The most difficult type of clutter to clear is sentimental items – photos, letters, kids artwork, baby things. You name it – lots of people just can’t bear to part with it. I was chatting to friends this week – one kept alot, the other nothing, and it did make me think about whether I practise what I preach. As The Clutter Fairy, I do admit I have started to wonder whether I should be decluttering more of my sentimental items. But would I pass my own basic test?
– Do you know what everything in your sentimental boxes is and when you got it? If you can’t remember, put in your ‘To Go’ pile.
– Do you have separate boxes for each of your children? These will be useful to give them when they leave home (if you can bear to part with them – the boxes, that is, not the children!)
– Does everything in your boxes evoke happy memories? If not, it needs to go. Why make yourself sad? Life’s too short!
– Have you got any weird stuff in your boxes? Sets of baby teeth and umbilical cord clamps fall into this category. Isn’t that photo of your 7 year old with no middle teeth much sweeter? And do you really need a clamp as a reminder of that perfect moment when your child arrived into this world?
– Have you only kept Greetings Cards that have a special memory with them? If you keep all your cards, you can guarantee you will not even remember some of the people who sent them.
– Can you really remember when that artwork was painted by your child or even which child painted it? A great tip is to photograph your child with the artwork when they paint it, then that’s a real memory.
On balance I do pass my own clutter test for sentimental items but then I do have a specific storage area for them. If however, sentimental items are taking over your life and you have limited space you may need to start being a little harder on yourself. Photography is key. If something can be photographed or scanned and still have the same impact as a memory, then go for it. Shadow boxes are perfect for displaying sentimental items, are easy to get hold of and are a great talking point with guests. Display some of your most special items in these.
Finally, if you love your sentimental items and memorabilia and regularly get pleasure from looking at them, don’t touch a thing. It’s your home and you should have in it things you treasure.