Purging sentimental items can be emotionally exhausting. As parents downsize to smaller dwellings their collection of antiques and heirlooms often finds its way to their children. And so on and so on until you find yourself reading about how to declutter sentimental items.

First, good for you. You are breaking the chain. Future generations will thank you. And secondly, keeping things that don’t resonate with you or your lifestyle creates both physical and mental clutter. So, let’s get down to honouring grandma without keeping all her furniture!

All joking aside…this is a difficult process. It is okay to have a hard time. Be gentle with yourself and do not try to accomplish it in one day.

As you examine items, ask yourself why you feel sentimental about it. Was it a gift? Does it remind you of a person or a place? Are you currently using it? Do you like it or are you keeping it out of guilt or obligation?

Can you retain the memory without keeping the item? Digitalizing items can be a great way to retain a memory without cluttering your home. You can even write a note about why the piece is important to you and who gave it to you?

Does it fit in your home?  If it is a piece of furniture the practical question is whether you have room for it? If you love it and want to keep it then can you part with another, less sentimental item, to create space? Even photos and paper memorabilia should have limited space. A memory tote is a great way to store cards, photos, old year books etc. When it gets too full then re-evaluate the items again.

Can you repurpose an item? If you have a fond memory associated with an item or feel strongly toward keeping it, can you find a use for it? For example, my mom gave me my grandma’s crystal cranberry bowl. I use it to store my earrings rather than using it twice a year for cranberries (which I can still do if I dump out the earrings!). This way I can see it and appreciate it daily.

By keeping the things you love and can use in your space you are maintaining their enjoyment and specialness.

About Pauline

Pauline Hoffman, CPO® founded Just In Time Solutions in November of 2001. Her clients feel comfortable and at ease as they make important, and sometimes daunting decisions about their space and belongings. Clients often comment how much easier their lives have become, which allows them to maintain a more independent lifestyle, regardless of age and/or ability.

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