When we last revisited “What if” items I said we’d look at getting rid of sentimental items – a decidedly difficult task.
Sentimental ideas include things like; greeting cards, baby clothing, items given to you by someone important, such as your grandmother’s china, old notes from all your high school friends, and most items that have been a part of your child’s life such as school work, art projects, and birthday party items. Of course there are others.
Most everyone has sentimental items that they’d like to keep, but like all items many of these sentimental items take up space, especially if you don’t use them. Here are some tips for clearing out sentimental clutter.
1. Saved by tech:
In the age of computers it’s easy to save many sentimental items. If you have a scanner, or something like NEAT Receipts, you can scan almost everything. You can scan old letters, newspaper clips (like wedding announcements), greeting cards, report cards, some of your children’s art, and more. If you like to re-visit say, old greeting cards then revisiting them on disc will work for you without having three boxes of greeting cards hanging around. Once you scan your cards onto a disc, you can let your kids use the cards for art projects, you can turn them into new greeting cards, or simply recycle them.
2. Figure out why you’re saving an item:
After my grandma died I got her sewing machine. I wanted it because my grandma was likely the most important person in my entire childhood and among other activities we’d always sew together. However, a few years ago I realized that I just don’t sew anymore, not since my grandma died. The sewing machine was just taking up space. It took me a long time to get rid of it, but I did. I had to realize that the sewing machine is not my grandma. With or without it, I still think about her each day. I still remember all the cool things we did together. I don’t need the sewing machine. Also, I don’t think she’d want me carrying around extra stuff.
If you’re saving an item simply because it reminds you of someone, and said item is taking up too much space, it may be smart to let it it go. You can write about your memories of the item, snap a picture of it, and then let it go. Granted, I have lots of stuff from my grandma that I do use daily, her old butter dish and a chest for example. If all you have is one big ticket item from someone who passed away it can be harder to give up, even if you never use it. Try to consider if you can remember a person without the item around. I bet you can.
If you have sentimental items around that you’re not using, but can’t give up, consider reuse. Turn the item into something you will use. You can turn old quilt scraps into an actual blanket or quilt – same goes for baby clothing. You can turn an old set of silverware into garden art or wind chimes. Think about keeping an item in a new way. To get ideas visit this post.
4. Three boxes per family member:
I used to have many boxes of Cedar’s old baby clothes. Mainly because I might someday have another baby; but it’s a lot to cart around, and I know I can snag baby clothes from friends if I really need them. I sorted his clothing down to just one medium sized box, keeping only the most meaningful outfits. Later he can have them when he has kids, or just because. I also have a box of baby items and memorable baby toys I kept for him, and one box of paper items, such as his paintings and notes people have given him.
Three boxes per family member of memory items is a good goal in my opinion. Anymore, and you’re just storing too many boxes. Three is manageable to pass on. If something happened to you, three boxes is going to be easier for folks to sort than ten.
Memories or not, there’s honestly no reason to keep boxes and boxes of sentimental items you don’t use. It becomes a sentimental nightmare cycle. Look at it this way, your grandfather got two boxes worth of sentimental stuff from his grandfather, then you inherited the same items, and when you die, your kids will get the boxes. Each generation calling the boxes sentimental, but never unpacking them, or using the items. It’s a little silly.
There’s more you can do to unload sentimental clutter, but this is a good jumping off point. Which sentimental items have you had luck clearing out? How did you do it?