Of all the stuff we’ll purge from our lives, our children’s belongings may be some of the most difficult things to let go of. Yes, we might worry about donating or throwing out something they may want someday, but there’s often a deeper tug on our hearts.
There’s the knowledge that our children won’t be young forever. And there’s a desperate longing to somehow hold on to their childhood in some small way. So we try to fill that desire with things. Stuffed animals. Toys. Little outfits. Games. Countless artwork.
But as hard as it can be to acknowledge, keeping the stuff won’t keep our children small forever.
It’s perfectly fine to enjoy a few treasures, but if those treasures are stuffed into piles of boxes, or if they’re taking up full rooms so that we can no longer use the rooms for anything else, then it’s time to release some items.
A bonus of only keeping a few, select things is that when we want to take a trip down memory lane, we can find what we’re looking for and every item can be a cherished treasure instead of a burden of clutter.
Encouragement for Sorting the Mementos
Set a limit. For example, right now I have one medium tote that holds both of my children’s items. I suspect that as they grow older (and grow out of more toys and books they’ve loved for years), each child will have her own tote.
Having a pre-chosen limit forces me to make solid decisions. An item may be cute, or fun, or whatever, but it has to be really special in order to make it into the tote. That way my kids will have a few special things they can share with their own children one day, but they won’t be burdened with boxes and boxes full of stuff to go through.
I also believe that the less stuff we have, the more special each item becomes.
Plus, by passing items along, others can be blessed with things we’re finished with.
If you’re really overwhelmed with childhood mementos, start small. Begin with just one child’s special things or even with just one area or one type of item. You may want to sort through books, games, or toys first. Consider saving the artwork and clothes for last because those items tend to be more difficult.
If there’s something special you want to remember, take a photo of it before donating it or throwing it out.
As often as you declutter (preferably once or twice a year), put new mementos into the memory boxes, making sure to rotate items out for donation if necessary.
How do you choose which items to keep and which items to pass along?
This post is an excerpt from my new eBook, Chaos to Clutter-Free.