Have you ever felt overwhelmed in your home, by the seemingly endless “To-Do’s”? Certainly I have. With sink fulls of dishes, mountains of laundry and toys scattered everywhere, “overwhelm” comes easily. Is it any wonder we are anxious, and stressed out as a society? “De-clutter” was something I would try and seemed to fail at, as our house would end up full too soon afterwards.
In truth, I have never been someone afraid of letting go of ‘things”. But even just a ‘typical” amount of belongings can be a lot to care for. I have tried innumerable organizational methods, but could never find one that “fit” our large family.
Especially as homeschoolers, we are ALWAYS home so things are being used ALL day, EVERY day. No matter what I tried we would slide back to “messy” as we added more to our ‘plate’. There just was not enough time in the day to conquer everything and maintain a ‘mess-free’ home.
But think about it. How much time do you spend as a mom cleaning each day? Maybe you are among the growing numbers that have learned to embrace minimalism, or you just are not a “neat freak”, so not much. But if you are a typical North American, you probably have a few items (or many) that you could live without.
Here are 5 Simple Ways to Declutter by embracing the “Minimalist” method and WHY I believe it is SO vital you do!
Why Declutter in the First Place?
Have you ever been on vacation to a beach resort? Read what I’m about to say, then close your eyes and imagine.
Imagine you just got of the shuttle from the airport.
You enter the lobby of your hotel, and the long marble “Check-in” counter stretches out in front of you with nothing on it except a bouquet of exotic flowers. The lighting is perfect and the gleaming floors and magical scents filtering through the air are mesmerizing. A friendly soul behind the counter smiles and welcomes you, handing you the keys to your room.
As you walk through the door to your reservation, you are whisked into total rejuvenation. The beds are simple and beautifully made. The room is spotless and calm. There are no distractions and no clutter anywhere. You have left behind the “chaos” and can enjoy these moments of peace.
How different would our life be if our home felt like this? A place of total peace.
I don’t know about you but I struggle finding peace in my home when there are mountains of belongings piled up and my ‘to-do’ list keeps growing. It’s hard to thrive, when we are just trying to survive.
This morning I had time to go for a run outdoors in the beautiful sun, because I had decluttered some items that took that block of time in the morning. It feels so good to be free to embrace things you love, when you have less to care for.
If you internally feel the need for “permission” to declutter your life. THIS is your permission. Perhaps it is even a generational burden. You’re worth breaking that cycle, and so is your family. You CAN take back your life.
Oh my goodness. You do not understand the ‘love/hate’ relationship I have with clothing. I come from an actual history of fashionistas (my father’s family are cousins to a rather infamous clothing company). I LOVE clothing. Luxury clothing is not my preference today, however. I would much rather peruse a flea market or thrift store for unique items.
But I also HATE how clothing clutters up a home. Especially as a large family, I could rarely get to the end of my piles in one day. Even with beginning laundry at 5am!
I first heard of minimalism from my own father. He was an expert at keeping the bare essentials and nothing more.
As a child I thought it was too extreme for family life. And as I grew and had children of my own I still did not embrace the idea.
It was only upon having my third child that I came full circle to his reasoning and realized the VOLUME of “Stuff” we were accumulating. It was dragging down our daily life and causes unnecessary added stress.
As years passed, and more kids were added, I found it difficult to manage WHAT to keep and what to let go of. I wanted our kids to have things they liked and I really did not want to control that to an extreme.
In recent years however, minimalism has become more accepted and warranted. You may have immediately embraced Marie-Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up‘, but it was only this past year, upon the suggestion of a loving friend, I listened to the audio book as I sifted through my ‘mountains of laundry.’ Audio books saved my brain during times of intense laundry and dishes!
One KEY element she discusses in her book is keeping only what gives you exceeding Joy.
3 Ways to Easily Declutter Clothing:
- Stick to a certain number of clothing. For us, we decided “5 shirts and 5 pants” per person was plenty. Just enough to love what we wear, but not be bogged down by laundry OR missing clothes because they are lost in a dirty laundry mountain.
- Get rid of things that don’t fit you anymore. I understand the ‘in between’ of motherhood. My body has ballooned and deflated so many times, it is hard to decide what to keep and when. But the reality is, clothing is not really scarce in our world. If we let go of something that doesn’t fit, and replace it with something we love, we gain a wardrobe of happiness. Even with losing or gaining weight there are plenty of inexpensive options to replace the clothes that no longer fit us.
- Check out one of my FAVOURITE women, on Youtube, “The Minimal Mom”, while she declutters clothing. She gives outstanding helpful tips on reducing clutter and maximizing efficiency in the home so you can enjoy your life more!
This is another major area to declutter. Our kitchen and attitude about cooking functions SO much better when everything feels clean and efficient. Having to stuff things in drawers that are exploding with too many items is not only stressful but makes for a challenging cooking experience. In fact, I daresay de-cluttering your Kitchen will encourage MORE creativity.
Here’s a quick list to help you start!
- Any appliances you have not used in the last year, consider letting go. Guilt over the price you paid for an item might make you hold onto it longer, but is it worth your peace? The money is spent and it is not coming back (unless you sell it on marketplace!). Don’t let guilt over the cost of something steal peace you could have in your home with less clutter. .
- “Junk drawer”. Keep items that you use daily. For everything else, ask yourself if you will use it in the next week. If not, either find a place in the home where you will use it more frequently or chuck it.
- Dishes. Oh the dishes. I think the best advice I have ever heard for a kitchen ‘declutter’ is to limit dishes so they do not turn into PILES. Allowing each person in the home to have their own designated ‘dish set’ keeps things clutter free. It means you do dishes more often, because you need to wash the dish if you want to eat off of it! But it also means a quick 5 minute tidy, or allowing your kids to WASH THIER OWN simple set of dishes, is nothing compared to you passing hours at the sink. Here is a great video on decluttering the kitchen from “The Minimal Mom”.
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I often sneak around my house in the middle of the night with a garbage bag, collecting toys that are rarely played with, for donating. I am like a mean Santa. But don’t worry, our kids have almost never noticed and were rarely disappointed because they still had all the things they loved to play with most.
Isn’t that the beauty of keeping what we love? How wonderful to actually enjoy what we have rather than feeling ‘bogged down’ by excess all the time.
Dawn from “The Minimal Mom” discusses how you can “Make the Boundary the Bad Guy”. I found this incredibly helpful for decluttering my OWN things, but especially in our parenting for helping our children to keep things comfortably within the boundary they are given.
For example, choose a basket or toy box the children can each have their own items in. Then allow that boundary of the edges of the container to be the “bad guy”. They can keep anything they want as long as it fits in the container you gave them. This has worked incredibly well for our kids. And they actually play so much better when they have space and energy to do so. I used to get so frustrated with how messy their room,s would get from legos and stuffs and clothing scattered EVERYWHERE. With minimizing their items on their own (with guidance) they gained noticeable confidence in themselves and gush about how much they love that their room is easy to take care of.
As well, clothing can adjust to this advice by making the drawer or closet your boundary.
You can check out more helpful advice on decluttering from “the Minimal Mom” on her Youtube channel.
#4. Papers and Photos.
I actually was appalled at how much paperwork I had saved the last decade. Who saves papers over a decade?! I did. Me.
But it was incredibly liberating to get rid of papers, receipts, tax forms, and miscellaneous forms we will never use.
I even got rid of some sentimental papers just because there was a pile that was too big to manage. I read them again, and realized how precious they were, but that I held the memory of them already. By taking pictures of more important ones I could easily let go of the rest.
Even old photos. Do we really need triples of the same picture from the same event? Or of a friend we haven’t seen since high school? It is not cruel to let go. It is liberating our own boundary of our house. There will be more space to breathe and enjoy life.
Sure there are some irreplaceable ones. I will never throw our ones of my immigrant family or the black and white photos I cherish. But putting them in an album will allow me to enjoy them rather than store them uselessly.
We all have this category going on in our home. It includes decorations, gifts from the ‘Karen’ in your life, vacation mementos, things your family made you promise to never throw away, and random items you grabbed at Target or Walmart.
Ask yourself if you use it often.
Reflect on if it is really a source of Joy.
Then ask yourself if you prefer to have it in your home to look at, or if you would rather see the clean empty space of it not being there.
Those are a few ways we declutter some items we didn’t really love.
Areas to Find “Hiding Miscellaneous” Items to Declutter:
- Kitchen drawers or top of fridge
- Basement Or Attic Storage
- “Under Bed” storage
- Shelves or counters in plain views. Sometimes these items have been on our shelves so long we do not even realize how much we don’t like seeing them.
- T.V. Area. We just decluttered over 300 DVD’s we were given over the last few years that we NEVER WATCHED. Yeah. Crazy, I know.
- Jewelry Box. Still have a piece of jewelry that you made at camp with your “camp best friend”. You can keep the memory and chuck the bracelet. YOU WILL FEEL LIBERATED, when your space is clean and your home at peace.
Mantra to Think of while Decluttering :
Try to re-create the kind of feeling you have when you arrive on vacation. Think “PEACE”, “clutter free”, “rejuvenation” and “clean space”.
The One Area I REALLY Struggle with When I Declutter
If you know me well, you know I love getting rid of excess “Stuff”. The one area I really struggle in letting go though is BOOKS!!
We live in a French province and while we love French books and have many, English books are scarce and expensive to buy.
As a Homeschool mom, my biggest struggle is letting go of any books we are not currently using but MIGHT use down the road.
But I did recently go through my books once again and I was able to let go of “doubles”, and books that we will not be using for years to come. Even some of the little ones books that I LOVE to save for those younger than them, I managed to let go of. I made one of my bookcases “The Boundary” for our Homeschool books that are not strictly curriculum based. That way we keep ones we LOVE and if we need more, we can always buy used book or kindle books through amazon. Epic is a wonderful app resource as well, with over 40,000 books for kids!
In the end I kept what worked for our family, and I think Minimalism is something that each family can embrace in their own way. The point it to discover happiness in your home with what you own, while finding a way to declutter enough to get your life back!
What Minimalism is Doing for Our Family
- Because we have less laundry, dishes, and general clutter, we are a happier clan. When we settle into our house in the evening we are not facing piles of dishes and mountains of laundry anymore. We can truly relax without that burden on our subconscious.
- By letting go of things we were keeping ‘just in case’ we were able to face some fears we did not know existed within ourself. By storing up, we felt more secure, but reality is “stuff” is not a security. It is a burden when it is in excess and it actually causes problems, like health issues from added stress, and taking time to care for all the clutter!
- My husband and my bedroom always seemed to be the “Catch-all” for extra laundry to fold and paperwork we put off for later. By embracing minimalism, we were able to get rid of 30 garbage bags of items from several areas of our home! Now we have a very clean peaceful bedroom now that will never be anyone’s “junk drawer” again!
- We also made a recent “Room Switch” (which you can see on our Facebook page) with our older boys so they could have a larger space to play. We never would have been able to do that if we have not first taken time to declutter. Now we both have tidy, simple rooms that allow place for true creativity and purpose!
- My Husband and a child of ours battle ADD. It was only recently I realized how having things stacking up around our house, only added to that daily battle. With less, we are able to enjoy each other, focus on our tasks at hand and enjoy everything that we have with thankful hearts.
What Do Our Kids Think About Decluttering?
One of our children particularly seemed to struggle constantly to declutter ANY toy, even if it was broken. We never forced but always encouraged them in the right direction. This same child would often struggle with having a VERY messy room and frequent nightmares.
Since having better healthy boundaries in place for their items, this particular child has had a very tidy room and not one nightmare! They also wake up earlier to play, and with a better attitude.
Sometimes children can also feel like they are drowning in STUFF.
If you ask the other children, one will say they like having tons of clothing and toys, while the others say they would much rather have less belongings and more room to play with things they love.
But either way, finding a system to help is declutter has been the healthiest decision for our family. It has freed up so much time in our day to spend time on activities we cherish. Plus, we want them growing up knowing how to value themselves and their own time enough to say, “no” to overwhelm and clutter.
I Hope you Enjoyed this Article on 5 simple ways to declutter!
Thank you for stopping by our Homestead and for following along as we grow and learn together!
Thanks for taking time to declutter with us! You can learn more about the story of our homestead HERE.