When Decluttering gets Tough
If you’ve been around the internet for awhile you know that there is a rise of interest into minimalism. It seems like it’s every where I go, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. But when it comes down to the actual decluttering, it can get tough the longer you work through your home.
While decluttering isn’t anything new to me, in the new year I started to declutter our house with intention, with the goal of becoming more minimalist. I found myself looking at our home with a more critical eye.
When I decided that I wanted to live with intention, things started to get a bit harder. This is when decluttering gets tough.
Through each pass of the house it has started to get a bit harder. I was past the surface items that required little thought. I now have to start really asking myself the hard questions. Questions like, “Why are you still holding on to those college binders?” “Why do you need that many Tupperware bowls? You just fill them with leftovers and let them mold in fridge.”
There have been so many other questions rolling through my mind. Ones that I have avoided in the past. If you’re on the journey to living more with less, you will eventually reach a point where it’s going to get really tough.
Here are some things that I’m doing right now to help get myself through the hard parts of decluttering and to help get the results that I want to achieve through minimalism in our home.
Remember your Vision and your Why
When decluttering gets tough, I need to remind myself why I started on this journey in the first place. For me, I want our home to be calm. I want a home that I don’t have to spend hours on the weekend cleaning. I want to be freed up to work on hobbies that I have neglected over the last few years.
I want to be a more present wife and parent. I want our home to be welcoming and a place that our kids enjoy being in.
Maybe your vision is to get out of debt or travel more. There might be a move on the horizon for you and the thought of having to pack up all your belongings is overwhelming. We are trying to move and while my first goal isn’t to remove items from our home so we don’t have to move them, it will certainly be an added bonus for us when that day finally does arrive.
Remember your why! On those rough days when you can’t see past the heaps of piles, remember that this is a journey.
Take a Break
Sometimes you just need a break. If you’ve been working super hard at letting go of the excess clutter in your home you are going to be tired. Not just physically, but emotionally.
Going through all our possessions is draining. We have to process through the fact that we have too much stuff, we’ve wasted money buying all this stuff and that we don’t actually need all this stuff.
Give yourself permission to take some time off and enjoy the fruits of your labours. Look around your home. I’m sure it’s feeling lighter, calmer and more enjoyable to be in. Has anyone other than you noticed a change in your home? If not that’s ok. Know that you have done good work and that it’s commendable.
Join an online challenge or create your own challenge
I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t decluttered in a couple weeks. I’d hit a standstill on my progress, possibly feeling a little burned out. I needed a break. We’re starting to feel the benefits of my efforts and I had let that feeling of freedom take my focus from my decluttering.
As enjoyable as the break has been it wasn’t until I read about the #40bagsin40days challenge by White House Black Shutters that I realized that I needed a push to get back into decluttering.
When decluttering gets tough you need some accountability. I needed that push to get me back into the areas of the house that I’ve been avoiding.
Start a list of what you’re getting rid of
One thing I’m working on with the 40 bags Challenge is that I’m writing down what I’m getting rid of. It’s too easy to forget that we’ve purged. Especially if you’re diligent about getting it out of the house quickly.
By making a list, I can reference it when I’m starting to feel like I haven’t decluttered anything in awhile. It also keeps me accountable by keeping track of what days I’m working on decluttering.
Give yourself permissions to let go of the Past
It’s ok to have things that you’ve kept for years, but if they are no longer serving a purpose and just weighing you down, let them go. Give yourself permission to let go of the past. It’s when we start working through these boxes of things we’ve avoided for years that decluttering gets tough.
These don’t even have to be incredibly sentimental items, they could just be things you’ve owned forever. It’s ok to just let them go.
Yesterday I went through my College binders that I’ve been carting around for the last 18 years. I was able to purge about 2/3 of what was left of the course modules. A couple years ago I had done a first pass through all my papers left over and thinned them down to about half. The rest I was keeping as I felt they were needed in case I started a bedding plant greenhouse.
Well last spring I did in fact have a bedding plant greenhouse open for business and now I was able to part with all the modules that I didn’t need for business. It was freeing. There are so many new resources available via the internet or sales representatives for horticulture. If I do in fact find that I’m missing some key information I have the ability to contact those individuals and they can point me in the right direction.
Giving myself permission to let go of these old college papers was important. It doesn’t mean that I can’t operate a horticulture business. It just means that I don’t need the weight of paper to do it.
Allow yourself the joy of doing something you’ve missed
Has your home kept you from something that you’ve loved in the past? As you let go of the clutter in your home you should soon be seeing space in your day that isn’t filled with cleaning and picking up. Take this time to spend it with your family. Play a board game, go swimming. Pick up that book and read. Start that project you’ve been dreaming about for years.
As our homes become lighter, there is less work needed to keep it up, opening up time for things that bring us joy.
I love to sew and, in the past, winter was when I allowed myself the privilege of sewing. I haven’t really sewn for years. I always felt like I didn’t have time. There was laundry to do, clutter to be picked up, the house to clean.
I’m starting to find time in my day that has nothing scheduled. For awhile I filled it with reading, which I also love, but the other day I thought why wouldn’t I pull out my sewing machine?
It was great. I was able to work on a project that I had wanted to do for years. I haven’t finished it yet, but I now have the space both physically and mentally to work on a hobby.
Respect the Process
When decluttering gets tough, remember that this is a journey, a marathon, not a sprint. For me, once I’ve set my mind on something I want it finished right now. But this isn’t a task that can be accomplished in a weekend or even a month.
If we rush through this process we will not reap the true benefits of minimalism, the benefits of living with less. If it becomes only about purging, tossing and donating we have lost sight of the purpose and our vision.
In all things remember that family and relationships are worth so much more than having a house with less stuff. If it takes you 3 years to get your home where you are content with the levels of clutter, so be it. Just don’t sacrifice relationships along the way.
Finally, remember it’s your journey
Your journey and my journey is going to look vastly different. Remember not to compare your home to those around you. I may have far more or far less items in our home than you do. That’s ok, it’s my choice as it is yours.
So don’t get discouraged. Let’s give ourselves some grace as the decluttering gets hard.