In my continuing quest to reduce stuff in our house I’ve started to tackle the loft. It is full of things that are both useful (children’s clothing, camping gear, suitcases and decorations) and also many items that could be culled (books, paperwork).
However as I have recently discovered it’s also a place filled with memories and sentimental attachments and therein lies the problem: how can I get rid of sentimental things?
Last week I came across my daughters’ Baby Boxes. They’re IKEA cardboard boxes filled with scrapbooks of birthday cards, first shoes, baptism candles, newspaper cuttings, school books and christening gifts. Wearing my Minimalist hat I began to wonder if we really need to keep onto all of this stuff. A true Minimalist would say it’s only possessions and that they shouldn’t own us. It’s a waste of time and space storing them when they aren’t useful. Why not digitally download the cards, birth announcements, school reports etc and get rid of the rest? But the mother in me was more reluctant to let go of some of those items to which I had attached sentimental value.
I began to sort through the boxes and divided the contents into four piles:
1) Things that we could make use of
While rummaging through the boxes I came across a couple of mugs (Winnie the Pooh and a Diamond Jubilee souvenir cup). Surely these would be better of being used for their original purpose, ie drinking out of, rather than gathering dust in a box. I also discovered a beautiful necklace which had been given as a christening present. This has now been put in the girls’ jewellery box so that it can be worn.
2) Things that can be reduced
My girls love to write and so I decided to keep only those school exercise books that related to writing and literacy topics. All the other books I kept onto were recycled, or empty pages taken out to re-use.
3) Things that can be kept for sentimental reasons
I know this should be the smallest pile. I kept onto scrapbooks containing christening and birthday cards, newspaper cuttings from when they were born and baptism candles. There were also some ‘traditional’ christening gifts that I wasn’t sure of. In the end I decided to keep onto the vanity set and egg and spoon gift because the girls could decide what they wanted to do with them in the future. It did make me think about baptism/new baby gifts I have given in the past, and I wondered how many of them were now gathering dust in someone’s attic.
4) Things to give away
I found a lot of soft toys in the boxes. Some still had their labels on and only one them I could actually remember. I had no idea whom the other toys had been given by, or if my babies had ever played with them. As cute as they looked I knew it was time for them to go. However I’m still uncertain about getting rid of a couple which is where my Minimalist aspirations v Sentimental feelings fight each other.
In the end I was able to reduce the contents of the boxes, make practical use of some of the contents and donate other items. The Baby Boxes still remain and I hope that I have kept the important things for the girls to treasure in years to come.