Having Kids Help Declutter: 3 Day Challenge

While we’re in the middle of a 100 Day Challenge, that can be overwhelming and isn’t practical for everyone. Plus, the way to declutter for 100 days is to start with a few days.

Help kids declutter

Just as you don’t enjoy being overwhelmed with daunting decluttering tasks, neither do your children. While you can implement this challenge however you want, here’s my advice to add structure if you don’t already have a plan.

1. Teach the benefits of decluttering. Teach your kids that it’s a valuable life skill that will benefit them and those they love for the rest of their lives. Share the joy and freedom it enhances. (I say that it enhances joy and freedom because I had plenty of joy and freedom even when I had clutter, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t have lots of clutter but that doesn’t mean they automatically experience overwhelming joy and freedom. So much of that comes from choosing joy and freedom no matter what.)

2. Explain the tasks. Let them know how much time you want them to put into it. This depends on what age/stage your child is at. But I’d say anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes is a good starting spot. Tell them why they’re doing this. (It can give them room for more stuff later…birthdays or Christmas. It’ll make cleaning their rooms faster. It makes it easier to find things. There’s more room to play or be creative.)

3. Set small goals and work your way up. Day one might just be a day of discussing the benefits, tasks, and goals and then getting them set up to start the next day. You could tell them that if they happen to find something to put in the donation pile, they can go ahead but that you don’t require them to start until the next day. Day two could involve a challenge to fill the box or get rid of X number of items (10?). Day three could be for them to go through one category of clothing (all of their shirts or all of their pants or all of their shoes, etc) or get rid of 11 items or work for 15 minutes instead of 10 (or 6 instead of 5 if they are much younger).

4. Help get them started. Supply them with a box or bag to put items in for donation. Make sure they have a trash can so they can also get rid of things that aren’t worth donating. Tell them it’s best to start with larger items because it makes a noticeable difference faster. Trashing a piece of paper won’t put as much of a dent in the clutter as getting rid of a big stuffed animal.

5. Be prepared for them to want to get rid of things you don’t want them to get rid of. Maybe you paid a lot for it or it’s great quality or has sentimental value for you. At that point, they’ve done the work and should reap the benefits. Maybe find a family member who would also find it sentimental. Or put it in your own room or in the attic until another child can use it. If you aren’t willing to keep it among your items, maybe it isn’t as valuable as you thought. Try not to force them to keep too much in their room even though they’ve said it doesn’t spark joy. That will discourage them to keep going because they’ll think you might overrule them about more stuff, so they’re just wasting their time trying to get rid of clutter.

 

Other Tips for Making the Process Easier

My sister’s daughters were really involved in choosing which clothes to get rid of, but her sons didn’t care much. So for them, we went through all of their clothes and took out the ones we thought didn’t fit or had too many holes/stains. Then we had them look through that pile we were going to give away to make sure they didn’t want to keep any of it. They did decide to keep some, but we were still able to get rid of a lot.

Even for me, I recently chose one bookshelf to go through and choose the books I definitely knew I wanted to keep. Then it was much easier to tell myself that I must not really want to keep the others because they aren’t in my “definite keepers” pile. So I boxed up two-thirds of the books on the shelf to sell at the bookstore! And I seriously love books. Like, if anyone else had told me a few years ago that they were doing that, I’d have said they weren’t really a book lover. But I have an English degree. Believe me, I love books! So this might be a good task for your kids to quickly get rid of items on a shelf.

 

If you don’t have kids, you could still try three of these items for yourself or a roommate. Choose three days this week to work on this challenge. They don’t have to be three days in a row. 

Let me know how you do with this challenge as opposed to the 100 day challenge. I always love hearing how many people are able to accomplish their goals!

 

Clutter-Free Moms: Do What Works for You

You may have heard lots of advice about how to declutter, and you may hear lots more advice here. Some of it will help you, some won’t. Stick with what works for you. Try different things, but remember you can always change back.

I’ve seen that what works for me in a certain stage of the decluttering process isn’t as effective later. And what works for people who have less cluttered lives than I do, doesn’t help me right now. But I keep it in mind as something to try later.

This week’s tips might be one of those things for you. And that’s perfectly ok. If you’ve got plenty of decluttering tasks you want to do before trying this one, go for it.

Clutter-free by thanksgiving

 

Tip of the Week: If you, like so many other people, wear the same pair of jeans multiple times before washing them, you may not have a great system for keeping them separate from your cleanest clothes. Consider having one drawer just for those clothes that have been worn more than once. Or have a space in your closet for hanging those items so they can air out in between wears…instead of piling up on the floor or a chair.

 

P. S. Just checking in again: How many days have you been decluttering now? I’m excited to see how many people turn this into a habit.

Clutter-Free Moms: Overwhelmed

Clutter-Free by Thanksgiving

Ever just want to hide from all the responsibility that comes with having so much stuff? Wanna get away from the clutter?

As you declutter more and more, you’ll feel less and less like you need to escape from your own home.

Having so much to do can be paralyzing.

Tip of the Week: Start small. Take 5 minutes. Maybe that’s enough time to empty your purse and only put back what currently needs to be there. Or you can get rid of that plastic cups that only annoy you every time you see or use them. 5 minutes is enough time to put a few clothes that don’t really fit you into a bag to donate next time you’re near the thrift store. Get to it, and mark off one more day!

 

This is day 14 of the challenge, but if you’re just joining, you can still get your 100 days in by August 31st to get a free digital copy of my upcoming book. Just check out my previous post with the introduction to the 100 day challenge.

Clutter-Free Moms: Progress

How nice would it be to have a table with nothing on it but your cup of tea to enjoy? 

Instead there may be papers reminding you of all you should be doing while you’re drinking your tea. Or maybe there’s honey or jelly stuck to the table that you should have wiped off earlier. If only there weren’t so many dishes and boxes of snacks piled up, then it would be easier to wipe the table.

The clutter won’t magically disappear, but over these 100 days it’ll slowly begin to shrink if you put in the work. And it’ll be so worth it!

Simplicity Clutter-Free by Thanksgiving

Tip of the Week: Make a simple chart to record your 100 days. You could put a small box to check off your calendar each day, write the numbers 1 through 100 on a dry erase board and circle each one you complete, or put a post it on your mirror that you can add a tally mark to every day that you do a little decluttering.

Most importantly, find something to get rid of today (not your kids) and mark off day one!

 

It’s not too late to help a friend get in on the challenge so they can declutter their lives as well.

Next time we’ll talk a little bit about how to go about this process of decluttering without feeling overwhelmed.

Clutter-Free Moms: 100 Day Challenge

 

It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to establish a habit.

It all depends on the difficulty level of the habit as well as the individual’s resistance to forming habits.

But the average time to make a habit second-nature is 66 days. (All of the above is according to this study).

 

Maybe before you had kids, you didn’t really have to make decluttering a habit. Even if you aren’t a parent, taking this challenge can prepare you for when you are someday, or it can help you stop being a packrat like I was! I have since learned that decluttering is a great life skill.

So let’s start by making it a habit.

Clutter-Free Moms Challenge

Why 100 Days?

Just in case decluttering is one of those complex habits, or in case you’re resistant to habits, 100 days sounds like a good number to start with. It isn’t quite as intimidating as 254, but it’s a solid start.

I’m even building in some wiggle room for you because the challenge will actually take place over 123 days (May 1-August 31). You can skip nearly a month and still complete the challenge!

 

Details of the Challenge

Over the next four months, I’ll send an email every other week with a short “Tip of the Week.” Each one will likely be 1-3 paragraphs long. Just enough to serve as a reminder and provide some inspiration, but not so much that it takes up all the time you had for decluttering.

You will be in charge of remembering to declutter even on the days in between so that you can form it as a habit.

You get to check your decluttering off for the day whether you declutter for one hour or one minute.

My recommendation is that you do it for 15-45 minutes a day depending on your schedule. But even if you just do one minute a day, that would end up being over an hour and a half total. If that’s more than you would’ve done otherwise, it sounds like a win to me!

If you feel like there’s no way you could even find 15 minutes a day, that’s ok. We’ll discuss that during the challenge, too. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 5 minutes if that’s as much time as you can afford to focus on decluttering.

The topics for the posts include:

  • How to keep from being overwhelmed as you get started
  • Having kids help declutter
  • How to adjust the KonMari Method for those who have kids (or only short chunks of time to work on decluttering)
  • Combating daily paper clutter (mail and kids school work)
  • Tricks for decluttering the kitchen

 

What you get for Participating

At the end of the challenge, each participant will receive the first chapter of my upcoming book, From Packrat to Clutter-Free. 

For those who actually complete the challenge by decluttering for 100 out of the 123 days, they will receive a digital copy of my entire book. (They just have to send me a copy of their chart or tag me in a social media post of it.)

 

How to enter the Challenge

1. Simply enter your email address into the bar at the top of this page or in the pop-up box.

2. Make sure you check your junk mail in case your confirmation email ends up there.

Once you’ve subscribed, you’ll get each post sent to your email. If you’re like me, you wouldn’t remember to check the blog every other week for the latest post.

Plus, if you don’t sign-up, then you won’t get the first chapter of my book at the end of the challenge since I won’t be posting that to the blog.

 

And don’t forget to share this with your friends so they can take the challenge with you!

The first post will help you get started by making a simple chart to track your 100 days.

I’m so excited to help you become a little more clutter-free by establishing this habit!

 

Being Afraid of Marriage is like being Afraid of Swimming Pools

 

Some of my best memories have happened in and around a pool with family and friends. I think of laughter and fun and relaxation when I see a swimming pool.

And it blows my mind that people could see a marriage and think of those same things. Laughter? Fun? Relaxing?

More like terrifying, overwhelming, and disastrous. And yet the possibility is looming in my not-so-distant future.

I recently contemplated that I could someday actually enjoy marriage enough to say to my husband, “I’m sorry I was so afraid of this.” It was strange to imagine that one day I’d feel silly for being so frightened over something so good and fun.

 

Then I realized his reply could be something like this:

“If a child had seen his father drown his mother in a pool and try to drown him, too, you wouldn’t tell him he was being completely silly for being afraid of swimming pools.

You might show him how much fun it could be and coax him in when he’s ready. But as he finally laughs and plays in the pool and then turns to you and says, ‘I’m sorry I was so scared of this. I can’t believe I was so stupid,’ you wouldn’t say, ‘Yeah, I tried to tell you a long time ago to stop worrying about it.’

No, you’d feel sorry that anyone has had to go through something so horrible that it would make them afraid of something that brings so much joy. You’d tell him it’s not his fault and that you’re proud of him for overcoming his fear.

So that’s what I’m telling you. I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain growing up that you weren’t able to comprehend how great marriage could be until now. I’m just glad you decided to give it a chance anyway.”

 

If you’re like me, I hope that sinks in as much as it did for me.

Just like it’s crazy for me to think that anyone could not love a swimming pool as much as I do, I guess there are people out there who can’t imagine someone so scared of marriage that they won’t even give it a try.

And just like I would want that little boy to move past his traumatic experience enough to be able to enjoy swimming, I want myself to take those steps to see how amazing marriage can be.

In the past, I’ve allowed the negative relationships I’ve seen to outweigh all the positive ones. Because it hit closer to home, the negative stories seemed more real, more believable. But I’m realizing that the damage done doesn’t have to be permanent. Good marriages are real, too.

 

It’s easy for me to have hope for a child I’ve never met who had such strong negative images about a swimming pool that it canceled out any good memories he had.

But seeing it as something similar to what I do with marriage helps me believe I can soon have good memories about marriage. So many good memories, in fact, that I realize that my view from the beginning (of marriage being bad) was the view that was skewed, rather than the other way around.

 

By the way, this is not an invitation for you to tell me that marriage actually is the worst thing ever. As I mentioned, I’ve seen the ugly side of it and fixated on that enough. It’s time for a different perspective. I look forward to the day when I say, “Why was I afraid of this!?!!!”

 

I think part of the problem is that people seem fine with sharing all the horrible things about marriage, but they don’t say, “Marriage is mostly horrible, but also there are some really good things about it.”

On the flip side, maybe I just overlook the positive things people say about marriage because I don’t believe it. But also when people actually talk about how great marriage can be, they usually add, “But it is really hard and there’s a lot of bad that can happen, too.”

And as my boyfriend pointed out, people probably aren’t as vocal when they’re happy with their marriage because they don’t want to come across as bragging about something other people don’t have. Plus, they know there’s always the chance something horrible could happen later in their marriage.

 

Even though there are real dangers in swimming, I don’t let that stop me from enjoying a day at the pool. And I don’t intend to let fear of potential hardships keep me from enjoying marriage and dealing with any problem as it arises.

 

And actually, when I was a baby, I did very nearly drown. My face turned purple and blue, and I eventually threw up a bunch of water. I don’t remember it, but still my parents could’ve used it as an excuse to keep me from ever going swimming. They could’ve frightened me away from it by telling me all the bad things that could happen.

Instead, I learned to swim at the age of two or three. Instead of avoiding the possibility of another tragedy, I was taught a healthy way to deal with water. I learned some things that gave me an advantage.

And so instead of avoiding relationships altogether, I’ve continued to learn how to have stronger ones.

 

I’ve talked before about how being single is awesome, but it comes with its own set of struggles. Staying away from swimming pools wouldn’t keep that child out of danger. He could get hurt any number of ways. Avoiding pools just ensures that he misses out on the fun he could be having.

6 Ideas to Motivate You to Declutter This Thanksgiving

I love decluttering at this time of year. At least for me, it begins a long stretch of time off. So I’m able to be around my clutter and focus on getting rid of and organizing it.

30 Day Challenge

 

Even if you just have a few extra days off, here are some comments from everyday people about what helps them declutter:

 

“Visiting someone’s house who is extremely over decorated or overcluttered and realizing I don’t want my home to be that way. Or looking around and realizing I don’t need xyz because I haven’t used those items in months (or years). Also moving to a (much!) smaller apartment helped me declutter at a fairly breakneck speed.” -Candace B.

 

“Keeping myself accountable motivates me – for any new ‘thing’ we donate 3 items, as an example. Also motivated by knowing cleaning and organizing becomes easier with less stuff.” -Jen A.

 

“All the money we’ve earned from selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist. Two 5-year-old laptops went for $450+ each. Collectibles, toys, baby gear…even $5 for something that’s taking up space is awesome. smile emoticon I also send clothes to ThredUP which gives me store credit to shop. Of course having a clean, uncluttered home is a good benefit too.” -Amber M.

 

“When I think about cleaning out my aunt’s house after her death. She was a hoarder. It was a very emotional time since we had no idea how advanced the hoarding was. Now the smallest sign of clutter makes me nuts.” -Sharon D.

 

“We got new floors installe in half of our house. I had to move everything in the bedrooms and most of the closets. I made a rule for myself that nothing went back into those rooms unless it was being put in its place. (A lot of things had been place haphazardly into closets before this.) I purged and sorted as I went. Once I was done with that half of the house, I just kept going. It felt so great to have things organized. Decluttering was a huge part of the process.” -Heather H.

 

“My wife and I are in process of getting certified to foster. We’ve decided it would be good if the kid had room to put their stuff.” -Dennis W.

 

I love hearing why people declutter. It reminds me how important it is and how it can affect so many areas of our lives.

 

Maybe you’re not planning a move, but you could plan to get new flooring in a room you’d like to have decluttered.

So many of these ideas aren’t big projects. They simply have to do with our thoughts. Imagine or remember a cluttered place you’ve seen, and use that to help you change your clutter before it gets that bad.

 

I hope these ideas help you get started because, once you do, then it just gets easier and better. So choose one idea to help you with whatever task you’re working on this week.

 

Wishing you a focused and productive decluttering season!

Inspiration for a Clutter-Free Thanksgiving

This week, I’ve asked what helps people in their decluttering endeavors. Here are some of their ideas that might inspire you this week.

  • “A new tequnique, gadget, storage container, etc.” -Tiffany S.
  • “I like to listen to a podcast or an audiobook whenever I do some deep cleaning/room rearranging. It keeps my mind occupied and makes me feel like I can work longer because it’s long-form content.” -Rachel R.
  • “I spend an hour decluttering/cleaning, then 20-30 minutes of a Netflix episode or reading a book.” -Charyse H.

 

I hope you can use one of these as inspiration to motivate you. Just don’t let any of these things get you sidetracked from the main thing of actually decluttering!

This post is part of a 30 Day Challenge, so the instructions for week 2 are below. If you’d like to get the email for week 3 in your inbox, be sure to sign up for the newsletter. I try to keep it simple and make it where you don’t have to be working on the same thing as everyone else in the challenge.

Week 2

This week I only have one suggestion, but it involves a couple of steps.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. So it’s time to try something new!

  1. Find an article about getting rid of clutter. Since there are some not-so-helpful tips out there, I’ll suggest a few sites that are great! Becoming Minimalist, Zen Habits, and A Slob Comes Clean.
  2. Choose one of their methods to try this week. Or try a capsule wardrobe. It’s amazing what a big different decluttering makes on your entire life! (Here’s another comment I got when I asked what inspires others to declutter: “Since I’ve been losing weight, each season I donate my loose clothes. I don’t want to see them again!” -Deborah S.)
  3. Actually give it a try! Aim to spend about 10 minutes a day on it this week. If you find that it isn’t working for you after a few days, try another one. It’s so easy to give up because one thing doesn’t work, but just keeping all the benefits in mind is a huge help in keeping me from giving up.

Until next week,

Happy Decluttering!

Clutter-Free by Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge

30 Day Challenge

It’s that time of year again, and I’ve gotten requests for help with getting rid of clutter.

I do realize there are less than 30 days until Thanksgiving, but I thought you might also appreciate some motivation in the cleanup process afterwards in order to stay clutter-free for all the celebrations following Thanksgiving.

 

So here’s a quick overview of the plan for this week to give you some concrete steps to follow.

 

Week 1

1. Download the free KonMari App & use it as a guide for getting rid of clutter. (Only available on iPhones as of right now.) If you don’t have an iPhone, the KonMari Adventures FaceBook group is also inspiring.

2. Set up a storage bin of some sort with a trash bag to put all the stuff you’ll be getting rid of this month.

3. Try to spend at least 5 minutes a day getting rid of clutter (no more than 45 minutes a day unless you have someone helping you) and not just hiding or organizing it.

4. Start a chart to mark off each day that you get rid of something.

5. Find a friend or FaceBook group to share your progress with at the end of each week.

6. Join this newsletter to get next week’s challenge sent straight to your inbox.

7. Most of all, have fun! Decluttering doesn’t have to be dreadful. You can be creative, or you can keep it really simple. Whatever works for you, but just do something. As you work on it little by little, it will become less overwhelming.

 

I’d love to know if you’re taking the challenge! Shoot me an email to let me know you’re giving it a try this year. You can also tell me why it’s so important to you.

mcstarbuck {at} gmail {dot} com

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Wishing you a clutter-free Thanksgiving,

 

Megan

 

How much is a Clutter-Free Home Worth?

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” -Unknown

 

If you knew I’d give you a million dollars if you spent 30 minutes a day getting rid of stuff for 250 days out of the year, you’d do it, right?

 

A huge part of the problem is that we don’t see the value of getting rid of clutter. I’m not giving you a million dollars, but I honestly believe that what you’d gain from decluttering is worth even more than that.

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Let’s face it, we could have a million bucks and still be stressed. We might be able to afford a bigger house, but without changing our habits, that big house could become just as cluttered as our current home.

 

After decluttering for about six months, though, you will have developed skills that can help you establish habits and overcome obstacles in other areas of your life. All that stuff you got rid of? You’ll won’t have to deal with it ever again, unlike when you try to just organize everything.

 

There’s a shift that needs to take place in the way you think about clutter as well as the process of getting rid of it.

 

A precious lady in her 70s that I know from my mom’s church told me recently that she declutters when she’s mad. She used to go shopping instead. What a great way to use decluttering to your benefit!

 

Just like with decluttering, plenty of people don’t think working out is fun. I’m one of them. But I can see the benefit of it, so I do it anyway, knowing the effort is worth it. But I also try to make being active a part of my lifestyle as well as something fun.

 

For example, I work outdoors where I take students on hikes. I get paid to exercise. Or I go swimming. It doesn’t feel like a workout because it’s fun, but I’m getting those same benefits.

 

That’s what we can do with decluttering. It isn’t very fun when we don’t see progress, when our decluttering isn’t effective. It’s key, therefore, to make a lasting and noticeable difference especially early in the decluttering process.

 

Sometimes it will feel very much like work. But other times it will be a stress-reliever. Sometimes you’ll be decluttering alone. Other times it can be a family competition.

 

Speaking of competitions, we like to reward ourselves, right? It’s important to make sure our rewards encourage our habit rather than destroy it. So with decluttering, we might not want to make “Take a week off decluttering” our reward after decluttering for 30 days.

 

According to Gretchen Rubin, an expert on habits and happiness, that wouldn’t necessarily be a good reward because it makes decluttering seem like something negative that you need a break from. Then it also gets you out of the routine and causes you to lose momentum.

 

That’s not to say that there won’t naturally be weeks where less decluttering gets done, but let’s not schedule an extra one in there just for fun.

 

As Rubin also explains, a better reward would be one that encourages your habit. For example, your reward could be that you invite people over. It’s fun, but it also will motivate you to do more last-minute decluttering.

Or your reward could be that you hire someone to haul stuff off for you after a certain amount of time. In addition to making you want to get rid of more before help arrives to take it away, this reward also makes the process of decluttering easier on you.

 

If you don’t value decluttering and its results, though, these rewards won’t make much of a difference. You’ve got to also remember how the process itself is benefiting you by teaching you things such as self-discipline and how to prioritize and make better decisions.

 

The packrat mindset is that decluttering is a poor use of time. Aren’t there so many better things we could be doing? Things that are more meaningful and fun?

 

But the clutter-free mindset is that decluttering helps every other area of your life: relationships, mental health, physical health, spiritual health, and finances. With that in mind, how much is a clutter-free home worth to you?

 

 


This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, From Packrat to Clutter-Free.

 

Since I’m still working on the book, I’d love to hear about your biggest clutter problems so I can be sure to address them in my book and make it a work that you get the most out of. Please contact me with any feedback or ideas at mcstarbuck {at} gmail {dot} com.

Or simply leave a comment on this post.