Inside: Decluttering is an act of love for yourself and for your family. Learn how decluttering benefits you and your loved ones and how to get started decluttering your home.
In the past month, our family has experienced the loss of two extended family members. The passing of these loved ones has caused me to reflect on what we own and how decluttering can be an act of love for yourself and for your family.
Decluttering is a task that many people push off until later. Maybe the thought of it is overwhelming. The way that some people react to overwhelm is avoidance.
It feels like too big of a task and the easiest thing to do is simply ignore the problem. However, not dealing with your stuff doesn’t make it go away.
And in some cases, it means the excess is being pushed off to other people to deal with after you’re gone.
In this post, I will talk about:
- how decluttering is an act of love
- why you should start decluttering now
- steps you can take to begin decluttering
How Decluttering Is an Act of Love for Yourself
There are various benefits to be experienced from decluttering your home and your life. Here are just a few of the ways that decluttering is an act of love for yourself.
Clutter is a distraction. Excess stuff takes attention that you could be spending on more important things.
What are your current goals? When working on your long-term goals, clutter can become an impediment.
The excess stuff you have in your home and in your life won’t help you reach those goals. It, instead, shifts your focus onto trying to keep up with all the things.
When you have fewer things, you’re able to spend more of your attention on the things that are most meaningful to you. Decluttering lightens your load and eliminates some of the distractions.
Whether it is the stuff in your home or the things in your schedule, more stuff equals more stress. It takes a lot of energy to clean, maintain, and move your stuff.
The excess becomes a burden that weighs you down. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away as you still know somewhere in your mind it’s something you need to be dealing with, but aren’t.
When you overcommit your life either by having too full of a schedule or by living beyond your means, it adds additional unnecessary stress to your life.
Everything you choose to bring into your home becomes something you now have to take care of. When you think of your stuff this way, it helps you to become more intentional with shopping.
The National Association of Soap and Detergent conducted a study that determined that removing clutter would reduce the time spent on cleaning by 40%. What would you do with 40% more time?
In a culture that tends to celebrate busyness, people often don’t intentionally plan for margin and rest. The result is many people experiencing burn out and exhaustion.
Having less allows you to live a little more simply. It gives you the breathing room to make time for true self-care.
“Having a simplified, uncluttered home is a form of self-care.” -Emma Scheib
How Decluttering Is an Act of Love for Your Family
If you live with family members in your home, decluttering is an act of love not just for you but also for your family.
A calmer home
Living in a space with less clutter helps to create a more calm atmosphere. That isn’t to say you’re house will be quiet, especially if you live with kids. My house certainly isn’t.
However, it does lessen the clutter piling up in various parts of the home. That is not to say your home will suddenly be perfect, but it will make it more manageable.
When you’re less stressed with the stuff in your home, the tone of the home tends to be calmer. You’ll feel less at odds with the people you live with if you’re not constantly having to remind them to put away all the things.
Setting an example
Kids experience stress when they have too many toys to choose from and too much stuff to maintain. To set your kids up for success, provide boundaries with the number of toys they have.
Lead by example. Declutter your things first. Let them see what the process looks like and model the behavior. When it comes to decluttering their things, have them participate in the process.
This helps them learn at a young age to be responsible for their own things. And then, hopefully, they’ll eventually become adults who don’t end up with a house full of clutter.
Clutter can distract you from the life happening in front of you.
When my kids were really little, I often found it challenging to be present in the moment with them. I was focused on trying to keep my head above water taking care of all the things.
It was that struggle that started my journey of simplifying. I didn’t want to be a mom who missed my kids’ childhoods because I was too busy managing too much stuff.
Decluttering allows you to have more time and attention for the people in your home.
Simplifying also applies to creating boundaries with technology. You’ll be more fully present with each other as you limit distractions, including screens.
“I would rather have extra space and extra time than extra stuff.” -Francine Jay
How Decluttering Is an Act of Love for Your Loved Ones
In our culture, we don’t like to talk about death. People often avoid having hard conversations and seem to want to go on pretending that the inevitable will never become the reality.
However, not preparing in advance leaves loved ones with additional burdens and work during an already difficult time.
The more decisions you can make by decluttering your things now, the fewer your loved ones have to make after you’re gone.
I’ve had numerous readers reach out to me to tell me their motivation for decluttering is that they don’t want to leave a burden for their family. Many of those people had their parents leave behind an excess of stuff and they knew what it was like to have to sort through it all.
Decluttering is an act of love as you think about the future and put in the effort to take care of your things now so others don’t have to do it later while they are grieving.
Less stress & pressure
There are a variety of circumstances that can happen around death. Some people pass suddenly and unexpectedly. Others get ill or slowly demise as they age.
In any case, loved ones are having to make many decisions after a person passes. There are memorial service arrangements to make, important documents to sort through, and much much more.
If loved ones don’t live close by, they may also have to make a trip to deal with all of the belongings. That is a huge additional pressure and stress to have to process through in the midst of everything else.
While some aspects of this aren’t completely avoidable, the more you do to declutter, organize, and prepare in advance, the easier you can make things for your loved ones, which is a very loving act.
Finding a balance
Decluttering isn’t about giving up everything that you own. It’s about being selective and keeping the things you love and use most. The reality is about 80% of our possessions don’t even get used.
The beauty of decluttering is that it can help you enjoy your space more now as the items you love most aren’t drowned out by the excess stuff. You also get to experience the freedom of living with less to maintain and be burdened by.
This doesn’t mean you have to go to extremes and live in a sterile environment where you’ve gotten rid of everything. Your home should still feel comfortable and enjoyable. You may find yourself surprised by how much you appreciate having a more simplified space.
“If your stuff isn’t serving you, it won’t be serving you any better packed away in a box somewhere.” -Melissa Camara Wilkins
Why You Should Start Decluttering Now
Putting off decluttering doesn’t tend to end well. It either means you are trying to deal with your excessive stuff when you may not be as physically able or it forces the process onto loved ones after you’re gone.
Being proactive and decluttering now, regardless of what age you are, is best. After all, none of us know exactly how long we have.
You can prevent family members from having to declutter so much after you’re gone by proactively decluttering your things while you are still here.
“Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.” -Barbara Hemphill
How to Start Decluttering Your Home
Have I convinced you that decluttering is an act of love? If you’re ready to get started decluttering, but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips to help.
1. Set your goals
When you are clear on why you are decluttering and what your end goal is, the more likely you will be to get there. Write down how you want your space to look, feel, and function when you’re finished decluttering.
2. Start small
A decluttering mistake I see people make often is starting with a type of item that is difficult or trying to take on too big of a project right from the get-go. Start with just a drawer or shelf of items you aren’t sentimentally attached to.
3. Be consistent
The key to completing the process of decluttering is being consistent with it. After you break decluttering down into smaller tasks, work on them regularly.
It can be just one small area at a time. Just keep working through it as you’re able.
4. Get unwanted items out
Once you’ve decided what items need to go, get them out of your house, garage, and trunk of your car. Find a local organization that you want to support. It’s a win-win as you get the stuff out and feel good about those items being able to be used by someone else.
5. Make it stick
Decluttering isn’t a one-and-done process. It requires looking at habits too. Be aware of how the clutter has been entering your home. This may mean needing to adjust both daily habits as well as reconsidering the way you shop.
Decluttering Is an Act of Love
Have I convinced you that decluttering is an act of love? Let go of the excess stuff to enjoy your home more now. You’ll also lessen the burden of stuff for you and your loved ones.
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Good article. I started decluttering many years ago and have kept it up. I am more comfortable with the home now and I am learning to live with less. I am of an age where if I didn’t keep it up, my family would have such an insurmountable task in getting rid of all my things. I have downsized greatly and I have also made my Will & Testament, arranged my funeral and Paid for my funeral and all my son needs to do is take a paper out of the file and make a phone call to report a bereavement and this information goes straight to the funeral directors and everything is done. My son pays the intern fee to have the grave open and pays any bills and he has less to do. He just has to manage the house. So Yes decluttering is an act of love. Don’t bury your head in the sand thinking it will all go away. Make a DECISION. Just do it and you will be glad you did.
I became more motivated to declutter when a friend died. She was a hoarder and her daughter was left dealing with her mess. I don’t want to do that to my daughters.
I want to do this but my husband attaches sentimental value to so much and so do I. I’m afraid if I declutter I won’t know where to stop and my memories will be gone…
Hi Erika. I wrote this post about sentimental items that you may find helpful: https://www.thesimplicityhabit.com/how-to-decide-what-sentimental-items-to-keep/
I’m working right now at decluttering. My stuff, my late mother’s , my late MIL’s. So much China, crystal, memorabilia. Hardest is the sentimental stuff or what may be valuable. Selling is a challenge in itself. Also barrier is hubby that goes through every box & finds things he wants to keep. ‘The kids might want that’. We have 5 with families & stuff of their own…they I’m tired of being surrounded by stuff as we’ve downsize again.
I really want to do this