Clutter indeed causes stress. Many studies prove that clutter & stress are linked. Clutter also affects your family, but there are solutions that can clear your home of unwanted clutter and clear yourself of unwanted stress.
Being clutter-free may seem like it isn’t possible, but it is. While it might seem scary to get rid of things, you will find that you genuinely end up with the items that spark joy. There is a sort of peace that comes over you when you realize that you’ve freed yourself of unwanted ‘stuff.’
You Aren’t Alone
I was listening to a re-run of The Oprah Show one day when she was interviewing a couple with five children. They spoke of the reasons they were stressed, as parents, as a married couple, as homeowners, and just in general, blaming it on the fact that their children seemed to be acting entitled.
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 decided to give up two things:
These parents said that they had more toys than any child should have, with which I’m sure many of us can relate. They had them in closets, toy boxes, bins, etc. The sad part is that I think that is very common.
This could have been me thinking these things. It could have been any parent. Most children have many toys… most people have too many ‘things.’ It’s why I have started giving non-toy gifts to family and friends.
The One Week Experiment
For 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 they were allowed to pick. They each played with 1-2 toys because they would rather pretend or play a board game or play outside.
During the interview with the children, they talked about how much they loved their week of no television & little toys. They loved it because they were able to spend more time together as a family. Mom & Dad said that they also loved it because 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.
Kids Want Time Instead of Things
I know that our kids would rather play with each other, my husband, or me instead of playing with toys, a video game, or watching TV.
They may not realize it right now; you help them see that things don’t equal happiness by limiting these things. When you declutter and organize your home, every step makes a difference, no matter how small.
Cutting Back on Toys Cuts Back on Stress
Cutting back on toys was a huge stress-reliever for me! After we declutter and get rid of extra things, I feel so much better. Just knowing that the clutter was gone is such a relief. My entire family feels better – they don’t say it, but I can see it.
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.
The Hard Part About Decluttering:
Here is the hard part for me, as I usually like to sell things. I can generally resell these store items relatively easily in online groups or yard sales. I can generally make a decent amount 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 decluttered, so I did make money on big-ticket items, like our train table). Still, I knew that I probably would never get around to selling all of my things (taking pictures, putting them 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 DECLUTTERING!
I created A Whole-Home Declutter Course that walks you through decluttering your home in 7 days. The course is a 7-Part whole-home series that will help you go through your entire house.
Here are some decluttering tips and ideas of how to get started.
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 (it’s also a tax write-off if you can donate it to somewhere like the Good Will or Habitat for Humanity).
THINK IT OVER:
I put all of the clutter/stuff away in its space, but I was tired of it. I felt like I spent a good portion of my day putting ‘things’ back in their place (or asking the kids to clean up their things.) 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!”
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, their toy room or toy box becomes a cluttered mess.
Sure, we can feel like it’s clean and organized when we throw it all into a toy box or 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. If they never get to the toy box’s bottom, why was I keeping all of the toys?
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?” I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I had medical records, house records, notes, notes & more notes. I had coloring books, the same toys & craft items, etc. for all of our children.
Physical Clutter = Emotional Clutter
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 lose sight of what matters.
We spend hours and hours trying to clean, find things that we’ve misplaced, and organize our stuff that we miss out on moments with our family.
What is the solution?
Here is what I did: 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.
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).
Toys: I donated toys that they didn’t play with or the ones that were missing a piece or two.
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). 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 we completed it.
What can you do right now? Today?
Decide how far you want to go. Do you want to start small and declutter a closet or laundry room? Do you want to have someone else come in like a professional organizer? Beginning in a central location is the perfect place to start because you can get a lot done and SEE the change in a single day.
I like to use this Kitchen Declutter Guide because it is VERY detailed, down to the small steps, and walks you through decluttering your kitchen daily for several days. Next, I’d move onto the living room.
Here are some other things that you can do today to get started on your decluttering. 🙂
1). INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY
Our family likes when we ALL declutter at the same time. Each person goes through their clothes, their toys, etc.
I have to give them specific tasks, like “Go through all of your shorts and pick out the ones that you won’t wear or that don’t fit. We will donate them tomorrow.”
If they aren’t enthusiastic about helping out, you could always offer to swap chores for screen time. (This teaches them about the value of putting our tasks & work before play.)
You could even add it to their daily chore or responsibility charts by writing a different area to declutter each day.
Example of daily decluttering for kids:
- Day 1: Books
- Day 2: Toys in your closet
- Day 3: Shirts
- Day 4: Throw blankets
- Day 5: Toys in your toybox
- Day 6: Pants
2). USE A REFERENCE CHART.
You are welcome to download this chart (and one more).
3). MAKE A PLAN
Put into action your own decluttering plan. You dive right in with my step-by-step organizing book called FREED FROM CLUTTER, where I will walk you through how to declutter every room in your home.
4) TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
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 my Freed From Clutter book for free as a WELCOME gift!)