Decluttering While Motivated

April 12, 2022

Nothing like a move to light a fire under your decluttering energy!

Josh and I are mostly off this week (he is working Weds-Thurs) as the kids have spring break, and we are spending most of that time prepping for our upcoming move. Our nanny is away, but our kids are attending “spring break camp” from Mon – Weds which gives us some precious time to prep the house. Yesterday I spent all morning changing our address with every important account I could think of (banks, credit cards, investment companies, insurance, subscriptions, and more) and then began our decluttering odyssey.

Decluttering is always a challenge around here, mostly because I would like to get rid of everything always, and Josh/the kids do not always agree. That is an oversimplification, but describes the overall vibe.

The worst culprits are gifts. “No gifts please” has been on 2 of our most recent birthday party invitations, which the (big) kids have actually been okay with as long as we offer them something in exchange like a gift card to be used throughout the year on things they actually truly want. But it doesn’t always work, and we seem to get an unpredictable stream of family items which is lovely in theory but in practice . . . sometimes challenging (what if I don’t WANT a random bag of partially bent cookie cutters from the 1960s?!).

All that said, even with my sparse intentions, I am not an innocent party in our accumulation. I don’t particularly like owning a lot of things, BUT I tend towards overbuyer which necessitates frequent cycles of giving away/discarding — and those do not always happen in a timely fashion Please note, I am trying to be better about breaking this cycle for the sake of the earth, and definitely am in many categories! It is best if I can channel my buying energy into non-tangible items such as experiences/travel etc.

And often I can! But not always.

Anyway, all that said – we have a lot more decluttering to do today! Yesterday was the garage + my books and today is the kids’ toy area/craft room. I can’t do THAT much with the toys (kids would not appreciate it . . .) but I am pretty good at knowing what I can get away with without too much protest — largely it comes down to organizing that toys to keep so they are more appealing and getting rid of random/little used/falling apart items.

It is my hope that in the new house the toys will remain corralled in each of their rooms for the most part — and truthfully, only G has a significant number of true TOYS that she plays with regularly. A has a lot craft supplies and related stuff and C has mostly Legos and some random plastic toys.

This setup has reached its natural end. Time to dismantle + move on . . .

Still left to declutter other than mentioned above:

kitchen (not too bad)

my clothes (also not terrible but I need to seize the opportunity!)

bathroom/cosmetic items

Days until packer come: 8!

Days until our rental contract is up: 13!

PS: Usually Laura writes the BOBW recaps, but she’s off this week! I enjoyed recording our “Plan Your Summer” episode, out today! Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts!

PS: Since it aired, I finished most of our summer planning — 2 short trips sans kids, 2 longer trips with kids, and almost everything now booked! Plus camp to cover almost every week of the summer for each kid. Whew!


  • Reply Heather April 12, 2022 at 9:16 am

    My boyfriend and I moved last month from an apartment to a house (no kids) and had the exact same decluttering dynamic where I wanted to get rid of things and he wanted to hoard everything. I won on VERY few things — I was ready to die on the hill of not keeping his old ratty rugs so we did get rid of most of those (he managed to sneak over an old doormat — WHY), and I was able to toss about 1/3 of our tupperware… But I mostly lost. So, no advice, just solidarity and best wishes!

  • Reply Nicole April 12, 2022 at 9:30 am

    If it brings you any calm, your clutter looks like a post clean up photo to me! Your organizational skills are level 10 🙂 even if it feels like a lot to you. For many of us, you are “goals” with that toy/ craft set up. It has been awhile since you posted a SHU closet photo, but my guess is that would still be my inspiration. But I totally get it about the toy gifts and cookie cutters. Great to use the move for a fresh start!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns April 12, 2022 at 9:47 am

    My husband and I are both minimalists, but he is more so than I, so I have a hard time getting him to part with things because he has less stuff overall so feels there is less to be gained by getting rid of things he doesn’t wear/use! I have become more of a minimalist as I’ve gotten older although having kids makes that a challenge. I try to get rid of things when the kids are not around – the 4yo has never noticed! But birthdays/holidays make it challenging as my MIL is an over-buyer since our kids are her only grandkids. I send a list of suggestions and my parents stick to it, but she doesn’t. My husband is going to try to remind her to buy less next fall but I kind of doubt she will so I just donate things I don’t want in our house/know won’t get played with!

    I’m trying to work on decluttering my closet. Now that I’m back in the office, I’m paying attention to what I’m wearing and if I never feel like wearing something/don’t like how it fits, it needs to go. I’ll donate or take the clothes to a consignment shop. My size was kind of all over the place for a while there between getting pregnant, losing pregnancy weight, nursing, etc etc but now I am hopefully back to a stable size and can winnow down my clothing!

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly April 12, 2022 at 10:11 am

    The vibe in my house is definitely the same but I’m trying to get them motivated. I just bought them Allie Casazza’s kid’s book (Be the Boss of Your Stuff) and it’s good. Also, shout out to the poster who recommended Organizing for the Rest of Us! She totally nails how my brain works (I finished my house “project”, why won’t it stay done for more than 30 seconds?!).

  • Reply Elisabeth April 12, 2022 at 11:26 am

    I love to declutter and am, overall, an underbuyer minimalist. But I have two kiddos who definitely like to keep stuff. It’s a hard balance. There are things, as you mention, that I know I can get rid of without protest…but other things they want to keep for sentimental reasons that I know will NEVER get used again but would be a catastrophe if I got rid of it (one time a glimpse of an – EMPTY – shoebox through a garbage bag out in the trash was enough to set off a major breakdown).

    The biggest hassle to me is all the little stuff that doesn’t really have a place/function/category. The bouncy balls and mini sets of bubble mix they get at birthday parties. It feels like this sort of thing is FOREVER entering our house. I do have a plastic tote where I typically put these things; I keep them about a month. Long enough if the kids are attached, I still have them. After a month, I donate them.

    On that note, donations to a local thrift shop is my go-to way to pass things on. They accept just about everything and even those little bouncy balls and bubble mixes end up in these random bags of miscellany they hang on the walls of the shop. (Which end up being a bit like those “secret treat” bags you used to be able to buy in convenience stores? You never know what mish-mash of stuff you’ll get!)

    All the best. I hope it’s a mostly cathartic process and not overly frustrating!

  • Reply KGC April 12, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    Decluttering is my love language. Whenever my husband (who has mild hoarding tendencies) actually gets rid of stuff, I always look at him all starry-eyed and say, “I’ve never loved you more than in this very moment right now.” Ha! I have also been known to get rid of kid stuff that they obviously haven’t used in a long time. Every once in a blue moon my older one will ask about something and I’ll sort of nonchalantly say, “Huh, I haven’t seen that in a long time…” and sort of wander away. And that’s usually the end of it!

    One thing that did help, in case you haven’t heard of it yet for creative projects that they do, is Artkive. My older son comes home with lots of drawings/art that we display for a while but can’t keep forever. Last summer, I packed up everything he had done from birth-5 years old and sent it to Artkive in their provided box – then they professionally photograph everything, bind it into a really beautiful book, and do not return the art (though you can pay more if you want it back). NOT CHEAP but given that I’ll maybe only do 2-3ish books per kid over many years, totally worth it. And it was a perfect grandparent Christmas gift since I just ordered multiple copies! They photograph 3D things, too, which was awesome. Good luck with the move!

  • Reply Krista Lusby April 12, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    The part I struggle with the most is what to do with the stuff I am decluttering – mainly children’s clothes that could be sold/donated!

    • Reply Coree April 13, 2022 at 2:45 am

      I’ve had good luck with the school whatsapp group, giving it away in bundles. You might also find a recepient for all your hand-me-downs, so you can pass on a box every six months or so. As well as freecycle/craigslist if you bundle stuff. I don’t sell things, I just want them out of my house.

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