6 rules for clearing out sentimental clutter

It can be hard to say goodbye to old favourites, so here’s how to throw away mementoes without throwing away the memories

The moment you became a mum, it started. From baby’s hospital wristband to their first tooth, by now the memory boxes are bulging at the seams and spilling down from the loft – especially as you’ve had to add them to all the stuff you’ve already kept from your childhood!

As tempting as it is to keep every sentimental scrap, few of us have room for all of it and, if we’re truly honest, it just ends up as clutter that gathers dust.

So when a rainy day keeps you indoors, follow these rules for ruthlessly clearing out sentimental clutter.

1. Only keep what makes you smile

As you go through each box, pay attention to how each item makes you feel: does it make you happy or sad? Laugh or cry?

With the exception of understandable sadness over a lost loved one, each item should make you smile or laugh. You don’t need reminders of any bad experiences that are better left in the past, so if it makes you feel bad, throw it away.

2. Assess each item’s true value

As with the first point, if you grow bored when reading the umpteenth shop-bought card from your gran, simply signed ‘Love Nana’, that’s a sign that you will not miss it.

Of course keep the handmade card, or heartfelt poem, but the blurry photos, illegible letters and random ticket stubs? You can live without them.

3. Take a snapshot

If you can’t bring yourself to throw out or sell certain items, but they take up a lot of room – your wedding dress or your baby’s cot for example – take a picture of it.

You’ll still get the jolt of memory when you see the photograph but you can store them neatly away in a photo album, or on a digital hard drive.