How to manage sentimental feelings when decluttering

(41 Posts)
PavlovtheCat Mon 25-Aug-14 23:12:12

I am trying desperately to clear out loads of, well, shit. I am becoming a hoarder, mostly as I am scared of just throwing things out. So, I put things in piles to do things with them. For the last two days, I have determined to be ruthless and stop pretending for example I am going to ebay some clothes for the sake of possibly £20, as I am never actually going to do it (not time), so I have bagged up all the clothes, materials etc that keep getting circulated again again into the washing piles - 7 bin bags full! - it's going to the local place that buys clothing by weight, and I have two boxes of clothes to go to a friend as it's in good condition (the other stuff is all old and tatty).

But. I also have 2 boxes of clothes that I worry about throwing out - clothes that mean something to me, from when I was young, from when the children were young. I also have a box of material from my wedding, it's not fab, got mucky, but it has lovely memories, except, when I look at them, I just feel anxious about getting rid of them, which I think I need to do, rather than look at them wistfully.

Then, I also have piles of paperwork. I am getting better at chucking most of the irrelevant stuff out, but I get stressed about things like chucking out old colouring books with a few pages still able to be coloured in, sticker books that are scruffy and old but have a few stickers in still, and, the worst possible culprit is:

what do I do with all their drawings, the ones that are a bit crap, but their very first 'person' or 'dog' or 'letter', I get actual panicky at the prospect of throwing any of them away. I have a memory box (or few) for the children and for me, and try to be selective, and then go through them every now and again and revise my decisions, but I still have lots of exercise books and doodle books filled with some lovely things and lots and lots of just scribble and mess.

And then finally. I have bags and boxes of Crap. pens, batteries, allen keys, birthday badges, screws, little trinkets from this and that, belonging to the children (old birthday candles etc), and one part of me says 'you have not opened that bag for a year, chuck it out' and then I look inside and see something I think I might need, and then struggle to chuck any of it away, saying 'i'll go through it properly later', and never do.

How do you manage to declutter personal things, do you ever regret throwing things away? How do you get the balance of keeping things minimal and not being callus and chucking it all out. I don't have space to keep everything, and it's just over-running us at the moment.

Should I just chuck the lot of it all, the trinkets, the material, the scrappy drawings (obviously keep the lovely ones)?

mrsspagbol Mon 25-Aug-14 23:14:41

Marking my place as would love to know too!

Redcoats Mon 25-Aug-14 23:18:13

shove it all in the loft

I wish I knew.

Stayingundertheduvet Mon 25-Aug-14 23:23:43

I have same feelings and have managed to declutter some things by photographing them before getting rid of (drawings, special soft toys, favourite clothes etc).

Ainmnua Mon 25-Aug-14 23:25:55

Could you photograph the drawings etc and make them into a photobook?

Also could you get someone to make a patchwork throw/cushion with pieces of the clothes and materials you have, loads of people offer this service now.

Good luck smile

PavlovtheCat Mon 25-Aug-14 23:50:14

oooh i love the idea of taking photos! I have in fact, thrown away a few items of clothing from when the children were babies as I have some fab photos of them in them, and that was my rationale for throwing them away, so I could do that for drawings they have done. Love it!

The thing with the patchwork quilt, is it means it's all hanging about while I never get around to sorting it out.

The loft...it's stuffed! But, also, sounds daft, I want a long term solution, I want to actually declutter, not just shove it in the loft anymore (it's shrunk anyway, as we converted it). If and when we move, that will already be a horrendous task. I want to own just what I want to own, if that makes sense, I want to take up less unnecessary space, and have less unnecessary crap around, whether in the loft, or stuffed in Cupboards or Drawers of Doom.

What about teddy bears? They should all go right? Apart from the best ones? The children have probably about 70. I have put most in the loft, and want to get rid of most of them. Some of them are from my own childhood, I can't bear to part with them, but they are mostly ugly and sad, and grimy and stuck in the loft as they are old to be out. DH has two bears from his childhood, fab memories and they have been given to the children. They mean a lot to them. I want to be able to do that with mine (probably about 10-15 of the ones in the loft).

PavlovtheCat Mon 25-Aug-14 23:53:34

what's it all about though? It's all just 'stuff', just things. I have fab memories of most of it, and the stuff I don't have memories of, well I can chuck it away (but still can't).

I just get all knotted up and anxious when I do it, and end up shifting things around from box to box and just create new freshly ordered piles.

I love the idea of getting a small skip and just chucking it all out before I have a change to dither. As because it all takes time, and I have time to think about what I am doing, I keep changing my mind.

Do I sell it on ebay, do I give it to my friends? Do I just give it all to clothing bank? Shall we do a boot fair? yes, we will, make £50. No we won't. We have not since we had the loft converted years ago, it's all still there. but, it's £50. No, it's not worth it. yes it is. No it's not. FFS!!!

Chottie Mon 25-Aug-14 23:55:52

Just keep repeating to yourself that you do not need x, y or z to remember your life by.

Tackle your stuff a box at a time. Have three piles, keep, chuck and recycle. Put the chuck stuff in the dustbin, put the recycle stuff by the front door to drop off at the charity shop or recycling bins at lots of supermarkets. You will start to feel freer and lighter as you free up space.

Yika Tue 26-Aug-14 00:04:53

I wouldn't throw any of the sentimental stuff away. Some people like to keep a lot, some a little. It is fine to keep more stuff of sentimental value than others might choose to.

General clutter and stuff: do it in very small, anxiety-minimising batches. Eg: identify 10 items that can be chucked out/recycled/given away, do that and no more. Then the next time you think of it, another 10.

Dont ever expect your decluttering to be 'finished'; and don't attempt to do it in one fell swoop. Clutter accumulates all the time and that's completely normal.

catsofa Tue 26-Aug-14 00:13:53

Marking place as it's time I went to bed, but I could do with some help with this too as I still have so much of my mum's stuff who died a couple of years ago. So hard to get rid of stuff!

One thing I have found helpful is to take a photo of something before I give it away/get rid of it, as then I still have the memory but don't have to find room for the physical object.

Kerberos Tue 26-Aug-14 00:14:53

I find getting rid of things easier if I know it's going to a charity I support. So the box of books becomes a £20 donation to Marie Curie for example which feels better than trying to sell them or putting them on ebay for £1.

When it comes to memory stuff I have an archive box. Good stuff - certificates etc go in there. Drawings I tend to stick to the fridge then shred. Often if I ask them if they want them to be kept they say no - which helps enormously.

I have never regretted throwing anything away.

Kerberos Tue 26-Aug-14 00:17:45

Something else I learned I think from MN was to sort small areas at a time. Start in a corner and work methodically through. Organise into keep here, charity, bin and keep elsewhere.

peacefuleasyfeeling Tue 26-Aug-14 00:20:51

Good evening. I'm having a go at some decluttering this week following a difficult time, and whereas it is probably more symbolic and cathartic in my case, I think I might have a couple of useful bits of advice for you.

The key is making things 2D. I'm thinking scrapbooks.

"Trinket & Trash" collections: This probably sounds ridiculous, but hoarding IS ridiculous and irrational, and you must be kind and gentle with yourself when trying to get on top of it. Arrange your trinkets and bits on a nice background and photograph them, one small group at a time, perhaps organised according to colour or period you associate them with. Stick in a scrapbook. When my dad died and I cleared out his place I found he had kept all my childhood toys and 100s of my drawings. The toys were all grouped like little relatives in a family photo and snapped before going to the charity shop / bin. They now take up a few A4 pages in a scrapbook instead of space in my loft.

Textiles (including clothes) with sentimental value: Cut out a small piece of each piece, make a small (key), simple patch-work and frame it nicely. It can look lovely and your memories are there on display instead of stuck in a binliner in a cupboard. Alternatively, you can scan your favourite pieces and stick them too in the scrapbook. But you must get rid of the fabrics / garments afterwards. Having said that, I do have a couple of garments from each DD which is going into the attic wrapped in tissue paper for posterity.

Children's drawings are tricky. With DDs' drawings I have ended up getting some A4 organisers with plastic pockets and just file pieces that stand out in there.

Paperwork isn't something I find difficult to part with so perhaps someone else can come along with some words of wisdom about that. My problem is clothes, as I, like you attach a great deal of sentimental value and indeed optimism to many garments: "Wow, wouldn't it be fun if I could get around to wearing that again!" and so they stay.

peacefuleasyfeeling Tue 26-Aug-14 00:25:22

Wow, you all got in there with my brill photo idea while I was dicking around with my phone, composing away at my message (there were only 2 replies when I started smile. Oh well, it clearly is the way to go!

Lucked Tue 26-Aug-14 00:29:55

With regards the childrens soft toys, the ones which were never yours, well they aren't yours to be sentimental about. I presume they/you haven't banished their precious Bunbun or whatever to the loft? Perhaps let the children decide, you may be projecting sentimentality onto them when in fact they are more like your DH and only want to keep the special ones.

Also from now on implement a one in one out policy on soft toys. You also don't have to keep the 'best' ones if they aren't played with. The better ones will sell at a charity shop and bring someone else joy.

Thinking back to what my own mum kept it was a few drawings and early school workbooks which would all fit in a box file. For me seeing this as an adult was plenty. I wouldn't want to look at mark making or colouring in books.

Do you have a memory box for your wedding?, I have kept a swatch size piece of fabric from the bridesmaids dresses. Could you cut swatches and then throw the rest away? Do you need a box full?

LatinForTelly Tue 26-Aug-14 00:35:26

Watching for tips. Hope that's not too rude.

Isabeller Tue 26-Aug-14 00:42:32

Excellent and helpful OP.

Pens
Allen Keys
Stuff, stuff and more stuff.

I'm glad I'm not the only one but I really want to detach from this kind of clutter too.

GooseberryJam Tue 26-Aug-14 00:49:19

Also place marking. I feel exactly like this. Can't bookmark yet on new fangled MN.

GooseberryJam Tue 26-Aug-14 00:50:30

Also place marking. I feel exactly like this. Can't bookmark yet on new fangled MN.

clearsommespace Tue 26-Aug-14 06:01:10

Catsofa, my mum died more than 10 yes ago and I've just (last year or so) started to get rid of things that were meaningful to her but only meaningful to me for her sake IYSWIM. Ugly ornaments which belonged to grandparents etc. I wrote down my memories of my grandparents which were inspired by seeing these items then rehomed the items (after checking with mum's surfing siblings. You don't boxes of stuff to remember people by.

Someone on a different three mentioned old people's homes (or was it hospices?) sometimes take soft toys.

My kids are over colouring in but in the past I cut out the untouched pics from colouring books and with the pens and crayon (and then chucked the used book)

And yes , it is a permanent process.

clearsommespace Tue 26-Aug-14 06:04:03

Surviving siblings
And 'you don't need'

chinamoon Tue 26-Aug-14 09:50:22

I've got some IKEA storage boxes with lids. We have one each. DC have put their most precious memorabilia from primary school in there and I have my most precious stuff from their pre-school years. DH's is mostly work related hmm We don't need a reminder of everything. One baby grow or tiny pair of shoes, their birth ID tags and first knobbly clay models. that's enough. Photos of art work are a brilliant idea.

Yesterday DS2 was clearing out his cupboards and I tried to get rid of his junior rugby shirt. He didn't want to. He loved that club, so we folded it up and put it in his primary school memory box. It was an easy decision. Once the box is full, he'll have to weed out stuff.

I got ruthless about all those certificates for breathing in and out that they get at primary. For certificates to really mean something (piano exams, GCSEs etc, chuck out the 'You're A Star You Shared Nicely' ones. Their purpose is to help children reach milestones and once that's achieved job done.

chinamoon Tue 26-Aug-14 09:53:17

Love peaceful 's idea of a patchwork on display instead of wedding fabric in a bag in the attic.

Watching with interest too. I'm dreadful, hate throwing things away, 'just in case'. Also with having to scrimp and save all my life it feels wrong to get rid of stuff that was so hard to come by! I really like the photograph idea, though I'm rubbish at actually printing them out. That's my mission for when the kids go back to school though, once a month print some pics and get them into albums.

Good luck OP

specialsubject Tue 26-Aug-14 10:17:32

the digital camera is your friend. Take photos of those kiddy drawings etc before chucking them. Then you can look at them without them taking up space.

you never will but at least that way they don't take up space.

clutter is a health and fire hazard. Get rid of the rubbish. You will feel better if you can recycle as much as possible.

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