Those Sentimental Things

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Welcome to Day 5 of our 30 Day Challenge: A Time to Clean! Today we’re looking at sentimental things and what we can do about them. It can be a real challenge to part with things when we feel an emotional attachment to them.

What to Do with Those Sentimental Things @ AVirtuousWoman.org

A Time to Clean: Day 5

Well, we’ve made it to the end of the week! We started off the week with some deep heart searching. And we’ve ended the week with lots of ideas about how to deal with clutter and what to do with all the clutter you’re getting rid of.

Today we’ll be looking at things that pull at your heart… All those sentimental objects in your home that you just don’t want to part with because of the memories associated with them.

I remember when I was younger {in my twenties} I was still hanging on to old t-shirts from concerts and school or other places I went that held a good memory. I didn’t wear the t-shirts anymore, but I just couldn’t bring myself to part with them.

Then there’s the Christmas cards I’ve received over the years… books I’ve read, artwork my kids created, ticket stubs, dishes from my mom, and I could go on and on.

One of my step-sons doesn’t have this problem at all. I mean, he’s not in the least bit sentimental – to the point where I worry his kids will have nothing special left from their childhoods… except the good memories!


Memories are so powerful. Memories can evoke a wide range of emotions from joy to happiness to contentment to even sadness and bitterness and anger.

Let’s talk about bad memories. 

Things in our homes can have bad memories associated with them that may {without us realizing it} cause us to feel depressed or frustrated. For instance. It’s no secret that I was married as a young teen – and that marriage was really bad. When I finally found the courage to leave, I ended up taking most of the furniture, dishes, and other things with me because, well, I certainly could not afford to buy new stuff!

I brought most of that stuff into my new marriage. For instance, there was a cup that was chipped during a bad fight that I held onto for years… but every time I looked at it – I remembered the fight. And there were other things that were a constant reminder of my past – a very unhappy past. It was several years before we were able to replace all of the furniture with new. We also ate off the same plates for years. And, being the die-hard frugal that I am, I was okay with that.

But I have to say that not having those things in my home as a reminder {constantly whispering in my heart that I was a screw up} has been freeing.

Do you have things in your home that you associate with bad memories? Maybe it’s time to let those things go for good and move on with your life.

Good Memories

And then there are those items that are special and hold sentimental value. Precious memories that we don’t want to lose or let go. Some examples might be:

  • a favorite t-shirt from years ago
  • children’s artwork
  • something we received as a gift
  • dishes
  • photos

Basically anything can hold a place in our hearts if the memory associated with the item is special to us. I’m not going to tell you that you should get rid of anything that is sentimental.

But, ask yourself this question: Is this sentimental object serving a purpose or is it’s value diminished when it’s left in a pile, closet, or box.

Now, obviously, you aren’t able to display every sentimental object in your home and some things really are too precious to part with.

So what can we do with those special things that allows us to enjoy them, but does not add to the visual and mental clutter in our lives?

Preserve Memories & Get Rid of Clutter

So the goal really is to preserve our special memories while doing it in a way that doesn’t add to the clutter in our lives. This is a true challenge and I won’t say I have all the answers. I do have ideas and some things I am implementing {slowly} in my own life. And maybe one of these days I’ll find time to really get all my special memories sorted and organized in a way that gives them the prominence they deserve in my life.

Photos, ticket stubs, cards, letters, small mementos.

Photo albums, of course, are the traditional way to store photos. And, photo albums are better than nothing! My favorite way to store and enjoy my photos and other small mementos is using Project Life Memory System.

Project Life is the perfect solution to getting your special photos and stuff out of boxes {or piles} and into easy to use albums that the whole family can enjoy for years to come. {I am not being paid to say that, either!}

I started using Project Life a couple of years ago when I was desperate to find more joy in my life. I can’t tell you how much putting together my first able meant to my soul. I still love flipping through the photos.

Side Note: I have heard it more than once that photos can be deceiving… that while you see smiles and happy times in photos, perhaps the real scene behind the photos is just the opposite. And that is entirely possible. I know that 2 years ago as I struggled with a lot of emotional stuff I felt desperate – really desperate to find the joy I had lost. Family stress and outside issues were weighing me down like crazy.

But then I realized that just because some parts of my life were hard right then, that I still had so much to be thankful for. So many little blessings and I started taking notice of those small blessings that brought moments of joy to each day. I took pictures of those happy moments with my children and fun things, little things, anything that brought a smile to my face. And I compiled them all into a Project Life Album and it brought me so much peace. Just because things aren’t perfect, doesn’t mean my life is all bad.

You can learn how to get started with Project Life here.

Children’s Artwork

I have very artistic kids. No really. I do! The thing is… not everything they’ve made over the years has been {gasp} stellar. {Don’t tell them I said that!} And yet, I still have this feeling of great guilt at even the thought of throwing all of those precious creations into the trash!

So, if you’re currently drowning in a sea of artwork, I have some suggestions for you. In our house we have a Rubbermaid tub for each of the nine kids. Their special things, artwork, etc. goes into those tubs in the attic.

But a tub will only hold so much. At some point you {I} will need to make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Here are some ideas:

  • Scan artwork and print at the photo center. Place printed artwork in your Project Life albums. Toss orginal copy unless it’s amazing.
  • Have a file system – perhaps one folder per year – for each child. This would work best if your starting when the kids are young… I way past the point of return on this one.
  • Display art on the refrigerator and then toss all but the very best or most meaningful.
  • Send some of your children’s artwork to grandparents – or scan them and have them printed as greeting cards.
  • Frame your absolute favorite pieces.
  • Create an album of your favorites with sheet protectors. I like to add 8.5 x 11 sheet protectors to my Project Life  with some of my favorite pieces.

But, don’t forget, it is OKAY to throw some of that stuff away! 

Dishes, Glassware, Larger Items, etc.

I am a collector of dishes and pretty glassware. Not as much these days as in days past. I did reach my limit! But I still love pretty things.

Whether it’s your grandma’s favorite tea set or your mother’s crystal, you can’t really enjoy {for example} it if it’s hidden away where you hardly see or on a table top with lots of clutter.

Knick knacks {what-nots, decor, etc.} are all well and fine, but if there is no room around them to give them a place of prominence, you maybe taking away from the beauty of each piece and taking away your enjoyment of all the display pieces.

What do I mean? Well, you don’t need to have every special piece you own displayed all at the same time. In my house I change out my decorations as the seasons and my moods change. I have a closet and some cupboards where I store the things I decorate with. I’ll be decluttering some of these areas in the coming days!

Tastes change and sometimes what you loved five years ago is no longer appealing. That’s when you need to decide what to do with the stuff.

Also, if your special things are always stored away in a box and you never use them… would you better served with simply holding on to the memory and letting the physical object go? Use your special dishes. Use that precious quilt. Use your mother’s crystal. Use that tablecloth you got for your wedding. Using them will bring you more joy in the long run.

Be creative and think about how you could use something that is special to you in a new way. For instance, my husband’s step-father owned several old wooden tool boxes and other things we received when he died. I know have one of those tool boxes and the fan that was in his workshop displayed in my living room.

What to do with all those Sentimental Things... @ AVirtuousWoman.org #ATimeToClean #clutter #declutter

There are lots of ways to use those things that mean so much to you in your everyday or seasonal decor. 

Knowing When to Let Go

There comes a point {very often} when we are just hanging on to too much stuff because it’s sentimental. And just because something holds a precious memory doesn’t mean we need to keep it.

How do we know when that time has come? Well, the first clue might be that you just have no where to store the stuff, or you may decide that some things are taking up space that would be better used differently

For instance, I had a roasting pan that was my grandmother’s. I had never used it. Like ever. It was taking up space  in my kitchen and I have precious little space in my kitchen! I decided it would make a perfect roasting pan for camping. I love camping. I have a whole section in my house dedicated to camping stuff. The roasting pan found a new home there. And now it will get used instead of just collecting dust.

But then there are some things we really should let go. I can’t tell you what those things are. You have to make some hard decisions about this yourself!

You only need one moment of courage to let things go. 

For me, I made decisions like letting go of old t-shirts. I have the memories. Now, when I am cleaning out clutter, it’s much easier for me to say to myself, “This is not serving a purpose. It is taking up space that I need for more important things. I have the memories.”

You can always take a picture of the item, too, and put it in your Project Life album!

Note: I am behind on my Project Life Album for this year and will probably be focusing on a simpler way of doing things in the near future! Just print photos, insert into pockets, add journaling and leave it… instead of cutting, pasting, adding embellishments. {All of which I love but don’t currently have time for.}

Today’s Goal 

  • Think about the things in your house that maybe remind you of a painful past and make a decision to let them go.
  • Pray about making hard decisions – about what things you should keep, preserve, or let go.
  • Pick up a journal and write down your thoughts about what He has shown you or print my free prayer journal.
  • Choose an area in your home you want to tackle.
  • Fill at least one bag or box full of stuff to give away.
  • Take a picture of your bag. Share it on Facebook or Instagram – use hashtag #atimetoclean {optional}
  • Leave a comment below about what you chose to get rid of and anything else God has laid on your heart.
  • Do your best to wake up early tomorrow and spend time in prayer. Use your prayer journal.


Remember, one pile, drawer, or closet at a time. It’s how it gets done! 

What things do you think you need to let go? How do you preserve your precious memories?

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  1. those old t-shirts can be made into a quilt. the front is the top and the back is ..lol..the back. I've been getting rid of lots of things that were from the girls. I found the more I toss the easier it has gotten. I just yesterday finished with a paid for shed. its cleaned and gone. the shed that I had been paying for rent to own is empty..as of today. they will be coming to get my she shack possibly today...if not then tomorrow. I have to think of the money I'm saving by letting go of stuff. I'm going to toss that item that reminds me of a past awful hurt. thank you for your encouragement. This is such a blessing.
  2. Thank you for this. We built a house and I'm still in the process of decorating. Loving the farmhouse style has meant I could decorate with a lot of old things that belonged to my grandparents. This is especially great for me because I'm above average on the sentimental scale and it allows me to hold onto the memories of people and places from my perfect little childhood. Reading your blog and praying to God to help me see the areas I need to change made me realize I am focusing too much on my past. Our four year old daughter is still struggling to feel at home here, probably because I'm too excited to create my magazine worthy home that I haven't decorated with any of our current life. I need to work on showcasing the memories we are making in her childhood instead of the people and places I miss from mine. I'm going to start honoring my past while living more in the present!

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