One More Strategy for Decluttering Sentimental Items {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 4} | From Overwhelmed to Organized: One More Strategy for Decluttering Sentimental Items {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 4}

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

One More Strategy for Decluttering Sentimental Items {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 4}

Today in the Decluttering Sentimental Items series I'm sharing one more strategy to help you declutter your sentimental things.  If you've been following along the series you know I shared several strategies yesterday and the day before {check them out if you missed them!}.  And tomorrow I'll start sharing tips for specific types of sentimental clutter.  Today I' want to talk about what you can do with the items you decide to keep but that you aren't able to use or display.  Ready?

Strategy #7: Keep a Memory Bin for each Family Member

I know I said you should use or display the sentimental items you keep.  But sometimes that's just not possible or practical.  What do you do with your special things then?

I recommend a plastic storage bin with a lid.  The plastic part is important because you want to protect against possible water damage since these are items you don't want ruined.

You can decide what is kept in your memory bin, but when it's full you have to let go of something to make space.

This works really well for helping kids pare down their sentimental items.  Let them decide what they want to keep (this is important... don't try to influence their decisions... these are THEIR memories).  But when it's full, they have to get rid of some items before adding more.  It helps them learn to set limits.  And it helps them learn to prioritize what's really important to them over time.

If you have a lot of sentimental items you're keeping, you can decide on a number of bins that is appropriate per family member based on your space.  But if you are using more than one bin per person, I'd suggest grouping items in each one and labeling them so if you're looking for something it's easy to find what you need.

For example, you could have:
  • One bin for your childhood years, one for your teen/college years, etc.
  • Or one bin for items that came from a particular relative.
  • Or one bin for a particular sport or activity you participated in.

You get the idea.  The key is to decide on how many bins based on your space... before you declutter.  Otherwise you may end up keeping more than you have space for, which isn't really helping you achieve your goal (assuming space was part of your motivation for decluttering).

Let's Talk About Storage

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a storage locations for your memory bins:

  • Store them away from potential water damage - from below (flood), or above (leaky roof or pipes), or even the sides (burst water pipes in nearby walls)
  • Store them where there are no drastic temperature changes (extreme heat or cold can damage items over time)
  • Store them someplace dry (damp or humid conditions can cause your sentimental items to deteriorate over time)

Garages, attics, and basements are not the best places to store sentimental items... even though those are the traditional places we tend to keep them.   Consider bedroom closets, spare room / office closets, storage rooms, etc.

These are my favourite storage bins. {affiliate link}

These Rubbermaid Roughneck storage containers come in various sizes but I like this size the most because:

  • It's not too heavy to carry when it's full
  • It's big enough to hold quite a bit of stuff
  • It fits nicely on most storage shelving units (the taller ones are usually too big)
  • It seals well to protect your items from light water damage (I've used the flip lid bins in the past and the contents were ruined when we had a water leak from a pipe above the bins)
  • It's really sturdy and you can stack several on top of each other if necessary 
  • It comes in a variety of colours so you can choose which ones you want based on what you're storing inside (e.g. red or green for Christmas decor, orange for Halloween costumes, etc.) or who you're storing items for (e.g. a different colour for each family member)
  • You can find them in a lot of stores because they're quite popular

There are also clear versions with latch handles that seem to be just as good quality but I haven't personally used them.  I've used a lot of cheaper bins though and they crack or leak or buckle and I end up having to replace them and potentially risk damage to the contents.  I don't want that for anything important and certainly not for sentimental items!  

You can also use a pretty memory box if you want, but think extra carefully about where you store it to reduce the chances of any damage. 

Another option, especially for storing sentimental items is an under-the-bed storage container. {affiliate links}
These also come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Again, I recommend the Rubbermaid bins because of their quality.  If you or your child are still adding to a current memory bin, storing it under the bed is a great way to be able to add to it easily.  I recommend ones with a good latch so that they stay sealed under the bed to protect the contents.  

By the way, I'm not being paid to promote Rubbermaid products... they don't know I exist LOL.  I just really like their quality and have used them for MANY years.  {I do get a small commission from Amazon if you purchase something through my affiliate links though... which helps cover some of the expenses of running this blog and my time sharing these tips with you... so thanks for your support if you buy anything!}

A Few Tips If You're Having Trouble Letting Go

These are tips, not strategies... since I called this post "One More Strategy" :)

  • If you're having difficulty letting go of some sentimental items but you really don't have space to keep them, consider taking digital photographs of your items.  These pictures will bring out the same feelings as the actual items, but take up a lot less space.  You can even create a photo book of special items from a particular era of your life, or of items used by a special person.  Here's a great tutorial for creating a free digital scrapbook from my friend Sharon at Mom of 6.
  • Another tip that may make it easier to let go of some sentimental items is to think of another family member who would appreciate it.  Then the objects are staying in the family and the stories can be passed on to another generation.  This is especially great if it's something another person can use or has room to display.  
  • If you can't find a family member who is interested in your special things, perhaps you can find a friend.  Maybe someone you know collects vintage items and would like some of yours.  
  • *Note: please don't just pass your clutter onto someone else... check if they are interested in the items first and respect their wishes if they don't want them.  You can also give them permission to pass it on to someone else after awhile so they don't feel guilty if they no longer want to keep it.  
  • If you can't find homes for sentimental things you're letting go of, perhaps you can sell them and then donate the proceeds of the sale to a charity in memory of your loved one.  
  • If you're having difficulty deciding which items to keep and which to let go of, consider narrowing down your categories to 1 or 2 types of sentimental items.  For example, maybe you decide keeping inherited items is important but vacation souvenirs and kids' artwork are not as important.  This will be different for each person, but if you choose categories to keep, you can give yourself permission to let go of others.  

A Final Note To Encourage You

Decluttering sentimental items can be draining at times.  It will be liberating as well, especially as you let go of the past and start to see more hope for your present and future with less clutter in your home.

But during this process, be good to yourself!  Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Take breaks when you need to
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes and give yourself permission to stop after that or set it for another 30 minutes if you want to keep going
  • Work longer on "good days" and shorter on others
  • Go for a walk to clear your head if you're getting overwhelmed
  • Treat yourself to something special to reward your efforts

Keep your goals in mind throughout the process and remind yourself why you're doing this!

Don't Start Your Decluttering Journey With Sentimental Items

Just a quick reminder that if you have "regular" (non-sentimental) clutter in your home, it's better to deal with that first and set aside your sentimental clutter until your home is less cluttered.  Decluttering your everyday items will likely make more of an impact on your daily life than sentimental decluttering will.  And sentimental items are generally more difficult to tackle so it's better to build up to them.

Whether you're decluttering sentimental items or general clutter, 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.  You can find more details about the 365 Items in 365 Days challenge here too.

For More Decluttering Sentimental Items Tips

Want more tips?  Check these the 31 Days of Easy Decluttering series!

Or the Decluttering From A to Z series from last October!

If you'd like more decluttering ideas, you can check out my Decluttering/Purging Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.

Your turn!

Choose a memory bin that you can use for the sentimental items you want to keep but that you can't use or display.  Or if you know you'll be keeping a lot of special things, decide how many bins you will allow yourself to use.

Decide where you will store your memory bin(s).  Having this decided in advance will help you make better decisions and easier choices along the way.

As you declutter your sentimental items, take pictures and share them on social media using the hashtag #declutteringsentimentalitems so you can inspire all of us to declutter our sentimental items!

If you've got a picture of how you displayed or re-purposed your special things, please share it in the comments or on one of the series' social media posts.   I'd love to see how you are giving honour and respect to 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!