5 Shortcuts to Decluttering the Hard Stuff

how to declutter the hard stuff. sentimental items. hand me downs. pictures. husband's stuff. memories. 

Decluttering can totally suck. I’m not gonna lie. When you’ve put yourself in a place of total chaos, reached your breaking point, and come to the realization that you now need to undo it all, doing the hard work feels truly impossible some days. I’ve been there too, friend.

Lucky for you I’m on the other side and I can help give you shortcuts. My home is completely minimal, my cleaning routine consists of about thirty to sixty minutes of daily work (at most), and I spend my time pouring into my family, playing with my kids, running my business from home, and watching reruns of The Office with my hubby. Life’s not easy and I have days loaded with stress because I’m a normal human, but it sure is a lot less chaotic. I’m able to handle hard times a lot better because my normal day doesn’t feel like a traumatizing train wreck happening to me like it used to.

I want to give you a few tricks of the trade that can cut down on the time you spend decluttering and help you deal with the tough areas. Ready? Let’s do this. (I said that in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice for some reason. Let’s move past this awkward silence)


Sentimental items

This is something I see holding back my clients and students more than anything else. Letting of things that are tied to very specific memories and people is hard, and that’s okay. To shortcut decluttering sentimental stuff, stop avoiding the collection altogether, walk in there, and just sort through all the things you actually kind of like. Is there a vintage lamp from your grandmother that just needs a new shade and would like amazing in your formal living room? Or a really neat military jacket from your great grandfather you could frame and display in your husband’s office? Can you remove all the buttons from your mom’s jackets and sweaters and put them all in a mason jar that acts as a bookend?

When you walk into the room you store sentimental stuff you’re avoiding with a positive intention (to use them for something), the task of decluttering is much less daunting and sad. For more on dealing with sentimental items, read this.

The kids’ toys

Let me first say that you should not be decluttering your kids’ toys without them there unless they are under the age of three, in my opinion. Once they reach 3-4, have them join you or they’ll feel violated and mistrusting.

But whether you have little kids and are decluttering for them or you have older kids you are decluttering with, this is a tough area to tackle. It’s riddled with guilt and insecurity because we have this belief that our toys are what keep our kids entertained, and if we take them away what will they do all day?! Aren’t they going to drive me crazy with their boredom? Trust me, after a week or so, they won’t. Kids are natural at playing, imagining, exploring, and creating. Once you get rid of all the junk that was in their way, their imaginations wake up and start to thrive! Every single one of my students and clients have seen this amazing change in their kids when they finally purge the toys, and it’s so worth it.

So how can we shortcut getting to the other side so we can experience these positive changes?

Start by going into the room with your kids (if they’re old enough, without them if not) and having them pick out ten things they don’t play with anymore. Explain that there are so many kids who don’t have any money and don’t have any toys who would love it if they shared with them. Make this a really happy, exciting thing so they don’t feel like they’re being punished. This can teach them empathy and give them some solid reasoning behind letting go of some of their stuff. Bag up the donations together and make a trip to Goodwill with your kids. Do this as regularly as you like.

Your wardrobe

Letting go of your clothes is hard, especially as a mom. Your body has changed so much, you’ve bought clothes throughout your seasons of motherhood, and you’re afraid to get rid of something you might end up needing. Let me shortcut this for ya.

What looks fantastic on you right now? Keep it. Put everything else in the donation pile.

What is stained or damaged? Put it in the trash pile.

What looks great on you but isn’t in season? Keep it for the proper season, but only if you’ll truly wear it versus buying a new one.

P.S. If you’re planning on getting pregnant again ever, hold onto your favorite maternity clothes. It’s okay.

Your husband’s stuff

Here’s a super easy shortcut regarding your husband’s stuff…. Leave it alone. If you start purging his stuff while he’s at work, he’s just going to resent you for it and hate minimalism for good. Let him be himself, leave his stuff alone, stick to your crap, and maybe he’ll come around later.

Paperwork

Let’s shortcut those stacks and stacks of mail, tax papers, work documents, and bills you’ve been avoiding, shall we?

Go through your house with a box or an empty laundry hamper and collect all the stray paperwork you can find. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (hey, we’ve got to make this at least somewhat enjoyable, right?) and start sorting through it all. Make decisions right now, about each piece of paper you pick up. Don’t allow yourself to start a “not sure” pile or a “deal with this later” pile. If your husband needs to take a look at something, drag him into this process right now or don’t get to it until he’s there to be dragged.

Keep only what you need to keep - what is detrimental and absolutely CANNOT be thrown out?

Shred what has private information about you on it (you can shred it with your hands if you don’t have an actual shredder. Just don’t throw it out whole).

Take a picture of what you feel better having a copy of but don’t need to keep the original (I use Google Drive to store photos of documents).

Purging your entire home is overwhelming, but it can be simplified and broken down into bite-sized steps. Find shortcuts where you can and don’t let that overwhelming feeling be the reason you procrastinate making these positive changes in your life. The free time and joy that will come when you’re done is so worth the work!

Have you come up with any decluttering shortcuts? Tell me in the comments!

Allie Casazza

Allie Casazza , Murrieta, CA