Decluttering as a Family

Fun and Cooperative Strategies for the Family

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A clean and organized home can greatly add to our enjoyment of it. If you have a cluttered, poorly decorated, or somewhat disorganized living space, home relaxation can be virtually impossible! Fortunately, we have some tips that can ease the stress. We are pleased to introduce our guest writer, Jackie Waters. Ms. Waters is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com. In this article, she shows us how with a little help, your home could be the clean and organized space you dream of.

Here’s how:

When decluttering, people sometimes fall victim to the “I-may-need-this-again” mindset, an irresolute and counterproductive view that can leave you with the same mess you started with. One effective and enjoyable way to stay faithful to the objective of decluttering is to use a system of accountability that involves everyone in the decision-making process. It may take a bit longer and there will be some debate — some of it spirited — but this approach interjects a healthy element of group responsibility into the process.


Checks and Balances

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Everyone who participates has an equal say in how to dispose of each item based on the proposition that no one “owns” anything while decluttering. To help avoid sentimentality, everyone has a right to question three decisions based on the following criteria: you either use an item regularly or intend to pass it on to your children. Otherwise, it needs to be recycled, donated, or thrown out. If someone challenges a decision, the others vote “yea” or “nay” based on the goal of getting rid of as much stuff as possible.  

Space and Well-Being

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The aim of decluttering is to free up space in your home and, in so doing, improve your sense of well-being and happiness. With that in mind, as you begin to go through each possession, consider whether you really need it, whether it’s something you just can’t live without, and whether keeping it is important enough to sacrifice your goal of creating a freer, more open living space. Answering these questions honestly should help in overcoming the often overwhelming impulse to retain objects needlessly.

The ‘Two-Bag’ Treatment

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The “two-bag” approach will help you differentiate between items based on what you intend to do with them. For example, there may be some items you’re not ready to just throw away but which you can’t justify keeping. In one trash bag, place anything that’s going to be donated, recycled or given to someone outside your household. In the other bag goes all the stuff you’re resolved to throw away. It’s a simple, straightforward approach designed to discourage the impulse to hang onto stuff that’s not needed anymore.

Slay the Paper Monster

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The daily mail is a major source of clutter in most households and needs to be dealt with resolutely. What’s needed is a system designed to pare down the mail to bare essentials — no junk mail, just bills and very little else. Delegate someone to clip coupons from flyers and circulars, then toss the rest into the recycling pile. Take a similar approach with catalogs: If no one is purchasing from a catalog, recycle it. Personal mail, including letters, credit card offers, membership renewals, and so forth, should be reviewed and acted on or disposed of.

Clean It, Keep It Organized

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Once you’ve got your living environment under control and everything that’s staying is in its place, give the house a good, thorough cleaning. Pay particular attention to the bathroom, often one of the dirtiest rooms in the house. Make sure you have a vacuum that’s effective on tile flooring and has attachments that can reach into tight spaces. Also, keep the house clean so it doesn’t fall into the same disarray that led you to decluttering in the first place. You can hire a cleaning service, but this create added cost, so give careful thought about whether you can afford the expense. If you are looking for a cleaning service, the Maple + Main team have some great referrals for that!

Create a ‘Profit Pile’

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Most of us have belongings that can generate income. That includes books, CDs, DVDs, records, sports equipment, clothing, shoes, and old jewelry. As long as you’re going to the trouble of decluttering, you may as well try to make a few dollars out of it. If you decide to challenge someone’s decision to keep a questionable belonging, point out that it could be worth something and that they don’t simply have to throw it out or recycle it. A great many things can be sold on eBay or Craigslist and a host of other “second-hand economy” websites.

Decluttering can be a lot easier and more enjoyable if you make it a group effort rather than a nebulous task that’s at the discretion of each individual. Getting rid of familiar and comfortable objects can be a difficult emotional process. Sometimes, we need the support and strength of others to help us stay focused on the task at hand, and the end result will be well worth it!