How To Hold On To Your Cherished Memories While Downsizing Your Life

May 13, 2019

One of the hardest parts of moving is the realization that you’ll be leaving behind years of cherished memories. This is especially true if those memories are attached to items that are likely to become targets in a move that requires downsizing or simplifying. As you decide which items stay and which go, you’ll notice that the stuff most soaked in sentiment is typically what remains. This could apply to a range of things, like kitchenware, clothes, jewelry, toys, decorations, even your most sentimental treasures. After all, it’s not unusual to become attached to things that remind us of our passed or loved ones. However, because a clutter-free home is generally preferred, most of these treasures end up buried in boxes in the garage or attic, only to be rediscovered at move time.

So, how do you part ways with stuff that evokes so much emotion when the objective is to downsize? Fortunately, there are several ways to simplify the sentimental. Each idea involves focusing on what is most important, as well as honoring the past.

Share the Love

Unless you’re on a strict requirement to live with only a few select things, why not put some of your most sentimental items on display? Paring down your possessions does not necessarily mean ridding yourself of all of them. Instead, choose a few select items that carry the most meaning and put them on display. This allows you to honor your special moments, or loved ones, without having to worry about cluttering your new space with loads of boxes that have been out of sight and mind for so long.

Make it Useful

Another idea is to put some of those special items to use. For example, why not use that fine china your parents passed down or that necklace that belonged to great grandma? Simply donate your everyday dishes and start eating off the plates that mean so much. Or wear great grandma’s necklace every day instead of waiting for a special occasion to get it out. There are possibly several items you can’t really use but someone else may find quite useful. Don’t hesitate to pass them on.

Put it in the Cloud

This term might seem a bit foreign, but it’s quickly becoming a very useful space saver, as well as protector. If you’ve been holding on to decades’ worth of printed photographs, scrapbooks, documents, receipts or other paperwork, it may be time to digitize them and then give them the old heave-ho. You can easily scan or copy most everything yourself, or hire someone to do it for you, and then organize everything into digital files for easy access. From there, you have lots of accessible cloud-based storage options at your disposal (such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud).

Shoot Your Stuff

As you declutter, there will undoubtedly be many sentimental items that won’t make the move or simply can’t be scanned or digitized. But don’t let that stop you from saving the sentimental value attached to each. Solution: simply preserve the memories of these items through photography. For instance, if you’ve been holding on to your little league jersey but no longer have a place for it, take of photo of your grandchild wearing it. Then, once you’ve captured photos of everything of value, create a digital photo book with descriptive captions so you can enjoy the memories associated with these keepsakes without the hassle of figuring out where to store everything. A book like this can make a special gift for loved ones who also share those memories with you.

Tell Your Story

As you downsize your home or simplify your life, you will realize that the most sentimental things aren’t always things at all, but the stories that accompany them. Take time to write your story as you begin this new chapter in your life. By recording the stories, instead of holding on to the objects associated with them, you will open up a possibility for treasure that is far more valuable than the item ever would be. As you write about that necklace from great grandma, you may actually be surprised when the description turns into a beautiful narrative about an afternoon the two of you spent together.

When it comes to letting go, it’s important to approach each area of your life with a similar attitude. The beauty comes from what unfolds. Not only will you make room for the best life has to offer, but you will clearly identify what is most meaningful. Instead of filling boxes with the things that define your life, you will have the opportunity to spend more time creating experiences. And those will be the stories you’ll cherish forever.