The idea that you need to declutter is almost always a result of a clutter crisis in your home. For some, it is necessary to achieve a serene atmosphere and lessen the level of stress inside the house and between and among the people who live there.
If you do have enough space AND enough time, I believe you may take your time slowly and surely, and the emotional, physical and mental demands the process may impact on your nerves will be lighter compared to one who needs it for the sake of peace.
But whether you are of the first type or the second, there are several things here you may need to consider when decluttering.
Have a Plan in Place
Rushing into a phase of decluttering without knowing why you are doing it (since it’s all the rage nowadays, it seems) can be disastrous. You might end up getting rid of things you need and keeping things you don’t need. And whether you are downsizing or decluttering or shifting to a minimalist lifestyle, planning is CRUCIAL so you can face the challenge like a rational being.
As moms, we don’t just go ahead and get rid of our personal stuff without blinking. A lot of thought is involved before one goes to the trash or give pile.
We can however do it decisively because we are the ones responsible for our homes. And we are the ones watching minimalism videos and listening to organization podcasts. 🙂
But since the husband and our children may not be on the same page at the outset AND have their own passions and attach varying levels of interest and attachment to their possessions, we cannot just grab anything lying around (although we hate those multi-piece toys with parts always missing, or husband’s collection of cellphone and laptop cables) and dump it in the trash.
So what do we do? Having a plan to address objections, suggestions and violent reactions must be in place if we want our decluttering boat to sail on smoothly.
In an imperfect world, there will likely always be a struggle, but when we have a plan, a spiel, and negotiation strategies, we can strike up a deal with anyone to quickly or eventually (this might take time) let go of something that is no longer useful to them.
Be Sensitive and Listen
There is a kind of sensitivity that must be present when we declutter. We need to be sensitive of our feelings, and we need to be sensitive of other people’s feelings as well.
We can display empathy to the people we love especially if we know WHY we are doing it and HOW we are to do it.
For many who have shifted to minimalism, they know that that stuff can actually stop people from doing, enjoying and growing in what he or she loves.
There are others who declutter because they recognize a growing addiction to material things in themselves and would love to model a life of simplicity to their children, that is, if contentment is valued in the family.
Or perhaps you are addressing a debt problem that resulted from credit card purchases of stuff you ended up not using.
We all have our WHYs, and it’s good to communicate our values so that the family can slowly go with our flow.
And then we can discuss our HOW to give them the proper expectations and prepare them. It’s also good to assure them that others can benefit from the item.
Things can go smoothly when we know and believe in the reason why we are keeping the home tidy and clean and efficient for everyone.
So if a child does not want to let go of a toy then we don’t fuss because we have the process under control.
The other day, I set up a garage sale. You see, part of the decluttering process is letting go, and one of the ways to do this is to sell some items that are still good and might find a place in another family home.
I remember feeling annoyed that my daughter was crying and clutching an old reader of hers. She’s way finished with that reader, and she knows it, but she still wants it.
I was tempted to argue, and at the same time plead with her. But my daughter loved the book.
I resolved to let her keep it with the condition that she must prepare to let go of it before her birthday. I always give a deadline for giving up something.
Again, this might sound cruel to you, and you may skip my advice, but personally, if I see the beginnings of a hoarding attitude in my child, I will not hesitate to address it. Eventually, she will thank me, I know. Better to start early, I believe.
Address Sentimental Items Last
Marie Kondo, the Netflix sensation who introduced her revolutionary tidying methods to the world suggests saving for last those items that have sentimental value to us.
What are sentimental items?
Sentimental items are those we do not want to let go because it reminds us of important events or people in our lives. We usually cannot part with them, but we can have a way of storing them so that they don’t mix in with all the clutter we have at home.
These can be wedding photographs, baby’s first booties, or the last picture you had with your grandmother. Sentimental items are emotionally charged we’d rather take our time with them.
Are you the type who easily gets distracted and stuck when confronted with a sentimental item? I am.
The Konmari Method is not saying we should let go of sentimental items if we are wrestling with guilt feelings in parting ways with them. Instead, she says, if they give us joy, we should keep them by all means!
Marie Kondo says we can put sentimental items in a box that “sparks joy”, give it a special place in the house and KEEP IT.
Come to think of it, we can actually give it a home when we have said goodbye to the non-essentials first.
Address Passion Projects Thoughtfully
Professional organizer and blogger Lisa Woodruff came up with a term called “Passion Projects” which include those items we love to use in line with the hobbies or activities we are passionate about.
If you love painting, gardening, fishing, reading, and have an entire collection of tools and things for that passion, you don’t need to rush anything in organizing those or downsizing those. Like sentimental objects, we can put them among the last ones we organize.
How do we know if it’s a passion project? According to her, you know it’s a passion project you’re dealing with when the person says: “You’re not touching my shell collection.”
The other day, my husband looked around and appreciated the result of my decluttering adventure. But he was gentle to remind me that I have a lot of books.
I was immediately up in arms. Clearly, Books = Passion Project.
You see, I have not touched the books YET (I’m getting there), and have not allowed anyone to touch my books.
My inner defense lawyer was suddenly framing arguments when I realized he was right. My books are not exempted.
My husband knew I loved my books but he also knew that too much of what you love in a small space can be difficult to manage. Listening to Organize 365 especially Liza Woodruff’s approach on passion projects was a breath of fresh air! Eventually, I can now take a look at my books and not feel guilty about dealing with them, even if it meant selling or giving them away.
How is Your Decluttering Adventure so far?
I have shared ideas that worked for me in decluttering without rushing through it without a plan in place and strategy at every turn. Knowing what you need, what you love, and WHY you are doing it are key to a low-stress level and highly enjoyable experience tidying up your space to greatness.
No matter the obstacles you are facing or may be facing in the future should you decide to downsize and declutter, remember this:
Ultimately, ridding your home of things you don’t need and you don’t want will benefit everyone.
Next post is Carving Out a Creative Space. Watch out for it! 🙂