Mementos are among the most difficult things for us to organize. That’s not because it’s hard to figure out how to make a photo album, put things in a memory box, or save a precious heirloom. No, mementos trip us up because of their emotional significance in our lives. We agonize over decisions about which ones to keep, how to honor the items, the best ways to preserve them, and even whether or not to use them.
We worry that if we get rid of anything our children touch (much less make!), we’re heartless parents. We worry that if we don’t hold onto everything that belonged to our parents, we’re ungrateful children. We worry that if we use grandma’s china, we’ll break it. We worry that if we don’t sort through and organize every single photo, we might lose a moment that was captured on film.
This all-or-nothing, fear-based perspective puts so much pressure on us that we end up storing these emotionally-charged things away, never enjoying them for fear of doing the wrong thing with them.
Let’s set aside the worry and instead come up with creative ideas to get our precious mementos out of storage boxes and into regular circulation in our lives! After all, the point of saving these items is to enjoy them with gratitude and appreciation for what they mean to us.
Children’s Art and Schoolwork:
Instead of throwing your children’s art into a crowded bin that will be opened like a time capsule when the kids are adults, find ways to use and enjoy their creations now. Remember, you’re saving this stuff because it makes you as a parent happy to see your child’s creations, not because your child will remember and want them as an adult (They won’t!).
We take photographs because we want to remember the moment, so don’t hide them away in boxes or the cloud! Comprehensive photo organizing is great if you can devote the time to that project, but if you can’t, don’t let that stop you from digging in and bringing some of the photos into the light for you to enjoy now.
China, Crystal, and Fancy Things:
It doesn’t honor your grandmother to keep her china hidden away in boxes. Why not figure out some ways to use it? The worst that can happen is that you chip or break a piece, but that’s better than never seeing it at all.
We all need a place for the miscellaneous stuff that we collect: love notes, the playbill from your first Broadway musical, a flattened penny from a vacation spot, an honorable mention ribbon, etc.
These are just a few ideas that can help you enjoy your mementos in a simpler, less stressful way. The idea is to bring these beloved items out into the open without agonizing over them or committing to a time-consuming project.
What are your ideas? How do you display and enjoy your mementos? What’s your most unusual, conversation-starter keepsake?
If you’re struggling with clutter, I recommend you read The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life by Dr. Robin Zasio. Don’t be scared off by the title, this book is not just for hoarders but for all clutterers great and small.
I just finished the audiobook version – a great way to learn while on the go! Because the author is a doctor of psychology, the book provides great insight into the motivations behind why we hold onto things and get into trouble with clutter.
One part that I found particularly helpful details the difference between a collection and a stockpile. As I see it, a collection is an intentionally curated (and routinely culled) group of like items of value to you. A stockpile, on the other hand, is an accumulated mass of vaguely similar items. The distinction lies both in motivation and in method.
Here’s my synthesis of Dr. Zasio’s distinctions:
with clutter I urge y
Check out Dr. Zasio’s full list on my Pinterest page, “Clutterer Resources.”
Did you discover that you have a stockpile instead of a collection? Multiple stockpiles? If you're ready to start overcoming the clutter that's overtaking your life, drop me a line. I have strategies to help you work through the piles!