Often, despite your best efforts to declutter, your house gets out of control. You’ve tried your best, but just don’t seem to keep up. It’s time to look at the root problem and understand the source of clutter in your home. And why, despite your decluttering efforts, the clutter problem persists.
For the fifth time today, you’ve shifted a pile of paper in your kitchen. Earlier you dug through three piles in your bedroom to find the shirt you could have sworn you hung up yesterday. The kid’s games are everywhere and you’ve had it! The clutter is out of control!
As a seasoned declutterer, you are puzzled by this recurring problem. How does it get this way? Read on to discover 5 sources of clutter.
Clutter is disguised. It rarely comes into our houses labeled as “clutter.” It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and is usually loved…at the time. Sometimes, it can take less than a week, for the disguise to come off while other times it can take months to years to realize it’s become clutter in your home.
The Clutter Meltdown
Because clutter comes in disguised, we usually don’t realize there’s a problem until we have an “event.” What do I mean by an event? Here are a few examples:
- You’re late for an important meeting because you couldn’t find…you name it, your shoes, your papers, the kid’s backpack.
- Unexpected guests show up and you panic
- You feel like you are constantly moving piles around the house, and you’ve had it!
These events, lead to high tension and frustration. Once meltdown happens, your eyes are opened and the disguise has been removed from the once beloved items.
Sources of Clutter
In order for you to reduce clutter in your home, you have to slow down the rate things enter your home. The accumulation of too many things is the beginning of clutter.
Here are 5 primary ways disguised clutter makes theire way into your home.
Clutter Source #1 – Celebration Clutter
Every holiday or celebration is a pivotal point for the clutter level in your home. I get it. You love to give and receive gifts. You love seeing your kids and other family members excited about the perfect gift, which they will quickly forget about in about 10 days.
Dealing with Celebration Clutter can be tough because you are not the sole source of it. It can come from guests, friends, and well-meaning family members. But there are alternatives. Check them out below!
Clutter Free Solutions to Celebration Clutter
- Encourage gift giving around an experience instead of stuff. g. Grandma takes the kids to the Science Museum and out to lunch for a date, or the whole family agrees to go on vacation instead of giving physical gifts.
- Set a limit…no more than 5 gifts per child, or everyone chips in to buy one big gift.
- Now, I love this one…a couple of my friends did it for their kids birthday parties this year and I thought it was brilliant!!! On their invitation, it said something like this,
“Please, no presents! Your presence at the party is all Johnny needs. If you really would like to bring something, he is saving up for a new tennis racket, so a maximum of $5 towards that is more than enough.”
Clutter Source #2 – Boredom Shopping
I am so guilty of this one and I know I’m not alone. You feel trapped and just want to get out of the house. You need something to break a monotonous pattern of the day to day…so, you go shopping. And of course, you buy stuff. Stuff you think you need, but in reality, you probably wouldn’t have bought it if you didn’t go boredom shopping. Before you know it, this treasured item has become clutter in your home.
Clutter Free Solution to Boredom Shopping
- Replace shopping with another satisfying activity. Go for a walk. Grab a cup of coffee with a friend. Get your nails done. You’d probably spend less than you would have if you went shopping and you’re not bringing future clutter into your home that you’d ultimately have to declutter!
Clutter Source #3 – Auto-ship / Membership
We live in a subscription economy. You get sucked in thinking, “I’ll save money”, “This will be more convenient.” “I need this!” before you know it you have boxes of things you don’t need or have a surplus of.
Amazon can fall into this category, especially if you’re on their subscription service. Maybe you’ve joined the razor-club, where they send you a new razor to shave with every month or the Sock-a-month membership where you receive new cute, colorful socks every month. Before long you either get too much or stop using the item all together and you’ve got a clutter accumulation problem.
Clutter Free Solution to Auto-ship / Memberships
- Assess how much you’re really saving through the membership. If you receive 1 extra shipment (that you don’t need or use) what’s the cost. Then do a calculation: Savings – Extra Item Cost = $. In the end, are you really saving money?
- If you’re going to do an Auto-shipping or subscription service, make sure it’s for things that you really need. For us, that’s things like paper towels, cat food, and diapers. Consumable products that don’t stay around for long.
- If you can specify how frequently the items are sent, err on the side of a longer time frame vs. shorter. This reduces the chance of a stock pile.
- Where possible, unsubscribe from memberships and auto-shop. You’ll be happier in the long run by saving money on useless products, and saving time by not having to declutter!!!
Clutter Source #4 – Kids Crafts
The struggle is real folks!!! If you have young kids, you could have between 5-10 pieces of paper coming into your home from kid crafts. If you’re sentimental or if your kid is, it could be very difficult to get rid of these items. Also, if you don’t have a storage plan, then it will definitely go from a cute craft to clutter in your home.
Clutter Free Solution for Kids Crafts
- Download an App like Artkive and take a picture of the craft to save for the future.
- Each year, create a binder for your child to put flat paper crafts in. At the end of the year, store the binder in a plastic bin dedicated to the child’s sentimental items.
- Agree with your child to a process for crafts. Here are a few examples of how this can be done.
- Appreciate the item when she brings it home, then throw it away. Harsh I know, but it does work for some families.
- Agree to keep the items for a week, then choose your favorite one and have a dedicated space to display it until the next week
- Have a gallery wall, with something like this from IKEA. It could have 5-7 places for kid’s crafts to be displayed. Each time your child brings something home, decide if it should go on the display wall, if not, agree to chuck it! This helps them learn to prioritize!
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Clutter Source #5 – Emotional Shopping
Last but not least, there are psychological reasons things enter our home. Just like emotional eating, you shop to feel a void. You’re depressed. You feel frumpy. You just want to be happy, your house to look better, or your kids to behave. Shopping is an emotional getaway and provides a momentary lift.
Clutter Free Solution to Emotional Shopping
- Commit to not being an impulse buyer.
- Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you really need the item. If you already have something like it. If you’re buying it for the right reasons.
- Reflect, try to understand the root of your Emotional Shopping. Is there a better solution to address the underlying feeling?
Love Your Home Again
If you’re tired of wasting time decluttering and want to end the clutter, then it’s time to consider the source! From auto-ship to kid’s crafts, to emotional shopping, clutter is disguised when it comes into your home. To see real results and lasting decluttering change, you’ll need to stop the influx of clutter. Once you do, you’ll be less frustrated, gain time back, save money, and love your home again!