Hoarding Sentimental Clutter – Time To Say Goodbye

“You are so organized and tidy and an inspiration to me!”

This comment was left by Cheeryshirley last week. Thanks Cheeryshirley!

I may be organised in many areas of my life and home, but not all. We all have our Achilles heel. I’ve posted about mine before, and it’s paper. Paper that has the potential to be sentimental to be exact.

This hoard weighs heavy on my shoulders, it’s always there in the back of my mind.

Great progress has been made in all other areas. I’ve decluttered my life, the house, my commitments, even my ‘work’ over the last 3 years. I’ll talk more about this in a post some other time.

But I still have the legacy of sentimental hoarding sitting in my wardrobe. As I don’t own many clothes (told you I’d decluttered the other areas of my life!) I can give up half of the space to clutter. Fortunately I’m not accumulating new sentimental clutter. I’ve spotted my weakness and now dispose of items before I can attach sentiment to them.

I posted early last February about my Piles Of Procrastination. Some progress has been made to reduce, but not as much as I would have liked. The hoard did come out of the closet and lay on the floor for the remainder of the year. Then just before Christmas the Hubby insisted I spend a few hours making some headway on reducing it. The remainder went in my wardrobe. Christmas just around the corner meant it needed to be packed away.

I’m keen to share some organisational tips and ideas, and yet until I’ve dealt with this pile of clutter I feel it would be hypocritical. It needs dealing with.

I wish I could just scoop it up and chuck the lot. But I can’t. There are a few keepsakes among it that I do want to keep for the Kids.

So each day I will spend time sorting through it with a view to having just the items I really want placed orderly in the scrapbooks I have for the Kids. I’ll update daily on Facebook. I’m committing to myself to have this dealt with by next Monday. If there is anything that hasn’t been sorted through it will be disposed of without mercy Sunday night – no discussion or negotiation.

Once it’s done and dusted, I’ll feel in a position to start talking in more detail about home and life organisation. There’s a series of practical posts planned. I may also touch on hoarding, as this is a very different thing to general decluttering and organisation. As a recovering hoarder I do have an understanding of the problem.

How about you? What’s your Achilles heel? Do you have one, or have you dealt with any hoarding tendencies?

Any tips on clearing the sentimental clutter?

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Don’t forget I am now posting daily on Facebook!

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Rayna@BrightCopperKettles January 16, 2012, 12:13 pm

    Good luck, Jo! I don’t have loads of sentimental clutter…yet. Before our older guy started kindergarten, I VERY naively committed myself to only saving a shoebox’s worth of mementos. I imagined me giving it to him on his wedding day, a sort of container that only held his most previous creations. Boy, was I dumb! It’s very difficult to decide what to save and what not to. Already his handprint is bigger than in September. Am I expected to choose between the painting from six months ago and now?

    It’s very difficult. I’ll be sticking around for inspiration and help!!!

    Hugs to you!

    • simplybeingmum January 16, 2012, 4:21 pm

      Hi Rayna! I’ve decided that I’m going to photograph some items and then dispose (particularly models etc…). That way they reduce in size. It’s been suggested I scan them, but it doesn’t work for me for a lot of things, as I like to have a physical item in the keepsake box or scrapbook. Also I have a voucher for 50 free prints that needs using up. The plan is the Kids will each have 2 scrapbooks (they are quite large though!) and they have loose leaf wallets inside. And one keepsake box. That’s the plan anyway! Hugs back Hun…I’ve been singing ‘My Favourite Things ‘ all day since watching Sound of Music twice over the weekend…xx

  • Rayna@BrightCopperKettles January 16, 2012, 12:13 pm

    Good luck, Jo! I don’t have loads of sentimental clutter…yet. Before our older guy started kindergarten, I VERY naively committed myself to only saving a shoebox’s worth of mementos. I imagined me giving it to him on his wedding day, a sort of container that only held his most previous creations. Boy, was I dumb! It’s very difficult to decide what to save and what not to. Already his handprint is bigger than in September. Am I expected to choose between the painting from six months ago and now?

    It’s very difficult. I’ll be sticking around for inspiration and help!!!

    Hugs to you!

    • simplybeingmum January 16, 2012, 4:21 pm

      Hi Rayna! I’ve decided that I’m going to photograph some items and then dispose (particularly models etc…). That way they reduce in size. It’s been suggested I scan them, but it doesn’t work for me for a lot of things, as I like to have a physical item in the keepsake box or scrapbook. Also I have a voucher for 50 free prints that needs using up. The plan is the Kids will each have 2 scrapbooks (they are quite large though!) and they have loose leaf wallets inside. And one keepsake box. That’s the plan anyway! Hugs back Hun…I’ve been singing ‘My Favourite Things ‘ all day since watching Sound of Music twice over the weekend…xx

  • Rayna@BrightCopperKettles January 16, 2012, 12:14 pm

    I meant “precious”, not “previous”!

  • Rayna@BrightCopperKettles January 16, 2012, 12:14 pm

    I meant “precious”, not “previous”!

  • sharron January 16, 2012, 5:51 pm

    Hi Jo and good luck with your challenge! I’m a recovering consumer, i don’t really hoard, and i loathe clutter of any form, but somehow i found my self every six months or so needing to have a major cull. Once i broke my shopping habit and started small i found a real difference in how uncluttered my home became. I deal with mail everyday, and when i’m not around hubby deals with it, most of it is usually for the recycling bin.

    I have a memory box for each child and every summer holiday they get pulled down from the loft and we reminice and sort through. Last year we go rid of 80% of the ‘it’s a boy/girl’ cards as my son pointed out, he didn’t even know these people in his life.

    I have a baby book, select cards, name tags, school reports, newspaper clippings from when the kids were in the local paper, and the outfit they came home from hospital with. I rarely keep art work or cards they make. I do however keep the decorations they make everyyear for the tree and put the date on the back, i have a lot of these 🙂 Well i never claimed to be perfect….

    Looking forward to the up and coming posts, i’m pretty well organised but i love to see how other people do it and i’m open to new ideas.

    Sharron x

    P.s daughters room was done at the weekend, you would have to see it to believe what i took out of what can only be described as a store-cupboard bedroom.

    • simplybeingmum January 17, 2012, 10:48 am

      Well done on the bedroom! You know what you have said about the decs made me realise something. A lot of the sentimental hoarding is saving stuff for the future rather than enjoying it today. My mindset has changed so much that I couldn’t really have dealt with the hoard before now. I’ve decluttered all the stuff that isn’t hard for me to make decisions about, clothing, trinkets etc… so time to move on and put into practise what I have learnt. The baby cards – so true, I’ve been keeping them because they don’t know the person, but will they care? I think not! Thank you!

  • sharron January 16, 2012, 5:51 pm

    Hi Jo and good luck with your challenge! I’m a recovering consumer, i don’t really hoard, and i loathe clutter of any form, but somehow i found my self every six months or so needing to have a major cull. Once i broke my shopping habit and started small i found a real difference in how uncluttered my home became. I deal with mail everyday, and when i’m not around hubby deals with it, most of it is usually for the recycling bin.

    I have a memory box for each child and every summer holiday they get pulled down from the loft and we reminice and sort through. Last year we go rid of 80% of the ‘it’s a boy/girl’ cards as my son pointed out, he didn’t even know these people in his life.

    I have a baby book, select cards, name tags, school reports, newspaper clippings from when the kids were in the local paper, and the outfit they came home from hospital with. I rarely keep art work or cards they make. I do however keep the decorations they make everyyear for the tree and put the date on the back, i have a lot of these 🙂 Well i never claimed to be perfect….

    Looking forward to the up and coming posts, i’m pretty well organised but i love to see how other people do it and i’m open to new ideas.

    Sharron x

    P.s daughters room was done at the weekend, you would have to see it to believe what i took out of what can only be described as a store-cupboard bedroom.

    • simplybeingmum January 17, 2012, 10:48 am

      Well done on the bedroom! You know what you have said about the decs made me realise something. A lot of the sentimental hoarding is saving stuff for the future rather than enjoying it today. My mindset has changed so much that I couldn’t really have dealt with the hoard before now. I’ve decluttered all the stuff that isn’t hard for me to make decisions about, clothing, trinkets etc… so time to move on and put into practise what I have learnt. The baby cards – so true, I’ve been keeping them because they don’t know the person, but will they care? I think not! Thank you!

  • Megyn @Minimalist Mommi January 17, 2012, 3:34 am

    You can do it! I keep one container for sentimental stuff. I go through it at least once a year. As the years pass, I find less and less to hold on to. I’ve heard a lot of people who suggest that you take pictures of the important stuff before getting rid of it. Can’t wait to see what works for you!

    • simplybeingmum January 17, 2012, 10:53 am

      Thanks Megyn! I know there’s an issue here. I started collecting some stuff in my mid-teens but it magnified when I met my husband to be and I was a couple of months away from leaving for university. I started cataloging receipts etc from meals, parking tickets all sorts of odds and ends, as a souvenir of our time together (I think I thought once I left that would be it). I didn’t go to university, I changed my mind at the last minute. But I’d started something by then! For 12 years I managed to just about keep on top of it and keep it all cataloged and put away in scrapbooks, then when the Kids arrived there was an abundance of potentially sentimental clutter to keep, yet no time to manage it. That’s how I ended up with this pile of 7 years worth of paper and bits. But cataloging it isn’t dealing with the issue, it’s just delaying the problem. time to get tough me thinks! Thanks for the encouragement! Glad you got a bit of downtime 🙂

  • Megyn @Minimalist Mommi January 17, 2012, 3:34 am

    You can do it! I keep one container for sentimental stuff. I go through it at least once a year. As the years pass, I find less and less to hold on to. I’ve heard a lot of people who suggest that you take pictures of the important stuff before getting rid of it. Can’t wait to see what works for you!

    • simplybeingmum January 17, 2012, 10:53 am

      Thanks Megyn! I know there’s an issue here. I started collecting some stuff in my mid-teens but it magnified when I met my husband to be and I was a couple of months away from leaving for university. I started cataloging receipts etc from meals, parking tickets all sorts of odds and ends, as a souvenir of our time together (I think I thought once I left that would be it). I didn’t go to university, I changed my mind at the last minute. But I’d started something by then! For 12 years I managed to just about keep on top of it and keep it all cataloged and put away in scrapbooks, then when the Kids arrived there was an abundance of potentially sentimental clutter to keep, yet no time to manage it. That’s how I ended up with this pile of 7 years worth of paper and bits. But cataloging it isn’t dealing with the issue, it’s just delaying the problem. time to get tough me thinks! Thanks for the encouragement! Glad you got a bit of downtime 🙂

  • Colleen @ 365lessthings.com January 24, 2012, 8:14 pm

    Hi Jo,
    I have two questions
    1. Aside from when you are sorting these “sentimental” paper items do you actually look at them? If the answer is no, why keep them at all.
    2. If you feel burdened by this clutter why consider saving any of it for your kids?

    As Han Solo often said in Star Wars ~ I have a bad feeling about this. So if this clutter evokes more bad feelings, of stuff owning you, than it does good feelings of “remember when” just do yourself a favour and toss it in the recycling bin or burn it.

    • simplybeingmum January 24, 2012, 9:20 pm

      Hi Colleen – thanks for the reality check! Yes I totally agree (I know it makes sense to just get rid) but we aren’t talking to the rational part of me here, it’s a deep gut instinct to keep some of the items. Doesn’t make any sense I know! I’m hoping that my ‘minimal attitude’ to other aspects of my life will filter through to this area also. There has been major improvements, just not quite there yet! Jo

  • Colleen @ 365lessthings.com January 24, 2012, 8:14 pm

    Hi Jo,
    I have two questions
    1. Aside from when you are sorting these “sentimental” paper items do you actually look at them? If the answer is no, why keep them at all.
    2. If you feel burdened by this clutter why consider saving any of it for your kids?

    As Han Solo often said in Star Wars ~ I have a bad feeling about this. So if this clutter evokes more bad feelings, of stuff owning you, than it does good feelings of “remember when” just do yourself a favour and toss it in the recycling bin or burn it.

    • simplybeingmum January 24, 2012, 9:20 pm

      Hi Colleen – thanks for the reality check! Yes I totally agree (I know it makes sense to just get rid) but we aren’t talking to the rational part of me here, it’s a deep gut instinct to keep some of the items. Doesn’t make any sense I know! I’m hoping that my ‘minimal attitude’ to other aspects of my life will filter through to this area also. There has been major improvements, just not quite there yet! Jo

  • Cindy June 27, 2012, 3:51 am

    Just wanted to let you know you are still providing inspiration. I hit the wall tonight, turned to the Internet to keep me going, and found this post. I have a closet – an entire closet -of sentimental clutter that needs to be reduced to a manageable amount to move overseas. I have the cards from not only when MY girls were born, but also three big scrapbooks my mom made for ME. I get hit with the ” they have been around THIS long” syndrome when I try to toss them.

    • simplybeingmum June 27, 2012, 9:44 am

      Cindy – I’ve just read your passport post – oh Boy – that is so something that would happen to me.
      The line that struck me most was this “I really need to quit holding onto things I no longer need”. I can’t speak for you but my redundant ‘paper’ stuff has many a time caused me problems – because the important gets buried. This relates to other areas of hoarding, we collect such a lot of stuff that it’s difficult to see what is necessary.
      Without a doubt I have some hang-up, issue or some OCD thing about sentimental paperwork – be that cards, notes, diaries, even work daybooks. There’s a post to follow shortly – keep an eye out for it. It’s not such a biggie as moving to Deutschland (all the very best with that!) but it’s one of those critical life points where a decision has to be made. Hope the move goes well!

  • Cindy June 27, 2012, 3:51 am

    Just wanted to let you know you are still providing inspiration. I hit the wall tonight, turned to the Internet to keep me going, and found this post. I have a closet – an entire closet -of sentimental clutter that needs to be reduced to a manageable amount to move overseas. I have the cards from not only when MY girls were born, but also three big scrapbooks my mom made for ME. I get hit with the ” they have been around THIS long” syndrome when I try to toss them.

    • simplybeingmum June 27, 2012, 9:44 am

      Cindy – I’ve just read your passport post – oh Boy – that is so something that would happen to me.
      The line that struck me most was this “I really need to quit holding onto things I no longer need”. I can’t speak for you but my redundant ‘paper’ stuff has many a time caused me problems – because the important gets buried. This relates to other areas of hoarding, we collect such a lot of stuff that it’s difficult to see what is necessary.
      Without a doubt I have some hang-up, issue or some OCD thing about sentimental paperwork – be that cards, notes, diaries, even work daybooks. There’s a post to follow shortly – keep an eye out for it. It’s not such a biggie as moving to Deutschland (all the very best with that!) but it’s one of those critical life points where a decision has to be made. Hope the move goes well!

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