Inside: Use these tips to declutter baby items while also preserving your precious memories of when your children were little.
A guest post by Cora Gold
Letting go of sentimental baby items is challenging, even for the most dedicated minimalists. We defy all reason, attaching value to the soiled onesies and broken toys.
These mementos carry so much emotional weight, but they are simply taking up space without much purpose anymore. How can you separate the truly precious from what you could let go of?
It can be done. Here are some ways to declutter baby things while preserving your precious memories.
Using a Practical Approach to Declutter Baby Items
Decluttering baby items will look different depending on what stage of life you’re in. Here are some questions to consider as you begin to declutter baby things from your home.
1. Do you plan to have more kids?
If you aren’t sure if you are done having kids, you may understandably want to hang onto more things in case you will need or want them later.
While it’s fine to keep things for a time, make sure to sort, declutter, and organize items before storing them.
Speaking of storage…
2. What storage space do you have available?
If you have plenty of storage space in your home, then it’s not a problem to store baby items for a time just in case you need them.
Just make sure to keep bins clearly labeled so that it’s easy to find things.
If you live in a smaller home or just don’t have much storage space then you’ll want to seriously consider what is really worth holding onto.
Keep in mind that baby clothes and gear tend to be fairly easy to come by through friends, family members, your community, or your local resale shop. That can help ease the stress of feeling like you need to hang onto everything.
3. Who could use your baby items?
Do you have a friend or family member you could lend items to but get them back later if needed? If you go this route, just know that you might not get everything back or it may not be in the same condition it was when you loaned it out.
If you have a few very sentimental pieces you may want to hang onto them while allowing the rest to be borrowed.
Speaking of sentimental items, here are some tips for sorting and decluttering baby items that are meaningful to you.
Tips on How to Declutter Baby Items That Are Sentimental
Decluttering sentimental baby items is not an easy process and you’ll likely need to deal with heavy feelings along the way. When you’re done, though, you’ll feel so much lighter and have more space in your home for what really matters.
Here are some tips to help you through the process.
1. Go Slowly
This isn’t a race. No one said you must go through all your kids’ sentimental clutter in an afternoon, day, week, or even month.
Only you can know how long you need the process to take. Some people can make decisions quickly and feel fine letting go. Others have to deal with their emotions more slowly.
Decision fatigue is real, so it’s perfectly fine if you need to walk away for a few minutes or half an hour during a decluttering session.
2. Make a Maybe Bin
The hardest part of letting go of any sentimental item is you can’t replace it. You have to know you’ll be OK getting rid of it.
Rather than let this stop your forward momentum, allow yourself a maybe pile — things you just aren’t confident about yet.
This isn’t an excuse to keep everything. Put all your maybe items in a box and label it with a specific end date.
Once you get to that deadline, re-evaluate the items in it. Allowing yourself some time and space can help you to determine whether or not you really want to save those items.
Keep the things you really love and donate or dispose of everything else.
3. Focus on Your Why
Nobody wakes up one morning deciding to declutter their baby things without a reason. Do you need more room in your home? Are the boxes, bins, and bags adding to your stress?
Even if you aren’t sure what your reason is, you have one. Take a little while and sit with your feelings. Establishing your “why” will help keep you motivated to finish the project.
Your why can be as simple as preparing for a move, needing more breathing room, or wanting the space for something else. When you keep your end goal in mind, it can help you to stay motivated throughout the process.
4. Ask the Important Questions
Sentimental items are the most difficult to part with. You can’t just ask yourself if the thing makes you happy.
The most important question you can ask during this process is, “Who am I keeping this for and why?”
You might be tempted to say you’re keeping them to give your kids when they’re older or to use for your grandchildren.
However, will your children appreciate you saving multiple bins or boxes of items they’ll have to sort through and deal with or store? More than likely, they’d prefer to receive one small container of specially curated items — just the best of the best.
Also, clothes and toys wear out and might not be of excellent quality by the time you have grandchildren, and you and their parents will probably want to buy them some new things anyway.
When you truly consider your motivations for keeping things, you’ll most likely realize you don’t want to let go of the memories. Just remember, you get to save the remembrances even if you don’t keep the items.
5. Create Limits
Let a container be your limit if you’re still struggling with what or how much to keep. Choose a bin or two to store your old baby things.
Then start with the items you love most and absolutely can’t part with.
Work your way down from there until your container is full. At that point, donate or discard the rest. The bin becomes the bad guy and the excuse you need to let everything else go.
Ways to Preserve Your Memories
Armed with these strategies, you’re ready to move forward and clear out the unnecessary clutter from your space and mind.
As you work through the pile, your emotional attachment to the stash may try to keep you from moving forward.
When this happens, try one of these methods to preserve your memories while letting go of the material things.
1. Attach the Memory to Something New
As a reward for a job well done decluttering your children’s baby things, get yourself a small gift in memory of them. You could buy a birthstone necklace with one gem for each of your children.
Even something as simple as a custom-printed photo album with pictures of your kids growing up might help soften the blow and give you a new way to hold on to the precious memories.
2. Repurpose a Few Items
There are likely a few items you just won’t be able to part with right away. Maybe it’s your favorite onesie or the blanket you brought your baby home in from the hospital.
Simplifying shouldn’t be torture, so don’t feel ashamed if you do decide to keep a few things.
One solution is to find ways to repurpose items. You could turn sew a few onesies together to make a blanket or pillowcase. That way, you can give them new life rather than allowing them to collect dust.
3. Take a Picture
Baby stuff takes up a lot of space, both physically and mentally. If you’re afraid that letting go of certain items will take the memory with it, take a picture.
Look through your phone or albums to see if you already have photos of some things.
Display these mementos in an album or frame rather than storing the physical object in your closet. You’ll save ample space while retaining your memories.
4. Make a Memory Box
Create a memory box of carefully curated items to pass to your children when they’re adults. You can look in there from time to time when you want to remember their infancy.
It will be much easier to sort through the baby things when you’ve narrowed it down to one bin rather than a large heap.
As an extra touch, consider writing a letter to your child about the reasons you kept each piece and the memories attached to it. Then, in the future, your kids will have your special words to remember you and their childhood.
Baby Items in a Bin Don’t Benefit Anyone
Ultimately, multiple bins of baby things aren’t benefiting anyone. They take up valuable space in your home and add mental clutter you just don’t need.
These tips can help you learn to let go of the stuff without losing the precious memories.
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of Revivalist magazine. She loves writing about family and living life to the fullest. Follow Cora on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
What’s your favorite tip to help declutter baby items? Share it in the comments section!
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