Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 1 | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 1

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 1

Sentimental items.  We've all got them.  Some of us have more than others.

They are important to us because they remind us of someone or something special from our past.

But sometimes we have too many sentimental items.  Bins in the basement filled with our childhood memories or those of our kids.  Boxes in the garage that were too painful to sort through before.  Items scattered throughout our home on shelves, in drawers, or at the back of our closets.

If you feel like your sentimental items are taking over your home, it's time to declutter.  If your past is getting in the way of your present or your future, it's time to declutter.  If you want to live more simply, it's time to declutter.

It's not easy though.  Which is why I'm writing this series!

Why Declutter Sentimental Items?

There are many reasons why we might want to declutter our sentimental items.  Here are a few:

  • We might want that space for something else.  Think about how much space your sentimental items are taking up in your home.  What else could you use that space for?  How might your daily life be easier if you didn't have as much sentimental clutter in your home?  
  • We might be paying to store a lot of our sentimental items in a storage unit.  That adds up a lot over time.  What else could you use that money for?
  • We might be holding onto things that actually bring us bad memories.  Why do we do that?  We could be surrounding ourselves with items that bring back positive feelings instead.  If we lost someone special, it's OK to be sad.  But you don't need to keep items to remind you to feel sad.  You'll just feel that way sometimes.  Or a lot of the time.  But, we can keep items that make us smile.  That bring us joy.  Keep that in mind as you choose items to keep and items to let go of.

Think about what your reasons are.  It will help you as you go through your things and make those tough decisions!

Inspiration to Help You Declutter Your Sentimental Items

In case you need a little more inspiration... check out this video from the Minimalists.

You don't have to become a minimalist, but that video is just chock full of inspiration!   This is one of my favourite takeaways:

And there's also this one:

You can share those with others who may have some sentimental items to declutter.  Or print them out and stick them around your home to remind you why you're decluttering your sentimental items. They'll be great reminders when things get tough :)

Ease Into Decluttering

Before we get into the rest of the series and all the tips for decluttering sentimental items, I want to say one very important thing.  PLEASE don't start with sentimental decluttering.  If you've got lots of "regular" clutter in your home start with that first.  Save your sentimental things for the end.  You've got to build up your decluttering muscles first :)

It's like exercising.  You can't run a marathon if you've never done a 5K. You can't be an Olympic high diver if you haven't jumped in off the side of the pool and worked your way up to higher platforms and fancier dives.

So if you have normal, everyday, non-sentimental clutter in your home, I want you to start there.  It will make a bigger impact on your daily life anyway.  You can bookmark this series and come back to it later.

And, if you haven't already, you can join the 365 Items in 365 Days challenge! Join our 365 Items in 365 Days Facebook group!  You'll find lots of encouragement, motivation, and tips as we all declutter our homes and lives together.  There will be some people decluttering sentimental items in the group, but also lots of people decluttering any other clutter.  For more info about the 365 Items in 365 Days challenge click the image below.

About The Decluttering Sentimental Items Series

OK now that that's out of the way.. let's talk about this series!

I'm starting with a few general strategies that I'll mention over and over throughout the series... just to get you thinking.  Then in a few days I will jump into the "meat" of the series where I will share tips for a different type of sentimental clutter each day.

There will be a total of 26 different sentimental items.  There are lots of others that I won't be able to cover in this series, but the general tips will help you to tackle them, as well as the practice you'll get throughout the series.

Please don't feel that you have to declutter ALL of these items this month.  That would be overwhelming!  Choose any that you're ready to tackle and take as much time as you need to work through them.

And take breaks as you need to.

Some of these categories will be easier for you than others.  And some will be tough.  This process can bring up a lot of different feelings and the experience can be emotionally draining.  Pick a few "easier" ones and work your way up to the tougher ones.  You can do one each week for the next 6 months.  Or one every 2 weeks for the next year.  It's your timeline!

Because this series can be done at any time, I'm not differentiating weekend posts from weekday posts.  Some people will have more time to declutter during the week and others will have more time to go through their sentimental items on the weekend.  Do what works for you.

Which Sentimental Items Are We Decluttering?

There are lots of options!  But here are the topics I'll be covering this month:

I hope seeing all these topics gets you excited about the series!  It's going to be a great month :)  Please don't get overwhelmed looking at it though... remember you can do this at your pace!

You can pin that image or save it on your desktop so you can follow along each day.  Or you can print it out on cardstock and have a bookmark to help you keep track of where you are {just select "fit to page" in your printer settings}.

Thanks to the 365 Items in 365 Days Group

A couple of months ago I asked the 365 group for suggestions of sentimental items they have struggled to declutter and they shared a ton of ideas!  And for the last 2 months, we've shared tips, challenges, and successes with each other, all leading up to this series.  You'll even see some of their pictures in various posts this month.

Many of those who participated in the discussions in the 365 group have been decluttering for months or even years (I can't believe the 365 series has been going for almost 3 years now!!).  And even with their decluttering muscles all warmed up and stretched out, some people in the group still struggle with letting go of their sentimental items.  But with some cheerleading and inspiration from those who have gone through their special things, many were able to let go of some of their clutter.

So thanks to my 365'ers for their help putting this series together.  Join us in the group and we'll cheer you on as you declutter your sentimental items too!

Your Turn!

Today I want you to think about what sentimental items are cluttering up your home.  Why have you been hanging onto these objects? What makes it difficult to let go of them?

Also, sign up to receive my blog posts by email.  That way you won't miss any of the posts in the series and you can save any you want to for later.  You can unsubscribe at the end of the series (or any time!) if you no longer want to receive decluttering and organizing tips.

Are you ready?  Me too!  Introduce yourself and let me know what you are hoping to gain from this series.  What is your motivation for decluttering your sentimental items?

Happy organizing decluttering!

Here are all the posts in this challenge in case you missed any or want to share some with your friends or family!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!


  1. This sounds like a great series! I recently started decluttering more sentimental items - starting with the clothes my kids had for special holidays etc. I realized that they probably weren't going to want to use those clothes with their own children. Now I only have kept some hand knit items that I have made for my kids. Looking forward to following along!

    1. Welcome Heather! Sounds like you've already done some good sentimental decluttering... way to go! Hope you find more helpful tips this month :)

  2. I can't wait to read your tips. I'm going to be working on decluttering and organizing our house in the next few months. Some stuff is harder to let go of- like we recently got rid of a TON of baby clothes and items. Little nervous we'll end up having another child and needing them, but I keep reminding myself I'd rather go pick out some stuff used than to store for "just in case."

    1. You hit the nail on the head Danielle! Used kids' clothing is so easy to get these days that it's not worth storing it "just in case". Good job decluttering already! Hope the rest of the month helps you with your decluttering and organizing!

    2. Well I allowed myself a container of favorites, lol. I just weeded out some stuff that was higher end or in extra good shape ;) And of course kept the stuff from G that K can wear someday.

    3. Setting a limit (a container) is a great way to make sure you don't have too much Danielle!

  3. I love this series idea! I'm actually really good at decluttering but I could always use a reminder.

    1. Thanks Leanne! I think we can all use a reminder from time to time :)

  4. What a fun challenge! I think photos can be tough, because we feel that we "shouldn't" get rid of them... even if they are so old we don't know who is in them!

  5. Yes photos can be hard to let go of. We feel guilty about getting rid of them. But we end up not enjoying them if we have too many so it's definitely worth the effort to declutter those unimportant ones!

  6. This is definitely one of the hardest areas to tackle. Other items can be sold or given away, but most of our personal treasures are just trash to the rest of the world.

    1. Yes that's a good point Janet. Many sentimental items aren't useful to anyone else, making it more challenging to let them go. And tossing them in the garbage makes many feel really guilty.

  7. I totally agree. We forget what sentimental items we have. I recently revisited several sentimental items and cleared out the items that reminded me of upsetting memories. It was very rejuvenating.

    1. Good job letting go of items that weren't positive memories Sabrina. I think we feel like we have to keep them, but it is very freeing to let them go.

  8. Love The Minimalists! Their words are so spot on!! And I love your point about NOT starting with the sentimental items in your decluttering process. You definitely should work up to them. Looking forward to this great series, Hilda!

    1. Thanks Sarah! Yes the Minimalists are really inspiring in how they speak. Enjoy the series!

  9. I'm actually not very sentimental with stuff, my main issue is not wanting to get rid of something if I might need it later. However, just about every other person in my house is very sentimental with their things, and it drives me nuts. I am hoping for some good tips for helping them!

    1. Hopefully this series will help you Lara... both with "I might need it someday" clutter and tips for the rest of your family!

  10. What a great post Hilda and series! Love this and will be sharing it with my Overcoming Overwhelm and Clutter FB Group!

    1. Thanks Autumn! I'm really hoping a lot of people find this series helpful. Thanks for spreading the word!


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