Five Decluttering Mistakes We all Make and What You Can do About Them
We all know the benefits of decluttering but sometimes we find ourselves inadvertently sabotaging any decluttering effort we do. Here are 5 decluttering mistakes we all make and how you can fix them.
Decluttering Mistake #1: Thinking it’s One and Done
“I decluttered last year so now I’m done decluttering.” Have you found yourself saying this? People often think that once they’ve decluttered once they are now done decluttering. Some methodologies out there believe this to be true. But, in my experience, especially with children, that’s simply not the case.
Usually with children things come in to your life at a rapid pace: art projects, another toy from the dentist, or gifts from well meaning babysitters, friends, and family.
In addition kids are changing sizes (and seasons depending on where you live) as they grow. It can seem as though stuff never stops coming in. Maybe you yourself have purchased a few too many things for your children and are now overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they have. If we only declutter once this stuff will remain.
First, please forgive yourself (and your friends/family) and realize that all decluttering is not one and done, it’s an ongoing process. There may be one major declutter in every room or category in your home to get you started but after that it will be a continual process.
As things continue to come into your home you need to make sure they are just as equally leaving your home. Some ideas of items that may need continual removal:
- Items/clothing children have outgrown
- Toys that are now irrelevant
- Broken items/toys
I personally keep a decluttering bag and I’m always working my decluttering efforts. Whenever I see things we no longer need they go in the bag. For me, that’s the only way to make it work. I’ve seen that’s also true for so many of the parents that I work with.
Decluttering Mistake #2: Decluttering in Front of Your Kids
This mistake doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. This will depend on your lifestyle and whether your kids are with you 24/7 as well as each child’s personality. Some kids are okay with letting go of things, they are able to bless items and move on. Other kids are going to want to hold on to them. Suddenly the toys they haven’t seen or played with in over a year are their most prized possessions (you’ve all faced the preschooler who then decides the baby rattle is his most favorite toy right?). It can then become a battle, we don’t want to take away something that they say they love and at the same time we know they haven’t taken interest in it for years and probably never will again.
If your child is the kind of child that will notice and will care then you definitely want to communicate with them when you are decluttering their belongings. You can start a conversation with them about decluttering.
Give your child guidelines on how the process of decluttering will go and the reasons for decluttering:
“Here is the space we have for your things, treasures, toys, artwork and clothes. Once this space becomes full we are going to need to get rid of the items that you don’t seem to be using or want to use any more. If there is something that you really want to keep and for me to never get rid of please let me know and I will be sure to keep it. We need to keep our home tidy and we need to keep our possessions limited to the things that we like to use so that our home feels good to us. When we are done with our items we can give them to other people so they can enjoy these things and we can make space in our home to enjoy the next things that come into our home.”
We should be teaching our kids about decluttering and putting language around the process. We should be transparent and authentic when explaining decluttering to them. You definitely don’t want to sneak behind your child’s back to remove items and damage their trust in you. You want to let them know ahead of time “hey, I’m going to be decluttering next week, let me know if there’s anything you definitely want to keep.”
Of course you’re never going to take any of their prized possessions even if they’ve sat stale for a little while. You are the leader of them home and therefore have the liberty and responsibility to ensure your child’s space is inviting to them and not full of clutter. So, if there are items that have been lying around for a long time and no one is taking interest in them, or those items are adding a bad energy to your home, you can communicate with your child that those items will be leaving. But, I still recommend doing it while they’re not around.
When you want to do a real declutter, a big overhaul, it will most likely be a challenge for most kids. The hoarding feeling will come up for them, a fear based feeling that you are going to take everything away. But, the truth is that we have to focus on what is gained by decluttering: space, focus, and a soothing, enjoyable, and beautiful space for our family.
The focus is not I’m taking away the stuff that you love, the focus is that I’m clearing a space so that you can focus on the things that you do love.
Decluttering Mistake #3: Not Donating Items Immediately
Have you ever noticed yourself taking the time and effort to declutter only to find the items back in your home? You end up thinking to yourself “well, that didn’t work, I’m never decluttering again, it doesn’t work anyway.”
Once you’ve decided which items are leaving you need to send them on their way ASAP. If you don’t your children will find them or you yourself may start having doubts creep in about the items.
Maybe I’ll use this one day
Maybe these pants will fit me again
Maybe I do like those shoes after all
Maybe my child will find interest in that toy like they did 2 years ago
When you leave things around you tend to get doubtful of your choice to let them go. The items then end up creeping back into your home. All of that hard work down the drain. You never get the satisfying feeling of truly clearing the space. The feeling that keeps you moving forward with your efforts.
Whether you will sell it on eBay, donate it, or whatever else you choose, do it in a timely fashion. At the very least, put the items in your car. This will symbolize to yourself that the items are no longer a part of your home, they are no longer yours. Some places will even come pick up your donations, if you have a local place that does this make the call as soon as you declutter.
Decluttering Mistake #4: The What if Rabbit Hole
During the decluttering process have you found yourself asking:
What if I need this one day?
What if this fits me one day?
What if the person who gave this to me finds out?
What if I regret this?
What if I need to buy it again?
What if it could work?
What if I could fix it?
The “what if” rabbit hole is every declutterer’s worst nightmare. You’re trying to be intentional. You’re trying to ensure you only have the stuff that serves you and brings you joy. Then this question pops up and creates a massive sense of doubt, sabotaging your efforts.
The key to remember here is that “what if” is just a survival mechanism. It’s that hoarding mentality that we have to hold on to everything. We worry there might be a famine, disaster, or some other hardship that will cause us to need these things.
It’s better, energetically speaking, to trust that we will have the exact things we need as we need them.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This
Most of us didn’t grow up with the experience of trusting we will have what we need. We didn’t have that mindset in our families and therefore this was not programmed into our brains. We don’t feel this trust in our body. We therefore end up holding on to things we truly don’t need. In order to break through this hoarding mentality you have to address the stories. You have to address the limiting beliefs that keep you stuck with more stuff. When you learn to let go you’ll find the experience worth more to you than the things you were holding on to.
Letting go can be difficult as holding on to stuff makes us think we feel secure and safe. In reality, the stuff is most likely keeping you trapped, held back in a prior version of yourself. A prior version of your values, body, taste, size, finances, etc that isn’t who you are anymore. In order to evolve you have to let that version of yourself (and the stuff associated with it) go. You need to send the message to the universe and to those around you that you have shed thanked that person and let her go in order to move on to the next level.
This isn’t a ploy for consumerism or buying more/new things. This is simply to let go of the things that aren’t serving you and don’t reflect who you are anymore. Allow those things to move on to serve someone else. Something else may fit nicely in its place and you will now have room for it.
You can trust that you will have the things that you need because you are a creative, capable individual.
Decluttering Mistake #5: Taking on Too Much at Once
Sometimes we get so excited about decluttering that we decide to declutter the entire house at once. We start with great gusto and then we only get half way through room #1 and we get overwhelmed. We then give up before we get to experience any sense of success.
This leads to us feeling it was too hard and that we have ultimately failed in our efforts.
Take your decluttering efforts one step at a time. Does the playroom seem like too much? Then choose one type or category of toy first. Taking on your wardrobe but the entire closet feels like too much – try just one season of clothing. Let the accomplishment of decluttering one area sink in and motivate you to keep going.
You and your children deserve a space that is free from clutter. A space that is beautiful, inviting, and invokes a sense of spaciousness and peace. Don’t let these decluttering mistakes hold you back.
I would love to hear which of these 5 decluttering mistakes tends to trip you up the most. Let me know in the comments below!