How to create a memory lane box so you can reminisce after moving day

How to create a memory lane box so you can reminisce after moving day
Once you’ve decided to move house, life quickly fills with things that need to be done and you’ll have to-do lists coming out of your ears by the time moving day arrives. In the maelstrom of activity, it can be easy to forget to say a proper ‘goodbye’ to your home. Yet this is an important part of the moving process, to help you to adjust to a major change. Putting an end to something old is essential to ensure a successful start to something new.

Creating a memory lane box is a good way to preserve memories from your old home and life. The aim of this is to end up with an easy, reliable way to reflect on your time in your old house after everything has calmed down after moving day and you’re settled into your new routine.

Here are our tips on how to make a memory lane box when moving house.

1. Before you begin…

Before you do anything to your house, take photos or (better yet) a video of the whole house, room by room and top to bottom, showing exactly what it looked like. Scan your camera up and down to capture the ceiling and floors as well as the walls and room contents. This is by far the best way to preserve memories of exactly what your old house looked like, for you to look back upon in future years.

2. Declutter carefully

One of the first things you’re advised to do when moving home is to declutter. This prevents you from bringing unnecessary baggage (literal and metaphorical) into your new home and life. It can also have lots of other, practical benefits. For one thing, by not packing and transporting lots of things you don’t use, want or need anymore, you can save money on the cost of hiring a removals company, and an awful lot of time and stress on moving day.
When decluttering, consider carefully what you feel happy to dispose of and what holds some tangible memory. Then decide if there’s a way to keep those memory-laden items in a practical way, within the confines of the space available in your memory box. There’s nothing to stop you from keeping those items just as they are, if there’s space in your new home, and you could always rent a self storage unit for excess belongings. For everything else, set aside anything you want to include in your memory box.

Decluttering long-term storage areas 
Start with the tough places in your home that probably have the most clutter - the loft, the cellar or the shed, for instance. Those are the places where long-term clutter gathers. The things you’ve put in boxes (or maybe never even unpacked from previous house moves) that you can’t bring yourself to get rid of. Maybe you’ve reasoned that you might need those things one day, or they just hold a lot of memories for you.

These are exactly the kinds of thing that might be better stored in a different way. If you find it hard to let things go because they provoke memories when you look at them but don’t hold any intrinsic value, why not take a photo of them? Or a video? You could print your photos, and pop them into your memory box. 

Many things, like old paint tins that you won’t need for your new home, can be disposed of at your local recycling centre, or else donated / sold if they can be used by others. 

Decluttering your shelves
Books are a pain to transport. They’re heavy, take up space and will doubtless just sit on a bookcase for 99.9% of the time you own them. If you’re a book lover, it’s understandable that you want to hold onto stories that have affected you or that you’ve really enjoyed, but remember that you can always buy those books again, or borrow them from your local library. Maybe keep a list of your favourite books instead of keeping the books themselves, and store that list in your memory lane box. You could include notes about when you remember reading them (e.g. on a particular holiday) or the names of your favourite characters.

Other things such as photo albums can be digitised using a photo scanner app, or scanning them into your cloud storage. This might be a huge project! But keeping digital copies of old photos has a number of benefits, not least of which is the space you’ll save! Digital photos won’t fade, or tear, or get stained or creased, and if you catalogue them as you scan them they can be far easier to organise and access.

Decluttering your wardrobes
If there are items of clothing or blankets stored away that you won’t use but that you want to remember, you could cut small pieces from them to store in your memory lane box. These might be items of your children’s clothing, for instance. Whilst charities appreciate donations of clean clothing that they can resell, the clothing and blankets you’ve been storing away for years may not be fit for this purpose. However, since recycling materials is another way for charities to raise funds, you could safely cut out pieces to save and donate the remains to a clothing bank. 

Another option is to have those items turned into a memory blanket, or memory teddy made from the fabric of a few chosen favourites. 

Decluttering everyday objects 
Once you’ve dealt with the loft/cellar/shed, move around the rest of your home. Donate, recycle or sell excess items in your kitchen, such as dishes, oven trays and pots you don’t use. If you feel bad about doing so, take a photo and keep that instead. Your items will get far more use and be greatly appreciated by someone who needs them. Your bathroom is another easy place to declutter. 

If you’re holding onto items such as the baby lotion you used for your children, pop a small amount in a tiny travel-sized pot and store that in your memory lane box, and dispose of the rest.

Decluttering can be a difficult process, and you should allow yourself time to part company with anything you’ve owned for a long time but that is no longer useful or that you won’t have space for in your new home. 

3. Preserve things from your old home

In the immediate aftermath of your house move, you’ll easily remember things like your old home’s decor or how the garden looked. In years ahead, though, those kinds of details will fade. Consider keeping scraps of spare wallpaper, pressed flowers from your garden or a knick knack that won’t fit the decor of your new home as part of your memory lane box for an instant flood of nostalgia in the future!

You could write a note to your future self describing what you liked about your old house, what the neighbours were called and what the garden looked like in different seasons. You could note down the names of your children’s schools, teachers and friends, and the names of your favourite local cafes, restaurants and pubs. These are details that you might think you won’t forget, but memories fade surprisingly quickly.

4. Choose the right size of memory lane box

You can do this two ways. You could gather all the things you want to keep and then find a box to fit, or choose a nice box and then limit what you’ll allow yourself to keep. If the purpose of creating a memory lane box is to preserve memories and cut down on stored clutter, then do the latter!

You could choose a box with drawers, organised by topic, or room. You could opt for a simple wooden box that you can decorate to your heart’s content. Or there are a wide range of memory boxes available to buy online.

Avoid choosing boxes made from degradable material such as cardboard as these may be vulnerable to pests or damp. If you opt for a plastic or metal box, make sure all the contents are completely dry to avoid moisture building up. Whatever material your box is made from, make sure the contents are clean. 

You could add a photo of your house to the front and cover with varnish, or use PVA glue to transfer the image from your photo onto a wooden box. Label it with the dates you lived in your home and carefully place all your memories in there for safe keeping. 

If your memory box isn’t quite full, consider using packing material to cushion everything to keep it all safe during your move. There’s a wide range of environmentally friendly packaging materials available now, including eco-friendly bubble wrap and biodegradable packing peanuts/void fill.

Can we help?

Having a good clear out is known to be good for emotional health and wellbeing, but at a time of huge change such as a house move it’s not a great time to make rash decisions. 

You may want to find a way of dealing with your excess belongings in the long term but don’t have the emotional energy to do so whilst moving. Keeping mementoes in your memory box will preserve those belongings you associate most strongly with your old house, but general excess belongings can be kept safe and sound in a self storage unit. Then, when you’re settled in your new home and have spare mental capacity to think about these things, you can decide which of those belongings you want to bring into your new home, and which can be safely given away or sold.

If you’d like some information on storage prices, locations or unit sizes - or want some general advice about our self storage units - please get in touch with one of our friendly team and we’ll be happy to help.

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