It is true that clutter causes stress. In fact, I shared in a previous post some studies that prove that clutter & stress are linked. Clutter also affects your life and your family, but there are solutions that can clear your home of unwanted clutter and clear you of unwanted stress. Read on to see what works and how to start decluttering now.
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How Clutter Affects Your Life
Do you know who gets lost in this mix of cleaning & decluttering every day? Our family. We are so busy trying to keep the house clean that we are losing sight of what really matters. We spend hours and hours trying to clean, find things that we’ve misplaced and just organize our stuff that we miss out on times with our family.
Clutter and Stress – You Aren’t Alone
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, which I’m sure so many of us can relate to. 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.
The One Week Experiment
For one week, the parents let each of their three children pick five toys to keep… 15 toys in 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 together, as a family. Mom & Dad said that they also loved it because 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.
When You Need A Clutter Overhaul
I wasn’t planning on getting rid of a handful of things. No, I was planning a MAJOR DE-CLUTTERING! I actually made A Whole-Home Declutter Course that walks you through decluttering your home in 7 days. It comes with a Facebook group for additional support and includes my book, Freed from Clutter, for free. The course is a 7-day whole-home series that will help you go through your entire house.
Think About What Needs Decluttering
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!”
- Clothes: I had clothes from high school and college. Yep, but my husband did, too! We just kept them. We didn’t wear them, but “what if those sandals come back into style?” If they come back into style, I will buy new ones. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
- Toys: What good are 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?).
How to Start Decluttering
Here is what I did: Start small. Decluttering your life happens a little a time and the decluttering process is no different. 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. Start with a junk drawer and toss things into a trash bag if you aren’t using it. (with every broken pencil from that living room junk drawer that you throw away, you will reduce stress).
- Clothes: I gathered 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). Channel your inner Marie Kondo (professional organizer).
- Toys: I donated toys that they didn’t play with or the ones that were missing a piece or two. I got rid of all of the paper clutter- receipts, medical records, etc… (almost every store, credit card company, bank & doctor’s office keeps a record of those). Take the rest and organize them into storage solutions that work for you! Our kids still have toys in their closet and some in our main living space (those toys are hidden!)
- Paperwork: I threw away old paperwork, cards, crayons, books, office supplies that I wasn’t using. I got rid of all of the paper clutter- receipts, medical records, etc… (almost every store, credit card company, bank & doctor’s office keeps a record of those). In fact, I have a whole post on what to do with paper clutter.
- Extras: I gathered things that had multiples, like extra blankets.
I just got rid of ALL of the clutter. It was a big job, but well worth the time and energy spent because I felt so much better when it was completed. I slowly moved from room to room… laundry room, bathroom (medicine cabinet), etc…
The Hard Part About Decluttering
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 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 by donating most of the items. Bonus – it’s also a tax write-off if you can donate it to somewhere like the Good Will or Habitat for Humanity.
How Decluttering Benefits Your Life
There were two big “a-has” from doing all that decluttering.
- Kids play more! Personally, I know that our kids would so much rather play with each other or with me over having toys. They would pick to play “spy” or “superhero” than to sit with their toys all day (or walk around their toys, I should say.) They often choose to play with their DIY creativity 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 cuts back on stress. Declutter and Stress can now have a whole new meaning… as you get rid of the clutter in a house, no matter how much clutter you may have, the stress begins to go away.
Cutting back on toys was a huge stress-reliever for me!
- After we declutter and get rid of extra things, I felt so much better knowing that the clutter was gone. In fact, my entire family felt better. The “stuff” had been causing me to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, upset and just overall stressed. When it was gone, I felt freed from the clutter.
Start decluttering NOW!
Here are some simple steps to take that can help you start decluttering your home and your life!
- You are welcome to download this chart (and one more) for free & join my free Clutter-Free challenge (click here to join):
- Join me in this 30-day declutter challenge (join me on social media or via email for decluttering tips!). We aren’t sharing those perfect Getty Images of homes that seem impossible… we are real families sharing what works! We are decluttering together… one day at a time.
- 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.
- Or you can take it a step further and Enroll in the Whole Home Declutter Course for just a few dollars more (I’ll send you the Freed From Clutter book for free as a WELCOME gift!)