Taking your house from cluttered and overstuffed is totally overwhelming- not gonna lie. A few years ago, when I first walked down the stairs of our over-sized house with the intent to minimize, I could feel the overwhelm forming a pit in my stomach. However, I had reached a point where I was desperate enough for change to move forward.
I was William Wallace that day- determined, adamant, and my face was painted blue with purpose.
No, it wasn’t. But I was seriously over feeling trapped by my stuff, tired of always cleaning up, and ready to get out of survival mode once and for all.
When you start to read about minimalism and simplified living, it either goes in one ear and out the other, or it clings to you, pulling at the strings of your heart and calling you. This is the solution to the chronic overwhelm mothers are battling today, so it’s not surprising to me that so many women come across the philosophy of less stuff and can’t seem to shake it.
The thing that keeps them from taking action and making this their reality, is that staggering thought of actually having to go through every little thing taking up residence in their home and making a decision about what to do with it.
The fact is though, that very little truly good things come to us. We have to go get most of it.
So do you want this? Do you want a life of less clutter, more free time in your daily routine, more breathing room? Do you want the feeling that you can have company drop by anytime and not feel embarrassed by the current state of your house?
That doesn’t come from staying on top of the housework. It comes from limiting what you own, so that it’s much more difficult for things create messes.
If you want to be separated from the dreamers and come over to the doers side of life, let me break it down into steps for you, from someone who’s been there.
1) I just started.
This is what I tell my students when they email me not knowing how to re-gain momentum in their journey, and I realize it’s an annoying tip, but hear me out.
When something is as overwhelming as de-cluttering your entire house, your brain kind of shuts down. Following through in this is going to change your entire life, and that’s not a matter of “well, maybe. It might.” It will! But you have to do it. So just start.
Choose a non-threatening area of the house- one that doesn’t mean you have to sift through sentimental things or things you’ve been avoiding for years. The bathroom is a great place to start. Just choose an easy area, walk in there, and pick something up. Anything. Just pick up the first thing you see in that room without even thinking about it, then look at the item, and make a decision about it. This leads to my next point.
2) I asked questions + made decisions about each item.
As I went through the rooms, drawers, and cupboards in my house, I asked myself a few questions about each thing I held in my hands.
When was the last time this was used? (if it hasn’t been used in two months or more, it’s a pretty safe bet you can do without it, unless it’s a sometimes needed item, like a Thanksgiving casserole dish)
Do I really, truly need this?
Does this bring me joy and complement my life purpose?
I answered these questions and didn’t give myself much room to re-think or dwell on them for too long, and as I answered them I would get a feeling for which pile the item belonged in: keep, trash, or donate. I sorted as I went accordingly.
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3) I didn’t set a time limit, but I had set times.
At this point in my life, there was no one really talking about this. Minimalism wasn’t a trend, I had no one writing blog posts or coaching me through the process of simplifying, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was simply on a mission to have more time with my babies and to relieve myself of the depressive lull I couldn’t seem to shake because all I did was clean up.
I maybe would’ve done things differently if I had had more clarity about the process, but it got done. I did not have a set time limit for how long I wanted the purging process to take. I didn’t tell myself, “I want to have the whole house finished by March.” I did however, make a purging date with myself a couple times a week.
I know myself, and I typically get amped up and start a big project, then get tired and let it go, never to return to it again. Not this time. I was determined to be a finisher (remember, William Wallace), so I set a de-cluttering date with myself for twice a week.
Every Monday and Saturday morning for three hours I would work on de-cluttering the house. No excuses, no cancelling. I actually ended up purging more often than just those two days, but having those times set meant that even on hard weeks when other days didn’t happen, I at least always did the work on Mondays and Saturdays for three hours.
4) I started with the toys.
I know I told you a minute ago to start in the bathroom, but that’s just a