The Little House Living Show – Episode 004 – How to Start Decluttering
Thanks for joining me in my first full episode on saving money with the Little House Living Show podcast! My hope for this podcast is that it will be a new way for me to connect with you, my readers, and for you to be able to listen to my words even if you are driving or having a busy workday.
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What’s In This Episode?
One of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve been getting lately is, “How do I start decluttering”? I’m answering exactly that in my brand new podcast today plus I’ve got tips on how to declutter certain problem areas such as toys, books, and more!
0:36 – Introduction
1:25 – An important reminder about decluttering
3:30 – Where to start decluttering
6:22 – Methods and mindset behind decluttering
8:18 – What to do with the things you declutter
10:14 – Book decluttering
13:12 – Decluttering toys and games
18:12 – Decluttering sentimental items
22:24 – One more important tip with decluttering
23:40 – Outtro
Links Mentioned in This Show
- Submit a Question for the Show
- How to Downsize Your Book Collection
- Long Lasting Toys for Kids
- Talking to Friends and Family About Gifts
- How to Downsize Toys and Games
- How to Declutter Sentimental Items
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00:36 Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Little House Living show. I’m excited that you’ve decided to join me again today and today we’re going to be talking about something that I’ve gotten a lot in my inbox lately and that is questions on how to declutter and how to declutter successfully. It seems like this time of year, everyone must be thinking the same thing and it may be, it’s something with fall cleaning and you’re thinking about getting your house cleaned out and prepared for winter. I’m not sure what it is, but it seems like every single day I get more and more emails about how to declutter and where to start decluttering and then how to declutter certain things like books and sentimental items. So I want to get to that all in this podcast episode today.
01:25 So to get started, I want to remind you of something that is very important before you start any de-cluttering journey. And that is that you need to take your time and that it’s a process. You did not gather all of that clutter in your house in a day or in a week or even in a month. So there’s no reason to expect to be able to declutter all of it in that time period. If you’re anything like the regular American household, it’s taken you years to collect all the things that currently reside in your home. So ultimately it will probably take you a couple of years to actually de-clutter, to get to the point where you want to be with your decluttering. If you have a lot of excess or if it’s taken you a period of years to get to this point. So before you get started, just remember that, that it’s going to be a process. It’s going to take time. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
02:28 I don’t consider myself someone that’s had a lot of stuff. But it’s still taken us several years to get to the point to where we are now and to be pretty comfortable with what we have left in our home. It’s just crazy how much you can accumulate when you move to different houses and that you get from gifts and things like that that you kind of set aside and forget about. So I totally understand that it collects and it gathers and it will take time to get it out of your home. But don’t let that deter you. Any kind of process is going to take time. So just consider it part of the journey and a learning experience as we go. And ultimately, once you’re done, you’re going to have that feeling of, okay, this is my home and how I want it to be and the things that I want to be in my home. I don’t have this excess clutter or things all over that don’t need to be there. So just remember that before we get started here.
03:30 One of the questions that I get asked the most is where you need to start with your decluttering. And that’s really something that’s personal and more up to you than it is to me. You may have one room in your house that’s worse than the rest of them or one, you know, that seems to collect all of the stuff for us. That seems to always be in our master bedroom. That just seems to be the piling ground when we have excess things. So there may be a room in your house that you need to start with or if you just are ready to start decluttering overall, just pick any room to start with that you, that you feel like you can get things decluttered whether it be the kitchen or maybe something smaller like a bathroom, it doesn’t matter.
04:13 Pick a room to start in and go with that. Now I kind of have this systematic way that I do general decluttering and that is to pick a room and then start on one wall in the room, start in the corner and then work my way along that wall. Move on to the next wall that’s to my left work my way around that wall and then continue on until I’ve gone through my entire room and everything has been cleaned out, decluttered put in the right place, moved to a different space. I just stay in that one room at a time and focus on one wall at a time so it doesn’t get overwhelming.
04:53 If your room that you’re working in seems like it’s just too much to handle one wall at a time, you might try this other approach and this works really good with is kids bedrooms, is to just take everything out of the room and put it right in the middle of the floor. And if you don’t have room on the floor for all the stuff in that room, you’re going to bring everything out of the room and put it in the living room or another bigger room that you can use the space in for a little while while you declutter the items in that room. That method might work really good for you if you have not decluttered before. Or like I said, for a kid’s room, it seems to work really well for that. So you can just go ahead and pull everything out and then you can have it all in front of you, face everything upfront. That method works really good for just a really big declutter. The one wall at a time method works really good if you’ve already done some decluttering and may not have as much stuff that you need to pull out and put in the middle of the floor.
05:57 So either way, those are kind of both good options that you could have to get started with your decluttering. So pick a room that you want to start with and then pick a wall or pull everything out while you’re in this process of decluttering, you’re going to need to decide with each item if you’re going to keep it or if you’re going to donate it, if you’re going to throw it away, if you’re going to give it away.
06:22 Now I’ve heard some methods that other people use and personally, I don’t buy into the whole sparking joy thing. My material possessions do not spark joy in my life. They are necessary, they are needed, or something that I just find beautiful and want to have in my home. So I do not use that method. I go through my things and I try to figure out if I’m really using that item.
06:51 So if it’s something that’s been sitting around for a long time and I can look at it and say, Oh, well that was something I was keeping first, someday it’s probably not going to make it through the decluttering process. I try to not keep anything that I only use once a year or even less than that. The exception would be something like my canning utensils and my big canner and stuff like that. Obviously it’s not something I use year-round or even every month or something like that it gets used during a certain time period. So that is not something I’m going to give away cause it’s still getting used and it’s a seasonal item. But there’s other things that you might be keeping that you think that you’re going to use this year, but you’re not really sure or you’re just kind of keeping it for this vague someday.
07:42 Those are items that you should seriously consider decluttering and decide if they are adding value to your life or if they’re adding stress to your life. Is it something that you have to keep on moving around? Is it something that you have to keep on organizing or just something that you just don’t want to put away anymore? There’s a lot of questions that you can ask yourself and it just depends on which items you’re trying to decluttering. But like I said, the basic thing is to go through and figure out what you’re really using and what the purpose of that item in your home is.
08:18 Now, as you’re cleaning out, you’re going to need to decide what you’re going to do with all of these items that you’re decluttering. You’ll be surprised how fast things start to pile up and begs, get full and boxes get full and you’re going to need to decide what to do with them. There’s several different things that you can do and we’ve tried a lot of different things over our years of decluttering. The first that you’ll probably turn to is to try to sell it and make a little money and that makes sense. If you have items that are worth some money that you could get something out of. And if you have an easy way to sell it through Craigslist or through Facebook, definitely go for it and try to make some money off of it first. That’s generally our first go-to. If it’s something we spent a lot of money on and probably can make some money from, then we’ll try to sell it for us. Everything else either goes in the trash or it goes to be donated.
09:14 We like to take our things to be donated to a local thrift store that then either sells the items for a certain charity or they give the items to a certain charity. It just depends on which thrift store we’re donating to, but at least we know, even though we’re not making money off of the items, at least we know that it’s going to someone that can use it that’s going to use it and it’s going for a good cause. So although sometimes it hurts to get rid of things that you’ve spent money on, it can make you feel good to get rid of some of those items if you know that they’re at least going to a good cause.
09:53 So next I want to just touch on a couple of areas where it seems like people have the most trouble decluttering. I know that declaring in general is kind of difficult, but it seems like these couple areas always seem to kind of put a, put a kink in your step or, you know, throw you for a loop. You’re just not quite sure what to do with them.
10:14 So probably one of the biggest ones is books. Books are a hard area to declutter for any book lover or if you just like reading or if your kids like reading. Books were something that I chose not to de-clutter for a very long time. And then once I took a hard look at future that we had in front of us, which was moving and then moving again within another year, I thought there is no way that I want to haul all of these books around and move them from place to place where I probably don’t even have a place to unpack them. So I decided to declutter my book collection and it was a very difficult decision. But one of the best decisions that I’ve made with decluttering my book collection now is down to just the books that I know I’m going to read again or I’m going to read to the kids again.
11:08 And that’s really the biggest question that I asked myself when I was decluttering those books. Am I going to read this book again? Am I going to read the kids this book again or is this book going to, you know, am I going to borrow this book out to someone because I loved it so much. It was those questions because if I had a book on the shelf that I’m never going to read again or didn’t even feel comfortable borrowing it out to someone or was never going to read to the kids again because the topic wasn’t good or it was just poorly written or something like that. It did not need to sat on my shelf. I did not need to haul it from house to house. As we’re in this moving process, I cleaned out all those things and I cannot even tell you how many boxes of I took to donate to our local library.
11:56 I thought it was going to feel painful because I am a book person. I love books and I thought, I am never going to downsize my book collection. Actually, in fact, if you go back and read some of my older blog posts, I’m pretty sure that I say that several times. I am never going to downsize my book collection. And then I did and I downsize it in a huge way. It was, I think I ended up keeping about maybe 25% of the books that I had had. So it was a very large downsizing. I chose to donate those books to our local library. They are not a public library so they don’t get all the same public funds, you know, a regular library does. So they can either keep those books and put them on their shelf or they sell them in their annual or biannual library sales to be able to make money to buy other books for the library.
12:51 So I knew that I was donating them for a good cause and that other people would be able to read them. Even though they just didn’t belong in my personal library. So if you’re feeling bad about downsizing your books and want to make sure that someone else is going to enjoy them, donating to the library can be a great way to do that.
13:12 One of the other areas that people seem to have trouble with downsizing is with toys and games. Toys and games just seem to cause this overwhelming clutter. That doesn’t just take up our kids’ rooms. It ends up taking up the entire house. So we have kind of a pretty good system that we’ve come down with. Two are with our toy collection. Our kids really only have toys that are going to last a long time and toys that they play with over and over.
13:41 I like to find open-ended toys, things that don’t play for my child. Which usually means something that’s not this big noisemaker or has batteries or things like that. I just recently wrote a blog post on our favorite long-lasting toys for our kids and I can definitely link to that in the show notes so you can check it out. But so we try to only allow toys that are going to last and then our kids are going to play with over and over. You just know when you go to the store or when you see a toy that your child is not going to play with that more than once. They’re going to look at it, be excited about it, and then toss it in a corner and probably they’ll never look at it again. So carefully choosing your toys is really important.
14:27 Now a lot of toys seem to come into our home as a gift from friends and family and there’s something that can be done about that too. If you’re on a downsizing, de-cluttering journey and you don’t want to bring in more material possessions and toys and stuff while you’re working through this so you can talk to your friends and family ahead of time, just be honest with them. Tell them your decluttering, tell them your kids have so many toys the way it is. And if your friends and family really want to buy a gift for your children, try and ask them for a gift. That’s an experience, not a material possession. So tickets to see a concert or admission to a local museum or things like that. Something that your child is really, really going to enjoy but doesn’t bring extra clutter into your home.
15:20 And if your friends and family aren’t so sure about giving experience gifts over giving a material possession, it’d be really neat to ask them to give them that gift. But then say for example, it’s a ticket to a museum or something, tell them to get tickets for themselves as well. And so they can go with your child or with your family to experience that with them. And when they go and do that experience with them, then they’ll be able to see, you know, how much the child really is enjoying this versus just something that they’re only gonna play with once an experience is something that they’re going to remember for a long time. So I have another article somewhere on the blog and I will dig it up and put it in the show notes as well. And that’s all about talking to your friends and family about gifts for your children and gifts for your family.
16:14 I mentioned more towards the beginning of this episode that one way when a really good way to declutter kids’ rooms was to pull everything out and just put it in the middle of the floor so they can assess what they actually have. I personally would recommend doing this two to three times a year. It’s kind of crazy how fast stuff accumulates in our kids’ rooms and we don’t even realize it and I don’t think they even realize that either. So it’s a good idea to do it a couple times a year to make sure that that clutter stays to a minimum. Because like I said, the clutter from the kids, his room, it seems like it doesn’t just stay contained to the kids room. It ends up all over the house. So by working on de-cluttering the kids, his room, you’re really working on decluttering the whole house.
17:01 That’s why I would recommend doing that a couple of times a year. And like I said, pull everything out, not just so you can see it, but so they can see everything that’s in their room, put it in the middle of the floor. Or if they have way too much stuff, put it in the middle of the living room so they can look at it and really decide what they want to play with, what they are playing with it, playing with or what is broken, what needs to go in the garbage, what they’ve outgrown. The only way to find out this is to pull everything out and look at it as a whole and not just an individual piece. Because I can guarantee you if you go in your child’s room and pull one thing out at a time and have them, you know, ask them, are you still playing with this?
17:45 They’re probably going to say yes because they’re looking at that toy as a single item and you’re trying to take away that single item and they feel like they have nothing left. But if they look at everything as a whole and you say, okay, go through all of this stuff and figure out what you’re actually playing with, then they know, Oh, I can pick out lots of things that I’m playing with and they’re not going to feel so bad when they have several items that need to be given away or donated.
18:12 The last specific item or items that I wanted to mention for your de-cluttering process is sentimental items. I know that from experience that can be one of the most difficult items or groups of items that you have to declutter. And actually I had this question. Someone asked me a few weeks ago, why do you have to declutter sentimental items?
18:37 While the answer is you don’t have to declutter anything. If you’re happy with your home and your possessions, the way things are, don’t declutter. There’s no reason that you need to. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the things in your house and by having to organize and clean and take care of all of these items, then you should probably consider decluttering. Now, sentimental items are hard because they’re sentimental. For a reason, they are probably something from a memory or something from a family member that can’t be replaced. So there’s a couple of ways that I’ve dealt with sentimental items and I’m going to share a couple of them with you today. I do have a full long blog post on dealing with sentimental items and I can link to that in the show notes too. But one of the easiest ways to declutter sentimental items is to give them to other family members.
19:32 So if it’s something that you just can’t find room for in your own home, but you know that someone else in your family might appreciate this family heirloom, go ahead and give it to them and let them find a place for them for that item in their home instead of you having to move it around and find a place in your home if it just doesn’t fit with the things in your home, the next thing you want to do is remember to only keep the really meaningful items and if possible, use those items. So I have a couple items that I’ve kept that have been given to me that I’ve decided to not give away or de-clutter. One of them happens to be this pretty blue pitcher and instead of just letting it sit in a box, it is very old. It belonged to my great grandmother.
20:24 So I’m actually not quite sure how old it is. We’re not sure when she obtained it or anything like that, but instead of letting it just sit in a box, I keep it out on a little table right next to my dining table and I haven’t full of some flowers all the time. It looks really pretty right there. It matches my decor. I like to look at it. And then when I look at it, I think of, Oh, this used to belong to my great-grandma and she probably used it in a similar way also. So it makes me happy to think about that, to think about the item being used and not packed away getting dusty and dirty. If I, I never got to meet my great-grandma, but I would think that if she knew that I received this item, she wouldn’t want me to just have it in a box somewhere.
21:09 She would want me to actually use it and not feel like I need to store it. Because she certainly isn’t coming back for it. So we definitely want to use the sentimental items that we can, and it, it does make you happy to see those things being used still instead of opening up a box and feeling sad that they’re in storage or collecting dust or it may be even getting broken because they’re not, you know, in a place of display. So consider really using some of those items. And then the last thing I’m gonna say about this is if you need to give some of the items away, things that you just can’t keep in your home, you don’t have room for them, or they really, even though they were sentimental or a family heirloom to someone in your family, they really have no meaning to you.
21:57 It might be a good idea just to take some pictures before you give them away. So at least you have the picture to have the memory instead of having the item. And you could if you have a lot of items, you could even take those pictures and put it in a photo album because I can guarantee you that a photo album will probably take up a lot less space in your house than all of the items that you were keeping for whatever reason.
22:24 So I could go on and on about decluttering because there’s so many little tips and things that you can do. But if you have specific questions, be sure and ask me either in the comments of the blog posts that I will put this podcast on or in, you know, by email. You can always email me anytime that [email protected] The last thing I wanted to mention was to remember to not let your space be defined by your stuff.
22:51 And by that I mean if your house is really big it doesn’t mean that it needs to be filled up with all kinds of stuff. Even in a large house having kind of a minimal decor or something like that. And by minimal I don’t mean something that looks very sterile or you know, clean all the time. You can still have that, but that minimal design aspect and, and things like that without having tons and tons of stuff in your home. You don’t need to have extra furniture. You don’t need to have extra things on the walls. That just adds more work for you to do because you have to dust around it and clean around it. And I don’t think any of us want to have to do that. Just remember to not let your space be defined by your stuff.
23:40 I don’t want to let this podcast episode get too long, so I’m going to go ahead and wrap it up for today. I know that there’s other things that we can talk about with decluttering, but like I said, go ahead and shoot me an email or leave me a comment and I will try to get to any of your questions about this topic or about any other topic in the future. I hope to be starting some interviews soon so we can do a little bit of different things with this show and it’s not just me talking to you all the time. If you know of anyone that would be interested in doing an interview on this show or you think of someone that might be really cool to listen to on an interview, please let me know so I can reach out to them. Or if you yourself would be interested in doing an interview and have an awesome topic that you think the other little house living readers and listeners would like to listen to, please reach out to me and let me know you can get ahold of me [email protected] thank you so much for listening to this podcast episode today. I hope you have an awesome week.