Why I Gave Up Clutter For Good

It is the beginning of 2018, which has me thinking about decluttering.

At the start of every new year, I set out determined to declutter my home, drawer by drawer, room by room.  I create to do lists, print off decluttering challenges and write weekly goals in my calendar.  Yet, here it is, almost February, and I have only successfully decluttered one closet.  And it was all my husbands stuff.  Not exactly what you would call a rousing success!

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I have been busy completing home DIY projects and managing the day in and day out tasks of running a household with three children under five.  I have even been more intentional about spending time playing with my children.  But, the truth is that I have spent more time looking at decluttering posts than I have actually decluttering.

As I reflected on this, I realized that I needed a motivation.

I needed something to push me over the hump so that I would actually make the time to declutter my home.  I thought about why I wanted a clutter free house.  And I looked around at the three most precious things I have.

My children.

Folks, I spend countless hours each week putting stuff away.  I pick things up only to have my kids immediately throw them back on the ground.  It is frustrating, overwhelming, and it feels like a personal affront sometimes.

And very likely, it is hurting my relationship with my family.

All of this junk, that I am torn over whether I should get rid of or not, is hurting my relationship with my family.

This realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

I have never been a, “Does this give me joy,” kind of person.  It just doesn’t work for me.

Instead, when decluttering I would think things like:

  • Do I need this?
  • Do I want this?
  • Could I replace this for under $10 if I needed it again someday?
  • Does this have sentimental value?
  • I can only wear one tshirt at a time, so I don’t need ten.
  • Have I used this in the last year?
  • Do I have multiples of this item?

All of these are great ways to start decluttering.  And they worked!  I have gotten rid of so much stuff!

But it wasn’t enough.

The last time we moved, my husband shipped all of our stuff ahead of time so we could stage our home to sell.  We kept only what we absolutely needed to live.  A few dishes, a suitcase of clothes, one box of toys, and some bathroom essentials.

We lived like that for two months.

It was so freeing.

I could clean my whole house in fifteen minutes.  THE WHOLE THING!

Which meant I wasn’t spending my time cleaning and putting stuff away.

It also meant that I wasn’t frustrated at my children for making messes everywhere, because there was nothing to make a mess of.  They could clean up their own toys in three minutes because they all just got tossed in one box.

During that time, I was the stay at home mom I always imagined that I would be.

I was calm, patient, and fun.  We lazily laid in the yard looking at cloud animals.  We spent hours reading stories.  We welcomed spontaneous play dates in our home.  We spent our days enjoying life in whatever way we fancied.  It was such a sweet time.

When I contrast that time with my days now, I am so saddened by the difference.

My days now are filled with organizing, telling my kids to clean up, and putting away things that were carelessly tossed on the floor even though they were never actually used.  Sure, I squeeze in a book here and there, and I half heartedly engage in a few minutes of play now and again, but I am constantly thinking about what needs to be done and waiting for an opportunity to get back to the things I really “need” to do.

And, clutter is actually detrimental to your kids.

Did you know that?  I didn’t.  After realizing how overwhelmed and anxious I felt about all my junk, I started to wonder if it affects my children that way.  I researched it, and what I found out is even worse than I thought.

Last, having all of this junk affects the hardworking man I married as well.

I find myself grumpily wondering why he can’t see the mess, or “pleasantly” hinting for him to do more.  For example, just yesterday I said to him, “Every time I make myself a cup of coffee (Keurig style), I make myself unload the dishwasher while the cup is filling.”  He smiled and probably thought that I am a complete nutcase.  And while I make it a point not to nag him, and I certainly don’t tell him what to do, I am inwardly disgruntled that all of the cleaning and picking up falls to me.

Well folks, no more.

This time is precious.  My family is precious.  I am done wasting these sweet childhood years with the three littlest loves of my life.

From now on, when I am decluttering and getting rid of junk, I will say to myself:

  • Is this more important than my children?
  • Would I rather have this, or spend time with my children?
  • I cannot get this time back, so I will not waste this time on junk.

In fact, I will go through my house and get rid of stuff with a vengeance.

A vengeance for all of the time it has stolen from me.  A vengeance for all the cloud watching opportunities I have missed.

Because this time is short, and this time should be cherished.

I will never miss the random art supplies we will never use, the stacks of paper I will never need, or the bins of cheap, plastic toys my kids never play with.  But I will forever miss the sweet smell of my baby’s breath, the gorgeous curl of my two year old’s smile, and the mischevious twinkle in my four year old’s eye.

So I am going to redeem the time while I still can.

And friend, I hope that you do too.

 

Curious about how it’s going?  Check out how I decluttered all those toys!

 

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