Your house is your temple they say. Well, my temple is often layered with Lego pieces and dust everywhere. I’m lucky if I can go one day without stepping on something sharp or having to go through thirty pounds of (hopefully) clean laundry before I can reach my bed. That’s why I’ve been so interested in decluttering tips.
I know I am not the only one. Do you wonder if there’s a way to declutter your life? After reading the book Stuffocation by James Wallman I’ve come to the realization that this problem is way bigger than me. We live in the era of excess and, although this mass production of things has helped many humans by creating jobs and helping the economy it has also created many, many issues. I’ve learnt that clutter can actually affect your health and, as suspected, it affects women way more than it affects men.
Seeking knowledge to solve daily problems is something that is very important to me, because I don’t believe we should just suffer and let things go because it would be harder to change. Sure, change is hard, but if it will bring a happier and less stressful life in the end, I am all for it. This is why I wanted to create this post so that we can brainstorm some ideas on how to declutter your home. Do leave me a comment at the end if you found these helpful or if you have any other suggestions that I can add here.
Here are some tips that I found useful in my own life and home:
Be harsh when deciding what needs to go
One thing that always happens when we start decluttering is that the emotional side of us takes over.
I have to be honest, I don’t keep a lot of clutter but I still have some of my son’s newborn clothes because I simply can’t bear to give them away.
Will they bring my sweet baby back in time? Of course not, but I am a mother and I reserve the right to be sentimental about material possessions.
I have, however, selected only three or four pieces that I get to pick, the rest had to go. I could sit here and give you declutter ideas all day, but the most important thing is to make up your mind about getting rid of stuff.
Have a pile of artwork your kids made and you feel like your life depends on preserving them like they’re the lost works of Michelangelo?
I completely understand, but just how many drawings of a unicorn flying over a rainbow do we really need?
There are a few idea of what you can do with those: select your favorite ones and frame them, create a private Instagram or Flickr page and upload pictures of them, turn them into an album ( you can even make copies as gifts for grandparents or teachers?).
If you have a bunch of clothes that are not fit for donation ( exhibit A- all of my son’s pants that get ripped on the knees after falling from his scooter), you can come up with creative ways to use the leftover fabric, like making easy fabric animals, learning patchwork or creating fabric collages. Otherwise you can try to find a recycling site or charity who will make use of them.
The important thing here is, if it can’t be used anymore, it needs to go. If it won’t be used anymore because no one actually wants to, it has to go. If it never got used in the first place, it DEFINITELY has to go. And after you do it, you will feel the declutter joy.
Create a system
I am yet to implement this 100% successfully, but I believe that having a system can change everything. I worked for Starbucks for many years and, the only thing that ever worked for keeping the shop clean nd organized was assigning responsibilities and creating schedules. So why not create your own declutter checklist?
We have recently implemented a system where we all ( and I mean all, including the kid) take 10 minutes a day to tidy up. I do believe that involving the kids is the only way for them to learn to take responsibility and pride in keeping the house tidy. I have never had a tidier and more organized house. It has been a total game changer.
In order to declutter your kids’ room, you can come up with a system to go through all their toys around the Holidays and Birthdays. You can hide a few things you think they don’t use anymore for a week or so. If they don’t ask for it, you know it should go!
Getting rid of stuff is good, but buying less is better
I am constantly getting rid of cardboard in my house. CONSTANTLY. The problem is, next week, we order something else and we get more cardboard. And more stuff to clutter the house.
So, the solution is buy less. I find this incredibly hard to achieve. With social media and search engines constantly taunting us with ads and companies emailing flash offers and discount codes, it’s like working at the bakery and not eating bread.
Here are a few things that I found useful in helping me buy less:
Unsubscribe from emails by any companies who email you several times a month with offers. They know this technique works, but I find it to be a form of bullying. What you can do instead is to add a plug in to your browser that will scan the net for coupons for you when you need it, I use Honey and I’ve saved a lot of money with it.
Stop and Think about it. Sounds simple, right? Here’s a technique I’ve been applying to myself for years now. Window shop (either online or in person). Pick a few things you might want and then leave the page or store ( without taking the items of course). Tomorrow , if you still want it, then ask yourself, will this bring me joy? Can I really afford it? If the answer is yes, then go for it.
Buy second hand: I know that’s still buying, but much cheaper. Check your local parent group on Facebook or Next Door. Ebay, Mercari and ThredUp are other great places to look. You can even take the initiative to ask if someone has that very thing you are trying to buy. You might be surprised by how many people may be, like you, trying to get rid of things they no longer use.
My son had a birthday recently and, I’ll tell you this, that kids loves stuff. How can I blame him? From the moment he was born he was showered with stuff from all sides. People love to show their love by buying things for others.
My son recently had a birthday and, when his grandparents asked what they could buy for his birthday, his first impulse was to say he wanted a Lego set. Don’t get me wrong, I love Legos, they are super cool toys and I love how he uses his imagination and motor and logical skills when playing with them. But we have Legos. We have a TON of Legos ( mainly because a very kind neighbor offered to give us all of her grandson’s since he didn’t use it anymore and it was A LOT).
So, I talked to him. I told him that Legos are great and that he could have that if he wanted, but how about something that he could enjoy all year, like a membership to the zoo? He loves the zoo but we don’t often go because the cost does add up. In the end he wanted to be able to go to the Zoo more often and asked for the zoo membership instead. Let’s normalize giving experiences as gifts, talking to our kids about the value of them and how they can be a much better alternative to another toy that will end up in a box in their bedroom soon enough. They might buy into it, they might not, we can only try.
As I mentioned before, reading the book Stuffocation was a huge eye opener to me. I’ve been following the teachings of The Minimalists for a while now and find that there are many things they say I can apply to my life, but not all of it. I can’t really live with only 69 items or sell my home and move into a tiny house right now ( although I would love to), but I find that reading about all these different strategies really helps if you can pick them apart and choose what works for you.
Not all of these strategies might work for everybody. I, for one, could never subscribe to the idea that we shouldn’t have pictures of our family on the walls, no plants or no right to keep anything that has sentimental value. These are all too important for me. Do your own research. Look into the different types of strategies and see what might work for you. Whatever makes you happier and your mind and heart lighter, that’s what you need to follow.