We all have them: sacred and cherished treasures. They are beloved. These items remind us of days gone by and loved ones, experiences, and more. They are far more extensive than just fond memories. These items hold true sentimental value. BUT, they may also be considered sentimental clutter. So, what do we do when we must honor the memories but need to let go of the stuff? How do we begin memorializing our sentimental belongings?
The first, and most difficult step in the process of “moving” these sentimental items is learning to let go. We must rationalize and convince ourselves that while the items have held honorable importance in our lives and have served a purpose, that purpose is no longer and the lasting memory we retain is far more valuable than the material possession. This can be really hard. Really, really hard for some of us. But it’s the mental step that needs to take place before any other progress can be achieved.
- Put It in a Box: While this step certainly serves no honorary purpose, it does help to create a bit of separation. Put the items that are creating clutter aside, sealed in a box, and leave them be for a period of time. This is the distance you need, for a week or two, to realize the items are no longer a part of your daily life, are unnecessary for display, but are also not forgotten. Enlist the help of a friend or family member, if need be, to help with the objectivity and discernment that needs to take place. Then, once you’ve become accustomed to living without, you can truly separate and take the items to donation spots or pitch them.
- Take Breaks: This process can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. Give yourself a break – literally – and work in short intervals. An hour here, and an hour there…you just might find yourself far more productive when spacing out the work and giving yourself a breather, and a pat on the back for what you’ve accomplished.
- Create a Snapshot: While old photos are most likely composing part of the clutter you’re working to release, capturing a digital snapshot and storing it up in “the cloud” is a creative way to hold on to and memorialize the memorabilia while still physically decluttering. Images can be stored forever “up in the cloud” and this system allows you to look back and view the items at any time. Also, this method not only saves space, but is also much less risky from a preservation point of view. Old photos and documents can fade and become unrecognizable over time – but a digital image will truly last forever. You’ll even be able to scroll back through all your kiddos’ artwork after they are long gone from home.
- Repurpose: While most things probably do need to go, save a few of the best – the very best – tossing the rest, for another purpose. Your grandmother’s antique sewing bench may just work out for the corner desk you’ve been thinking of adding to the kitchen. The crystal doorknobs in the back drawer from your great aunt’s house in Italy could be used as your new cabinet pulls. It’s possible to even create a dress out of an old lace tablecloth, if you’re really crafty. Think outside the box – get creative and enjoy the process.
Free yourself of the emotional burden that sentimental clutter creates and memorialize in some new, creative ways!