The Bekins Blog

Let Go of Sentimental Clutter with These 4 Tips

September 6, 2016 | Household Moves

As you prepare to move to a new home, you can’t help but feel a little excited at the idea of starting fresh. You want to put your best foot forward and make new memories with your family.

But as you sort through your closets and attic space, you realize that you have created a lot of fond memories in your current home. Popsicle-stick creations, finger-paint art, and pasta picture frames remind you that your children have grown past their adorable toddler stages. Old bottle collections bring up memories of your mother, and boxes of greeting cards let you know that your friends think about you.

To save space in the moving van, you’ll need to let go of some of this clutter. But these items still hold plenty of sentimental value–how can you get rid of the object and still honor its memory?

  1. Write the Story

When you pick up an old jewelry box or worn out blanket, you likely remember the day you first acquired it. Take a few moments to bask in that memory, and then jot down your feelings and details about the experience in a notebook or online journal.

For example, an item might spur you to remember the time you spent an entire day canning fruit with your aunt, or the afternoon you played on the beach with your family dog.

Spend some time thinking beyond the memory and exploring why that memory truly matters to you. Does it remind you that you haven’t called your brother in a while? Do you want your children to have the same positive associations with family vacations?

Take action on these thoughts-you’ll spend more time creating a good life now than dwelling on the past.

  1. Take a Picture

Actual objects take up a lot of physical space. Even the best organizers and packers can’t shrink down an awkwardly shaped ashtray you sculpted in elementary school.

However, if you still want to see a visual representation of your favorite projects, why not take a picture instead? You can store these images on Google Drive, Dropbox, or other cloud storage services so you can access them anytime, anywhere.

Additionally, digital images will capture the item in its prime-even if you store an old painting in airtight plastic, the colors may fade or the edges may tear. But you’ll always have that online scrapbook to turn to whenever you feel nostalgic.

  1. Give Old Items New Purpose

To help you decide whether to keep or discard certain keepsakes, ask yourself, “is it useful?”

Your grandmother’s china, for example, may look exquisite on your new kitchen table. But your grandfather’s cufflinks might only get two or three more uses out of them in your lifetime.

If you truly want to hold onto worn out items, make sure they still serve a function. You might not feel comfortable wearing old shirts from your childhood again, but you could sew the shirts into a warm blanket for your daughter to cuddle with. Or, that ragged baby blanket would work better as a throw cushion.

  1. Donate Old Items to Loved Ones

Rather than take your once-loved stuffed-animal collection to the dump, give your keepsakes to those who could still use them. Your niece may appreciate several new dolls in her collection, or your sister-in-law could use a few extra dishes to accommodate a growing family. If you know that someone else could make new, happy memories with your items, you may feel better about letting go of a few odds and ends.

And remember, you don’t have to rush through this sorting process, nor do you have to give up all your sentimental items before you move. With these tips and tricks, you can cut some of the clutter and still hold onto what’s truly valuable.

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