I think it would shock many people who know me now, that as a small child, I was a bit of a pack rat and wanted to save EVERYTHING for “someday” and “just in case”.
Even now, when I try to be as minimalistic as possible, it can be hard as a vintage lover. It’s difficult for me to pass up something that I know is a beautiful vintage piece, even if it’s not my style, my size or something that I would use, and it’s even harder for the frugal gal inside of me to bring these things home, use them once or twice and then figure out what to do with it.
However, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to help cut down on the clutter that fills up everyone’s basements, attics, spare bedrooms and tool sheds – even mine.
As kid and now as an adult, I was always touched to find something that I made that my parents had hung on to – a drawing, a cheap dollar store gift I had given them, or a craft from preschool. My parents still put up our homemade Christmas tree ornaments every year.
However, it’s hard to keep everything. If your child goes to play school 3 times a week and always has an art class, that’s ~156 drawings in one year. Try displaying the newest piece of art while scanning the most recent one. Keep a file folder for each child on your computer, with sub-folders for photos, videos and artwork. Then, at the end of the year (or their birthday), make a video using everything you stored during the year, then clear out your folder to make room for next year.
Fun TIP: Watch each film on their birthday or New Year’s Day to reflect on the last year and start making new memories! This way you’ll also be organized for those milestone years where they’ll want keepsake photos, like high school graduation or their wedding.
Whittle it down
Do you need to keep all of the kids’ stuffed animals, or will just keeping one or two suffice? One baby toy will represent their babyhood as well as 10. I was very attached to my stuffed animals as a kid and had loads, but I eventually whittled it down to three, which are now tucked away for safekeeping until I have babies to pass them on to.
This is a great one to get your kids involved with as well – ask them to pick a few that they want to keep and explain the rest will go to little kids who don’t have as many toys.
Do you have photos of these items or the memories they represent? Instead of keeping souvenirs, maybe you can compile a photo collage from your trips and hang it on your walls (this could also save you money in the long run!).
Turn baby blankets (or what’s left of them) into one big throw for the family room. You could also do this with your favorite concert T-shirts, or, if they’re autographed and/or in delicate condition, put them in shadow boxes to hang up. I have a number of vintage sewing patterns that have beautiful artwork displayed in a shadow box in my sewing room
TIP: If you’re displaying old paper products, make sure they’re kept out of the light to keep from fading.
Out with the unused
Keep an outbox for items that you haven’t made a decision on. At the end of the month, if you haven’t gotten it out of the box it goes to the donate/throw out pile.
Research where to take your donations and your throw aways. The City of Edmonton will recycle textiles and donate any useable clothes, while museum and archives might be looking for items that help tell the stories of a specific time, region or culture. It’s never a bad sale to throw a few items in good condition on Kijiji or garage sale Facebook pages to see if someone else can use them (and if you can get a little cash for it).
Waiting for “someday”? Sit down and be realistic when that will happen.
If you do decide to store items that are important to you, research how you should store them. Anything that you’re storing should be kept in cool, dry and stable environments (so basements and attics are a no-no) that are dark.
Your wedding or graduation dress should be dry cleaned and folded with acid-free paper and boxed up – never hang a dress for too long, because the heavy gown will pull on the shoulders.
If you find it hard to let go or don’t know where to start, look for a professional organizer in your area to help you.