An organized small closet in a D.C. studio apartment. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

You’re decluttering or downsizing and can’t bring yourself to part with a box of childhood items or clothing. What gives? In our latest Home Front chat, Laura Cambridge, a professional organizer and owner of Dynamic Organizing, offered an explanation for why we have a hard time letting things go:

“Often we feel like if we get rid of that thing that reminds us of that time, then we’ll forget that memory,” Cambridge said. “So we keep it. If we keep everything, then it can start to take up valuable space in our lives.”

So how do we start letting these things go? Here are some tips.

1. Label and date your items to keep track of how long you’ve had them.

“I suggest containerizing these tangible memories and storing them out of your prime space,” Cambridge said. “Label and date it. If you don’t look for it for a year, you may be okay to get rid of it at that point.”

2. Break the project down into manageable parts.

To avoid getting overwhelmed, Cambridge recommends taking one space or room at a time. “For example, go through a coat closet and sort through everything in there into piles: ‘keep,’ ‘trash,’ ‘donate,’ ‘give to someone else’ — friend or family member,” she says. “Do this a little bit each day or once a week.”

3. Try taking photos as keepsakes instead.

For a reader with a father who was reluctant to get rid of old clothing, Cambridge advised: “I would suggest going through the 16 suits with him.

“If he can try some on, even just the sport coat, and have him share his memories about them, [then you can] take pictures of him in the suits to create a keepsake photo album. Once you start doing this, you may find that he’s willing to let most of them go. Ask him to pick out his favorite three suits to take with him to the retirement home.”

Another option for some items of clothing: making a memory quilt.

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