The Wall Street Journal had a great article on The Psychology of Clutter.
The article highlights a woman who is holding onto her kids’ toys, clothes, artwork, papers, and baby furniture. “Every time I think about getting rid of it, I want to cry,” She fears her children, will grow up and think she didn’t love them if she doesn’t save it all. “In keeping all this stuff, I think someday I’ll be able to say to my children, ‘See—I treasured your innocence. I treasured you!’ “
My experience after 7 years of working with people to help them organize their lives is that children often resent their parents for holding on to much stuff. I can honestly say that I have never had anyone say to me “I wish that my mother would have kept…” In many cases, I work with people whose parents have died or have moved into a care facility and they of inherited all their stuff. They often feel that if it is important to their parents, it needs to be important to them. It is just as important to think “Why am I holding on to this?” with almost anything.
Please do not go to the other extreme and get rid of everything. A friend of mine told me a few years ago that when her sister died, she threw away all of her mother’s photos, which included all of their family photos and now there are no pictures from my friend’s childhood.
Just a few things to think about:
1 – How many of one type of item do you need to keep? (do you need 3 boxes of a child’s drawings from elementary school)
2 – Set a limit on how many of something that you will keep and use and/or cherish. (do you use 3 sets of China and 5 other sets of dishes)
3 – What is the worst thing that could happen if I get rid of this?
4 – Can someone use this or love it more?
REMEMBER you never remove a person or place from your memory – just give yourself more space to enjoy the memories or make new ones!