I think every person who is on the clutter-free journey wants everyone in their life to join the club, right? Once our clutter goggles are on, all we want to do is locate and destroy stuff that is no longer loved. And because we know that clutter is the source of chaos, stress, and unhappiness.
Quite frankly do you have time for being miserable? I sure as hell don't! I want to spend my life doing things I enjoy!
Am I right?
As much as we want our husbands, our kids, our parents, and anyone to join in the less is more revolution it’s not going to happen overnight, and it absolutely won't happen if you try to force them. Look what happened to Anakin Skywalker! That ship went down real quick!
Trust me, forcing someone to do something you want is awful! So here's a little story:
A few years ago, when I came home from Australia, I had a mission: Remove all clutter from my sight and my life. With my trusted clutter goggles on, I went through my stuff, and purged like crazy. But after going through my stuff this clutter monster wasn't satisfied. So like a Zombie Walker looking for a human I attacked any clutter in arms reach.
But the problem was I moved back into my mom's house and I thought she had too much stuff. I'm talking fake plants, every single framed photo since 1973, a wide range of trinkets and a mishmash of decor. Not to mention, she has our bed sets from childhood and our toys to boot. Needless to say, my monster was salivating at the opportunity to purge.
While she was away visiting her mother, (yep, I'm the a-hole who did this behind her back) I fast-tracked her way to the top of the clutter-free mountain. I took box after box to be shredded, donated, and just trashed. It wasn't even my stuff, and I felt like I was on the roller coaster to freedom. The kitchen counters were clear, the living room felt breathable, and all the rooms were sooooooo tidy.
In my mind, I was the best person ever. "Who doesn't want someone to declutter for them?" I thought. 🤦🏽♀️
And if this were a Disney film, she would have come home, sang a few songs about losing her things, but in the end; she would realize how this was a blessing and would have found a new love for life. But it was far from a Disney movie, imagine a Wes Anderson flick meets Wes Craven.
At first, my mom was in love, but as the days past I could feel her discomfort and I knew I had lost her trust. I felt TERRIBLE and accepted her agitation and short responses as punishment.
My rampage was uncalled for and disrespectful. I had no right to touch her things, devalue her memories, and discount her as a person.
The lesson. Purging your loved one's belongings without their consent robs them of an opportunity to reconnect with their values, to be empowered by their choices, and encourages shame. Plus the biggest downer, it can ruin your relationship. IT'S NOT WORTH IT!
My mom has forgiven me, but I know she won't forget.
If you want anyone in your life to let go of clutter, never-ever-under-any-circumstance-do-it-for-them!!
But if you do want to encourage your husband (or anyone else) to declutter, try getting them on the decluttering choo-choo train with these non-relationship ruining tips.
1. Keep the focus on You.
As Tupac once said, All Eyes On Me. You decided to declutter, not your better half.
It may torment you to see the cobweb infested shoes in the closet, or a set of old vases gathering dust, or the fact that the person is blind to clutter, but we can't fixate on their stuff.
You have to stay on your course. Keep the spotlight on your belongings or the spaces that impact your day-to-day like the kitchen and living room. My man has given me full reign of our shared places to organize and it keeps me pretty busy, so I'm not looking at his stuff to often.
2. Talk about decluttering.
In any relationship, communication is the foundation to build a long-lasting connection. But many couples find it difficult. Why? Because we all come from different types of families, upbringings, cultures, beliefs, religion, etc. We also talk and listen differently!! Which is why it's important to talk and listen carefully so both sides understand what's clearly happening.
For instance, I might ask Chris to wash the dishes, but if I don't ask him to go through the rooms, pick up any cups and clean them too, he may only wash the dishes in the sink. As much as we both wish we could read each other's minds - we can't! If I want him to find every dirty washable item, I need to TELL HIM.
As you start on your decluttering voyage, tell your husband why you are going to purge. Like all of the details including, how the clutter is making you feel overwhelmed and chaotic, and you want to streamline your life so you can be a better partner, person, mother, (fill in the blank). Also, inform them that their stuff is 100% off limits - yes even those chonies (underwear) that are raggedy as all hell! Hands off missy!
Setting these boundaries builds trusts, and keeps your clutter monster in its cage.
3. Respect your loved ones.
Aretha was on point when she said, "All I'm askin' Is for a little respect when you come home." If the first thing you do is chastise or nag someone for not wanting to get rid of their holey shirts, even if it's staying together by a thin thread, it's a recipe for disaster. Resentment grows faster than a gremlin in water. One moment they're home relaxing, next thing you know they are on a shopping spree at the "Clutter" store. You don't want that!
Be patient and R-E-S-P-E-C-T! (just a lil bit.)
4. cleaning + tidying is a must
Just because they are not onboard with getting rid of stuff, it doesn't mean we can't ask them to help to clean or tidy. Simple actions like putting shoes away and picking up after themselves are not crazy things to ask.
Ultimately, I don't care if you're the breadwinner or how tired you are- everyone is responsible for picking up after themselves. If you are too tired to put your dish in the dishwasher, then I expect you're too tired to turn on the tv or wipe your ass. It's that simple.
Instead of carrying the burden of ALL the cleaning, get them involved and don't expect that they're going to clean to your standards. Because they WON'T! Just appreciate that they are making an effort.
Recently, I asked Chris to help out, and he said "I thought you liked cleaning. I didn't want to mess up your groove or rhythm." I was stunned! After he said that, a flood of memories invaded my mind, I expected him to clean like me and was always redoing his work or picking up after him. No wonder he assumed that! I was a cleaning bully, which put more work on my shoulders. MY bad!
Ask them to help out and allow them to do it their way. It will make a huge difference and will contribute to making your home feel uncluttered.
5. make it a joint decision.
When it comes to items in our home that both Chris and I need to decide if we should keep or let go, we do it together. If he's not ready, I don't pressure him. Instead, I respect his decision and let it go or vice versa.
If you pressure him or anyone else to throw stuff away, it's likely they won't. Instead, find a way to talk it through it and settle it together.
6. Share your wins.
The most fantastic thing about decluttering is that you’ll never know what you’ll find. I uncovered cash in old birthday cards, checks between piles of papers, and benefited from selling old clothes.
Tell your better half about your winnings! It may inspire them to get rid of some of their Lego collection or shoe collection.
7. Respect the process.
Almost two decades ago I bought a beautiful pair of blush leather flats from a small shop in Rome. I wore them everywhere for years, so they are pretty worn. I still have these shoes because I can't bear to part with them, but I know I'm getting closer to saying goodbye. It's a process!
We all (partners, parents, cousins, friends, siblings, kids) let go in stages. Stage 1 is different from step 33.
Today they may finally get rid of the crumpled receipts that sit on their desk, and a month from now maybe they'll part with a few pairs of shoes. Be Patient!
8. Celebrate progress.
Every step forward is a reason to celebrate. Give your loved ones a pat on the back, a hug, and praise them for every item they have let go and the space they have created. Your confidence in them will motivate and keep them on the decluttering path.
What makes you feel loved? When you get your love the way you need it, don't you feel freaking amazing? Do the same for your family and friends.
9. when it's time - Help them Organize
Once everyone sees a visible difference, try to organize to make the space even tidier. But don't rush to the Container Store to buy products galore, you may find you can do without or you may already have something that works. That is money saved!
If you do need products to help keep things tidy, then look for organizers that suit the purpose and the space.
For instance, we don't have drawers or a medicine cabinet in our bathroom. Before rushing to Amazon, we waited a few months to see if we could do without, but we couldn't. I scoured the internet until I found these over the cabinet door organizers. They now hold our toothpaste and razors and other personal items.
10. Always be grateful.
Girlllll! There are going to be times that your man is going to drive you insane. They're either going to bring in more clutter, or create a mess after you just cleaned. Don't get angry, just remind yourself they are not there yet!!
And when I'm about to lose it, I make a list. First of the sweet things he does, like pouring me a glass of wine, letting me choose the restaurant, the simple kisses on my forehead, the way he rubs my back and a thousand other things. Secondly, I list what he does around the house- makes dinner, buys groceries, puts the toilet seat down, washes the car, and so much more.
Your turn, highlight all the reasons that make him unique and special to you.
When we're so focused on getting rid of stuff, we tend to forget everything except for the clutter. So when you're about to lose it, take a look at your list and remember why you love them and show some compassion. I promise it will keep life in perspective.
And you never know when he may surprise you. Just yesterday, I came home to freshly washed dishes, clean floors and laundry in the wash. It takes time to change habits!
Removing the chaos from your life is not only a choice, but it's a journey. It's a journey that helps you simplify everyday living; it will empower you and grow your confidence, and it encourages you to explore your passions. But as much as we want to help others, to achieve the same success and growth, you must allow your husbands/wives/family/mothers/friends/fathers/kids/whoever to do it on their terms. All you can provide is the support when they ask it from you.
Do you have any tips to share on how to get your loved ones to declutter? Let me know in the comments below!
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