Q: “How Can I Purge the Mountains of Childhood Memorabilia from My Home?”
“The first rule of dealing with childhood memorabilia: You are allowed to keep everything you want to keep. That’s right. There’s no reason why you have to get rid of — or keep — anything belonging to your children. Most parents, I find, feel less overwhelmed after they hear this, and they’re able to make quick, easy decisions about what they will and won’t keep.”
Q: “My two boys are now 19 and 17. How can I purge all of the childhood memorabilia I’ve collected over the years? It’s overwhelming, especially having to sort through the organized garage boxes and the not-so-organized boxes of stuff in my bedroom and in theirs.”
If your children are off to college, a trade school, or otherwise leaving home, it makes perfect sense to sort through and cull their childhood memorabilia and belongings. But this transitional phase of your lives is wrought with emotion, so nothing is simple.
The first rule of dealing with your kids’ childhood memorabilia: You are allowed to keep everything you want to keep. That’s right. There’s no reason why you have to get rid of — or keep — anything belonging to your children. Most parents, I find, feel less overwhelmed after they hear this, and they’re able to make quick, easy decisions about what they will and won’t keep.
Second, find out if your kids want to save any items. Be ready to hear, “I don’t want anything,” even if you suspect that they’ll want an item when they get older. In that case, feel free to save select items for them. Reassess their interest in said items in a few years’ time. In my time helping families stay organized, I’ve found that most people lose interest in childhood memorabilia after they turn 25.
The best time to reassess your children’s interest in items of the past is during the holidays or any other big family get-together. Your children might laugh when you drag out the big bins where you’ve been keeping their things all this time. Then they’ll likely start digging through those bins and sharing childhood memories and experiences.
While a great bonding activity, there is a catch: This scene is hard to recreate. So at the end of this great and memorable experience, ask your kids if they want to save any of the items in the bins. If they say no, they mean no. Still, you are allowed to keep as much as you want.
You might feel conflicted about what to do with any leftover items because you’re afraid of losing precious memories. But I believe that if a memory is worth saving, it’s worth having on display. So create scrapbooks, decorate the hallways with childhood drawings, and find other ways to showcase memories instead of hiding them away in storage.
Getting Rid of Childhood Memorabilia: Next Steps
- Free Download: How to Tidy Up Your Home Like a Pro
- Read: “How Do I Get Rid of My Sentimental Clutter?”
- Read: The Professional Organizer’s Guide to Getting Rid of ADHD Clutter
The content for this article was derived from the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled, “Your Organized Home: Functional Organization for Your Life Phase Right Now” [Video Replay & Podcast #463] with Lisa Woodruff, which was broadcast on July 19, 2023.
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