Spring Cure Discussion Spotlight: Sentimental Clutter

Spring Cure Discussion Spotlight: Sentimental Clutter

Cambria Bold
Mar 30, 2010

This is my first time REALLY cleaning out my closets. Is anyone else having a hard time giving up stuff? I am stuck on stuff from my childhood that I know I don't need and that I totally even forgot I had. What am I supposed to do with this stuff?

Keepcalmandcarryon, March 19, The Spring Cure 2010 Discussion Board

KeepCalm, we refer to this as "sentimental clutter" and these are the hardest things to get rid of. Even if, like you say, you didn't even remember you had it, seeing it and feeling it again brings up old memories. Here are a few tips we've gleaned to help you pare down your sentimental collection and distinguish between those items that should be cherished and those that should be chucked.

Figure Out What You Want: When deciding which childhood mementos to keep and which to pass on, ask yourself these questions: Does owning this in its physical form make me feel good? Would I feel bad if I couldn't pull this out and look at it, touch it? Is this something I'd want to share with my friends or family in years to come? For items that you decide you don't need to keep, consider whether another family member (like parents or grandparents) might want them. (This is particularly true for childhood collections.)

Technology to the Rescue: Old photographs, class essays, drawings, letters, birthday cards— all of these can be scanned and saved as digital copies on your computer. This is a great option when you want to remember a particularly poignant note from a friend, or that time the local newspaper featured your 14-year old self on the cover of the City Sports section ("Greatest Young Athlete of All Time!"). It might not have the tactile experience of sifting through an old box, but it'll give you space without sacrificing the memory. You can also just take digital photographs of something to remember it. Consider if you'd be able to remember that person or event without the accompanying item. Chances are you'll be able to.

Display What You Cherish: If you've decided that something has enough sentimental value and is worth keeping, then you should display it or keep it handy in some way. If you have a few cards that you just don't think are going to cut it in digital form, then get a pretty wooden box to store them in, and place it on a bookshelf or dresser. If there's an old toy you loved, or a fantastic family photo, or an old drawing, frame it and hang it on your wall. If these items really do mean something to you, then seeing them every day not only puts them to good use, but also facilitates good feelings.

And the most important piece of advice:

Establish a Space Boundary: If you're someone that has a hard time giving things up, then the most helpful piece of advice I can give you is to give yourself a space boundary. For example, allow yourself only what you can fit into that cedar chest at the foot of your bed. Don't be too lenient! (Giving yourself the whole attic or the garage as your allowable space does not count!) Think in smaller, manageable terms: three boxes, those two shelves in the basement, that cupboard. Then, pick those items most important to you. Whatever doesn't fit means it has to go, or you need to rethink some of your other items.

Here's what Curee member Livc recommended:

Even though I don't USE the stuff from my childhood, I do keep what is sentimental to me because I remember how much I loved the stuff that my mom kept from her childhood. The things she kept from her childhood were my favorite things, too. I hope to pass on what I loved from my childhood to my kids as well some day. If you don't plan on doing that, though, perhaps you could give them to nieces and nephews or friend's kids so that you know they will be loved. Or see if your parents want the things. Or even find a way to display the items in your home. Kids books from when you were little can go on your bookshelves, art can go on the walls, etc. Good luck!

Share your thoughts and questions with me and the rest of the Cure participants at our Discussion Board. You could be highlighted here next week!

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