Welcome back to our Reclaim Your Life series helping homeschool moms regain control of their time, health, homes, and budgets.

You’ve landed in the middle of our Organization Tips for Moms who need calm in their homes to thrive but struggle to overcome the clutter.

We’ve touched on Making a Master To-Do List, time management, and now we’re looking at how to declutter…because the word “decluttering” is magic and elusive. Harder than it sounds at first glance.

But so powerful – in fact, research suggests it would cut your housework down by almost half!

Especially as a homeschool mom. Even more so if you’re homeschooling and working full-time too. But it’s powerful in the amount of joy and health and time it can provide for us. Let’s take a look!

How to declutter your sentimental items

Decluttering Sentimental Items From Your Homeschool

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You know that the end of the year will find you with a giant pile of adorable essays, glittery art, fascinating unit, and book studies.

You long for the organization but struggle to declutter sentimental items. Don’t worry! You are not alone.

Decluttering school memorabilia is incredibly challenging in the homeschooling house. You have a lot of special memories attached to those school items.

They’re from field trips and unit studies you did. Perhaps it was a favorite book you bonded over or an idyllic afternoon tea that came to mind.

You need a system to help you declutter the sentimental items and keepsakes from your year.

You can use the following suggestions to help you ways to declutter your homeschool keepsakes without breaking your heart along the way.

Why Is it Sentimental?

First things first. Ask yourself why an item is sentimental to you. Is it the item itself or the memory attached to it?

If it’s the memory, you can find another way to hold onto it without needing that specific thing. Think journaling and memory books for starters. Get the kids involved and create a photo book.

You can take pictures of the items and then add notes about when you used or created with it.

On the other hand, if the item is sentimental, you might want to find space somewhere else.

Maybe you collected cameras, and you have your grandfather’s collection of cameras.

You and the kids did a unit study or lesson on cameras, but the camera holds value.

Or, another example, perhaps you and the kids filled out a daily journal this year. That keepsake might be worth keeping if you’re feeling attached to it.

Clay sculptures or meaningful crafts from classes are other items to consider saving when assessing your space.

Organization quote from Cristina Scalise"

Don’t Expect to Make All the Decisions at Once

Emotional decisions can be taxing. You probably won’t be able to make all the choices in one sitting.

You might need stages for an item or area. For example, maybe you’ve decided to keep the art they did when their grandparents visited even though it’ll never be hung on the wall.

For today, you might put it in a portfolio, and down the road, you might pack it up or repurpose it into wrapping paper or a gift.

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Are Hand-Me-Downs and Gifts Truly Sentimental

A common issue is feeling guilty about letting go of gifts or curriculum resources someone shared with you.

You might need to consider this from another angle. If the roles were reversed, would you want your gift to begin to feel like a burden for your friend or loved one? Likely not. Gifts are meant to bring joy to your life rather than pressure or obligation.

You don’t have to hold on to a gift for the rest of your life just because someone bought it or gave it to you.

Even if the someone was one of your children.

Choose which gifts you will keep based on their value and memories and which ones it’s okay to part with.

Keep Just One

"Declutter your mind" quote from Maria Defilo

This is an excellent rule of thumb for almost everything in your life. We could go down a rabbit hole and talk about coffee mugs and markers in my house, but you don’t want to read all that.

In this case, we’re specifically talking about sentimental things from homeschooling years. I don’t know about you, but the artwork is HARD to get rid of. If you’re keeping an art journal and only have one, you’re off to a great start.

But if you have art from every week and every kid, that pile is out of control quickly!

The same is true of atlas and research books. Notebooks and keepsakes from field trips are other ones that grow when you’re not looking.

Are you a big fan of the Jr. Ranger program from the National Parks? If so, I can relate to the massive pile of booklets and journals you’re accumulating.

They bring back many memories, but if you end up with three or four, you don’t need all of them.

Keep one, or make a large binder to organize them, then find a purpose or recycle the rest. If it’s a tangible item, like a book, that might be useful to someone else, donation it is!

Remember to make it easy on yourself and donate to the library or a little lending library near you instead of feeling like you need to make a special trip or work around a donation pile for a month.

If Toy Story taught us nothing else, it should have taught us that items are meant to bring joy. If they’ve outlived their purpose, they should move on to someone else who will find them meaningful.

Repurpose Sentimental Items You Can’t Part With Completely

We’re big on repurposing!

Creating gifts from children’s art is a significant part of our gifting strategy. At Christmas and year-round. It might be a casual “Just because we were thinking of you” gift, depending on what it is and the occasion.

You can always create wrapping paper or upcycle school items into something unique. Mod-podge writing onto a journal cover, maybe. T-shirts can be quilts.

You might send some of those National Park research projects to the Ranger Stations at the respective parks. Add a note from the kids with details on their favorite thing they learned.

Take Pictures and Make a Photo Album or Scrapbook

"Being Organized is not just about your personal space" quote from Peter Walsh

Last but not least, consider making a photo album or scrapbook.

We try to make a yearbook, or memory book, each year. Take pictures of some of your favorite items you don’t have room for.

You’ll get to hold onto the memories and have a valuable resource that’s a more manageable size.

How to declutter your sentimental items from your homeschool year

Recap: How to Declutter Sentimental Items From Your Homeschool Year

  1. Decide why it’s sentimental
  2. Keep just one of each type
  3. Repurpose sentimental items
  4. Take Pictures and Make a Photo Album

Question: What sentimental items do you struggle to let go of? Have you found any ways to repurpose or make it easier to let go?

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