Minimizing: How to Let Go of Sentimental Clutter?

In 1999 I bought a children’s medical kit for $5. You know one of those plastic boxes full of pretend thermometers, stethoscopes and blood pressure monitors. I intended to use it as part of my Halloween costume, but changed my mind at the last minute and switched from dressing like a doctor to dressing like a school girl.

Although I lived in a very tiny 9-by-9 room I found a small space to store that medical kit and when I bought and moved into my house it came with me. I held on to it with the intention of gifting it to my niece or nephew, but for one reason or another I kept forgetting to put it in the car.

Thirteen years later I found myself digging through the basement in search of that little plastic box. I know I placed it somewhere among the toys we’ve been handed down from friends, former coworkers and my brother, but for the life of me I can’t remember where I placed it.

I want to find that medical kit so my son and I can play with it. After all these years I want to make use of it. My niece and nephew are too old to care about it anymore.

As I searched through the basement I came across all sorts of other treasures I’d forgotten about. The dolls I’ve held onto since I was a child. The essays I wrote in high school and college, complete with typing errors and bright red grades. Photographs dating back to the sixth grade. So many random pieces of my history that bring so many memories flushing back to me.

I try to clear my house of unwanted clutter. I try my best to get rid of things we don’t use and don’t need. In my heart I know that I could digitize a lot of these things. I could scan the photographs into my computer, along with the old essays and other random things, but I’m not sure it will feel the same when I look at them.

There is nothing quite like holding onto the very paper you wound into your typewriter. The white out marks won’t look the same from my computer screen. And viewing an old photograph won’t be nearly the same as holding one of those old fashioned Polaroid pictures in the palm of my hand.

So what’s a girl to do? It’s not like I look at these things often. I know people who move a lot wouldn’t have the desire to box these up and move them from one place to another, but I don’t plan on moving anytime soon. Should I dedicate a small area of the house for these legacy items or finally give them the old heave-ho?

11 thoughts on “Minimizing: How to Let Go of Sentimental Clutter?”

  1. If they bring you joy, and you have the room for them, there’s nothing wrong with holding on to them! The key is to just save the most meaningful and representative things, rather than everything, (e.g. 2-3 favorite dolls or papers not thirty). Once you’ve selected your favorites, you could scan or photograph the others if you still feel it’s hard to let go.

    • I love the idea of searching for my favorites. You are right, I definitely don’t need to cling to everything I find downstairs. Keeping the best and scanning the rest is a great idea!

  2. I limit myself to one rubbermaid tote. As Wendy said, I also get rid of doubles. Every once in a while I’m able to get rid of something that has lost it’s significance. We do move a lot so every time we move I go through it.

    • I like the idea of limiting myself. I recently did this with my son’s baby clothes. Although we may have another child I decided if I couldn’t fit it in one tote I wasn’t keeping it. I ended up using 1 and a half totes, one to house his baby stuff and one for his blankets, but setting a limit did make it easier to choose what to keep and what to donate. Love the suggestion!

  3. This is a tough one. Especially with kids’ things. It can get so overwhelming that it leads to a complete toss of lots of stuff that is usually sentimental but it can just get too much sometimes. Your insurance for keeping the clutter at bay is to go through it once a year and toss stuff that you have too much of.

  4. In the past, I’ve sold a bunch of childhood stuff that I found in the attic (e.g., Pez Dispensers, Fisher Price Little People toys that I played with as a child, games, etc.) on eBay . It was hard to let go of the sentimental stuff but certainly helps when you get a pretty penny for it and the feeling of accomplishment when you get rid of the clutter!

    • A lot of my old toys, (other than my dolls), are at my parents house. When I take my son to visit he’s able to play with many of the toys I played with as a child. My old bedroom looks just like it did when I left. In fact, there are now more toys in there then ever, because they merged all the toys from my brothers old room in there too. I don’t know if any of them would be worth anything even if they did want to sell them. Most of our toys were well loved and probably not in good enough shape to hand over to someone else šŸ™‚


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