Mini Mission Monday ~ Sentimental Clutter

Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

It is a funny word SENTIMENTAL ~ of or prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia. However when it comes to clutter we tend to think of it as anything with some sort of personal history attached to it. To me the only items of “sentimental value” that are worth keeping are the things we really love or find useful. Not things that prompt feelings of sadness or obligation. On that note, this week’s missions are all about identifying and decluttering some items that hold negative sentiments that you could happily do without.

Monday – Declutter something that you keep only because someone gave it to you. Not because you love it or use it.

Tuesday – Declutter something that you keep only because it once belonged to a loved one that has now passed. Once again not because you have any use for or affection for the item itself.

Wednesday – Declutter something that brings you more sadness than joy or exudes more negative energy than positive for you.

Thursday – Declutter something that you don’t care enough about to put on display. How sentimental can you be about stuff that you have hidden away in a box in the attic, basement or wardrobe.

Friday – Declutter something that you made and really only keep because of the creativity, effort  and money that you invested in it.

Saturday – Declutter a family heirloom that you  no longer or perhaps never cared for. Pass it on to another family member who is glad to treasure it.

Sunday – Sunday is reserved for contemplating one particular item, of your choice that is proving difficult for you to declutter. Whether that be for sentimental reasons, practical reasons, because the task is laborious or simply unpleasant, or because the items removal requires the cooperation of another person. That last category may mean that the item belongs to someone else who has to give their approval, it could also mean there is a joint decision to be made or it could mean that the task of removing it requires assistance from someone else. There is no need to act on this contemplation immediately, it is more about formulating a plan to act upon or simply making a decision one way or another.

Good luck and happy decluttering


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Well, this is one thing I don’t have to get rid of as I have kept none. I discovered that most of the thing I had did not remind me of they person who gave them to me. My memories of that person were of other things that they did or we did together.

  2. Hi everyone – sentimental clutter – hmmm, there are some good mini missions in there.
    Through the main bulk of my decluttering I didn’t really consider myself to have much in the way of senitimental clutter but as I’m getting down to the grass roots of it, I’m realising that there are items which always manage to bypass each round of decluttering as they were a different kind of sentimental clutter.

    For me the obvious description of sentimental clutter was cute stuff that belonged or was produced by or bought for my kids when they were little. What I’ve realised that while there is some of that stuff to be re-looked at (its actually the kids themselves who don’t want to let go, so I’m going with a softly-softly approach) but for me, I’m coming across items which were bought for our first home that I’m having trouble letting go of.

    Our first house was a do-upper and around the same time Adrian decided to go out and start up business for himself and we had three little children. So there wasn’t a lot of spare cash going around and I definately was waaaaay down the priority list. When I found something for the home that I fell in love on the spot with, generally I had to layby it and each week pay a bit more towards it. I’d reached a point where I was getting a bit tired of always coming last and wanted to finally feel a bit house proud. Well, eventually we moved on from that house and I have recently been uncovering those items and although I know they really should move on, they have a little hook in me and I find it not-so-straightforward to let go. Has anyone else found something similar?

    • Moni, my “sentimental” clutter is all “pretty clutter” – things I bought because I really really wanted them, which I looked at for several weeks or months or spent (relatively) much money on or took troubles moving it around etc. I haven’t really found a way to deal with it, but I realize that I am less attached than I once was.

    • I happen to be thinking about some of the same issues. I have finally after 10 years been able to afford a new couch and to get rid of our old, ripped couch that was more of a dog-bed than a couch by the time I threw it out. The new couch is very pretty and simple, made of special fabric that is stain, pet, everything resistant, but now the other things in the room look a bit shabby in comparison. The coffee table that I spent a long time saving up for and getting, looks a bit outdated, the side table that I managed to get at a thrift store, a not very fancy antique with leather inset, looks a bit stained and worn. I am back and forth about whether to get rid of these items that were so special to me and maybe just not replace them at all since they seem not to be serving much of a purpose except serving as a catch all for mail, papers, etc. I can’t decide if I am getting rid of them just to upgrade and look fancier which is not a behavior that I want to get involved in, or if I really don’t need them. I feel stuck, but reading this blog is making me think that maybe I don’t need them at all and can just remember the good things I felt about having them and making my home livable without having to actually keep them.

      • Hi Julia, I am glad I have got you thinking. It isn’t a crime to replace old shabby things with new ones but it is better to consider whether you need them at all first. And of course it is good to consider the environment when making these decisions. Good luck with your choice.

      • Julia – I took delivery of my new lounge suite on Friday and I am such a happy girl. The only glitch is that they were delivered 10 days earlier than expected and I now have the old faded sofas sitting in the garage waiting to be listed on trademe and that the cats have already started scratching the new ones – have bought a bottle of cat repellant so fingers crossed it does the trick.

        I know what you mean about other things in the room looking shabby all of a sudden. We too have made that observation here too. I also know how months of saving for an item can make it harder to give up, I have had to work through a number of items in recent months and it is surprisingly hard. The good news is that after agonising about whether to or not let go of the items and several false starts at letting go of them…….I can’t really say that I thought about them again once they were gone.

        Flat surfaces. Over the last year or so we have taken away a number of flat surfaces in our household as they were an invitation to pile stuff. Cindy wrote an excellent post on ‘black holes’ whereby these areas seem to attract stuff. So at least we have reduced the potential dumping spots.

        As for whether or whether not to upgrade your coffee table and side table……we plan to upgrade our coffee table but it is to be an upcoming anniversary gift to ourselves. We haven’t actually found one yet or even gone coffee table shopping yet, but we’ve never managed to have ‘same-generation’ furniture in our lounge before and as we’re planning to repaint, do some new art etc, we don’t really want our old coffee table becoming the feature that our eyes are automatically drawn to as we walk into the room.

        As I mentioned above I have found it hard to let go of items which I had to scrimp and save to buy – I guess the delayed gratification inprinted an out of proportion sense of value/precious on me. I know that sounds a bit OTT but I have spent a lot of time getting to the bottom of a number of similar items over recent months. But here was the kicker – I realised they weren’t even my ‘thing’ anymore. I’d never buy them now and I wouldn’t have them in my dream home. And as I’d put them away in storage because I didn’t want them out on display in my reality home…….it was time to move them on to someone who would enjoy them.

        For us, we have an older son who is collecting bits of furniture for when he flies the next and likely he will put dibbs on the old coffee table. Alterntively there is trademe/ebay/craigslist (whatever is relevant for your area) and I also use freecycle for items which aren’t valuable enough or are too much bother to sell on trademe, yes someone gets it for free but it gets another lease on life and the best bit is that its usually gone within 1-2 days.

        Alternatively, could the side table and coffee table be refurbished in some way? A paint job? Re-cover? The internet is full of clever ideas. Or are these pieces completely out of keeping with the new sofas?

        If you do decide to go ahead and buy new pieces, can I suggest that you start with the coffee table? Take away the side table and see if you can get by without it. We did that, took away one piece at a time and never really noticed its loss.

  3. Wow….I just sent a whole bag of items BACK to my Mom last week of things she gave me from her childhood or from my now deceased grandparents. (She would not have wanted ME to get rid of them myself, as she has hoarder tendencies that don’t allow anyone but her to make those kind of decisions). At the time they were given to me, I wanted every piece and had most of them out on display….but since moving two months ago to a much newer home (14yrs. old vs. 200+yrs. old), those antiques don’t fit in with my new décor! What a relief to admit that to myself….I almost feel like I needed that type of excuse to be able to give them back, since I was the one that asked for most of those items in the first place! Amazing to have such guilt put upon ourselves and by others, about STUFF! I also threw away some art pieces I made that I didn’t want any longer. I had the hardest time doing that. They only meant something to me and so could only go to the trash if I didn’t want them. Silly to spend such energy feeling bad about that, but I did!

  4. I can really relate to Thursday’s mini mission. I have for many years made a point of keeping things unpacked and not stored in boxes except for seasonal decorations. Really, how important can something be if the only time you think of it is when you open the box it is in? I have only kept the most special items, not an overabundance, so that nothing remains in boxes. Besides more important to me is the person who gave an item to me. I have not had trouble letting go of things that I got when I first purchased a home, mostly because it was all second hand stuff and wore out quickly. It can be hard to let go when you know how much work it took to get that item though. I can understand, Moni, what you are going through. Lately though I sm being positive about letting go of stuff because I realize that the less that I have to deal with the more time I have to do what I want to do.

    • Jen – fortunately its not a lot of stuff, one I discovered while decluttering in the ceiling storage about 6 weeks ago. I’d totally forgotten it existed and its not my kind of thing to have on display anymore. I put it back in its box and back where I’d found it as I’d already dragged a heap of stuff down to from the ceiling to the garage floor that needed sorting and I have had it in the back of my mind to think who I could give it to. The other item is a trug basket which has dodged many decluttering culls – if I’m honest with myself, I’m never going to set it up as a display of flowers or veges or ??? as I’m not good at displaying things. Once again it is finding the right person to give it to.

  5. Great job…we have reasons to love u Colleen…

  6. We sometimes keep things that we previously loved, but today it just no longer gives us the same feeling. It’s even worse when you look at those stuff and you feel drained. I believe that if an object does not give you good feelings, make you happy or something of the like, you can’t keep it around you. Even hidden, it’s always there. Getting rid of it is a wonderful feeling. It’s like taking off a weight from your shoulders.

  7. My dad came to stay with us in July. He was worried about his suitcase as the zipper seemed likely to break or be difficult to open so he was afraid he would arrive somewhere and have to cut it open or find all his stuff gone if the case had broken open in transit. After 20 years the case had done its job and could be replaced without guilt, but he kept saying how sentimental he felt about it because he had bought it on one of his trips over here with my mother. In the end I said that the suitcase didn’t have sentimental feelings about him and bought him a new case. He left the old one here and I promised to dispose of it kindly for him, and I think overall he was relieved to be able to stop worrying about it. It’s amazing the things we can get attached to!

  8. I suppose sentimental clutter is my worst downfall. My own feelings about an item and/or the fear of hurting someone’s feelings by getting rid of something. I have mentioned before that I have an item from my MIL that I do not want and that takes up an entire drawer in my guest room chest-of-drawers. That item is a crocheted (sp??) afghan that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. It is an awful shade of brown – reminds me of something . . . . yucky. I think my husband doesn’t care one way or another about it, but if I tried to give it back to his mother, she would never stop telling the family that I didn’t want Grandma’s blanket. I can just hear it now. And don’t get me wrong, my MIL is a lovely person, but she comments a bit too much on some topics. I just don’t want to deal with it, you know?

    Hubby can’t seem to part with things that other people give him. He feels that if someone thinks enough of him to give him something (even though it may be completely useless/unwanted/whatever), then he should keep the item forever. Ugh. Can I just smack him with a skillet?

    • Michelle – that afghan is still hanging around? Its a bit of a millstone around the neck isn’t it? MIL’s have a way with words don’t they? OK, dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t. If you got rid of it without telling your MIL would she know? And did you actually even know Grandma?

      I only seem to get hooked up on my own sentimental clutter. I’m not really a recipient of other people’s stuff and have been quite good at fending off offers from older relatives by being upfront that I am actively decluttering and a lot of stuff is being hiffed out and quite likely this item (on offer) would go that way too. It quickly becomes clear whether they were offering it to you because they felt it had sentimental value, monetary value or just didn’t know how to get rid of it themselves.

      Would love to talk more about this afghan. Have a friend with a similar dilemna.

      • Moni – LOL! Well right now I can’t get to that chest of drawers because the china hutch is still blocking it until I get that dang kitchen painted. I’ve been working on the outside painting and hope to have it finished this weekend before the roofers come to put on a new roof.

        Yeah, I met Grandma just a few times. Admittedly, I willingly took possession of this afghan because it came along with another one that I really like and put on the guest bed 🙂 And it was only afterwards when I joined this community that I have learned about how clutter affects our lives. Also the lessons of why we keep crap and the subtle meaning behind different types of clutter. This community has been really good for me and I know my house is a lot happier without nearly as much junk in it!!!

  9. I know what you mean Michelle, my husband has been the same way about items he has received as gifts from his family members/friends – one of his reasons for not getting rid of unwanted gifts was “what if Mom/Dad/brother/sister/whoever comes to our house and sees that we don’t have the (whatever item)”. I said to him, “when you go to Mom/Dad/brother/sister/whoever’s house, are you looking all around to see if they still have all the gifts you have ever given them? Can you even remember what the gifts were?” He grudgingly answered “no” to both those questions and agreed that some of the unwanted gifts he had could go. Slowly but surely! And now we only exchange gifts with our children, so the tide of unwanted stuff coming into our house has ebbed.

    • Dang Megan V! That is a smart way to handle it and I should try that. Although, here’s a funny. Several Christmases ago, we gave my FIL a telescope – they live in the country and can see stars in the clear sky, so hubby thought that would be a great gift. For several visits afterwards, hubby asked his dad if he ever used it. Nope. They have never even taken it out of the box. It is shoved in the attic with a bunch of other junk. That was money not well spent, I think. But I do really like your idea, so thanks for that. 🙂

      • Michelle – LOL – several years ago I gave my hubby a telescope. Him and his brother were really excited about it and set it up and then decided they would get a better view if they set up on top of the BBQ table. Some beverages had been consumed. Eventually they got the telescope set on some bright light and spent hours marvelling at it. The next morning they realised that they’d focused on the light on top of the repeater on the big hills near by. The telescope didn’t get used after that and got freecycled out earlier this year.

  10. These are great daily assignments for me. My worst issues are with sentimental and aspirational clutter. Some of the sentimental items have hung around for years and trigger pleasant memories, some not so pleasant. Monday’s item was the garter a dear relative made for me for my first wedding. That marriage ended in divorce almost 20 years ago, but because someone I cared about made the garter for me, I had trouble letting it go. Now I’m married to a wonderful man and I’d rather have our home filled with things that matter to both of us, so it was time to let go.