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Decluttering Sentimental Items and Letting Go of Mementos

Do you hold onto things because someone gave them to you? When clutter is causing stress or frustrations, it is time to learn the art of letting go. It’s ok to get rid of something even if it was a gift. Learn how to declutter sentimental items.

how to declutter sentimental items

How to Declutter Sentimental Items

I have a lot of clutter in my home these days because of items that I inherited when my parents passed away. It’s not easy to let go of items you have from loved ones no longer with us. But we have to remember that if indeed it doesn’t spark joy we should let it go.

Don’t keep items that clutter your home because you feel guilty getting rid of them. Your loved ones wouldn’t want that.

I recently parted with a candle holder that was my mom’s. I felt SO guilty letting it go, but at the same time, I didn’t LOVE it and it was just taking up space. There are things that I have from my parents that I absolutely love. The items that have memories attached to them or items that just make me feel they are close. THOSE are the items I should keep.

decluttering sentimental items

Learn the Art of Letting Go

First-time parents are often guilty of holding on to things for sentimental reasons. They want to keep every homemade card from their child or every picture ever taken of the child. As much as parents love their children and want to remember them as they were, there comes a time when letting go of mementos is all right.

decluttering mementos

How to keep special items
Every week, I go through my children’s folders or piles of papers from school. I only keep the most significant items, like a special picture they made. You can’t keep ALL the pictures!

I have plastic bins that I put these papers in for safe-keeping. They are my kids’ memory boxes. This way, you and your kids can go through these bins every once and awhile and look at the things they made when they were younger.



Saving memories digitally
One option to consider, rather than holding onto the items, is taking photos of them. Line your children’s drawings up on the table and take pictures of each one. Then you can make a book of the drawings when there are enough! You can also make gifts with the most special pictures – mugs, pillows, etc.

Other things people do not want to throw away are photographs. It does not matter if the photo is blurry or the subject is cut off – some people simply do not want to let go of them. Rather than holding on to every photograph, choose the best ones and place them in a photo album. Scrapbooking would be another option, especially if you journal about the photos, as well.

Mismatched Items?

What do you do with Grandma Sue’s chipped china that is missing several pieces? It would be difficult to part with the set. However, there is an alternative. Rather than getting rid of the entire set, let each family choose one place setting or cup and saucer to keep. Display them with a photo of Grandma Sue and it becomes more than old dishes; it becomes a way to remember a beloved family member and something that was important to them.

sentimental knick knacks

Why can’t you let them go?

Consider the reasons why you are holding onto specific items. Did your favorite uncle leave you a piece of artwork when he passed? If you do not love the artwork, you may feel guilty about not wanting to keep it. Remember that letting go of the artwork does not mean that you loved your uncle less. It simply means that you are releasing it to allow someone who will love it to have it.

If you are having a hard time letting go of anything, take a hard look at all you have. This may sound like a strange exercise, but think about the items that you would miss if you lost your home to a natural disaster. If you could easily replace all but a few things, keep only those items that are most important. Let everything else go.

Seek professional help if you cannot bring yourself to let things go. A professional organizer or even therapist can help you work through the emotions attached to the items. They can help you learn the art of letting go.

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