Living with clutter does not only get in the way physically, but mentally too. If we have a cluttered home, we often have a cluttered mind too. Sometimes though, it's hard to be brutal when having a clear out and we hold on to 'clutter' with such strong emotional ties that it's hard to let go. You don't have to get rid of everything, but when you're lacking on space and find the contents in your home overwhelming, then it's time to brave those sentimental items and get stuck into sorting out what you need to keep and what you can eventually say goodbye to.
Sentimental clutter comes in many forms, from much loved baby items when your babies have grown up, items that spark joyful memories from childhood and even birthday cards, art work and souvenirs from days gone by. Nobody wants to live in an empty home, but having a clearer space with room to breathe and room to appreciate the items you do love and need on the daily, can make you feel much calmer and relaxed in your own space. Sometimes, the items we deem as sentimental we may not even like but for whatever reason we have given it a strong meaning, perhaps with something we need to move on from in order to free ourselves from our clutter.
Often when people think about letting go of clutter, they think of minimalism which certainly isn't for everyone. Minimalism and getting rid of clutter are totally different things. We can live a more simplistic uncluttered life without living as 'a minimalist', a term which is also interpreted in many ways. Family homes in particular are deemed less appropriate for minimalism, with children and all that comes with them it would be hard and kind of pointless to have a clear minimal home. Having less clutter though means that children have more space to play, less choice meaning they get more creative and us grown ups get less stressed with less things to clean and tidy away. It's not about living with nothing, it's about not living with things we don't need that simply take up much needed space in our homes as well as our minds.
When you're deciding what to keep
When sorting through your items, there will be items that alone remind you of a special person, time or event that is so meaningful it has to stay and that is all good. As long as you love the item itself as much as the memory itself, then it's definitely a keeper. If however the item is something you don't actually like that takes up valuable space, it has to go. You may even keep items that remind you of a negative event, something you maybe feel guilty for and what we need to remember with all these objects is that keeping them won't change anything, it won't help you grieve, get over guilt or change the past. These items have to go as they aren't benefiting you now and won't change your feelings. By parting with these, you may be able to move on from that particular memory and heal the wound left by whatever that event may have been. In short, keep only items that you love, that bring positive feelings with their presence. Even with those must keep items though, if they are taking up a lot of space then perhaps find another way to hold that memory without holding onto the object in it's entirety. With some bits, you may even be able to use them in a different way, by upcycling to make it your taste it retains the memory but makes it more useful to you right now.
Preserve the memory without keeping the clutter
This is important especially with larger items like unused furniture. You may choose to photograph the item and keep that instead, you could create a scrap book with pictures along with text to support the memories. You could keep a sample of fabric, one part of the collection or one thing that ignites the good feeling without taking up the space of the whole item or collection. If you have a lot of clutter, sort it into categories so you can see what memories or life events are holding the most clutter. If it's bits from your wedding, a keepsake box, scrap book or photo album could replace the physical items. If you have lots of items from your late Granny's house you could just keep the one that means the most, the one that you think of most when you think of them or one item from a larger collection. The same can be said with school memories or friendships. Just keep the main memory sparking item and donate the rest. If you feel you can't bear the thought of not seeing them again then take a picture, print it and pop it in your memory book. After all, it's seeing the item that sparks the happiness, but having physical items from the past taking up space you need right now does us no favours but does add to the clutter and increase daily stress.
Where to send your unwanted items
You could give your items to others in the family if they are special to them and wanted, but if there's no use for the family currently, it's OK to donate these elsewhere and does not make the memory any less important or the person/place they are from any less valid. You could sell on via local selling pages on Facebook if you need some extra cash or simply donate to those in need or charity shops if they are still in good condition.
Free yourself of any guilt and negative emotions
Remember these things are just that, things. Nothing changes by having these items and nothing will change by giving them a new home either. You may even just feel guilty about getting rid of gifts you've been given or things you've been handed down, but if they aren't to your taste and don't add anything positive to your life - get them gone. By moving on from emotional clutter, you may even be able to come to peace with your past, what the items relate to, moving on from grieving, previous relationships or family memories. Even the items that bring us happier memories don't have to stay if they are not needed, it's all about your life now and what you need. Although it's nice to have some reminders around from different life events and special people, if it in any way impacts your life today, restricting your space or causing you stress from clutter, things have to change. You may find there are some things you need a little professional help to come to terms with and by sorting clutter we can ultimately help ourselves in this way and highlight any areas we are struggling with. As a result we will be able to live with less clutter, with clearer homes and clearer minds.
Do you suffer from sentimental clutter in your home?