If you walked into my home at this very moment, you would probably find piles of laundry, sticky counters from peanut butter residue, dirty dish towels, fingerprints all over the fridge and windows, and play-doh crumbs on the floor. My house isn’t clean all the time but it is free of clutter most of the time. One part of housekeeping I’m learning to do well is decluttering, because I believe there is a direct correlation between my clear space and clear mind.
You may have heard of the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. The whole idea is that you only keep things in your house that serve a purpose and bring you joy. This trend is a bandwagon I’m happy to jump onto, and there seem to be some other major benefits to decluttering too, including reducing anxiety and family tension (Psychology Today).
Another benefit (and perhaps the biggest one) is that decluttering often leads to giving things to others. Maybe it’s a shirt that doesn’t fit right, or storage bins you never got around to organizing things into...but you know the saying, “Someone’s trash is another person’s treasure!” Well, that’s a great motto to keep in mind when decluttering your home.
Scripture also addresses the process of decluttering. There are many verses that apply, but my favorite is in Ecclesiastes 3:6: “There’s a time to seek, a time to lose, a time to keep, and a time to cast away." My favorite thing to do is ‘cast away’ items that no longer add value to my home, and could be useful to someone else.
So every December and January I go through the whole home and declutter. Maybe in this new year you’d like to have a fresh start with your home too! If so, below are some questions you can ask yourself when deciding how/what to remove from your home.
When deciding what stays or goes, ask the following questions:
Has it been used in the last year?
Is it still useful to my household?
Does it serve a helpful or meaningful purpose? (Just, “it’s cute”, doesn't cut it!)
Once you have items you want to remove, then ask the following questions on where they will go:
Do I know someone who would be blessed by this item?
Could it be sold?
Could it be donated to GoodWill or another organization?
If the item doesn’t meet the requirements above, throw it out.
The next step is deciding what to bring into the home after you’ve decluttered, so ask yourself these questions:
Does this item serve a legitimate purpose?
Will I be annoyed having to clean it or around it?
How and when will it be used?
Will my children or cats break it in 3 minutes?
If you need some more inspiration, here are some other tips for decluttering:
Think "in the NOW": I used to ask myself, “But what if I need this thing 14 years from now?” Well, if I need it then, I can probably buy it, right? And if it doesn’t exist anymore, then I probably didn't need it anyway.
It's just "stuff": I remind myself that things are just things. Space is often a more valuable thing to have than, well, those things.
Involve your kids - My son and I periodically go through all his toys and choose some that he can give away. It teaches him to let go of things, and to care for other kids who may need toys more than he does.
Honoring "kid projects" - My son brings home 78 projects a week, and I love it! BUT...I will not keep them all. He gets to showcase some on our wall, while others get recycled. When he brings home new ones to showcase, he replaces old work.
I can’t believe the mental clarity I have received by decluttering the last couple years! And while I’m still new to it, it has been very freeing. With less stuff to keep track of, I have less stress overall, so I hope you will try it too and enjoy the many benefits!
Sarah Gonzalez is a stay-at-home mom who loves Jesus and caring for her two young children. She loves date nights and walks with her husband, and using creativity and humor through artistic outlets like writing and photography. She is also a self-diagnosed quitter-in-recovery, and you can read about this journey at her blog: www.wheniquitquitting.com.