What could not be easily replaced? Keep only items that are most important. Let everything else go.
Struggling with where to start? Check out this in-depth guide on decluttering your home:
It also talks about the psychological benefits of decluttering – which are amazing!
Finally, if you can’t let go of items, call in the big guns. Hire a professional organizer to help. It’s not an easy job, especially if you have a lot of emotions attached to some items.
Interested in some simple habits to implement? Check out these simple habits to help you declutter.