This is the first post in a fun, awesome, rewarding, stress free series on decluttering your home!** The Less Clutter, More Joy Challenge. Check out more of these posts and join the challenge here!
I’ve always been a shopper but I’ve never been the “keeper” in the family. I love to purge and clean but never had I stumbled upon the idea of minimalism and essentialism before. Minimalism – the term can be kinda scary. “Do I only own just ONE DISH? 4 items of clothing?? No way!” but I look at it as minimizing the physical clutter in your life so that you can start to minimize the mental and emotional clutter and live a more joyous daily life. Essentialism – I’m not an extreme but I love the idea. Is this essential to my life? Can I do without it and use something to act in its place if/when the need comes?
Growing up we were all told we were destined for greatness. That we could be the best female heart surgeon in the world if we just put your effort into it, that we can be whatever we wanted to be. Well, I wanted to be a mom – but little did I know HOW unfulfilling this life can be. Mostly, unfulfilling because I let myself feel like my mundane was burying me. It wasn’t until I did a 30 day declutter challenge, donated over 5 SUV loads of stuff, tossed TONS, and rid my life of the physical clutter that I started to see purpose in my mommy-hood and homemaking, because I could find joy in it.
Does your life look like mine did back in April?
- Wake up, kitchen is still a mess from the night before. Toys on the counter, dishes piled in the sink. Floor nasty. But, can’t tackle that now, I’ve got to make breakfast for all the tiny humans.
- Go to wash my face and brush my teeth and goodness the bathroom is disgusting. But I can’t even wipe the sink down because theres stuff (tooth paste containers, hair brush, bobby pins) all over it.
- Ugh, we have NO CLOTHES to wear. Guess I should do some laundry – but I can’t yet because theres a load in the washer that smells because I let it sit too long. So here I go washing that load again. Gotta fold the stuff in the dryer before I can put the new stuff in so I can clear the washer for the other 4 loads that need done.
- The dog hair is EVERYWHERE. But sweeping right now isn’t really an option because theres STUFF everywhere that I need to put away. And in order to sweep the floor I have to get the crumbs and mess off of the counters to wipe them down and get the crud onto the floor to sweep.
So, how did I spend my day *cleaning*? Really, I spent my day picking up and putting away clutter and by the end of the day NONE of the actual maintenance cleaning got done. So all that mess and muck was left until tomorrow – which never actually got done because tomorrow I have to pick up all the clutter from today.
Enter Allie Cassazza’s 30 day #declutterlikeamother challenge that she held back in May 2017. It was free but its no longer open. Which is why I’m having my OWN declutter challenge! (You can join her Purposeful Mom Facebook Group here!)
This was life changing. She made it simple, gave you coping mechanisms, and took you room by room to figure out how the heck to tackle all of life’s clutter. And since her challenge is now done, I’m going to help YOU do the same thing.
Here’s the run down on how I did it:
I started with the bathroom, moved to the kitchen, then to my clothes, my closet, my bedroom, upstairs closet, toys, etc. All 1 room over a day or 2 and only 30 minutes a day. Some days I was on a high and went longer because I had time, but it can totally be done in 30 minutes a day for 30 days. Minimalism/Essentialism is easy – do you NEED it? Will it expire by the time you need it? Is it adding to your life or is it giving you a mess to clean with no real benefit? And by the end of the 30 days, I was a new mom.
I woke up every day to a clean kitchen because, guess what?! I wasn’t picking up clutter every waking hour so I was ACTUALLY ABLE TO DO MY DISHES IN THE SINK.
I went to bed each night after a quick 10 min “put all the things back where they belong” fest and when I woke up in the morning I started my day in peace with a clean home which then allowed me to tackle the cleaning maintenance I so desperately wished I could get to. Oh, and spend time with my kids playing and making memories!
Now, I know I’m not the only person who was living like this. It might be you… but it has been such a hot topic lately that large research institutions are making clutter and its link to stress and depression focuses of their study. Both UCLA (Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors) and Mayo Clinic has done trials related to clutter, stress levels, and health effects and here are some of their findings.
- Men are much less stressed by unkept, cluttered homes than women..
- The more possessions someone has (especially in proportion to square footage) the higher their cortisol (stress hormones) tend to be.
- 25% of the garages studied had so much stuff in them that they couldn’t actually fit a car.
- Our country contributes to only 3.1% of the children in the entire world but we purchase over 50% of the worlds toy market. But, an overwhelming majority of children if asked to go play in their rooms full of toys will be “bored” within minutes.
- Long term stress from your overwhelming house and clutter — which causes massive overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can completely screw with almost all your body’s processes putting you at risk for many of the following real, life impacting health issues, including: anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, heart disease, sleep, problems, weight gain, memory & concentration impairment.
The overwhelm affects our stress levels and our ability to maintain our homes. It also affects our children. They’re too overwhelmed with toy options that quickly all the toys are all over the floor and they’re complaining they don’t have anything to do – cue Netflix binges (yay, and them I’m mom of the year!). When we lessen our things, and YES… our kids toys too (you can do it!!), we know what we own, where it is, and we remember to use it instead of adding to the chronic over buying because we’ve forgotten what we’ve owned in the first place. (As I type this my kids have 6 small bins in their play room with their toys in them, thats it. And I’m able to type uninterrupted because those jelly beans are playing with all their toys!!)
This whole minimal/declutter life is a work in progress. I completely my major purge in May 2017 and here I am in October 2017 and I’m about to do another mini-challenge because I don’t ever want my stuff to overwhelm my life again.
My declutter saved my sanity – I’m able to spend my time getting the stuff I need to do done and putting my time and energy towards the things I know are most important: quality time with my kids, cooking healthy meals, keeping a peaceful (clean) home, and spending time with God all things I had no time to do when I was busy trying to find a place to put stuff away that didn’t even belong in my home.
If this is resonating with you… I AM HERE TO HELP GIRLFRIEND! And we’re going to tackle your clutter one room at a time, one day at a time, 30 minutes at a time. And we’re going to call this the “Less Clutter, More Joy 30 Day Declutter Challenge!”. You can join the FREE Facebook support group here!!
So look for my next post on the basic rules and principles you need to get in your head if you’re going to commit to a declutter! You’re about to take back your sanity girl!! Woop woooooop! Our challenge officially starts on November 1st but you can follow along in the prep series until then.
**Amazon Affiliate link to the UCLA study!*