Sentimental Declutter – Client Interview
Letting go of sentimental items can be hard. I remember in 2016 when Marie Kondo told us during our KonMari Consultant Training course that she had only just finished decluttering her photos, I let out a sigh of relief! Getting through all our nostalgic items can take a long time. And sentimental paper such as cards, letters, old diaries and journals are right up there with some of the hardest items to clear out.
So this week, to boost your confidence and motivation to clear out those sentimental items weighing down the corners of your home we had a chat with one of our Melbourne-based clients who has spent lockdown clearing out her sentimental paper. Kate takes us through what it has been like wading through years of sentimental items – and how lockdown was the perfect opportunity.
What exactly did you declutter?
Sentimental paper collected over a period of about 15 years – from childhood to about my mid-twenties. I love paper, I’m really drawn to it, so I have collected a lot over the years – magazine articles, birthday cards, letters, programs I’ve saved from shows, diaries, – you name it.
What motivated you to declutter?
I’ve been wanting to declutter my childhood bedroom for a long time but was never back at the family home for long enough. When the pandemic hit I moved back, and have had months to spend on it – one of the silver linings of a less than ideal situation!
All that paper spilling out of the cupboards had been weighing on me every time I went home. It felt heavy, and like it belonged to a version of myself that no longer existed.
Was this your first time decluttering?
No, I’ve been decluttering for years – I’ve always loved having a tidy environment. I also spent the first half of my twenties living out of a suitcase which meant constant decluttering in order to be able to carry everything I owned with me.
In one word how would describe how you felt starting the process?
Overwhelmed! Once I had gathered all of the paper together in one place, there were just piles and piles of it and I didn’t really know where to start. It was tempting to shove it all back! That’s why I reached out to Sally – for the first time, I felt I needed some additional guidance. She helped me categorise everything – breaking it down into further categories helped me get through the start of the process.
Kate the ‘paper-lover’ took on a huge sentimental declutter
“When the pandemic hit I had months to declutter – one of the silver linings of a less than ideal situation”
How has this declutter been different?
This has been the most time-consuming declutter I have ever done. Mainly because for the first time I have actually had that time and space. I essentially transferred all of my sentimental paper into my parents’ spare room (a luxury I definitely don’t have in the city!) and worked on it over a period of about six weeks. I think I needed that time – it’s obviously emotionally exhausting decluttering nostalgic items – so being able to stop and come back to it a few days later was helpful.
Was there anything unexpected along the way?
I’ve probably kept more than I thought I would, but I’m comfortable with that. For example, at the start I pictured myself chucking out lots of my childhood diaries and a huge, heavy weight lifting, but in the end I kept almost all of them! I realised that having a historical record of my life is something I highly value.
One unexpected find was my childhood scrapbooks. I have about six or seven which I hadn’t looked at in probably about two decades. I assumed they would be just full of rubbish so I thought I’d have no difficulty chucking them. Actually though, I’ve kept them all.
One of them turned out to contain the only birthday cards I ever received from my grandfather before he died when I was 10.
I can’t believe they had just been shoved in the cupboard for that long without a thought – or that I had been about to hurl them all in the recycling bin!
Would you recommend engaging Sally, and at what point?
I would highly recommend booking in a tidy session with Sally, especially if you’ve never decluttered before, or are about to tackle a particularly challenging category. In either case I would recommend booking in the session before you start.
Sally will help you to sort things into categories and will help you formulate a strategic plan. She will also help you to talk through why you want to declutter and what you hope to get out of it. It’s important to clarify this at the beginning of the process so that you have a clear idea of what you’re working towards.
How do you feel now?
Lighter and more in control. Rather than feeling like these items were weighing me down, I feel like I’ve deliberately chosen them and curated a collection of things which I actually want to read and look at.
Do you have a decluttering dilemma and need some extra support? A session with Sally could be exactly what you’re looking for. Sally will help you through the hardest hurdle of starting a sentimental declutter, provide a helping hand when things get overwhelming and guide you step by step to meet your goals. Within an hour you will know where and how to start and be equipped with a personalised tidy plan set out into achievable sections.