This article caught my attention because the author tried to start decluttering her home, but kept running into roadblocks. Julia Salas shares her story in the Lawton Constitution, a local newspaper in southwest Oklahoma. Julia’s children have left home, but most of their stuff hasn’t. She didn’t say exactly where they are, but I assume college, since she says they don’t have their own kitchens yet. Wherever they are, Julia finds herself in the in-between phase where she wants to give some things to her adult children, but they aren’t at the point in life where they can take those things.
Jump over to the article to see what we’re talking about, and then come back here where I’ll share some tips to address this situation. Clutter? Yep, I Got It
This inability to get started is common. It can be overwhelming to think about how much decluttering needs to happen. And even when you focus in on a small area, you immediately realize how that will cascade into other areas. You get paralyzed in a sense, and can’t even get started.
I’m going to run through two of the scenarios presented in the article and offers some tips to get started.
Julia is holding some of her kitchen items so that when her kids get a place of their own, she can help get them started, and save them from having to buy a bunch of stuff. I see two options here.
Option 1: Get a box for each child. Label the boxes with the child’s name and “Kitchen Starter Pack.” Take items they will need for a new kitchen and fill their box. Julia was hesitant about putting stuff in boxes, fearing that the box would be forgotten forever. By creating a very specific box, and labeling it with it’s intended use, it is less likely you will forget about it. (As opposed to packing a box with random kitchen stuff and stuffing it in a closet.) After packing the boxes for the kids, she can get started on her kitchen decluttering.
Here is an example of how this works. Julia has 20 coffee mugs. She uses three. She packs three for each child in their Kitchen Starter Packs. Assuming she has two children, 3 mugs each plus her 3 mugs totals 9 mugs. Then it’s easy to declutter the remaining 11 mugs.
Option 2: Declutter the kitchen now and help the kids buy their own kitchen stuff when the time comes. It’s easy to pick up kitchen stuff at garage sales and second hand stores. If money isn’t too tight, then this might be the better option as it allows you to do your major decluttering now and you don’t have to keep any boxes stored away.
The challenge with the living room is the starting point. Julia wanted to start with the shelf in the corner, but the “home” for that stuff is a cabinet behind the couch. That cabinet is full of clutter also, and has no room for more stuff. Like the last example, I see two options here as well.
Option 1: The most obvious answer is to start with the cabinet behind the couch instead. If that spot is the home for many other things, then it’s the best spot to start. Declutter, organize, and remove things that don’t belong. Once that space is cleared she can move on to other areas.
Option 2: Create a temporary staging area – an island of misfit stuff. Find a spot that can house items temporarily until their “homes” are decluttered. She might consider working her way around the living room, decluttering each space and sending the items to be re-homed to the staging area. Once the living room is decluttered, she can work through all the items in the staging area.
The key in the living room scenario is to maintain momentum. Get started and then process an area to completion. Don’t move on to another area until the first is completed. That might mean that things get moved to a staging area, and in the interim you have more clutter. That’s ok because the momentum keeps you going. You’ll get one spot cleared and it will feel so good that you are excited to do the next.
If you are struggling to get started on a major decluttering project, then you may need some help. You can seek help from a professional organizer or clutter coach. Or you can join a Facebook group and ask some questions. There are a number of decluttering groups on Facebook. I host one that is full of positive, supportive people and you are welcome to join us and ask any questions you’d like as you work through your decluttering. https://www.facebook.com/groups/rethinkingthedream/