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Taking the Emotion Out of Decluttering

Snuggle Bugz | | Comments 0

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When we think about decluttering we often don’t think about the psychology behind it all. We think about the practical steps to get rid of old items in our homes to make way for the new, but often it can become overwhelming and we shut down. When we don’t understand the emotional aspect behind making space and decluttering, we can get in our own way.

In our podcast 40 Weeks to Forever Podcast, we chatted with Megan Golightly, a professional organizer and the Founder of Simplified to get some tips on how to make the process easier.

Here are three things to consider and ask yourself:

What's the Emotional Cost?

We previously addressed the practical aspects of purging and decluttering when making room for baby, but have you ever asked yourself WHY it’s so hard to get rid of your old belongings?

Saying goodbye to items and getting them out of your home can be really difficult when you can’t separate your emotions from the item itself. Often, we hold onto items because of the emotions attached to them.

Perhaps it’s an item that is sentimental and evokes nostalgia and memories of a happy time in your life. It isn’t necessarily the item itself, but rather the memory attached to it. Do you really need to hold onto that thing? Rather than allowing it to take up space, is it possible to take a photo of it instead? Sometimes we hold onto things that have outlived their purpose because we’re afraid we will forget the memory itself.

Or perhaps you feel guilt, shame, or fear when considering getting rid of an item. Did you spend a lot of money and feel wasteful? Did someone give it to you, and you feel guilty for not using it? Did your parents always hang onto items because they were "perfectly good", or because they may possibly use them in the future (but in reality the item just sits gathering dust)?

Rather than hanging onto things that are taking up space, allow yourself to release them and bring joy to someone else. Do you really want to feel guilty every time you see that item hanging in your closet never to be used again? Do you really want to organize endless piles of baby clothes versus spending time with your family?

Flip the mindset and think about how that item could be better put to use by someone who would really enjoy it. You are actually being wasteful in holding onto them. So, time to pass them along to someone else.

What Example Do You Want to Set?

Kids are like sponges. They observe and absorb everything. If they see you stressed out about clutter, they will become stressed themselves. They absorb the emotions of the people around them.

Ask yourself what you want to teach your kids about clutter and organization. Teaching them how to organize at a young age will set them up for success as an adult. Help them to build good habits by keeping things organized and easy to manage, rather than overwhelming and chaotic.

Remind yourself that it’s about progress not perfection. Of course, your five-year-old isn’t going to have a perfectly tidy room all the time but you can help them make small steps of progress to build those habits now.

Setting them up for future success can help save your sanity, rather than constantly having to clean up after your kids as they tear through the house.

Do They Really Need All Those Toys?

We aren’t saying ditch all the toys, but do they really need to have access to ALL of their toys at once?

Children’s toys can pile up really quickly and get overwhelming. If it’s overwhelming for us, it’s definitely going to be overwhelming for them. Less is always better for kids. Little ones are more focused when there are fewer distractions. If you keep it simple, they will use their imaginations more.

Consider a toy rotation. Grab a few bins of toys at a time and put the rest out of sight. Rotate the bins out once a month (or every few weeks). This not only helps reduce the clutter but also prevents children from getting bored of the toys they have.

None of us want our kids to feel like they are drowning. It can be really overwhelming at such a young age to be digging through bins because they can’t find small pieces. Let them play with the doctor kit one-week, hot wheels the next, and then dolls. Rotate through them all to set them up for success during playtime.

Final Thoughts

It will take a lot of work and discipline on your part, but everything good takes effort.

It can be stressful thinking about making space for your growing family, but it doesn’t have to be. Ask yourself how hanging onto items serves you. Ask yourself these difficult questions, get out of your own way, and remind yourself that not all things need to be held onto.

You got this!

*This information was taken from the 40 Weeks to Forever Podcast. Season 2, Episode 2: Organizing Your Home for Baby Guest: Megan Golightly