Earlier in the week, I wrote about how clutter truly causes stress. It isn’t just you… it is a scientific fact. Today I wanted to talk about how clutter affects your family and what you can do about it.
I was listening to a re-run of The Oprah Show on the radio the other day and she was interviewing a husband and wife with 5 children, talking about how they were stressed, as parents, as a married couple, as homeowners and just in general, because their children seemed to be acting entitled and no one was appreciative of all of the “stuff” that they had (clutter = stress. It’s a proven fact). The mother of the house felt like all she did was work to buy them things and then she couldn’t even keep up with what they had because, even though her home wasn’t messy, it felt cluttered, like they had ‘too much stuff’… So, Oprah asked this family to give something up for one week.
The family picked to give up two things:
The parents said that they had more toys than any child should have. They had them in closets, toy boxes, in bins, etc… The sad part is that I think that is very common. This could have been me.
So, for their one week, the parents let each of their three children pick five toys to keep… 15 toys total. Oprah’s crew came into the house and documented the whole thing. The kids cried when they told them about giving up these things. They were sad, upset, angry and just plain mad. They did a little yelling, a little crying and a lot of pouting. (Again, very common.)
After one week, the mother was interviewed and she said that they didn’t even play with the five toys that they were allowed to pick. They each played with 1-2 toys, because they would rather play pretend or play a board game or play outside.
The kids were interviewed and talked about how much they LOVED the week without TV or many toys because THEY SPENT MORE TIME WITH MOM, DAD AND EACH OTHER. Mom & Dad said that they weren’t so busy trying to keep up with the house or put toys away or buy new things. Instead of “stuff” they had “time” to give.
I can relate. Our kids would so much rather play “spy” or “superhero” than to sit with their toys all day (or walk around their toys, I should say.) They could play with our DIY creativity kit for hours or using this Invention Kit or even doing any of these kid activities that are quick to set up, but let them create and play for an hour!
Cutting back on toys was a huge stress-reliever for me! I felt so much better after the clutter was gone. We all did. It was causing me to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, upset and just overall stressed. When it was gone, I felt freed from the clutter.
Here is the hard part for me… I normally like to sell things. I make a lot of money doing this, as you probably know if you’ve read my post: How to be a stay at home mom on one income.
Yes, I could have sold it all and make a few hundred dollars (& I did consign a lot of stuff the week before I really de-cluttered, so I did make money on big-ticket items, like our train table), but I knew that I probably would never get around to selling all of my things (taking pictures, putting it online, or tagging for a consignment sale, taking the items to be sold, etc…) .
I wasn’t planning on getting rid of a handful of things…
No, I was planning a MAJOR DE-CLUTTERING! I actually made a declutter challenge course that walks you through decluttering your home in 7 days:
Plus, I was so blessed to be given hand-me-downs for our daughter from various friends, so I knew that I could easily pay-it-forward (plus, I donated a lot of stuff to Good Will and got a tax write-off).
THINK ABOUT IT:
All of my ‘clutter’ was put away in its space, but I was tired of it. I felt like all day long I was just trying to stay on top of keeping it put away and then one day I called my Mom (she often has to hear me vent, but luckily she listens and is always helpful) and just said “We have too much stuff!”
Toys- What good is 100 toys in one room when your kids don’t play with them? Instead of being a fun place to escape to play, it has become a cluttered mess. Sure, I can throw it all into a toy box and hide the toys in these things, but I can tell you that our kids are not going to play with what they don’t see. They just don’t ever get to the bottom of the toy box, so why was I keeping all of the toys?
Paper- I had medical records, house records, notes, notes & more notes. I had coloring books for each child… times three. (As in… 12 coloring books! Ridiculous, right?).
On top of that, physical clutter adds emotional clutter.
Do you know who gets lost in this mix of cleaning & decluttering every day… to get nowhere? Our little ones. We are so busy trying to keep the house clean that we are losing sight of what really matters. We miss out on times like these:
WHAT DID I DO?
Every day, for one week, I would use any spare time that I had and I would take a garbage bag to a room. I would open every drawer, closet, door… and I would FILL UP that garbage bag.
I put in kid’s clothes that they didn’t wear (even the cute ones that I thought felt “rough” or “stiff” so I never dressed the kids in them… even the clothes that had stains on them so I normally avoided them, but continued to leave them in the drawer.
I donated toys that they didn’t play with or that they were losing a piece or two. I threw away old paperwork, cards, crayons, books, office supplies that I wasn’t using, extra blankets…
I got rid of all of the paper clutter- receipts, medical records, etc… (almost every store, credit card company, bank & doctor’s office keeps record of those). I got rid of ALL of the clutter.
WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?
1). You can download this chart (and one more) for free & join my free Clutter-Free challenge (click here to join):
2). Put into action your own decluttering plan. You dive right in with my step-by-step organizing book, where I will walk you through how to declutter every room in your home.
3) Or you can take it a step further and join my FREED FROM CLUTTER CHALLENGE for just a few dollars more (I’ll send you the Freed From Clutter book for free as a WELCOME gift!)