Organizing Your Home and Life

How To Declutter Memories

Posted on: July 20, 2009

Memories are a key part of our lives and homes.  So how do you declutter and organize your memories?

A lot of times I hear people going through their clutter and saying “but my child made me this once in a lifetime picture of ….” or “I got this beautiful sweater from my aunt’s cousin’s best friend who hand made it and I cannot bear to part with it.”

Decluttering your memories is very difficult.  I, too, have a difficult time with it.  I still have some old clothes that my mom once wore that I took with me when she passed on.  Some I have since parted with and others I have not.  I have four kids so you can imagine the artwork that has come into my house over the past 16 years.  And my husband is known to give me lots of very touching and memorable cards.  So what do you do with it all?

The hard part in sorting through these types of collections is looking realistically at what really should be kept and what should not.  I have compiled a few simple ideas on how to tackle this type of job.

Children’s Artwork

I have found that the best way to tackle children’s artwork/schoolwork is usually at the end of each school year.  During the year I put the schoolwork in a filing drawer.  I only file away the interesting papers like pretty art or a special essay or a skill that they just learned.  At the end of the school year (or more frequently depending on the amount that you have filed) I pull all of the artwork out and go through each paper one by one and prioritize the most special paperwork.  I try to keep about 10 to 20% and the rest will be thrown out.

Each of my children has his/her own memory box.  I will put the special artwork/paperwork in their own memory box.

The memory box is also where I keep special momentos that are unique to each child such as first pair of shoes, first dress, medals, awards, etc.

Unused Gift

Many times we get gifts that we end up never using.  It happens to all of us at some point in our lives.  I am not a big fan of re-gifting so I don’t recommend it but if you are a fan of it then by all means do what you feel comfortable doing.  I am, however, a big fan of giving to charity or garage sales.  If there is something I just cannot use in my home I will go the charity route and donate it.    This way I am not completely throwing out the gift but I am giving it to someone who will probably use it more than I will.

Spouse Momentos

I keep a memory box for myself just as I do for my kids.  This is where special items that I have received from my husband or kids go.

Most items that I get from my husband or kids are cards.  One great idea to do with all of those cards is to make a scrapbook out of them.  I usually tear the cards up and keep the saying or the writing on the card and put them into a pretty scrapbook.  It’s a nice way to display a beautiful collection of cards and momentos.  If you must keep those dried flowers that your husband gave you when you got engaged, put them in a baggie and place them in your scrapbook.  Another suggestion is to take a photo of those special occasion flowers and scrapbook the photo instead of keeping the dried flowers.

Organizing your momentos does not have to be too difficult but if it is enlist the help of a partner who can objectively help you get through it all.


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