Why Are You Keeping All the Clutter?

The other day, I couldn’t take it anymore. My daughter’s room was a catastrophe.

She no longer folded her clothes nor did she use her closet to store her clothes. Instead, her clothes were unfolded, wrinkled and heaped high in three laundry baskets. The baskets actually could no longer contain their contents and I often found myself tripping over pant legs and socks that were hanging over the sides of the baskets.

She told me that her closet was too full.  Instead of cleaning it out, her solution was just to keep the clothes she was wearing at the ready in these baskets.  There were a couple problems with this.  I no longer had laundry baskets when I needed to move clothes from the laundry room to my closet to put away and she often looked unkempt because her clothes were so wrinkled that even the refresh spray and a tug (which works in a pinch) didn’t work.

After my most recent exasperated sigh at not having a laundry basket yet again, she asked me if I would help her clean out her closet. I had been waiting for this as I didn’t want to overstep her space. I told her I would end work early one day and help her. As we started, I realized that the problem was that she had too much stuff. She was hanging on to things like her favorite Star Wars pajamas that were three sizes too small because she loves Star Wars. Granted, they are cute pajamas, but they didn’t fit any longer and someone else could enjoy them.

As I held up item after item that clearly was too small for her and she insisted she wanted to keep them, I started wondering why DO we keep so much stuff? From her responses, I found that it’s easier to find excuses for why we should keep something and delay making a decision rather than making a firm (and sometimes difficult) choice to say goodbye to our “stuff.”

Here are my favorite excuses that I heard from her…

1: "I might need it someday."

A couple of the items, I honestly could say, “yes, you might.” However, the likelihood of remembering you have this item when the time is right is slim. Additionally, most of the items she wanted to keep could easily be found or replaced within a day or two. What happens is these “someday” items create more and more clutter and get to a point where you can’t find that item anyway because it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. So, I convinced her to get rid of the ”someday” items.

2: "So-and-So Gave Me This."

I’m all for keeping memories and items that remind us of people we love. The truth is, though, memories are not in the clutter, the clothes and “stuff” she has shoved in the far recesses of her closet. I won’t say get rid of everything and it’s not always an easy decision. We made a pile of the sentimental things and then went through them to pick out just a few that she truly cherishes. Instead of cluttering up her closet, we packed a little box of them so that she can find them when she wants to display them down the road or use them as a prop for a story.

3: "It cost a lot of money!"

Yes, it did. We talked through this one for quite a while and she finally could see that having a clean room and space for all her clothes was more valuable than hanging on to the expensive clothing items. It was also a good teaching opportunity to select the expensive items more carefully in the future.

4: "Oh, I'm just trying to figure out what to do with it..."

She had those obscure pineapple print pants that don’t go with anything and a hoodie with shearling sleaves from a favorite university that is too warm to wear except during winter and it’s too thick to wear under a coat. Those items took up a lot of mental space for her as she constantly thought about how to make them work with her wardrobe and she never did wear them. I finally convinced her that if she couldn’t figure out how to make an outfit work with those items, it was a safe bet she wouldn’t miss them too much, so they went into the donation pile.

After sorting through all her clothes, folding the clothes in the baskets and putting everything away in her closet, she finally had a clean room. That night, I asked her if she liked having a clean room and she told me she actually felt lighter. She also shared that getting ready for school would be so much easier since she could see where everything was on the shelves in her closet.

So, why are you keeping all the clutter?

Work with me

Sometimes the clutter is in the form of clothes and sometimes it’s all the things bouncing around in our head. I coach a lot of women who need help getting their thoughts out and organizing the next step in their lives. If that’s you, click here and schedule a time to talk about how I can help free your mind from all the clutter.

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