How To Declutter When You Live With Clutterbugs
If you missed part one of how to declutter when you live with clutterbugs, you may want to start here. The only way to declutter is, of course, to get rid of things. It can be harder than you think when you live with other people.
To be fair, there are things I don’t like to part with either. I keep all of the cards that have hand-written notes from people I love and I have way more clothes than a mom who works from home really needs. I love clothes so I tend to update. That being said, a few times a year, I go through my closet and drawers and get rid of things that don’t fit well, don’t look good or don’t get worn. My husband, on the other hand, keeps EVERYTHING.
So, while I aspire for a minimalist decluttered home, I have to work within the needs of my family. I’ve shared how I declutter, now I’ll share the next steps in getting to clutter free. All that being said, my home goes through phases and is a constant work in progress.
So, while I’m currently on a decluttering kick and my house is looking much better, I can’t guarantee that a few months from now, things will get out of control (usually with other people’s stuff) and I’ll need to go on another decluttering kick.
Clutter Free Living Tips – The Next Steps
Once you’ve gotten rid of a lot of clutter, how do you make what you have look good – especially if you still have a lot of stuff?
Decluttering Step 3: Use what you have.
I have made the mistake more than once of buying storage containers before decluttering and then realizing that I really don’t need a storage container since I got rid of so much stuff or I need a smaller container. I now use what I have lying around since I am constantly getting rid of things.
Another tip for storage containers is to hold on to storage containers you’ve emptied if you know you’ll be working in different spaces. For example, I recently cleared out three bins of baby towels and crib sheets that were stored in my sons’ closet. They have outgrown them but the bins were taking up valuable real estate that could be used for other things. The containers I used are really nice canvas boxes with lids so I am holding on to them until I finish working on my closet since I may be able to reuse them there.
I also only buy a new storage container if I have met these requirements:
- I have already done a purge and there are no containers that can be re-used.
- The item has a specific storage need. For example, my younger son has puzzles that come four puzzles in one wooden box with dividers. The boxes take up a lot of space so I have started putting the individual puzzles in ziplock bags and then all four corresponding puzzles in a pencil box. I buy the pencil boxes when I am decluttering puzzles (if I don’t have any hanging around from a previous declutter mission.
Decluttering Step 4: Get everyone on board or be OK with having to re-do your work.
I wish I could say that everyone in my family is on board with my quasi-minimalist/clutter free lifestyle, but they’re not. However, just as I have to respect that they don’t want to get rid of all of their things, I expect them to respect that I need a few zones to be clutter-free for my sanity.
I still declutter frequently because less stuff means less mess, but there are some zones that will always be a clutter-y mess, except for the few days after I’ve reorganized them. My kids aren’t going to suddenly part with all of their toys and my husband isn’t going to get rid of the piles of magazines, t-shirts and wires, cables and chargers (that go to nothing!).
There are also parts of my home that are used by everyone that seem to get really messy, really frequently. Two examples are the linen closet and pantry. When I was in college, I worked in the linen department at Sears. I still fold my towels the same way and like to look at a nice orderly linen closet. My husband has his own way of folding towels and isn’t great about nicely stacking towels or sheets when he puts them away.
I have a few options. I can either argue with him over the linen closet, let it go since, hey, he’s putting away laundry, insist on doing it myself or do a linen closet clean up whenever I have down time. It isn’t my “hill to die on” so I just know that it will be an ongoing clean up area.
The other area is our pantry. Our pantry has a horrible design and gets messy really quickly. Whenever it gets out of control, I do a clean-up and re-organize everything. I have bins for certain items and keep like items together. Still, for some reason, it is an area that just doesn’t stay neat for long. There are too many people using it and not everyone is as particular as I am about putting things back exactly where they found it. I’ve just learned to let it go and do frequent clean ups.
Do you have decluttering strategies that work in your home – especially if you live with clutterbugs?