Reader Andrew submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
I agree and aspire to be neat, minimalist, the epitome of uncluttered … but I have a couple of high priced items that I haven’t used in some time but feel I would regret if I didn’t have them … primarily because I feel my kids could one day use them. So I wonder:
- Have you ever regretted getting rid of something?
- What do you do about “legacy” items?
The items are few, but still weigh upon my mind.
Great questions, Andrew!
Addressing the first question: Yes, I have regretted getting rid of something.
In my early days of uncluttering, I wanted to be uncluttered RIGHT THEN. I was ready to live my uncluttered life and I didn’t want to have to sort through all of my possessions. I just wanted the clutter magically gone.
One day my patience grew thin, and I tossed to the curb some boxes I hadn’t unpacked since my previous move. I didn’t even look in the boxes. I figured if I’d lived without the stuff for a year, I couldn’t possibly need it.
Except, in one of the boxes was stuff I needed — my passport, my birth certificate, my immunization records — all my vital documents.
I’ve been able to replace these items, but doing so was an extremely long and frustrating experience. Had I simply opened the boxes, I would have instantly seen the mistake I was making. But, I was in a hurry and didn’t want to take the time to do the project correctly. I regret getting rid of those things.
I’ve never regretted getting rid of something that I took the time to sort through and conscientiously review.
Addressing the second question: I keep a few legacy items for my son.
We have a large Rubbermaid storage box in our office closet with my son’s name on it. There isn’t much in it right now — his baby book, his first pair of shoes. However, this is the box where we plan to store any legacy items we think he might want of ours when he is an adult.
We can’t keep everything we think he might one day want, so we limit ourselves to only storing things we can fit in this very specific space. If it doesn’t fit, we don’t store it. Things we don’t store, we either use or give away. Our goal isn’t to clutter up his future home with our stuff, so we are making the decisions during his childhood instead of forcing him to deal with a giant amount of our things when he’s an adult.
Additionally, in our Wills we have directions for items we regularly use — like the watch my husband wears, which isn’t very expensive but has sentimental value — stating that if he wants these things, we would like for him to have them. The Wills also give him permission to not keep the items if that is his choice. We know he doesn’t need permission, but we want to make it clear that he shouldn’t feel any guilt if he chooses to part with the objects.
Legacy items are reminders that you are part of a family, and the items honor and represent these caring relationships. I think it’s nice to pass on a few things to your children. That being said, don’t go overboard. You don’t want to overwhelm your children with stuff that can clutter up their adult lives. I’ve found that putting space restrictions on storing these items is a good way to keep out the clutter and only store the most treasured items, the items your child will truly cherish and appreciate that you kept.
Thank you, Andrew, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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