Friday, April 8, 2011

When Decluttering Collides with Sentimentality

Spring is here (well, supposedly - I have a smidgeon of fresh snow) and it’s time to do some annual cleaning. While you’re at it, why not get rid of a bunch of stuff so that you have less to take care of? I actually wrote a declutter how-to last April on Suite101 with an embarrassing photo of my very own sewing room. Now if I could just follow my own advice!

I’m cycling again through a bout of minimalism. This happens periodically and I make some headway only to get distracted. But at least I’m slowly making some progress! If you’re like me, you have too much stuff but you just can’t throw it all away. I have the additional challenge of living very remotely (think 1.5 miles of trail to the car) so donating something requires more than just marching it outside to the trunk and driving it to the local thrift store. But enough excuses!

Oh, the memories!

One of the items I may finally release is a rocking chair I got about 35 years ago when my oldest son was a baby. That rocker served me well through four kids but isn’t much use now. My attachment comes from the memories - hours of sitting with infants and toddlers, nursing babies or rocking away owies and fevers. Well, they all grew up and left home. And the chair is in need of repair so is used as a catchall rather than a seat. Hmm, what’s wrong with this picture?

What to do?

Now for the question of what to do? Throwing it away is out of the question. Getting it to the car requires effort but is doable. None of my kids wants it so I can’t take that easy way out. It needs some repair so I wouldn’t take it to a thrift store. How do I find someone who wants a rocker and can repair what’s wrong? I guess this is why it’s still sitting next to my bed holding my latest nighttime reading material.

So am I destined to be a failure at getting rid of things, especially those with sentimental value? Maybe. At least a partial failure. But I’m working on it and so should you. With every surplus item I release, I gain less to care for and peace of mind. But dealing with sentimental items is an issue that I’ve yet to resolve. Any suggestions? Please leave a comment and let me know how you’ve dealt with this problem.


  1. Hi Crystal,
    I really liked your post on sentimentality and decluttering. Have you tried Freecycle or Craigslist for your chair? If you live in a remote area you can always meet the person you pass items on to in a public place. Or, if there is a trade school or HS "shop" teacher, he/she may want the chair to teach repair techniques. Both these strategies have worked for me. Hope this helps.

  2. Thanks for the ideas, Ellen! Hadn't thought of the HS and not sure they still have a shop class, but that's a really good suggestion. It's a great chair - just not "sitable" as is so would be a good repair project for a class.