CW Tips: How to Declutter Sentimental Items Guilt-Free

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Decluttering is hard! Especially when it comes to your children’s toys or artwork. We’ve put together a few tips and questions to ask yourself when you’re struggling with the “guilt of giving away.”

Getting Rid of Gifts

If you’re saving or hanging onto something because it was a gift, do you really think the person that gave you this item would want you to be burdened with the storage of it? Especially if you’ll never use it? They would not! And if they do get upset with you, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with them and reconsider why you’re holding them in such high esteem and hanging onto every gift they’ve given you. Now, this doesn’t apply to priceless family heirlooms or keepsakes. But, it does apply to that still-in-the-box Christmas platter your neighbor gave you 6 years ago. It probably doesn’t need to be taking up prime real estate in your cabinet so pass it on to someone who will actually use it.


Getting Rid of Your Own Childhood “Keepsakes”

Ask yourself, “Am I saving this because I will use it again? Or because I’m hoping that someone else in my household or family will appreciate this item and love it as much as I have?” No matter how cute you think your childhood Barbie dolls are and how much you want your children or grandchildren to play with them; they are consistently going to choose the newer, shinier Barbies OR most likely, they’ll choose Youtube and Minecraft. We often encounter parents who want to save their own or their children’s toys to give to their future grandchildren. But, would you have let your kids play with toys that are 20+ years old and that have been sitting in a dirty attic or basement for the last decade? I think not.

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Getting Rid of Kids’ Art and Schoolwork 

“Will my children/whoever appreciate that I’ve kept these items and want them in 10-15 years?” Would you want this stuff if your parent had saved them for you? Do you think it will be meaningful for your future adult child to see every scrap of paper that they colored on at preschool? No. They’ll enjoy reading the journal entries they wrote in elementary school, seeing the imaginative stories they illustrated, and having a curated collection of outstanding artwork from their 12 years of school. Here are some things you think are important now that won’t matter when you give these papers to your kid in 15 years:

o   The 100% they got on their spelling test. It’s not going to matter after they graduate. You might remember that 4th grade spelling was such a struggle for them and that this 100% was hard-earned and so exciting at the time. But, by the time they have their high school diploma, it won’t be significant. 

o   Those finger paintings they did in preschool…and most of the other art they did in preschool.

o   Any math or reading worksheet. Actually, any worksheet.

o   The little drawings they do all the time that say “I love Mommy.” We promise they will not suffer irreparable damage if you throw them away (secretly, of course).


So, with all of this said, give yourself permission to declutter! And if you read this and still have a hard time getting rid of something, consider taking photos of the items and compiling the photos into a book. There are even some companies, like Legacy Box, Plumprint or Artkive that will turn your keepsakes into books for you. 

-Whitney + Caroline