It is true that clutter causes stress. In fact, I share studies that 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 you of unwanted stress.
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 that 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 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 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.
Kids Want Time Instead of Things?
Personally, I know that our kids would so much rather play with each other or with me over having toys.
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 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.
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 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. The course is a 7-Part whole-home series that will help you go through your entire house.
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:
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!”
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?
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.
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?).
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 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.
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. 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).
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.
What can you do right now? Today?
1). You are welcome to download this chart (and one more).
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 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!)