What About the Sentimental Stuff?

Every February and August I run a fun game over on Facebook. Toward the beginning of the game I ask everyone what they think their biggest obstacle will be. Every round we’ve done at least one person mentions “sentimental stuff.” #LRSOMG is not the time to deal with sentimental stuff but I would like to address it for those of you who are ready to deal with sentimental belongings.

Before even getting around to making decisions on sentimental things I recommend going through your entire house at least once. Every nook and cranny. As you are going through your home you will find sentimental things. You will know they are sentimental because you will have a story to tell about the original owner or how you received it. When you come across these items, put them in a bin marked “sentimental” and move on. This takes away the daunting decision and lets you continue to focus on the easier decisions. It may take a year for you to get through your entire home. That is completely okay. If you’d like to go through it more quickly and efficiently, you may want to look into bringing in a professional (I’d be more than happy to talk with you about that).

After you have gone through your entire home your decluttering muscles will be really strong! You will have honed in on what you want to keep around your home, what is important, useful, and beautiful to you. You will go to your sentimental bin with confidence and determination. The decisions will be easier (not necessarily easy, but easier now that your decluttering muscles have been built up).

Here are some things to keep in mind when making decisions about sentimental items.

  1. The item is not the person who gave it to you. The teddy bear jammed in the back of the hall closet is not your daughter, it reminds you of your daughter.
  2. The item is not the memory attached to it. The item reminds you of a special time but the story is your memory item or no item.
  3. You don’t have to keep something that isn’t actually sentimental to you. Or maybe it’s not sentimental to you anymore. If it’s not your memory, you can let it go or pass it along to someone who does find it sentimental.
  4. Pictures – multiples and blurry and people no one knows can go. I’m thinking about that end of 8th grade party with me and 5 other people. I only remember one other person and can’t think of a reason why I need that photo.
  5. You get to choose what stays and what goes. They are your memories. If you want to keep every single item, keep it. If you want to wait another year to actually go through it, wait. Just remember the more you keep, the more you will continue to go through, the more time and space it takes up. And the longer you wait, the longer it weighs on you.
  6. Return to these items every year or two. Smile big at the good memories, cry because you miss that person or time in your life, and decide what you want to keep and look at again.
  7. Be intentional. You can’t get these items back. Some of them you don’t need to get back.

I just went through my sentimental bins last weekend. It was really nice to see some faces and read some nice sentiments! And I let go of a few things that really didn’t feel special any more.

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