I recently wrote a post about the joy of having less and our substantial declutter during 2013. Reading back over it, it strikes me how simple it sounds. Perhaps if I were single and had no family or friends, it may have been!
However, the reality is that simplifying with a family can be complicated. I have a husband, a baby, two step-children that are here part time and extended family that love to bestow gifts on our daughter. We are also blessed with lovely friends who enjoy passing on pre-loved toys and clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for all of these things, BUT they make simplifying a much more challenging process.
Despite his vehement denials, it’s become apparent over the past year that my husband is a bit of a hoarder with an emotional attachment to the strangest things. Stubby holders for example; or packs of caving grade glow sticks. He even found it hard to get rid of a baffling array of cables that we have dragged from house to house for 7 years.
If you are the driving force behind decluttering your household, and you find yourself getting frustrated, some of these tips may help.
Remember that everyone is coming from a different place
Perhaps like me, you’ve been doing research into the benefits of a simpler life? Or maybe you’re the primary homemaker and you’re sick of the constant cleaning? Take a deep breath and remember that you’ve already put a lot of thought into the decluttering journey while others in your household have had this sprung upon them. Share the articles that you have read, broach the topic gently and explain why this is important to you. If all else fails (it did for me at first), start by decluttering those areas that only impact on you. Lead by example and you may find the rest of your family coming on board.
Pick your battles
Remember that it’s only natural for people to have emotional attachment to ‘stuff’, particularly if they haven’t been through the same thought process as you. Learn to recognise what is truly important to them (military uniforms and medals) versus the battered assortment of ‘garden clothes’. Leave the important stuff alone.
Maybe your significant other is a closet hoarder with a fetish for unused television cables like mine? Is there a way that you can compromise? We ended up keeping one of each cable, a compromise that we can both live with. Perhaps your wife has a huge excess of fabrics, clothes or books? Try asking her to reduce the number rather than get rid of things altogether.
Make it easy on them
If your children or partner are really not on board but you need their help to tackle something, make it as easy as possible. I ended up pulling all the aforementioned cables out of their box and laying them all out neatly on the floor for my husband to select from. This turned it from a daunting task into something that took him less than 2 minutes.
Have a clear purpose in mind
It’s completely natural to be disinterested in decluttering if you can’t see a reason for it. Work out why you are doing this. Is it because you have so much and want to share your material wealth with those less fortunate? Is it because you want more free time and a cleaner home? Ensure that decluttering is a tool to help get where you want to be, not the destination in itself.
Most important of all, try not to nag or niggle as you will only upset those that you care about.
*Update! Last night, my husband returned home from exhausted from another 13hr shift and before collapsing snoring on the floor, remarked on how pleasant it was to come home to a beautifully tidy and uncluttered home. We’re getting somewhere!