Sentimental clutter: what to keep

My home isn't empty, I just don't keep unimportant stuff in it.

Is sentimental clutter a thing? If it's sentimental, then it isn't technically clutter right?

I just really only keep the things that are really important to us as a family and that serve a purpose. Which means I have room for the sentimental things that matter. You might also know that when we moved from Alaska to Florida we brought only one suitcase each.  And I have a confession.

I actually kept a few boxes back home with sentiments of the kids.

And then had them shipped to us about a year after we moved. So we actually have two bins of memories that have travelled with us from Alaska to Florida, Florida to Idaho in addition to the one suitcase each we brought. I’m sorry for lying to you!

One of the things that comes up SO often when people begin their purges and simplifying their homes are the sentimental items.
The items that MEAN something to you. Which is every item ever, right? You can literally find a reason to keep anything, so since you are trying to purge and simplify this causes a problem.

So we box things up and store them in closets, attics, garages, storage units… never to be seen again. So how sentimental were they?

My biggest struggle leaving Alaska was throwing away, donating or selling all of the things I had serious attachments and memories with and it honestly felt a little like I was just letting those memories die. I think people now think that maybe I am not one to cherish memories and moments and have sentiments and that’s just not true.

Just like everything else I loved in my life got amplified when we ditched all of our stuff, so did my sentiments. When I keep closets cluttered full of papers, toys, old clothes etc. it makes for a cluttered mom mind (for me!) so being able to have their free and clear mind space, is absolutely worth being intentional about the sentimental items we do choose to keep.

For me, less is more. And does not mean none.

Sometimes, I make it sound like all we keep are things to keep us protected from the weather, and enough bread for one sandwich each. That’s not true. We keep and have many things. I am just very intentional about how I do that. Here are some ways that I keep and honor our sentimental items. Let’s be honest, shoving them into an attic and forgetting about them is not cherishing them.


My biggest weakness is the art work and school work my kids do. I could fill a house with the things they make,. I love reading the stories and sentences they write and getting peaks into their minds. So I display them! I will rotate through them, and keep the ones I love the most in a box. For the smaller things like silly sentences they write I take a picture. Otherwise, like I said our home would be FULL of papers we never read. I have a folder on our OneDrive account for these photos. I know they are in safe keeping and we can look back on these memories together one day. Without having closets and garages filled to the brim of boxes of papers.

Use them

Family jewelry, fancy dish sets, heirloom trinkets.. Use them! Just because they are fancy and beautiful doesn’t mean you cant use them. Who says you can’t make the nice dishes your every day dishes?? When I was a Montessori teacher my fellow teachers looked at me like I was crazy when I gave the kids real dishes to use for fear of them breaking or being mistreated.

The opposite happened. Children carried themselves with grace and care because they knew what they were using was valuable and fragile. The same can be true for your family. I’m not saying you have to, or should. I am just hoping to give you a perspective of the type of environment you can create with the items special to you. Who wants to pass on a set of used dishes that sat in a box for twenty years never used?? Use the pretty things. Display the items filled with all the good positive memory energy. Surround yourself with the things that make you feel good. USE the things that remind you of something happy, like your grandma’s pretty dishes.

Just go ahead and box it up and keep it

Some things are just meant to be kept.  I really mean that. When my kids outgrow their toys I will absolutely box them up and store them until my grandkids are ready to play with them.

I have a pair of green shorts every one of my kids have worn and played in and I will keep those forever. My son has a blanket he brought everywhere with him for five years until he started Kindergarten. I will keep and cherish those things forever even if they have no use, or display. One of our favorite things to do is open up those bins and remember all the good times. The things we keep hold that energy, and that to me is worth keeping around.

Keeping things with memories attached is not a problem. It’s when we make an excuse to keep so much that our spaces are cluttered and it takes away from what matters most to us.

Everything is your space demands your attention – the blaring tv, the toys on the shelves, the dishes in the sink, the pile of candles on your coffee table, your kids asking you to play.. you have to choose what is a priority and start ditching the things that aren’t if you want more time and space for what matters to you in your motherhood experience.


Even if you have little time, energy or day to day support