A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Letting Go of Your Not-So-Favorite Clutter

I was rocking my three year old daughter yesterday afternoon. We were singing and snuggling. As she hugged me as hard as she could, she looked up at me and said:

“Mama, I love you sometimes.”

I couldn’t help myself and just starting laughing. As the youngest in a household of 10, she often chooses words she doesn’t yet comprehend.

When I thought about it later, it struck me that our clutter problems can be like that. We tend to hold onto things even though we just love them sometimes.

Whether we’re talking about clothes, pictures, books, collectibles, toys, electronics, or kitchen gadgets only keep the things you love ALL the time.

When it comes to our stuff, you’re allowed to pick favorites, choose sides, and use some tough love. Holding onto things we only love or use some of the time is the major cause of clutter in our homes. Maybe it’s time to make some tough choices.

What are the hardest things for you to let go of?

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Article originally published on 01/17/2012

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  1. For me, it’s the kitchen electronics. I’ll think about getting rid of something and remember how having a certain item was so helpful – that one time I had to use it. And I’ll talk myself into keeping it because what if that situation happens again? So now these items are taking up space in my cabinets when there shouldn’t be anything there at all.

    • Faith Janes says

      I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets too but only if they make my life easier AND are quick to clean. I could never stand to clean the food processor so it rarely got used. I use one of those food choppers that you bang your hand on the top ALL the time. It’s faster and safer than a knife and is a snap to clean. The more room something takes up it has to prove itself even more useful to me.

  2. I have difficulty getting rid of things my mother gave me that are supposed to be “heirlooms”. They don’t really have a lot of value, and I never met the people who made them or gave them to her. But I am supposed to treasure her memories by keeping them. There are things that I have out that I do treasure but also a trunk full (thankfully only that much) that are worthless to me but she might ask about. How about a post on getting rid of things (or not) when it will offend someone you love?

  3. I have the hardest time letting go of my 7 year old daughters stuff, a cute stuffed animal that I can look at and remember when and why we bought it and how she reacted, or a drawing of hers that says I heart u, or her old favorite books. She is really getting into art and has brought home some amazing pieces, probably 5 canvases since September. I bought a school days binder/memory keeper thing from Sam’s Club and I am limiting school stuff to that, it has pockets in it and I recently went through all her pre- school drawings etc and kept a handful of those in a regular folder. I have an under-bed storage box that I am putting her folder mentioned above and art pieces in, and I am limiting myself to that. It is hard for me to let go of those art pieces, she works so hard on them and is so proud. I think we will start gifting them to family members. Baby #2 is on the way, so I am really trying to get a hold on this now!

    • Faith Janes says

      That is hard for sure. One thing we’ve done for drawings, finger paintings, etc. is to run them through a scanner so we end up with digital copies. They’re great to add into a digital frame so an entire collection of artwork and memories that cycle through. You can also make sure your kids or other family members end up with digital files of those images so you can share the memories.

      For items that are larger like canvases or other artwork, you can take pictures of them with or without your child holding them. It’s usually just the memory trigger that we need to hold onto and not the physical item.

      Limiting the items to a physical place like the under bed storage is a good plan as well. When it gets too full, you’re forced to go through the collection and pick our your favorites. They can’t all be favorites.

      I like the idea of gifting the art pieces to family members too as long as they don’t feel guilty if they don’t keep them forever. It sounds like you have some great memories and you’ll be able to enjoy those for a long time to come even without the physical items.

  4. I recently gave away some wrenches in assorted non-standard sizes that I’d been holding onto because they had come in handy every now and then. It turns out I only loved/needed them sometimes, and I have other alternatives that work just as well.

    • Faith Janes says

      That’s great, Jonathan. I imagine tools can be as big of a weakness as kitchen gadgets. 🙂 Between my dad, husband, and three brothers the tool collection around here is overwhelming. But I’ve noticed that they tend to go back to the tried and true tools over and over again.

  5. I’m once again working on my sentimental hoard. 7 years of kid pictures, cards etc… I know it’s time to let go! It just took almost 3 years of living simply and decluttering the rest of my life to get to this point…

  6. We recently had to do a major downsize from 2600 sq ft to a 2 7 ft rv. I love to set a pretty table, now I don’t have room to entertain like that, but I want to keep dishes I’d collected but can’t use. Some were fairly easy to put in the give away/discard pile. Some had strings still attached to my heart. So those I kept in reserve for perhaps a future day.

    • Faith Janes says

      I think that’s a great plan. Nothing wrong with holding onto the things that tug our heart strings. In my mind, that is far different than holding onto stacks of things “just in case” or because we feel like we have to.

      Transitioning to RV life sounds like a fun challenge indeed.

  7. Things that I am feeling guilty for not using, like wedding gifts. Things from my childhood, like porcelain dolls!


  1. […] Janes of Minimalist at Home shared a great post about a cute moment between mother and daughter.  Her daughter said, “Mama, I love you […]

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