22.4.13

Minimalist Monday: Memory Boxes















































This time a year ago we were very busy decluttering the big clutter hotspots in our home in preparation for downsizing. One of the hardest areas to conquer was the loft because we rarely went up there apart from at Christmas (it had no fixed ladder) and consequently what was put up there stayed put for the ten years or so that we lived there. Also at the time we thought we were buying a three storey house without a loft and little storage (just a garage) so we knew that we would not be able to hold onto most of the stuff we had always stored. Big decisions and big losses had to be made. Some things were easy to loose (why were we holding onto to a very dated 'Wendy House'? ) but other things were much harder to make decisions about. I deliberated over my wedding dress but eventually (and happily) donated it to Oxfam and we drastically edited down our vast collection of Christmas decorations. My husband got rid of many of his old school books.

A harder job, and one that could only be done by me, was editing down a vast collection of sentimental items - some from our courtship and wedding and many items from my children's baby, toddler and primary school days. I was glad that I had kept many of the items, but there were just too many. The big boxes of baby stuff I had kept were not attractive to look at, were disorganised and left me feeling more overwhelmed than nostalgic. There was too much to look at in one session so I spent several evenings going through the items, carefully choosing and saving those items that held the most meaning and throwing a lot away. Each time I came back to the collection the process of editing became easier. I already owned three neat white lidded boxes which I had bought in a random previous attempt at becoming organised and I decided that these would be ideal for keeping the most treasured items from my sons' early childhoods and our wedding. There were quite small but big enough to put quite a few items in. 


Although challenging and time consuming, in the end I enjoyed sorting out these sentimental items and realised that I would like these items to be more accessible in the future. I decided that if I kept fewer sentimental items they would be easier to store and look after and that I could enjoy handling them and looking at them more often. 


So what should you put in a memory box? The size of the boxes I chose dictated that I couldn't keep anything too bulky – I have had to put a few items like first shoes and a christening gown and shawl in a separate box and I keep selected photographs separately in albums. These are the sort of things I have put in my sons' memory boxes: hospital tags; scan pictures;  a newspaper from the day they were born and from the millennium; a CD from the week they were born; a babygro; cards from their births, christening and first birthdays; drawings and paintings; certificates, school reports and sports newspaper cuttings; letters to and from Santa and homemade cards made for us. Our wedding memory box contains letters, cards and a few small items from our wedding


I'm glad I took the time to edit down these sentimental items and I am happy that they now fit inside small, attractive boxes because the contents feel more like treasured memories. Also, even though in the end we lost the three storey house and moved to a house with a loft (and had a ladder fitted – yay) I actually keep my three memory boxes at the top of my wardrobe and not in the loft  because I like to have them near and know that they are safely stored. 


Putting a few memory boxes together was fairly easy and inexpensive and they give me lots of pleasure. At the moment my boys aren't that interested but I hope they will appreciate them one day. As the boxes are small at least they won't get too bored.




13 comments :

  1. I went through the same process last year and entirely agree with your conclusions. I'm planning to frame early art work from the children, now in their early thirties. It will bring back happy times for me and amuse the kids, no doubt.

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  2. I've been doing this same thing - whittling down the items is hard, but I'm getting there. I'd forgotten all about that song by "TAke That" until I saw your photo. I loved that song! Hmm, maybe I'll download it from iTunes.

    xx
    Jenny

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  3. Now I am humming Take That, too! I like your memory box idea. More isn't better.

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  4. I also was used to keep way too much memories... Not only from our wedding or my son birth... I was also keeping many, many things from all our trips/events... I realized many years ago that very few things are stored in my head, so keeping "physical stuff" was for me a way to remember what I have lived... Now I am trying to work on why those events don't stay in my memory and work on downsizing the "physical" memories...

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  5. That's a great idea, I think I need to do the same before it gets overwhelming.

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  6. Definitely a great idea ... I plan to do the same ... I will start soon and weed things out as I go along ... it shouldn't be too overwhelming if I can keep up with it ... Bee xx

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  7. I have in the last few months been going through this process after having our basement, where we stored everything we didn't want to throw out, renovated and turned into and an office. I have had to get rid of quite a lot of things including a lot of my daughter's baby things and found it incredibly hard to do. Like you I kept leaving it and going back to it and each time I went back I was able to throw more out. It is still an ongoing process and I still have lots of things stored in shed that I need to keep going through periodically until I can get it down to just a few things. I guess it is a process of letting go which is harder for some people than others for whatever reasons. I agree that it does feel satisfying and hope that eventually I will get everything down to a manageable level.

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  8. I was sorting out my sentimental boxes yesterday, they were stored at the top of our wardrobe, to be honest I've kept most things, I didn't feel ready to let any of it go just yet! The boxes were nice enough but I've transferred everything into one of my revamped suitcases. It looks lovely but ill let Mr Bea put it up there....far too Heaney! :) x

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  9. I've really whittled down the "memorabilia" that we keep. I would love to eventually only keep what fits in a small box. I keep telling myself, I'll remember things, without all the stuff!

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  10. My memory boxes are still much bigger than yours but I'm still working on it! I have recently scanned the boys' primary school reports and got rid of the originals, prompted by my youngest son's school who this year announced that from now on they would only e-mail reports. I have also scanned some certificates - such as the ones for "taking part in sports day" and all those "man of the match" ones. I know it's not exactly decluttering but we are getting there!

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  11. I have memory boxes for my two full of all the things you described in yours. I call them my "sentimental boxes". I love looking through them but what is really lovely is how much my daughter, who is six, loves looking through her baby things. x

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  12. I am in the process of doing this right now! I have been looking around at boxes and small suitcases and such like. I want the things to be part of our lives now as well and not stuck in the attic. Takes time though! Heather x

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  13. This is a fantastic idea I hardly have anything from when my boys were babies but I do have a few things that I might be able to add to a box , thanks for the inspiration

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