Do you have a basement full of boxes or bins, stuffed with mementos from the past? You aren’t alone. Adults of all ages struggle with knowing what to keep and what to pitch from their own childhood, as well as from their time as a parent. If you’ve ever wondered whether you can finally toss those books your now-grown child loved when they were a toddler, here are a few tips for discerning what to treasure and what to let go.
Downsizing Is Healthy
Even if you don’t have plans to downsize your home in the next few years, you can still downsize your “stuff.” Although thinking about sifting and sorting through the boxes of clothing you kept from when your children were infants can be overwhelming, the process and the results of your efforts are well worth it. Downsizing can help you feel more creative, help you utilize your space better, save you money, and even help you feel more energized.
Knowing What to Keep
Your downsizing process begins by taking the time to sift through your most important documents and items. Be sure that your hands touch each item as you decide whether or not to keep the item, donate it, or sell it. Always keep important documents such as your birth certificate, marriage certificate, immigration records, family trees, or other legal papers. You may wonder, though, what to keep after those documents are safely filed away.
One way to help you make your decisions is to designate a memento space, such as a trunk or a shelf in your closet, where your saved items will go. When you’ve completely filled that space, you can no longer keep additional items. Choosing a concrete space limit will help you make wiser decisions about what stays and what goes.
Consolidate What You Keep
Mementos of your childhood or your children’s childhood can evoke powerful emotions. It’s no wonder you keep certain trinkets or treasures for decades; these pieces of clothing or kindergarten art make you feel nostalgic and content. When you choose to downsize, you certainly don’t have to get rid of what makes you happiest.
However, you can consolidate what you keep, making it easier to find additional space. For example, keep your favorite clothing items and transform pieces from each into a beautiful memory quilt you can display and use in your home. If you aren’t a quilter, don’t worry. There are plenty of local and national companies that will make your memories into a beautiful heirloom piece that you can pass on for generations.
Another way to consolidate items and display them in a new way is to create photo books. This is an especially excellent option for the artwork you have kept or the recipe cards you have held onto for decades. Take photos of the pieces and compile them into a photo book for your bookshelf or coffee table.
Talk to Your Family
Before you donate, sell, or toss any potentially sentimental item, be sure to offer the item to your family members first. You’ll feel good knowing that the item is headed to a good home to be loved, and that your loved one will take it out of your home to enjoy.
Your child’s favorite book series may be taking up space in your basement, but check with your child before donating them. Your child may want to take a few favorites to pass down to their own child. Just be sure that your child or other loved one picks up the items in a timely manner so that your basement does not become storage for their items.
If you’re ready to downsize your “stuff” and your home in order to enjoy a retirement lifestyle full of new adventures, download our free guide: “The Journey to Senior Living.” This step-by-step guide walks seniors and their families through common questions and scenarios as they prepare for this exciting new stage of their retirement.
Remember, your future is just as exciting and happy as your past. Cheers to new beginnings!