My sister and I were talking about all of the advice on how to declutter your home, and how popular storage ideas are. Why is there a television show on hoarding? We came to the conclusion that most people just have too much stuff! Why is it that we have such a hard time letting go of clutter?
1. Sentimental Reasons
This is my biggest reason for keeping too much stuff. I have boxes of school papers from my sons’ childhood. I have books and clothes that were gifts, and I don’t have the heart to part with them. I still have the last gift my grandmother gave me before she passed away, a sweater, and that was over two decades ago. I’m sure I will always have it, even though I don’t wear it anymore.
It is difficult to get rid of family photos, or any photos for that matter. They are a part of your life, frozen in time. Maybe your mother or grandmother had albums full of family members from a couple of generations ago. I have inherited photos from my mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmother. They are priceless to me.
3. Family Belongings
My mother and dad inherited a dining room set that had belonged to my paternal grandparents. My mother never really like it, but it was meaningful to my father. After my dad passed away, she kept it for a couple of years. Finally, my sister talked her into selling it. She did, and never regretted it. In fact, she was glad to be rid of it and decorate with something she liked.
Those are just a few reasons we hold on to extra stuff. What can we do about it?
First of all, I think we really need to decide how important the item is to us. There are some things we will never get rid of, and that’s perfectly fine. I’ll never part with our family photo albums, but I’ll keep them well-organized and stored. Yet there are plenty of papers, books, clothes, dishes, and so on that we can clear out.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Is it possible to keep a sample of the collection? For example, instead of keeping a whole bin of your child’s first grade year in school, could you keep some of the most precious keepsakes?
- If you are overloaded with photos, maybe you could go more digital. Your current pictures are probably already digital. But photographs from decades ago aren’t. I am in the middle of a scanning project with our old albums. It is time-consuming, but I know they will be protected in an online photo site. Even if you don’t have too many pictures from your ancestors, it still is a good idea to scan and save them. You won’t have to worry about them fading anymore, or be concerned about destruction.
- If you are keeping items out of sentimental reasons, you might again consider keeping a sampling of those items. For example, maybe your grandmother left you all of her pots and pans, but you have your own that you like better. Why don’t you keep one of them? Keep it in a cabinet where it can be seen and put a picture of her inside it? Maybe even write a sentence or two about your memories of her cooking.
Letting go of clutter in your home is not an easy job. If emotions weren’t involved it would be much simpler. Decide what is important to keep and what isn’t. Then donate the extra items to a place that helps people who need those things.