Tips to Declutter Your Life and Mind in the New Year
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to make our new year’s resolutions much simpler by consolidating them into one, easy-to-remember word: declutter.
We made a verbal agreement to focus our efforts on removing the unnecessary from our physical living space, our daily schedules, and overall mental state. The strategy to achieve this consists of focusing on goals, individually and jointly, that line up specifically with this one theme. And, we plan to keep ourselves accountable by making a date once a month to take stock on where we are in the process.
Decluttering—Room by Room
As part of the initiative to declutter our physical space, I have loosely planned to focus on one room a month. I figure this to be a manageable timeline that sets us up for success. Our home doesn’t even have 12 rooms, so I am taking into account closets and various unique spaces demanding the same attention to get under control.
Whatever space I’ve chosen for the month, this mama ropes in those who predominantly use it. The beginning of January and the seizing of school break has us starting off with our seven-year-old son’s room. I had second thoughts as to choosing one of the hardest spaces first, but getting us all in there to battle the impossible, shoulder-to-shoulder, and gradually seeing progress, added incentive to continue.
Toy by toy, book by book, rock by rock, my son was asked if he really still desired each item. When he started to see a difference in his room, reclaiming space to play, he began to show more motivation and cooperation. As a result, he now seems to enjoy his room even more—ironically, spending less time being bored. He isn’t asking as often for help in finding things either, because he was an active part of the tidying process and knows where things now reside.
Already seeing the benefits and having stayed ahead of schedule, I felt quite successful. I made one significant drop-off at the thrift store and began working on a pile of items meant for the next consignment sale. First month, first room—mission being accomplished.
Cleaning Brought My Sanity Back
It is so interesting to recognize how much physical decluttering is connected to our emotional and mental states. Sanity is slowly finding its place again in our home. I can breathe a bit lighter and already feel less stress by having less to maintain. I am a person who regularly purges on the surface, but really digging a level deeper into dark corners and re-discovering those things that I am keeping for “some good reason” has been an added challenge.
This is a bigger personal issue to confront than one might think. I was raised in a family where money didn’t “grow on trees” and frugalness was devoutly practiced. I have been conditioned to save the odds and ends, and I value that. I also have an artistic temperament which sees the possibilities and potential in seemingly every object. And, I have also always worked within the limited resources of the non-profit world. Therefore, I see it as a personal responsibility to save everything because it might have a perfect use later. So, I am going head to head with a pretty fixed mindset and conditioned practices.
Recently, I have been asking if this or that item is really worth hanging onto, since in many cases that “later” has turned into years of forgotten storage. Real estate’s estimate on what a square foot of my home is worth is much higher than the actual five and dime value of the things residing in it.
The Real Reason You Can’t Let Go of Things
Is it out of frugal conditioning, overwhelming sentiment, or is it really rooted in fear? Do I really believe that my needs or those of my family will not be met? Certainly there is value in being responsible, stewardly, and wise. However, is this over-conscious behavior crossing into an unhealthy drive for control or fear of having to go without?
While decluttering my house, I am simultaneously being challenged to do the same in my heart and am discovering unexpected freedoms await. I am spending less time under the drudgery of maintaining and more time investing in the things and people I love. This I consider to be the ultimate benefit of decluttering and maximizing the use of my home and heart’s reclaimed square footage. Here’s to the new decluttered year ahead!
One area of cleaning a home that trips up parents is the teen’s room—for obvious reasons! Here’s how to establish a strong foundation of communication with your teen: How Can I Connect and Communicate with My Teenager Better? with Jerusha Clark – 182