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Will I regret (decluttering ?)

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I am cleaning out our basement.  I have a couple of boxes of old letters from my childhood - family and pen pals, that I have been toting around for decades and have never looked through them, my kids aren’t interested in looking through them, will I regret tossing them?

what about all the school projects my kids did?  They want me to toss them, at least now they do

old toys and books in good condition? Hoping they will sell at a yard sale so I don’t have to just donate them (American Girl, LEGO’s, play mobile, etc)

Have you regretted anything you decluttered?

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I'm keeping certain books and toys that are classic and I know I'll want for future grandchildren. Otherwise, I've gotten rid of all toys and books (donated or thrown out because of a cat who urinated on it). I don't have much from my childhood, but the little I do have I only glace at when I'm trying to clean up and declutter. I haven't had the motivation to get rid of them yet. So far, no regrets at all, and my big purge was almost 10 years ago. 

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Old letters:  if i haven’t looked at them in years, I’d toss them.

School Projects:  Take pictures of them and toss.  If there is one or two that is really special, I might save that.

Toys:  I saved the best toys:  legos, a few puzzles, blocks, Am. Girl dolls, and a few others.  My grandchildren are enjoying them now and that makes me very happy.

Anne

 

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I'd read through the letters and discard any that truly don't mean anything to you.  However, I'd keep a letter from each family member, just to have a keepsake of their handwriting.  I discarded many letters in my 20's, including letters from my grandparents, and they died soon after.  I do regret not keeping some of their letters, as well as letters from my mom, who died when I was in my 30's.   

You could take photos of the school projects, if you want to remember them without keeping them.  

As for Legos, Playmobile, and AG dolls/clothing, those are among the things I am keeping for the grandkids.  If my dc don't want to take them to their homes for their dc, the grandkids can play with them here.  They don't take up much space, so I'm not concerned even if they never play with them.

Books?  Again, I'm saving the best for when the grandkids come to visit every week on Grandma Day (yes, I've been telling my dc about Grandma Day since they were little - I hope they've been paying attention).  Our public library system purges books that haven't been checked out for three years, so that means lots of quality literature is no longer available there.  They'll be able to find it at my house, instead.   :laugh:

 

 

 

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Every once in a while I’ll think of something I wish I had kept. However the majority of the time I’m happy to have some empty space that makes it easier to clean and just think. 

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Scan what you can. That way it’s never totally gone. 

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My bar for getting rid of things is that I’m much less likely to throw away irreplaceable personal things. So, letters someone wrote, cards, a Christening gown that was used for myself and all my siblings, etc. I keep these things even if my level of caring about them is very low, because I can’t get back the Christening gown or a letter someone wrote me long ago. I have, in fact, tossed old letters and regretted it, though I don’t sit around thinking about it. If I could go back in time, though, those letters weren’t hurting anything and took up a small, small amount of space; I would now keep them. 

When my dd was going off to college, we went through all her keepsake stuff. There was a lot of stuff she didn’t care about keeping, like newspaper articles she was mentioned in or awards she won at the fair. I followed her lead on that. But there were a couple things she would have thrown away, but I kept them and was glad I did. Notably, homeschool yearbooks which included pictures of her now-boyfriend when he was so young. 

Stuff like nice but old toys or curriculum, I don’t keep indefinitely. Or I keep a few representative pieces but give the rest to someone who needs and can use them. I have given away playmobile, building sets, wooden trains and so many Melissa & Doug puzzles. I did keep some, too. With the trains, I kept just enough to make a simple oval track and a few favorite guys like Thomas, Percy, et al. It’s enough that a grandkid or visiting kid could play with it, but the majority went to someone who needed it for her little kid right now. 

If I’m really struggling over letting go of something meaningful (my wedding gown is a good example), I just don’t do it. (Of course, I realize I have the luxury of space where stuff can be while I put off the task; this isn’t true for everyone.) 

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My brother left a bunch of my mother's stuff at his house when he and his ex separated.  yes - I regret she tossed my mom's wedding album and a scrapbook.  I should have taken the time to wade through their garage when I was getting my mom's stuff - but it was akin to a storage unit with boxes everywhere.  (they didnt' park in their garage.)  All of my dad's photography/slides got tossed too. - those were family pictures, vacation pictures, camera club..... I want to cry.

letters I would keep.  It's personal/family history that's been documented in a more personal manner.  I really miss those items.  as for school stuff - I save really significant things, not everything.  I have my father's university diploma, as well as some awards he received.   Since he died when I was 12, it gives me a connection.

My aunt gave me my paternal grandmother's nursing pins (from 1928).  I held onto them for years wondering what I would do with them, but not able to get rid of them.  To me, they're a big deal.  I had planned to go into nursing, but it didn't happen.  However, my niece earned her BSN, and then posted pictures of being "pinned".   I thought - aha!.  I gave her *her* great-grandmother's graduation photo from nursing school - and her nursing pins.  My niece considers it one of the most precious gifts she's ever received.   (I took A LOT of pictures of the pins first.)

 

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Like the others have said, purging is great for you and your home.  But I would keep at least a couple of the letters from people that mean something to you even today.  My sister passed away almost three years ago and I am grateful I did keep a couple of the birthday and other cards she sent in her last years.  Usually I chuck them.  Now that my parents both have cancer and I know they won't be around much longer I'm keeping their notes to me (voice mails and snail mail).  I didn't keep many of sister's emails and I don't think I have any of her voice mails on my old phones and it makes me sad.

Edited by YaelAldrich
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Oh, and I lost almost everything in Hurricane Katrina. I only regret leaving almost all my jewelry, my very special stuffed bear from my childhood, my letters from my best friend, and a Korean dress that my mother got me.  Everything I could have cared less about in the greater scheme of life.

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No.

Sometimes you might have a twinge - did I really get rid of those old boots which would now go with this new outfit ? - but you'll be fine.

Decluttering is good for the soul.

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My parents regretted giving away the Legos and Playmobil to acquaintances. They wish they kept them for my kids. 

I kept my middle school and high school autograph book and was glad I did because I couldn’t remember all my ex-schoolmate names and I needed their formal/official names to locate them on Facebook.

DS14 is interested in my childhood photos and childhood soft toys. 

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I just went through my dad's home of 50+ years.  We took what my dad really loved to his new place.  I only kept a few very special items and my sister did the same.   I got rid of my old metal play oven, dishes, old baby dolls (some were not in good shape - the plastic was sticky), etc.  For me, I cared most about the pictures and I have all those at my house to sort through later.

After my boys went through that experience and helped me go through all the "stuff", they are more willing to get rid of their stuff as we go.  We are keeping for now all their Legos (in their boxes with instructions and all pieces), the GeoTrax train set (for their kids/my grandkids), their Thomas trains (we just had the metal magnetic ones), and one box of their baby stuff.  I have a Batman Imaginext set with a bunch of pieces DS is deciding on keeping or going.  We have the room to store all this stuff comfortably or they would have to pare down some more.  If your kids are ready to part with stuff, I would respect their wishes.

After cleaning out my dad's home, I am working on mine.  For me, I think about what I would want to take with me if I knew I had to evacuate my home.  That would be pictures (including my external hard drives with all my digital pics on them), my wedding ring set, my mom's wedding ring, and my camera equipment.  Not sure what my DH would take.  My boys would take a few stuffed animals, their desktops (LOL), and their iPads.

Anyway, it was very hard for me to clean out my dad's home, especially since my mom had died in 2001 and a lot of the pretty stuff was hers.  This was also my childhood home.  So far, I don't regret getting rid of anything from there and I got rid of A LOT.  I spent hours of my life dealing with all the "stuff."  It was very eye opening for me and it isn't something I want my boys to deal with when the time comes.

 

  

 

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6 hours ago, klmama said:

I'd read through the letters and discard any that truly don't mean anything to you.  However, I'd keep a letter from each family member, just to have a keepsake of their handwriting.  I discarded many letters in my 20's, including letters from my grandparents, and they died soon after.  I do regret not keeping some of their letters, as well as letters from my mom, who died when I was in my 30's.   

You could take photos of the school projects, if you want to remember them without keeping them.  

 

Doing these two steps really helps!

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7 minutes ago, mlktwins said:

If your kids are ready to part with stuff, I would respect their wishes.

Yes, but keep in mind that they are young and may change their minds.  One of my adult dc was ready to chuck all childhood items upon moving to college.  I saved books I thought that dc or the younger dc might have a use for and some things that had been precious to dc in earlier years - special collections, interesting things I thought either my youngest dc or oldest dc's own kids might find interesting someday.   We're talking about 3-4 plastic shoeboxes, nothing huge. Dc was home once and saw them in the storage closet, looked through them, and gave me a big hug to thank me for rescuing those important parts of dc's childhood from the trash.  Sometimes keeping a link to the past is important, even if it takes up a little space. 

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4 hours ago, Arcadia said:

My parents regretted giving away the Legos and Playmobil to acquaintances. They wish they kept them for my kids. 

I kept my middle school and high school autograph book and was glad I did because I couldn’t remember all my ex-schoolmate names and I needed their formal/official names to locate them on Facebook.

DS14 is interested in my childhood photos and childhood soft toys. 

 

I kept the LEGO, and do wish I’d kept the playmobil! But those are the only toys I’m saving for the grandkids. 

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I kept a few things, like letters from our long-distance courtship, my own journals and lots of photos. I kept dd's sketchbooks and history timelines and notebooks, and some homemade cards.  No math worksheets or those types of things. I threw away any cards that were not personalized with a special note (my dad writes a little poem from time to time, or draws a funny figure). 

For me, part of keeping is to have a record of the past so it is not subject to "rewriting." Because we have a history of trauma in our family and members are sometimes in therapy, it is helpful in presenting nearly-unbiased history. I also want to be known and remembered. 

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I recently decluttered before our move, and there are only a few things I regretted giving away.  Mostly, it feels sooo good.

I let my kids go through their own toys.  They each kept a few special toys -- a favorite stuffed animal, a doll, maybe a special collection they had.  Not more then one box each.  Unfortunately, none of them are in homes yet that can hold anything extra -- they're all in small apartments, so their boxes are still in my storage room.  🙂  I also kept a small box with things of theirs that are special to me that I want them to have someday:  things like their baby books, their first outfits coming home from the hospital, their baptismal certificates, their silver baby feeding spoons that had their names engraved on them (thanks to Gerber baby food jar labels!).

I kept two toy collections that my kids spent probably thousands of hours playing with, that I'll have for my grandchildren to play with someday.  (Duplos being one, and a little plastic people collection.)

I, too, have boxes of I think every letter I ever received before the internet came into style.  I haven't been through those yet since they're at my parents' home in triple-sealed boxes!  haha  I'm pretty sure I'll want to throw most if not all of them away, BEFORE anyone else reads them.

I've kept a few of my kids' favorite school projects and first childhood drawings, etc., for now.  They might get a kick out of them someday, or else they can toss them.  They don't take up much room;  I eliminated most.

I only kept books that are very important to me or that I refer to a lot, plus a few favorite children's books.  My kids picked the books that they wanted to keep for their own collection, and they mostly have those with them.  I donated all the rest.  

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13 hours ago, klmama said:

Yes, but keep in mind that they are young and may change their minds.  One of my adult dc was ready to chuck all childhood items upon moving to college.  I saved books I thought that dc or the younger dc might have a use for and some things that had been precious to dc in earlier years - special collections, interesting things I thought either my youngest dc or oldest dc's own kids might find interesting someday.   We're talking about 3-4 plastic shoeboxes, nothing huge. Dc was home once and saw them in the storage closet, looked through them, and gave me a big hug to thank me for rescuing those important parts of dc's childhood from the trash.  Sometimes keeping a link to the past is important, even if it takes up a little space. 

I don't disagree with this AT ALL, but was this a case of them regretting not keeping something or just a nice surprise that they found what you had kept?  Would they have missed the "stuff" if you hadn't kept it?  To me, there is a difference :-).

And...I might be thinking differently if I hadn't cleaned out a single family home my dad had of 50+ years.  It is life changing!!!  And...we will be doing the same with my in-laws single family home of 50+ years in the near future.  Will be even more life changing!!!  And, in keeping the "stuff", it still needs to be stored, maintained, and takes energy (you know it is there even if you don't see it everyday).  For me, going through this experience over the last year, my time living, enjoying life, and making memories with my family are more important than keeping the "stuff." 

 

 

Edited by mlktwins
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If you haven't looked in the letters for decades as an adult, then I would toss them. If you want to keep them, you can scan them.
Take a pic of projects or don't.  They're just school projects after all.  Who do you know as an adult who laments not having pics of their or their children's old school projects?
Old books that aren't part of your child's homeschooling future can go too.
I wish I had held onto a couple of books over the years, but they are replaceable and the cost of replacing a few books is nothing compared to living in a clutter free environment.

I have a cedar chest for sentimental items.  If the lid can't close, I go through it getting rid of things until I can close the lid.  That limited space works for me. I have 5 stacks inside that chest of sentimental items related to each member of my family.

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6 hours ago, mlktwins said:

I don't disagree with this AT ALL, but was this a case of them regretting not keeping something or just a nice surprise that they found what you had kept?  Would they have missed the "stuff" if you hadn't kept it?  To me, there is a difference :-).

Yes, there's a difference. This dc insisted on getting rid of childhood items, even useful ones, and then regretted it when the realities of adult life hit.  Discovering that some useful and sentimental items had been salvaged was a relief to dc. The useful items have gone with dc, and the interesting collections and other items are here for the youngest to enjoy until oldest has a more permanent living situation.  

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