Now that we are sheltering at home, many of us will start to tackle house related projects, including decluttering and organizing. But, letting go of things isn’t always easy. How much stuff do you have in your house that you keep around for purely sentimental reasons? Like that old t-shirt from a favorite vacation or the set of silverware that belonged to your grandparents?
While we all want to hold on to special memories, the impulse to “hold on to things” can quickly lead to clutter and mess if left unchecked. It’s important to balance the need to save with the need to streamline and get organized.
Admittedly, it can feel hard to have to give up precious family possessions. If you’re struggling with belongings of sentimental value while trying to declutter your home, try these tips:
1. CREATE A KEEPSAKE STRATEGY
If your sentimental belongings are starting to take over rooms in your home, it may be time to create a keepsake strategy and evaluate each item.
For example, if you recently lost a close family member, it can be tempting to want to hold on to so many of their possessions. But the truth is, even if your grandmother was the best knitter in the world, there’s no need for you to hold on to every blanket and sweater she made.
Divide your sentimental items into categories, and make a point to only keep a few from each category. For all your sentimental items, ask yourself:
- Why is this specific item sentimental? If it’s because of the person you got it from, consider if you can remember the person and the special memory without this particular item.
- Is this an item you’ll use?
- Can you give it to someone who would get more use and value out of it?
Hopefully with this keepsake strategy, you’ll hold on to only a manageable number of sentimental belongings.
2. SAVE IT TO THE CLOUD
Rather than keeping large bulky physical items, can you take a photo and save it to the cloud? New research demonstrates that taking and keeping a digital photo can help you both preserve a memory (sometimes even longer than a physical item which may fade or grow moldy) while also decluttering your home.
You may even prefer to take digital photos of old family albums, as the digital photos will last longer without taking up space in your house.
3. KEEP THINGS IN THE FAMILY
While it may feel difficult to have to give up a precious family heirloom, ask yourself if it’s time to pass it on to someone else in the family who can now get better use from it.
If it feels right, you might even want to give items to close friends, including them in the circle of your “wider family.” It might be the best way to keep family heirlooms and traditions going into the future.
4. DO GOOD
If there’s no one you know who might be able to use your old sentimental items, maybe you can give them away to someone in need.
While it can be hard to part with something you love, the knowledge that someone else can need it and appreciate it even more might help you feel better about your choice to give things away.
5. FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
While you certainly want to never forget where you came from, you also want to make sure you’re not stuck in the past.
It can be soothing and healing to spend some time in nostalgia. But don’t lose sight of your useful future goal to declutter and organize your home. Streamlining your possessions will help everyone in your home live calmly and more efficiently, and that’s definitely a worthwhile reason to declutter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marty Basher is the design expert with Modular Closets. Marty regularly contributes on topics of home design, organization, improvement and more, helping home owners get the most out of the spaces in their home. Modular Closets are high-quality and easy-to-design closet systems made in the USA you can order, assemble and install yourself, in no time at all.