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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Getting Rid of Sentimental Clutter

Saturday is our 17th wedding anniversary.  17 years!!!  Where has the time gone?  To see what I thought about making for our 16th wedding anniversary (and still haven't) check out last year's post HERE

Anyway, for 17 years I've been holding onto my wedding shoes.  I haven't worn them in at least 15 of those years.  Why was I holding onto them?  Well, they were my wedding shoes, isn't that a good enough reason? 

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk to the ladies at church about decluttering and organizing as a way to simplify our lives.  I'm no expert on decluttering and organizing, but I do try to be organized and enjoy reading blogs and articles about it.  And while my whole house is certainly not organized and clutter free, there are areas that reflect my desire/struggle to have an organized home.  I'm still not sure why I was asked to give this talk, although I fun preparing for it anyway.  It got me (as well as some of the women who attended) motivated to clean house.

One of the things I talked about were different kinds of clutter or reasons we hold onto things.  
Sentimental clutter is when we hold onto things from our past (because it reminds us of the good times and has a sense of meaning).  That's not entirely bad, we do get a feeling of happiness from sentimental items and it's okay to keep a few of these meaningful items.  But let's face it, we don't live in a museum and most of us have limited storage space, so we can't keep everything.  We should make room for the handful of valuable-to-you items that aren't actually clutter, and get rid of the rest of the stuff that holds little to no value.  My wedding shoes that I hadn't worn in years were taking up valuable shoe space in my closet.  I tried them on thinking I might wear them again.  But they were uncomfortable.  I guess after all those years, either my feet have changed or the shoes have worn out so they were no longer comfortable.  So now I had shoes that were not comfortable and that I would never wear taking up space in my closet.  It wasn't hard for me to decide that they should go. 

Getting rid of items that have sentimental value isn't always that easy.   There can be a lot of emotion involved and let's face it, anything you've held on to for a long time can be hard to get rid of.  

Below are a few ideas to hopefully make the process of decluttering a little bit easier when it comes to things that have meaning but you don't have the space for.  

1.  Take a picture of the item and keep only the picture. 

2.  Write a journal entry about the item before you get rid of it. The act of writing down the memory will let you think about the experience, which is usually more valuable than the object itself.

3.  Invite friends or family over for a "Nostalgia Night".  Reminisce about the items.  You can even record your conversations about them.  If anyone wants the items, let them go to a good home.  Make sure to donate or throw away what is left.

4.  Make a deal with yourself to only keep sentimental items that will fit in a specific sized container/box. 

5.  Choose to keep 1 or 2 keepsake items. Then commit to caring for, and storing them properly. 

Ensure keepsakes and memorabilia are not crowding out what really belongs in your closet. Creating a space for these items should not get in the way of your everyday life. You should not have to hunt and peck your way through old photo albums to find your car's jumper cables.  

If you are going to keep special items, make sure to store things properly. Move the wedding dress, baby blankets, and childhood keepsakes, into storage containers and then into the basement or attic (away from moisture and heat). Do not keep them mixed in with things you use regularly. If you're displaying items like old photographs, make sure where you display them isn't getting in the way or your daily life.

By getting rid of things that are cluttering up your life, you can have more time, space and energy for the things that matter most.

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