Declutter Pt. 2: How to get your family to let go of their stuff.

declutter car
The back of my car after the declutter!

In this post I shared the reasons I felt my family needed to declutter and showed the end result, but let’s really talk about HOW I accomplished this, with a husband, toddler and an eight-year-old.

1. I did not make my husband get rid of anything. When I told him what I was doing, he agreed that it was great, but “don’t touch my stuff.” I get it, he holds a high value and purpose to all of his stuff, and he even ended up getting rid of some of his t-shirts. My husband is a pretty purposeful shopper, and his stuff is neatly tucked away, for the most part, so I didn’t press the issue.

2. I got rid of all of my own stuff first. I let my family watch me go through my collections, clothes, bookshelves, kitchen, and drawers before asking them to do anything. I let my son help me make decisions and talk about memories with certain items. Then, I tossed them out, I wanted him to see that the decision to get rid of things was not effortless, but not really a big deal. We talked through why I wanted to keep some things over others, and it was actually really helpful to me.

3. The baby obviously didn’t have a choice. Her room was the easiest. At 20 months old, she has collected so much extra stuff. Duplicates of pretty much everything and so many toys that she doesn’t know what to do first when going into her room. I easily set aside toys I hadn’t seen before, clothes that were too small and left the things I thought she would love to play with most. Honestly, I kept things that I really liked to play with too.

4. I let my 8-year-old make all of the decisions regarding the stuff in his room. We started with clothes, and I did make him keep three nice outfits for visiting the great grandparents and going golfing with them, but other than that he kept the items he loved and we let go of the rest. Surprisingly, he was ready to let go of a lot of old toys and even less surprising, so much of his clutter was TRASH. Actual trash…an entire bag of it. (I did show him where our actual trash can was and let him know he is free to use it at any time. hahaha!)

5. This was only part ONE. My plan is to do this again right before summer is over (which is in TWO WEEKS now), to assess if we need to replace any clothing or find that we haven’t touched any of the stuff we kept. I may just do it quarterly till we run out of stuff. Personally, I had a rough time getting rid of kitchen items, and I know there is more that I could get out of there. So I will be doing another after the holiday season since I am sure some items are seasonal, so I want to see if I dig them out.

6. I am now asking our friends and family to stop with the stuff giving. I know it feels great to give children stuff you think they would like and see the joy on their faces and it makes you feel fuzzy inside. I get it, but as soon as it gets home it gets lost in the abyss of their other items and never seen again.

Instead, I am asking that our loved ones give our children the gift of spending time with them. Take them to the park, come grab them for a special visit, chat with them on the phone or Skype. Make a memory and create something far more special than a thing that will probably end up under my couch for six months. Also, I need to clean from under the couch more often, because that actually happens.

Do you all strive to clean out the stuff in your house, or do you have an organization of the items you have?

16 thoughts on “Declutter Pt. 2: How to get your family to let go of their stuff.”

  1. This is great! I struggle with clutter myself. When I try to declutter I find that I remember the person who gave it to me and then it becomes more difficult to get rid of. Same with my kids toys and other items. I also love the idea of asking friends and family to quit giving stuff and give more time. This is GREAT!

    1. Thank you! The memories are difficult, which is why I tried to talk through them with my son so that we know we’ll have the memory even when the thing is gone. Maybe taking a quick picture and documenting the memory will help ease the guilt a little.

  2. Oh how I feel you with the 8 year old, Mama. I go in once a week with a bag just to get rid of the trash. How do boy’s accumulate so much garbage?!

    1. Oh, I know! He doesn’t even spend that much time in his room, I have no clue where it accumulated from. It’s pretty scary to be totally honest.

  3. This is an ongoing battle in our house. Everyone wants to declutter but you never know where to start and with the kids rooms I totally get you, it’s like jumping down the rabbit hole. Good for you to keep it up and motivate everyone to help, I think it’s important that the kids see how much junk accumulates and be accountable for helping with the cleaning and organizing. I’m also trying to ask for “experience” gifts instead of more “stuff”, they will remember the memories.

    1. I think the gift part is so hard for so many. I understand that our family members want to give, but I really want to have an emphasis on spending time together rather than the things. I am working to try to take more pictures and do more activities together.

  4. I really love that you modeled the process for your 8 year old with your own stuff. I feel like my 6 year old is at an age where I could do this. She has a pretty good sense of what she does and doesn’t need anymore, but it is a great process to understand.

    1. Yes! I feel that it is really important for kids to understand the value of their stuff, not only in terms of money but what they need versus what they really don’t need or want.

  5. Living in a 19′ trailer with my husband and 2 preschoolers made me declutter big time! Originally I thought I would have all my stuff again soon, but that didn’t happen so I might have thought through some things a little differently when I packed. Life with less is SO much easier and simpler. Taking pictures of some of those memorable items is a great way to “hold on” to some of those things that have collected dust over the years

    1. This project has definitely been my first step towards making things simpler for all of us! Also, how awesome of you to make such a huge life change! Not having the choice changes your mindset big time. When we moved back from Italy, I remember having to cut stuff so we wouldn’t go over our allotted weight limit, and I found it pretty easy when it was mandatory. I am trying to roll that idea over to our current life. Once a quarter you have to cut stuff, zero options.

    1. Same! I really just want to lay the groundwork for them to have a healthier relationship with stuff than I did.

  6. We have been working on this at our house as well. My two boys have so much stuff that I actually dread Christmas and birthdays! I typically start with my room first and move on to theirs. I give both my boys say in what stays and what goes and if it’s something that is broken, ripped or stained I over rule their judgement and explain why it needs to be gotten rid of. It’s a work in progress but it is helping us get to the end goal of being declutter

    1. Yes! I also get the final vote for those questionable items. It is so funny what boys want to keep sometimes. I also just don’t want my house to be drowning in “stuff” nobody wants or uses just for the sake of having it.

  7. I read this because it hits home with me and my family. My partner Jamie has A LOT of stuff and eventually she will need to part with much of it. This blog may help her start the process!
    I liked how you made a numbered list that discussed your process. I also liked that you ended with a question to further engage your readers.

    1. Thank you! I hope it helps, this has been such a process for my family and I know so many people deal with this! Good luck!

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