What’s the simplest decluttering tip ever?
Have a place to put stuff you want to get rid of – and tell your family about it!
When we moved into our new house a few months ago, despite having gotten rid of a lot of things we didn’t need, I realized I was still coming across stuff that doesn’t fit into our life for one reason or another. For awhile I just put the items on the counter in the laundry room, but I hated them just being in a mess on the counter.
It was even more obviously clutter, but only when I was in the laundry room and the door wasn’t wide open. (So basically never.) Still, the first few times I noticed it I slipped back into the old, “I’ll take care of that later.”
Then I decided to do something about it. I took an empty diaper box that was being used as a toy and neatly put everything that was to be donated into the box. The box went into an empty cupboard and that was that.
Now every time I come across something that we don’t want or need, I put it in the box.
But I was reading The Life on Purpose Movement blog and realized that while that was a great strategy, I had missed a crucial step –
I didn’t tell anyone else about the designated spot for stuff to donate!
I just quietly put stuff in there, including at least one Christmas gift that just wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t a secret exactly, I showed my 5 year old when she something she wanted to give away, but I didn’t tell everyone where it was and what it was for. I just cleaned it up and put it out of site.
Here’s the thing though, the picture Erica painted of kids making piles made me think back on all of the items my children have voluntarily gotten rid of. Especially when they see me doing it. When I lead by example.
So instead of quietly hiding it away, I am advertising it to my family.
Now, when they come across something that they want to get rid of, I just tell them “You know where to put it.” And they do.
You can take it one step further and have a box or bag in your closet too.
Then when you try on something you don’t like or that doesn’t fit right, you can just put it in the bag. You can have one in everyone’s room. Whatever works for you and makes it easier for you.
As long as you have a place to put things that no longer serve you and everyone knows about it.
How does this work with kids?
However you want it to. In our family, we like to let our kids make their own decisions about their things. We might try to help guide them in their decision-making but generally them let have the last word. There may be exceptions to this rule if we feel very strongly about something, but we haven’t gotten there yet. I assume if this does happen it will be about something we paid a lot of money for.
The other good thing about doing this with kids is that, if you have a place in your house where you temporarily hold onto things, they can change their mind.
My 5 year old did this with one of her Christmas gifts. She got this really big Pottery Barn jewelry box from one of her aunts and uncles. After a few weeks she decided she didn’t want it and I helped her put it in the spot for stuff to donate. My husband was upset about it and didn’t want her to give it away, but did let her make the choice. Then, a week later she decided that she no longer wanted to give it away and we just took it out and put it back in her room.
That can be a slippery slope though. Just know that you have to be clear with your children about how things work.
I know from experience though that this has instilled in my children the desire to give things to people that they think would like to use them. I’ve seen it happen time and again and to me, it’s worth it.