How to let go of childhood memorabilia

Of course we want to encourage creativity in children. But do parents really need to keep their children’s crayoned masterpieces and memorabilia forever? Is it OK to let them go?

Childhood memorabilia

Many parents have boxes full of their children’s creations, which they never look at but somehow feel obliged to keep, year after year. In some cases they keep them long after the child has grown up.

Photograph the items and let them go

Maybe these works of art were once proudly displayed on walls as examples of their children’s creative abilities. But as the years pass by they are just stacked somewhere, collecting dust and stagnant energy around them. Their time and usefulness has passed.

The best solution I know for this problem is to take photos of the best pieces and then throw all the originals away. They are never going to come in useful some day. And if you ever feel a compelling urge to look through them again, digital images will do the job just as well and take up no physical storage space in your home at all.

The same can be done with children’s clothing and other childhood items being kept by parents (or by children who have grown up and now become adults) for sentimental reasons. Just take a photo of each item and then let the original go.

How to develop a healthy relationship with childhood memorabilia

Something to bear in mind as you reflect on this topic is whether you have ever heard of anyone who felt their life was ruined because their parents didn’t keep all their childhood creations. I never have and I bet you haven’t either.

Yes, it’s good to appreciate them all at the time your child produces them but there really doesn’t seem to be any psychological need for them to be kept. Children live and create in the moment and then they move on to the next thing. It’s the parents who get stuck and try to hold on.

If you decide to keep some items for a while, allocate a fixed amount of storage space. If it fills up and starts to overflow, sort through it and let some things go. The earlier you can involve your children in the decision-making process about this, the better. But until they are old enough to decide for themselves, it is the parents’ responsibility to do this on their behalf — after doing your own clutter clearing, of course.

I personally don’t own a single piece of artwork, clothing or anything else from my childhood, and I don’t feel my life lacks anything because of it. In fact, I’m sure that being unencumbered in this way has brought me greater freedom to change and grow. And moving house is certainly a whole lot easier, not having to drag mounds of memorabilia from one place to the next!

Related articles
Photograph your sentimental clutter and let it go
Adult children’s clutter stored in the family home

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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2016, updated 2019


About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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One Response to How to let go of childhood memorabilia

  1. Kate says:

    After my mum died I discovered a suitcase full of my old artwork – it smelled of mould. I burned all my artwork that my mum had saved in a ritual involving a wood-burning stove. I looked at each piece and said goodbye to the child I was. Most of the images were gruesome depictions of ghosts, skeletons, witches and ghouls – probably my subconscious reaction to my awful childhood and aggressive mum. They were amusing to look at, as some ghosts had plush homes complete with a toilet. I photographed all and burnt them. Except one painting of a triumphant peacock which represents to me the overcoming of adversity – it looks quite Phoenix-like! I framed it properly and it’s in my living room. I feel happy when I look at it. I also gave my childhood teddy away to charity. Gotta grow up sometime!

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