Decluttering is my main jam. I love helping women do this in their homes because it matters so much more than people even realize.
For women, specifically, there are a lot of negative effects of having clutter. One study even linked having a cluttered home to feeling unhappy in your family in general.
That’s powerful. That tells me that all of our stuff is bothering us and it’s affecting us in a big way.
That’s why I’m so passionate about helping women go through their homes and remove the excess. I want you left with only the things that are serving you and your families and contributing to a joyful and full life.
Having said that, I know that there are things that are hard to declutter. I get it. I’ve been there and I want to help you make good decisions so that you can keep making progress.
So, let’s look at five areas that can really trip you up when it comes to decluttering and how to push through them.
#1 Sentimental items
Typically, when people realize the role that clutter plays in their lives, they’re ready to make a change. So they get going and they’re doing great but then they find the bin of sentimental keepsakes and they just feel stumped.
How can you let go of the sweet, little dress that your daughter wore when she was dedicated at church? Or the photo of the positive pregnancy test from the baby that you miscarried? How do you get rid of the things that really tug on your heartstrings
What classifies as clutter versus something that is sentimental and truly a keepsake? How do you make the decision?
If you’ve been around here for more than ten minutes you know that I’m not about rules. I’m definitely not going to give you anything like that because this is different for every person.
If you get stuck on something sentimental, I encourage you to skip that area and move on. Go work on your bathroom or a bookshelf in the living room.
Declutter something else for now. Come back when you’ve been at this for a bit longer and you’ve seen the positive effects of letting go of clutter.
What happens is, as you evolve in this area in your life with getting rid of things, you grow. You evolve. You change.
You see that this really makes a difference. Keeping only what is serving you well makes you happy. That makes letting go of things less and less difficult as you go.
And once you declutter one or two sentimental things, it will get even easier because you have seen that you’ve let go of something that was special to you and nothing bad happened.
Please remember that letting go of physical possessions doesn’t mean that you are letting go of memories. On the other hand, it is OK to keep some things too. I think the line is when you have a bunch of bins full of “memories” that you are storing away because you are avoiding making decisions.
I created for you a free worksheet on minimalism and sentimental items that will give you more in-depth tips for letting go of keepsakes.
WANT TO KNOW WHAT TO KEEP AND WHAT TO LET GO? LET ME SEND YOU A FREE GUIDE SO YOU CAN MAKE DECISIONS A LITTLE EASIER, MAMA!
#2 Your kids toys
First of all, don’t declutter your kids’ toys without them unless they are super young, like under age 3. If they are older than that, have them join you, even if it makes it more difficult and the process a lot slower.
Kids can really feel violated and mistrust you if you throw away their stuff without them knowing. That’s not what we want.
Start by having your kids pick out ten things they don’t play with anymore. Explain that there are so many children that don’t have toys and they would love it if they shared with them. Then, bag up the donations together and go to the donation center with your kids.
Make it a really happy, exciting thing so they don’t feel like they’re getting punished. This can teach them empathy and give them solid reasoning behind letting go of their stuff.
If your kids are having a hard time letting go of things, give them time. Go through the rest of your house and show them by example what letting go and minimalism looks like and let them follow in their own time.
#3 Your wardrobe
Letting go of your clothes is really hard when you’re a mom. You have bought clothes throughout different seasons of motherhood and body shapes. You can really easily - and understandably - not want to get rid of something that you might end up needing later.
But don’t get stuck in that fear. Go into your closet and look and get honest with yourself. What looks fantastic on you right now? Keep it. Everything else should probably go in the donation pile.
Having a bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit, used to fit, or that you want to fit you someday is not serving you at all. It is actually, subconsciously, making you really unhappy every time you get dressed.
Only keep in your closet what looks fantastic and what makes you feel great right now. Because that’s what you deserve.
A quick note on maternity clothes. If you are planning to get pregnant again, hold onto them. We are not looking to throw things out and waste money deliberately if you know you will use it again.
#4 Your husband’s stuff
Probably the top question I get is “how do I get my husband on board with this?” My answer is this: you don’t. He is his own separate person. Leave him alone.
If you start purging his stuff while he is at work he is going to resent you for it and hate minimalism forever. Leave his stuff alone if he hasn’t given you permission to declutter for him.
Find that sweet spot for yourself and let your husband be. In the end, he may come around like mine did.
The same rule applies with your in-laws, your parents, your friends and the people who come to your kids’ birthday parties.
Go through your house with an empty box and collect all the stray paperwork that you can find. Then set aside some time to go through it.
You can pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, turn on Netflix, whatever. But sit and sort through it all.
Make decisions about every piece of paper you pick up. Don’t allow yourself to start a “not sure” pile or an “I’ll deal with this later” pile.
If it’s something that your husband needs to look at and he’s not there, you can put it aside for him. But I would encourage you to set aside time to sort through paperwork when he is with you so you don’t find a reason or an excuse to put it aside for later.
It’s OK to make piles but don’t make a bunch of random piles that could have been eliminated if you had just made decisions.
I know these areas can be hard to tackle. I know it can feel overwhelming but I hope I have helped to simplify the overwhelm.
The truth is that if you don’t take power over your stuff, you are giving your stuff power over you.
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