How to Declutter When You’re Sentimental
Marie Kondo famously said to only keep items in your home that spark joy, but when you are a sentimental person, everything seems to spark joy.
This is one of the main struggles when it comes to decluttering and organizing your home if you are a sentimental person.
I grew up with a very sentimental mother that literally kept anything and everything and attached sentiment to them all.
At first I thought it was sweet but soon enough I realised how impractical and unrealistic that was.
She would show me things I did in kindergarten, little letters, dried flowers and notes, old toys and literally everything, especially from me.
But that also started extending to things given to her by family members, little things and souvenirs but also furniture.
At some point it all felt a bit overwhelming and messy, and I remember feeling a little embarrassed as a teenager by the amount of things my mum was accumulating.
I think is sweet to keep sentimental things but where do you draw a line and separate sentiment to clutter?
All of your items have meaning behind them, a special memory they are tied to.
So, how can you declutter and get rid of items that might not serve a purpose, but hold special memories?
Here are some tips for decluttering when you are a sentimental person.
Why is it Sentimental?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is why are these items actually sentimental?
Because of what I experienced growing up I became a bit ruthless with my own things.
I am a sentimental person but I am also minimalist and I do not like clutter at all so I am very selective with the things I keep.
You might find that some items are sentimental simply because of the memory, while others are more about the item itself.
If it’s just for a memory, you can find another way to hold on to that specific memory without needing items in your home that you have no use for.
On the other hand, if the item itself is what is sentimental, that is when you might want to find a place for it.
Don’t Expect to Make All the Decisions at Once
With sentimental items, you won’t be able to make your decisions of what to do with them all at once.
You really want to go through phases, considering one item at a time, and then revisit the others at a later time.
Maybe for now, you have decided to keep something your grandmother gave you, even though you will never use it.
But in a few months, you have another idea of how to reuse it or you have found someone you want to give it to.
Are Your Gifts Really That Sentimental?
A very common problem people have when it comes to decluttering and organizing is feeling guilty about gifts.
You don’t have to hold on to a gift for the rest of your life just because someone bought it for you or made it for you.
Choose which gifts you will keep based on their value and memories, and which ones it’s okay to part with.
Keep Just One
This is a good rule of thumb you can follow with sentimental items you have more than one of.
Maybe in your childhood, there was a specific type of stuffed animal you really loved, and it brings back a lot of memories.
But you ended up getting 3 or 4 of the same stuffed animal. You don’t need to keep all 4 of them. Keep 1, and give away the rest or donate them.
You may have items that you collected more than one of because they meant something to you, but realize you don’t need all of them.
You can give the others away to someone who would also find meaning to them, sell them, or donate them.
Repurpose Sentimental Items You Can’t Part With Completely
For the sentimental items you can’t part with, but are struggling to find a use for, consider repurposing them instead.
Maybe you have been saving all the baby clothes from your kids, but now that they’re adults, you don’t know what to do with them.
Aside from giving them to your kids for their own babies one day, you could create a blanket or quilt with the clothes.
Take Pictures and Make a Photo Album or Scrapbook
This is a good alternative when items from your childhood are ones that come with special memories, and you want to keep the memories, without keeping the stuff.
I love this idea and Anna is great at doing that. She has 4 kids and they bring a lot of work they do in school, so she decided to take pictures of them and display on a digital frame she has and I stole that idea.
This way you can see their little work all the time, it is displayed so they are also reminded of that memory but the clutter of keeping the physical work is non existent.
For items you know you can no longer store in your home or storage unit, but want to remember, you can take pictures of them and create photo albums or scrapbook to share with others or just look at yourself to bring up those special memories.
Anna is a Wales-based writer and graduate from SOAS University of London.
As the voice behind On Your Journey, she empowers women to embrace holistic well-being and spiritual growth through her expert insights into wellness and symbolism.
When she isn't writing thought-provoking articles, you'll find her busy crafting and raising her 4 children.