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PeterPan

Talk sense to me on decluttering, especially sentimental stuff...

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How do you decide to keep or get rid of stuff that might have a use or that is sentimental? The problem is, I have TOO MANY of the things that fit that category, lol. Like if it were just one thing, you'd go oh yeah fine, keep it. But why is EVERYTHING sentimental to me?? 

-clothes, like 18 years of them for dd and 10 for ds. Ok, so I keep quietly hoping to have another dc. That hasn't happened and I'm 42 1/2.

-baby blankets

-bigger blankets, like this adorable Winnie the Pooh afghan I bought when I was pregnant with dd. It's sweet, so do I keep it thinking dd will want it in a few years after college when maybe she has her own home? Or do I let it go? 

And there's more, but that's the bulky kind of stuff. It takes up room in our storage areas and some of it is spilling over and cluttering areas I'd like to have cleaner.

And what about toys? I LIKE my toys. We moved so much when I was a kid and didn't have much anyway. I'm almost like a hoarder with nice toys. I probably buy them just for me. I have games, playmobil, a toy kitchen, play food. Do I keep (my) toys? Do I keep the nice stuff and let go the scraggly stuff and weird stuff? Surely I can keep my toys, yes? I have plenty of room. It's just the scraggly stuff (skates, stray this and that).

Books, oh my. I collected probably 7k books homeschooling dd, and she READ them! Now ds comes along with a language disability and he can hardly read at all. I've started boxing them up, just to make room for the things I do with him. Sell them off? Save for dd? I mean, can you imagine? If I don't let stuff go, then some of these things will be quite old when/if dd has kids. Maybe keep FAVS and sell the rest? Like I could cull picture books and keep just the extra specials. When I started I thought things were classic and new was bad, but now I like all kinds of books. 

I think it's hard because I've ENJOYED these years with my kids and it's hard to let those things go. Have you let go things you REGRETTED? And what were you slow to let go that later you were like wow that could have gone long ago...

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Get a glory box for your dd and a "war chest" for your ds and toss any baby clothes and blankets that aren't good enough to go into one of them.

But really, you sound like you're not ready to let go of that stuff yet and don't have a particularly pressing reason for doing so, so I don't see why you should trouble yourself with it!

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For me, most of it has been by getting brutally logical. I can't pretend to have the space. 1100sf with 5 kids, 3 adult sized, and no attic or basement... There just isn't anywhere for it to go! Also, knowing a hoarder personally has helped to harden my heart, lol.

I do try to think about what items from my childhood were most important and what I maybe wish had been kept. Frankly, it's a short list. I have my favorite stuffed animal and some favorite books. Only a few trinkets here and there, and a bunch of photos. I would NOT have wanted my mom to hand me boxes of old stuff for ME to store forever. I have enough mixed feelings about her china.

For my kids, I have a stuffed animal or two, an extra special outfit or two, baby shoes, a blankey or two, and almost no toys. I should really start printing pictures for the four who are trapped on thumb drives and memory cards! Most regular toys and clothes "died" before they got to kid #5, anyway.

It may (or may not) be helpful to think about what your future adults might think about being handed a load of 4T clothing. What are the odds that that will make them happy or be useful?  My first two boys are 9 years apart. Going through hand me downs, half gets tossed because the styles are SO outdated. 20 or 30 years is a long time for anything other than a truly, deeply sentimental outfit that might be fun for a time hop type photo shoot or special occasion.

 

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I have gotten rid of over half of my belongings and helped others accomplish similar goals because it makes us happy. I don't see this making you happy and fear you would regret it.

If you insist on cleaning out I really enjoyed the Konmarie method and think that it woukd save you from regret. Look at summaries of The Life-changing Magic of Tyding Up to get a feel for the method and read Spark Joy.

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Keeping books make sense to me. Toys I am brutal with. If it's a classic and has *every single one* of its pieces then I keep it. But not anything else. You will want to buy new toys for your grandkids lol! Clothes are easy. I picked out my most favorite items from each size and am having them made into a quilt with squares cut out of the different fabrics. Then donate the rest.

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We moved 6yrs ago (after I had stopped homeschooling) and downsized to a smaller home last year.  So I've been getting rid of things for that long.   I don't have problems getting rid of clothes, blankets, or old toys.   I did struggle with a few homeschooling things and kept my phonic program.  That is the only thing that had sentimental value for me.   We kept our Brio train set, a box of children's books, and several favorite Ravengsburger puzzles for grandkids. 

I have had trouble letting go of our first marital bed.  It's still in storage!!  The kind ladies here gave me some great ideas on how to re-purpose it, which I hope to do next spring.  But, that baby is big and getting it here will require some work.  That's one of my goals over the Christmas break so we can get rid of the storage unit.

So far the only thing I've regretted getting rid of is our piano.  I have needed it several times in the last few months.  tt wasn't even for sentimental reasons.  However, at this point, we don't even have room for a small electric one.  

Edited by PrincessMommy
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When we moved this summer, I got rid of more than half of my books, I think. Having books has always been important to me, and all of my jobs were book-related, and all of my college degrees were in literature. I love books more than anyone I have ever met. Especially children's literature.

BUT I decided a couple of things.

1) My kids were not going to read them (also some reading LDs).

2) The paperback books I saved from my childhood have yellowed and aged, and were not really worth keeping. So it was time to get rid of those, and it taught me that it is not worth saving paperbacks that my kids own now, when they are done with them.

3) Anything I wanted to read, I could get from the library. I decided it was fine for books to live at the library and just come to visit me now and then.

4) I saved the books that had really special meaning to me (I still have three bookshelves' worth -- only what will fit onto my built-in shelves) and boxed up the rest. I did have the kids look through the giveaways to pick out anything they wanted. I think only one out of four of my kids wanted anything. They had no attachment to the books, so that told me it was not meaningful to save any of them for them.

5) I got rid of all homeschooling related items, but it took me a few years after we had finished homeschooling to be able to do it. It's hard to discard things that I invested so much of my time and money in, but I didn't need them any more. I consoled myself by saying that some other homeschooler would be unexpected blessed by them when finding them in the used bookstore.

6) I have favorite authors for myself, and I never buy their books -- I just get them from the library. I decided it wasn't worth $25 to read a book once and then have it sit on a shelf forever. So now I only buy books that I will use for some purpose. I will still buy books for my children for gifts if there is something that they want.

I don't regret any of the choices. When/if I have grandchildren, I will be happy to be the book grandma and spoil them by buying them new books.

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For toys, for now go ahead and get rid of the things that you don't use, don't like, or are not in good shape, and only keep what you and your son love. Just cut things down. You can make the rest of the decisions later. Maybe establish a time before Christmas each year (early in the fall, when you aren't busy with holiday prep yet), and reassess the toys. You will probably see things each year that you don't need any more.

You will probably reach a time when it will be obvious that you don't need or want to keep most toys any more. Now that all of my kids are 13 and up, they just don't play with them, so it was much easier to make the decision to get rid of things when we moved this time.

Most toys are not worth saving for future grandchildren, but there are some exceptions if you have good quality items that are sturdy and hold up well. For example, LEGO, Playmobile, wooden puzzles. Toy kitchen -- yes it if is a sturdy wooden set in good condition; no if it is plastic.

Blankets are a hard one for me, because many of the smaller blankets were gifts to my kids, and some were handmade by friends. I have kept them so far, but most are still used. The cute fleece ones with pictures printed on them (not handmade) generally get hard use and eventually start to fall apart around the edges. If you have blankets stored away and no one uses them, I'd say ask your kids if they want them; if no, then donate them and let another child benefit.

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When I say I don't regret giving any of it away, I mean that I don't miss it. I was actually hard to do, when I was going through things. But I'm glad I did it.

I'm actually accumulating more sentimental junk right now, because I've been helping my dad move, and I couldn't bear to part with some things. I did pack many things up to give away that reminded me of my mom, and it was hard and sad. But it was time for most of it to go. I did save the box of collectible Hummel plates and figurines, because both Mom and Grandma collected them, so they remind me of my childhood.

Letting sentimental items go can be really hard. Sometimes it helps to do it in stages and save some decisions for later. I did have a box of things that I set aside for myself at Dad's, and somehow it was donated anyway. I was sad for a moment but then realized that I couldn't even remember most of what I had put in there, so it doesn't matter anyway in the grand scheme of things.

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Are you my husband??  Honey???

OK, so I come from it from the complete opposite perspective bc I can get rid of 95% of "things" and not blink an eye, but my husband is the opposite, he has things from childhood (and we are middle age people now) that are very dear to him.

At first, I was just rolling my eyes at all his junk.  Then I read somewhere that "you" should take a picture of what you treasure bc memories should not equate to things.  But then....I thought....who the heck am I to tell him what should be important to him

So....we do have space to hold the "stuff", but he is slowly realizing that some if it truly needs to go.  But the key is, he is OK with that. 

You need to wait.  You need to be 100% OK with it.  It's OK to wait.  I am 99% sure that one day you will be fine getting rid of some stuff.  Just not today and that's OK!!

On a side note - my husband still remembers how his parents got rid of some of his toys and how upset he was, so he is waiting for the kids to grow up and let us know what we can get rid of.  Our kids are 7, 8 and 10!!!  But like I said, we do have the space and as much as I dislike   HATE clutter, I like  my husband much much more.

So.....relax and enjoy your stuff 🙂

 

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7 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Get a glory box for your dd and a "war chest" for your ds and toss any baby clothes and blankets that aren't good enough to go into one of them.

Yes, I have one for each! My dd snagged my ds' bin and used it for a project, so I need to get it back! 

7 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

But really, you sound like you're not ready to let go of that stuff yet and don't have a particularly pressing reason for doing so, so I don't see why you should trouble yourself with it!

You know, I hadn't thought about it this way.

1 hour ago, Slache said:

I have gotten rid of over half of my belongings and helped others accomplish similar goals because it makes us happy. I don't see this making you happy and fear you would regret it.

I'm pairing this with Rosie's comment, because you're right.  I think there's an amount I need to declutter that would make me happy (making things easier to put away, a %, like 10-15%) and an amount that would be unnecessarily brutal. I have the space to have things and enjoy having them. But even space runs out and then it's just cluttery and overwhelming. Like play blankets. It's ok for us to have play blankets, but maybe we need to prune them down a *bit*. But I think you're right that going extreme isn't what I need to do right now, which is why my brain wasn't getting there. I was thinking too like all the way or not at all, and just a dab would be enough.

1 hour ago, Carrie12345 said:

I do try to think about what items from my childhood were most important and what I maybe wish had been kept. Frankly, it's a short list. I have my favorite stuffed animal and some favorite books. Only a few trinkets here and there, and a bunch of photos. I would NOT have wanted my mom to hand me boxes of old stuff for ME to store forever. I have enough mixed feelings about her china.

For my kids, I have a stuffed animal or two, an extra special outfit or two, baby shoes, a blankey or two, and almost no toys. I should really start printing pictures for the four who are trapped on thumb drives and memory cards! Most regular toys and clothes "died" before they got to kid #5, anyway.

This was immensely helpful. 

 

1 hour ago, Slache said:

If you insist on cleaning out I really enjoyed the Konmarie method and think that it woukd save you from regret. Look at summaries of The Life-changing Magic of Tyding Up to get a feel for the method and read Spark Joy.

I will go look those up! I read about decluttering 15 years ago, haha but apparently I should do it again.

1 hour ago, Momto5inIN said:

You will want to buy new toys for your grandkids lol!

Good point!!

1 hour ago, PrincessMommy said:

a box of children's books

Such a good point. 

 

1 hour ago, PrincessMommy said:

I have had trouble letting go of our first marital bed.

Haha, we have a piece of furniture like that too! It's a roll top desk, and would ANYONE want to use such a thing anymore? LOL It was from dh's parents when he was a teen, so it's sentimental. He hasn't used it for 20 years, so why do we have it? LOL We have a storage room in the basement, and it just sits there, taking up space. I don't know if it could be repurposed, hmm. Would ds use it as a teen? If he's not going to use it, then why keep it? It's definitely from a bygone era, that's for sure, with the pigeon holes and limited desk space.

43 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

They had no attachment to the books, so that told me it was not meaningful to save any of them for them.

This is the brutal, hard truth, sigh. There are books dd will have attachment to, but ds has attachment to almost NO books. He has some scaled models books he references and might feel attached to. He's really a digital book kinda guy.

45 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

I don't regret any of the choices. When/if I have grandchildren, I will be happy to be the book grandma and spoil them by buying them new books.

Yup, I think I'm going to think in terms of this, that letting it go is giving us room to spoil all over again. :biggrin:

35 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

Maybe establish a time before Christmas each year (early in the fall, when you aren't busy with holiday prep yet), and reassess the toys.

:blush: We used to do that, and then we moved from our teeny tiny house to a bigger house and it wasn't so essential. And then we doubled everything by changing genders and styles. We didn't *have* to declutter, so we didn't. But now we need to. So we will. I can do this, I can do this. :biggrin:

36 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

donate them and let another child benefit.

Yeah, that's what I'm realizing, that I have things that are nice and have life left in them and that I need to just donate, sell, something and move on. I'm going to try to learn the selling wall thing on social media, but I'm a little antsy about it. We'll see how that goes. It may be more trouble than it's worth.

29 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

I did have a box of things that I set aside for myself at Dad's, and somehow it was donated anyway. I was sad for a moment but then realized that I couldn't even remember most of what I had put in there, so it doesn't matter anyway in the grand scheme of things.

Yeah, that's how it is. I could do that myself, just boxing up some of the things I'm unsure of and seeing if I remember them a few months later to care. I think I'm getting just to a point where I could forget about them and move on if I wasn't reminded. But if I see them, then I have those memories. But if they were gone, it wouldn't make me sad. It's only having them that makes me sad. Ok, that's dumb. So I keep something sentimental because it makes me SAD about a stage that has passed. That's DUMB.

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my big thing is to realize that that stuff could bring a lot of joy to someone right now, who would use it and appreciate it, versus sitting in boxes never being used. And that gets me to donate most of it. Keep the favorites, and let the rest bless someone else. 

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15 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

Are you my husband??  Honey???

Yup. :biggrin:

16 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

So....we do have space to hold the "stuff", but he is slowly realizing that some if it truly needs to go. 

I think that's what I'll do. I just hadn't thought of it for sentimental stuff. I had done it with useful stuff, like say kitchen goods or old clothes. What I've found on those things is that I *like* buying new. We usually have the money and there's new, pretty stuff out there. And now I'm actually perverse about it, that I'm holding onto sentimental stuff that makes me SAD rather than sentimental stuff that makes me HAPPY. 

18 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

my husband still remembers how his parents got rid of some of his toys

Yup. I'm a little worried that my dd will take on too much of the stuff she saved (stuff from MIL's house, etc.), but I think it would be almost traumatic to just summarily toss it. There's something comforting about continuity and having your stuff around.

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3 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

my big thing is to realize that that stuff could bring a lot of joy to someone right now, who would use it and appreciate it, versus sitting in boxes never being used. And that gets me to donate most of it. Keep the favorites, and let the rest bless someone else. 

Yup, I haven't thought of it that way because I was always thinking gotta keep it for this or that. Now I'm realizing it's ok to change that. :biggrin:

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Ok, so my plan is to do it room by room, not concept by concept, and do it the 10% that would make the room functional. Toss anything that makes me SAD or wistful and be generous with rehoming things that have plenty of use and brutal tossing things that are spent.

Like old towels. I've been married 20+ years, so I bought new towels. What do you do with the OLD towels? They could work as rags, but I end up with too many rags! So for real, I was trying to clean out an old bedroom to turn it into a sensory room for ds, and there was a pile of those old towels. Now they're sitting in the hall, glaring at me.

So I think decluttering just to get it functional could work for me. Like it's not brutal but just goal-driven for a goal I have for that space. It will keep me out of trouble this winter, hehe.

Edited by PeterPan
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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, so my plan is to do it room by room, not concept by concept, and do it the 10% that would make the room functional. Toss anything that makes me SAD or wistful and be generous with rehoming things that have plenty of use and brutal tossing things that are spent.

Like old towels. I've been married 20+ years, so I bought new towels. What do you do with the OLD towels? They could work as rags, but I end up with too many rags! So for real, I was trying to clean out an old bedroom to turn it into a sensory room for ds, and there was a pile of those old towels. Now they're sitting in the hall, glaring at me.

So I think decluttering just to get it functional could work for me. Like it's not brutal but just goal-driven for a goal I have for that space. It will keep me out of trouble this winter, hehe.

Donate them to an animal shelter! They always always need towels! They use them for bedding for the animals, for drying wet animals, etc. 

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I also had this epiphany that I could clean toward a view of "how would I want this to look and be decluttered if I were having another one or a gdc?" I was thinking I had to keep things, but actually I realized that if were pregnant I would probably get BRUTAL, lol. And, like y'all said, if it were a gdc I would pare it down and go to favs. So I will pretend I'm pregnant (without any of the hassles or swollen feet) and see how far that gets me. :biggrin:

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2 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Donate them to an animal shelter! They always always need towels! They use them for bedding for the animals, for drying wet animals, etc. 

Are you for real? That would make me SO happy! 

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2 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Are you for real? That would make me SO happy! 

Absolutely! And they get only the really really really raggedy ones with holes, so they'd be thrilled to have worn but intact ones!!! 

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I found it easy to part with stuff whenever I could re-home it to people who needed the things. Give kids' clothes and toys and homeschool books to families than can use them now. There is no point in having those sit in storage for the hypothetical unborn sibling. Bless a family that has need.

Donate everything for which you can't find a specific recipient. Don't spend too much time trying to find the perfect recipients for your items. I post in the local homeschool group and a local homeschool resale group, and curriculum in the WTM fb group. Anything not taken goes to the thrift store that benefits a local charity (which I prefer to salvation army)

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1 hour ago, Slache said:

If you insist on cleaning out I really enjoyed the Konmarie method and think that it woukd save you from regret. Look at summaries of The Life-changing Magic of Tyding Up to get a feel for the method and read Spark Joy.

I second Konmarie. I did it over the summer, and it changed my attitude towards possessions. Selecting what to keep instead of weeding out what to toss is the game changer.

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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

Selecting what to keep instead of weeding out what to toss is the game changer.

Yup, I think that's what was clicking in my mind with my room realization. I took everything out of the room, so the only question was what to keep, what actually functions in there and contributes and would be enjoyed. Everything else needed to GO. And you're right, I could probably extend that to a few more rooms, lol.

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19 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Yup. :biggrin:

I think that's what I'll do. I just hadn't thought of it for sentimental stuff. I had done it with useful stuff, like say kitchen goods or old clothes. What I've found on those things is that I *like* buying new. We usually have the money and there's new, pretty stuff out there. And now I'm actually perverse about it, that I'm holding onto sentimental stuff that makes me SAD rather than sentimental stuff that makes me HAPPY. 

Yup. I'm a little worried that my dd will take on too much of the stuff she saved (stuff from MIL's house, etc.), but I think it would be almost traumatic to just summarily toss it. There's something comforting about continuity and having your stuff around.

 

See, to me, it is a completely foreign feeling.  May be it's my personality, may be it's bc my family came to US when I was a teenager and we brought next to nothing with us.  I literally have just one book from my childhood and that's it.  But I don't miss anything!!

But my husband loves his "stuff".  It brings him comfort and joy, so...

As long as you promise that we won't see you on the next episode of Hoarders 🙂, I think you should go with whatever brings you joy!

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21 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Yup. I'm a little worried that my dd will take on too much of the stuff she saved (stuff from MIL's house, etc.), but I think it would be almost traumatic to just summarily toss it. There's something comforting about continuity and having your stuff around.

I would be careful about things you know your daughter wants. It takes a little life experience and some time settling in to know what you want and don't want (and sometimes to know if you'll live close enough geographically to even get the stuff from point A to B). But to feel like, "If I had my own house, I could keep this" makes a person panicky. We still have stuff from relatives who passed, and while some of it is just utilitarian, it gave us options when we were setting up house, broke, and looking at funding additional education. Your DD is probably very different from you in how she decides--I would be careful of her feelings in this regard. If she feels like she can make decisions without pressure, she might surprise you with what she'll let go. 

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3 minutes ago, kbutton said:

If she feels like she can make decisions without pressure, she might surprise you with what she'll let go. 

I like that! That's a good point!

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I think you are spot on about some of your books becoming dated--I would try to pare down a bit in that department if you can make sense of how to do it. I try to think realistically about how the item will be used--if I have all the books for a specific topic, I tend to keep them until it's clear they will be used or not. If I have a one-off orphaned book, I figure I can get something comparable at the library later. Once I am finished though, science-y books tend to be culled because they get dated faster. We have some co-op/homeschool hybrids around here, and some of them will take donations or even buy books like this for their libraries. That helps me get rid of books more easily.

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2 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

For me, most of it has been by getting brutally logical. I can't pretend to have the space. 1100sf with 5 kids, 3 adult sized, and no attic or basement... There just isn't anywhere for it to go! Also, knowing a hoarder personally has helped to harden my heart, lol.

I do try to think about what items from my childhood were most important and what I maybe wish had been kept. Frankly, it's a short list. I have my favorite stuffed animal and some favorite books. Only a few trinkets here and there, and a bunch of photos. I would NOT have wanted my mom to hand me boxes of old stuff for ME to store forever. I have enough mixed feelings about her china.

For my kids, I have a stuffed animal or two, an extra special outfit or two, baby shoes, a blankey or two, and almost no toys. I should really start printing pictures for the four who are trapped on thumb drives and memory cards! Most regular toys and clothes "died" before they got to kid #5, anyway.

It may (or may not) be helpful to think about what your future adults might think about being handed a load of 4T clothing. What are the odds that that will make them happy or be useful?  My first two boys are 9 years apart. Going through hand me downs, half gets tossed because the styles are SO outdated. 20 or 30 years is a long time for anything other than a truly, deeply sentimental outfit that might be fun for a time hop type photo shoot or special occasion.

 

Yup.  I have one drawer for small trinkets and paper keepsakes for me, and each of my kids has a personal four drawer file cabinet for personal, non-communal possessions. If they don’t want to keep it or it won’t fit in there, a picture gets taken (MAYBE, like it has to be super important) and it gets tossed.

 

Kids’ books are the hardest thing for me to declutter, but I only keep those if a) there is a good chance another child or grandchild will read them and they are classic or excellent or b) I know I’m going to loan it out or sell it at some point.

 

Now, I’m NOT very sentimental.  Hardly at all.  But maybe that’s the perspective you need - life doesn’t end and you don’t love your kids less for not keeping every scrap of crap they ever touched and loved.  Memories can be maintained without the weight of the physical baggage to constantly remind you 🙂

 

And no, I’ve regretted letting go of almost nothing.  I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, mine or the kids, that I wish I’d kept.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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55 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, so my plan is to do it room by room, not concept by concept, and do it the 10% that would make the room functional. Toss anything that makes me SAD or wistful and be generous with rehoming things that have plenty of use and brutal tossing things that are spent.

Like old towels. I've been married 20+ years, so I bought new towels. What do you do with the OLD towels? They could work as rags, but I end up with too many rags! So for real, I was trying to clean out an old bedroom to turn it into a sensory room for ds, and there was a pile of those old towels. Now they're sitting in the hall, glaring at me.

So I think decluttering just to get it functional could work for me. Like it's not brutal but just goal-driven for a goal I have for that space. It will keep me out of trouble this winter, hehe.

I use old towels as "floor" towels instead of paper towels to wipe up spills like water, juice, etc.  I also use old towels for our new dog.  My husband uses old towels for "garage" things.  But in our house we can never have too many rags.  We have too many messes to clean up.  LOL

If you  want to get them out of the house completely, I heard that pet places always need them.

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You will regret letting ‘something’ go.  Get over this inevitability. A regret or two stacked up against glorious, valuable, uncluttered square footage is no big deal. If you just want these things to jog memories, photograph it all then rehome it. 

You won’t regret how your home looks and feels without the extraneous, outgrown stuff. Create one bin for yourself. Let each child create one and unload the rest. This is about your own head, not the things your storing. 

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One thing I have done when I was decluttering but not quite ready to let go of things was to box it up for storage. Then the next time I decluttered I went through it again. Especially with my kids clothes by that second decluttering I was able to realize that even if we had another kid the clothing would be out of style, possibly the wrong season, etc. I could then pass on or donate items with less regret. 

 

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DH and I did KonMari over the summer, and now I find it so much easier to let go of things. We radically decluttered the house over the summer (now our only clutter is kid stuff, which is less than it used to be, and one or two small storage spaces that we haven't gotten around to yet). And you know, nothing terrible happened. It was just stuff. I can count my regrets on one hand, and they're all small things.

The cool thing about the method is that you start with easily replaceable things and work your way up to the difficult-to-replace or irreplaceable things. That gives you a lot of time to hone your "does it spark joy" skill.

Something I had to keep reminding myself of, as I got to the sentimental things (I have lots of crafty relatives), was that I was not throwing away my relative. And the thing I was throwing away was not being used or loved. It had already done its job,, and I was grateful to have had it and enjoyed it, and now it was time for it to move on. Also, once I got all the sentimental things in one space (my closet), it started feeling really ridiculous to have my extremely personal space be this weird homage to every aunt who's ever crafted something, or brought back a trinket from somewhere interesting.

There's no need to do it right away, though. DH and I found that the desire to get tidy welled up in us. There was a definite point in time where we just had to read the book, and had to tidy up, all at once. I think the author would agree to let that moment come to you, don't force it.

My mom and MIL saved a ton of childhood things. Our experience has been that most things didn't keep well over the years. Plastic degrades, paperbacks get yellowed, clothing that was clean when it was packed away slowly starts to reveal every stain. Styles change. Those things just cluttered up our house. In the end DH saved/gifted to the kids his rock collection, Pokemon cards, and a wooden box of marbles, out of crates and crates of childhood stuff. I kept a small tote of childhood things. Oh, and a couple of blankets, but those are in regular use, not packed away waiting for someday.

 

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8 minutes ago, lavender's green said:

The cool thing about the method is that you start with easily replaceable things and work your way up to the difficult-to-replace or irreplaceable things. That gives you a lot of time to hone your "does it spark joy" skill.

Ooo, that's an important distinction. I think that's some of what i'm realizing, that there are sentimental things I've held onto that are easily replaceable, things I'd like just as well in a new form if the need arose again.

9 minutes ago, lavender's green said:

as I got to the sentimental things (I have lots of crafty relatives), was that I was not throwing away my relative.

LOL true! 

10 minutes ago, lavender's green said:

Our experience has been that most things didn't keep well over the years.

And maybe because we *didn't* and couldn't keep much growing up, I didn't have the experience to realize that...

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1 hour ago, KungFuPanda said:

You will regret letting ‘something’ go.  Get over this inevitability.

Well there's a powerful thought! And it has happened when I decluttered and sold things in the past that I went oops. Those were more like financial oops rather than a sentimental oops. But you're right, if I just take the well I might screw it up but life goes on approach, that could get me a long way, lol. That's what I did with ds' bed. I needed to pick a size, so I just picked one and said if it's wrong oh well. It's fine, and who knows if I'll think it's fine in 5 years. But it's fine, lol. Like Lavender says, I won't have thrown away my CHILD, lol.

(Apologies to those with cremated loved ones who are worried about whether they should do xyz with them.)

Edited by PeterPan
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I think you got good advice. I'll add one more thought... For some things, like baby blankets, see if you can turn them into something new and useful, like a big quilt to send to college with a grown kid.

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1 hour ago, KungFuPanda said:

glorious, valuable, uncluttered square footage

I have a weird house, and with just the three of us sometimes it feels empty or like things aren't scaled right or aren't comfy. I think that's why we started keeping things. We were much more rabid on decluttering when we lived in our other house. But even then, I think the real issue is I'm not very good at picking furniture and making things seem cozy. It doesn't mean I should keep actual clutter.

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I think the hardest thing to dispose of when cleaning out my dad's house this month was my mom's wedding dress.

It had been professionally sealed inside the box for 54 years, and we decided we should open it to see it's condition. It wasn't terrible, but it was still yellowed somewhat along the bottom. DD16 tried it on, and we took a picture of her in it. No one wanted it. Not my girls. Not my SIL who is a seamstress and could have cut it up to make something. It was not made of any special fabric (Mom told me once that she bought the cheapest one that she liked). I thought we should give it to Good Will, but Dad said to put it in the trash. So I did.

Can't get more sentimental than a wedding dress. And it did cause a pang in the moment. But it was okay for us to let it go.

Edited by Storygirl
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5 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

Can't get more sentimental than a wedding dress. And it did cause a pang in the moment. But it was okay for us to let it go.

So true! And you're right, if I had a little girl again or a gdd, I'd chop it up and turn it into a play dress in a heartbeat! 

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I find it helpful to ask myself whether I want the thing or the space more, because clutter takes space, and space has value.

Also, FWIW, I hated the KonMari books but love the one about Swedish Death Cleaning, which is much gentler but still effective.

Also, just in general, I find that when something is out of sight for a while it often loses its ‘feel’ of being too precious to give up.  I know it’s not a popular view, but I think it’s reasonable to box things like that up and stash them in the garage for a while to let that sting fade before donating or tosssing them.  

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PS Something else to consider is whether it will have sentimental value to anyone else.

I have a marble figure that I”m going to offer a cousin and a sister, because it’s from my grandmother’s house.  I don’t feel the same need to keep it that I did when I rescued it years ago, but it might mean something special to them.

By the same token, although I would love to have my grandmother’s china, I know it would not mean anything to my DD because she doesn’t have the same memories that I do of Big Family Meals where it was always used.  And I have my own china which she similarly won’t have those kinds of memories of, because I haven’t hosted in a long time.  So if offered my grandmother’s china, I probably would take it, but I would also arrange to have it offered to another grandchild if I didn’t want it anymore.  And I’m going to give our china to my brother’s kids, because my brother has the same pattern and his kids grew up on it in a way that I failed to accomplish with my own.

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So every now and then, I get this weird thought, after having buried my own mother and my dh's father.

If I was hit by a bus tomorrow, what legacy do I leave my kids? Are they going to be burdened by all this sentimental stuff that means nothing to them? Will they look in my closets and groan? Although we spend plenty of time doing fun things, do I want them to be burdened by months of clearing away, hauling to the dump, organizing, and then the guilt when they get sick of it and jsut start randomly tossing mom's "treasures." 

My mom passed and was an only child. My dad brings me random boxes that he still unearths. I tossed all of her high school yearbooks. I have thrown away boxes of random objects from my grandparents homes. If I don't remember my mom using it and it's not easily identifiable as to why should I keep this? it's gone. 

My dh's father died. My dh brought home random buckets of nuts and bolts that had come from HIS grandfather. I expect that when my dh dies that my son will be left these random buckets of hardware...I pray I can get rid of those items at some point. 

Sometimes pain about decluttering means that I'm struggling with the passage of time and the closing of chapters in my life. Yes, my kids aren't little anymore, (my son turns 11 today! The youngest! Yikes) But big kids are fun too and there are more fun chapters in my life ahead. Despite how sweet the littles are, there are good things ahead in parenting. Remember that just because you hold on to those items, you still can't hold on to the stage that your kids are in. They WILL grow up, no matter how many onesies you have stashed in a closet. Putting off clearing out those baby clothes (that by now are evidencing spit up stains) won't change that a chapter is over. But the bigger story still goes on. Work toward Remembering the past with joy and happiness, but not sadness that the stage is over. Also, remember that we are given children, not only to make us parents, but to create new adults who will live joyous, selfless lives and reach out to others. Childhood is a special time, but (I hope) that when they are adults, the joy of knowing them and seeing the wonderful adults that they are will be sweet as well. My kids' childhoods are GREAT things, but not the ONLY thing.

Nowadays, I look at a certain relative's home that is stuffed with objects that are meaningful to her, but nobody is really going to want them and think...GOOD GRIEF that's coming our way! I continually remind my dh "There is absolutely nothing in this house that I want. My tastes are totally different and my house is already cluttered." I don't want my kids visiting me and thinking the same way. I hope to declutter significantly more as I get older so that they won't be so burdened with stuff when I get too old to take care of it.

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I'm still decluttering, but I feel good when I give to someone that I know will need it/use it or I see space appear in the house that was not there. I've got a maternity sweater that I held onto the past 4 years thinking, "what if I need it again? I don't know if I will find one like it." But now? I'm planning on giving to my friend that is a doula. Someone she will interact with will surely be able to use it. 

I do have a few baby blankets left, but I also got rid of some. The reason for keeping those is they were handmade gifts and I genuinely really like them. So, I am not in a huge hurry to part with them. I may toss in the car to cover up dd's legs this winter, even though we already have a blanket in the car lol. 

Toys. What are you planning to do with them? Does anyone use them or visit that will use them? Are you thinking of future grandchildren wanting them? I did manage to get rid of some of the kids' toys, but there are still several stuffed animals. At least most of them can live in the toy hammock. 

Will taking photos of the toys, etc. help you? 

I think the only time I sorta regretted getting rid of something was when I realized the place it was going to didn't have very good air control and I worried the items would just grow mold. I'm a little more picky about where I donate now. 

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13 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

So every now and then, I get this weird thought, after having buried my own mother and my dh's father.

If I was hit by a bus tomorrow, what legacy do I leave my kids? Are they going to be burdened by all this sentimental stuff that means nothing to them? Will they look in my closets and groan? Although we spend plenty of time doing fun things, do I want them to be burdened by months of clearing away, hauling to the dump, organizing, and then the guilt when they get sick of it and jsut start randomly tossing mom's "treasures." 

My mom passed and was an only child. My dad brings me random boxes that he still unearths. I tossed all of her high school yearbooks. I have thrown away boxes of random objects from my grandparents homes. If I don't remember my mom using it and it's not easily identifiable as to why should I keep this? it's gone. 

My dh's father died. My dh brought home random buckets of nuts and bolts that had come from HIS grandfather. I expect that when my dh dies that my son will be left these random buckets of hardware...I pray I can get rid of those items at some point. ...

Nowadays, I look at a certain relative's home that is stuffed with objects that are meaningful to her, but nobody is really going to want them and think...GOOD GRIEF that's coming our way! I continually remind my dh "There is absolutely nothing in this house that I want. My tastes are totally different and my house is already cluttered." I don't want my kids visiting me and thinking the same way. I hope to declutter significantly more as I get older so that they won't be so burdened with stuff when I get too old to take care of it.

This. One of the gifts I can give my children is to leave them unburdened by my possessions and to have put my affairs in order while I was capable of doing so.

My parents have a house full of stuff. Beautiful stuff. But I will have to clean it out and I am dreading it. 

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20 minutes ago, regentrude said:

This. One of the gifts I can give my children is to leave them unburdened by my possessions and to have put my affairs in order while I was capable of doing so.

My parents have a house full of stuff. Beautiful stuff. But I will have to clean it out and I am dreading it. 

 

Agree so much with this and the post by @fairfarmhand

We did a major downsize and move during ds’s senior year of college.  We are now in a 2 BR/2 BA condo across the street from the beach.  We love it!   We do have a 5 x 5 off-site storage unit.  We’ll see if we can ever do without that.  A 935 sq ft condo means there is not much storage for luggage and Christmas decor!  Plus, we are storing some of ds’s things as well. If we croaked tomorrow, ds would have to clear out our clothes, pantry and under our sinks.  He could easily sell our condo furnished - that’s how most are sold in our building. He can take our art if he wants it.  I will NEVER go back to having “stuff.”  My ONLY challenge is my fondness for clothing, but my tendency to over-buy is thankfully limited by our closet space. 

My parents died unexpectedly 30 years ago.  My mom was just old enough to have remembered the lean times of the Depression.  She held onto things like crazy, “just in case.” They lived in a 4,000 sq ft house.  It was filled to the brim. It was incredibly overwhelming and just plain HARD to deal with all that while grieving.  We did keep some furniture, (dh and I were not yet married, so we needed some things), but I kept FAR too many of their keepsakes solely because they were sentimental to HER.  Over the course of our marriage we bought larger homes and more of our own stuff.  Blech.  No more. 

I read and enjoyed the Konmarie book.  I also like the book and website (he has a FB page as well), “Becoming Minimialist” by Joshua Becker.  He has a new book coming out called “The Minimalist Home.”  I believe it’s going to be a room-by-room approach. 

Edited by Hoggirl
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Start with the kid clothes.  I washed everything that had been in storage, photographed it as a collection (by sizing) laid out on a white bedspread, and then donated the lot. I kept 1-2 highly sentimental outfits out of all of their clothing--you know of the hand sewn classic styling variety. 

We radically downsized 3 years ago, and have had mini-downsizes since then. The only thing I regret getting rid of was a rocking chair--and it wasn't so much that I regretted getting rid of *that* chair, it's that at some point, I'd love to have a rocker recliner again.

It is so freeing to my brain to not have to look at, think about, clean, or work around stuff.

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7 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

Sometimes pain about decluttering means that I'm struggling with the passage of time and the closing of chapters in my life.

Very beautifully put!

6 hours ago, Hoggirl said:

We are now in a 2 BR/2 BA condo across the street from the beach.  We love it!   ... I will NEVER go back to having “stuff.”

Love this!!

6 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I washed everything that had been in storage, photographed it as a collection (by sizing) laid out on a white bedspread, and then donated the lot.

Good tip! 

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6 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Start with the kid clothes.  I washed everything that had been in storage, photographed it as a collection (by sizing) laid out on a white bedspread, and then donated the lot.

I simplified even that. Any outfit my kids really loved is in dozens of pictures of the child wearing it. Any clothes not worn in a  photograph can't possibly have been anything they cared for.

Edited by regentrude
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3 minutes ago, regentrude said:

I simplified even that. Any outfit my kids really loved is in dozens of pictures of the child wearing it. Any clothes not worn in a  photograph can't possibly have been anything they cared for.

It documents it for tax purposes when you claim to have donated large amounts. 

It’s also nice if you are putting it up on a Facebook share page.

Not necessary, for sure, but not only done out of nostalgia... If it’s a barrier to donating, sure, skip that step....

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The only suggestion I have is that you document which books you donate -- I used not to do this and now I wish I knew what some of those books were. The tax system now strongly urges this anyway.

Edited by jboo
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Unless you're a real rat-pack, I'd say just get rid of stuff that feels easy to get rid of, for now.  Down the road, it'll feel much easier!  At least that's the case with me. Even 5 years ago I couldn't have de-cluttered, and now it's super easy.  I save two boxes for each child -- one with school/art work that is special, and the other with favorite childhood items:  a favorite stuffed animal or doll, their baby book, a couple special outfits.  I have a box of special momentos from my own childhood and another from my husband's, and a trunk with very special things my husband and I have collected throughout our marriage, and a large container of photo albums.   Then, I look for things the kids might want and send them text message photos.  After that, I begin getting rid of everything.  I sell on eBay and on community Facebook garage sale sites.  I sell through consignment stores, and I give lots of stuff away.  It feels great to give stuff away!  We're planning to move next summer to a place half the size of our current home.  We're planning to get a small storage unit, but otherwise will only keep what we can fit into our new space.

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I live with 2 pack rats. So, we have a lot of stuff. Most of it is not mine. Over the years, my DH has become more amenable to me disposing his stuff because we really are running out of space. In my DH's case, he had financial hardship in his early years and he remembers it well and tries to save stuff "just in case". He also shut down 2 of his businesses and all the stuff left over is in my house. 

I don't have the time or energy to purge and redecorate. So, someone gave me the idea of getting rid of 10 unwanted/unused things a day and that eventually, it will start making a big impact on the clutter. I have been loosely following this principle for a while now. I collect 10 items that we do not need and then dispose of them once a day. Some days, I forget to do it and then, I will quickly gather cardboard boxes or junk mail items or any expired food in the pantry etc to meet my decluttering target for the day! If I am decluttering clothes or toys, I put them all in a plastic bag and take it out to my car and leave it in the trunk. That way, the clutter will never come back into the house. I stop by goodwill or salvation army on my trips outside and drop the bags off. So far, I have cleaned out 200 sq ft of space from purging 10 items a day. I find that I don't get overly sentimental if I am getting rid of a few items at a time 🙂 

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