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I recently had a friend visiting and she was complaining about how she wanted to get her house organized but her husband wouldn’t let go of all the clutter in their house. I could relate. It took me years to get my husband to let go of stuff. And one of my kids has a harder time getting rid stuff than the others. Some people are just more prone to clutter collecting tendencies.
But what can you do if you’re dying to live in clutter-free bliss but your spouse can’t even let go of the broken TV in the basement and your kids cling to every scrap of paper? Below are tips to help your family declutter the house even if they don’t want to.
Lead by Example
Behaviors and attitudes rub off on other people. If your family sees you decluttering and the positive changes that come when you declutter, that may be enough to inspire them to get on board.
It might not happen right away, though. Don’t give up! Give them time to live with the decluttering changes you’ve made so they can see and feel the benefits of it.
Let your family know why decluttering your home is important to you. Speak up about the way a cluttered home makes you feel.
This goes along with leading by example. Your thoughts about clutter may eventually rub off them. The key is not to harp, yell or be negative. Keep it short and keep it positive.
It can be as simple as saying, “I feel so much more relaxed when there aren’t piles of stuff in the entryway.” Or “I Iove the way the kitchen looks when the countertops don’t have piles of clutter on them.”
Being vocal also means giving praise to your family when they are taking steps toward decluttering or cleaning up the house.
A simple “thank you” can go a long way.
What’s Their Why
Your reasons for wanting a decluttered home may not really resonate with your family. Instead, to help your family declutter figure out what will motivate each family member to get on board with decluttering. If they don’t see the benefit of decluttering, then they won’t want to do it.
Here are some motivating factors that may work to help your family declutter:
Let’s face it, money talks for a lot of people. Earn money by selling unwanted stuff and save money by buying less stuff. If plain old cash isn’t motivation enough, sometimes saving for a specific item, like a vacation or a new toy, may do the trick.
When you declutter then you don’t need to spend so much time keeping the house clean and organized. You also won’t waste time trying to find the items you need. Now you’ll have more time to spend on things that are important to you.
There are very, very few people I know who don’t care what their house looks like. A decluttered house makes it easier to be ready for unexpected guests and not be embarrassed to invite friends over. Help your family declutter, help your family’s social life.
More Space for More Important Things
Your husband may be more likely to clear out all the junk in the basement in order to make room for a pool table he’s been dying to have. Your teen may be willing to let go of stuff she no longer uses in order to make room for a cool hanging chair in her room. You get the idea. Convince them to let go of stuff they don’t need or use in order to make room for things they actually want.
Clearing the clutter from the home can reduce stress. You won’t feel overwhelmed by stuff. You won’t spend so much time picking up and cleaning. You’ll have a relaxing space to decompress.
Looking for More Reason to Declutter?
Be Respectful of Their Stuff
Nothing will backfire quicker than being disrespectful about another person’s stuff. Even though I recently decluttered and organized my husband’s closet, I made sure he had final approval before I got rid of any of his stuff.
Never get rid of someone’s stuff without their permission (unless it’s a baby or toddler who can’t make those decisions). They won’t trust you or the decluttering process.
Speaking negatively about another person’s stuff may cause them to become defensive and dig in their heels.
When you help your family declutter, don’t call their stuff a pile of junk. Instead, refer to it as unused stuff. Instead of talking about what a waste of money all that stuff was, talk about how a charity can benefit from those items.
Being pushy, sneaky or rude isn’t going to help get your family on board.
It can take some people longer than others to get on board. This can be hard to accept, especially when you are chomping at the bit to declutter every inch of your house. But forcing someone to get rid of stuff when they aren’t ready isn’t going to get them into the groove of decluttering.
Instead, slow the pace. If they are having difficulties with letting go, then revisit those items in a few days, weeks or months. Sometimes emotions are running high during the first attempt at decluttering, making it hard to make clear-headed decisions. But the decision might be easier the second time around. A middle ground could be putting those “need to go but hard to let go” items in a box to reconsider at a future set date. Having the items out of sight for a period of time can help show your spouse or kids that they don’t really use the items.
Talk to your family about limiting their stuff to certain areas and designating clutter-free zones.
Limit your kid’s art and mementos to one bin.
Designate one area of the garage or basement for your husband’s tools.
If someone in your house likes to collect things, determine limits for those things. For example, my kids like to collect rocks and seashells. I gave each one a container for their collections. Once they fill up that container, they will have to go through and get rid of some before they can add more.
Designate a room or a section of a room for your husband’s hobbies or collections. But once that area is full, then he’ll need to get rid of stuff before bringing anything new into the house.
The key is to negotiate with your family about the size and placement of their areas. They won’t be helpful with decluttering if you just dictate unrealistic expectations. If your husband has a garage full of stuff, it’s unlikely he’ll be happy to only be allowed one tiny corner of it.
Make It Rewarding
What better way to get people on board than rewarding them? Letting go of stuff can be hard but it can be easier to do if you know you’re going to get a reward at the end.
It can be something as big as a new pool table for clearing out the basement or as small as making a few bucks from selling unused stuff.
Every year I have my kids declutter toys before Christmas. Their reward is their Christmas presents, which they were going to get anyway. But it’s all about timing and positioning. We do it usually 4-6 weeks before Christmas when their excitement about the season is really gearing up. I tell them that we need to make room for the new stuff they will get so they are excited to think about what presents they will get. You could do something similar around your kid’s birthday if Christmastime doesn’t work for your family.
We donate all their old toys to charity. One of my kids is really motivated by knowing that her old toys will benefit someone less fortunate.
Find a reward that will motivate each family member to declutter, knowing that it won’t be the same for everyone.
Make It Last
If you’ve managed to finally get your family on board with decluttering then it’s time to take the next step. There is more to an organized home than just decluttering and decluttering isn’t a one and done task.