We all have our reasons for holding on to things we know we should let go of. People are complicated, and you could probably list a million different reasons why you’re struggling to keep it together. There isn’t a one size fits all answer to purging and organizing, but we can try to figure it out together.
Today the goal is to discover if one or more of the reasons I’m going to list is holding you back from having an organized space that doesn’t piss you off. So if you hear yourself saying:
“I feel like all I do is clean!”
“I turn around for five seconds and the kids just destroy everything!”
“I Just need to get organized and then things will be easier…”
Realize it’s not just you. Tons of people, especially parents, feel overwhelmed by their home. Pinterest and the konmarie worshippers don’t help either. Seems like everyone has their shit together except you.
They don’t, seriously. Stop.
All people really need to succeed is support, maybe a blueprint, and a bit of a reality check. So let’s take a look at the top five reasons why I see people fail at their purge.
1.Waste: throwing things away feels wasteful.
Your kid “had” to have it. That mini pie maker was the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. Yet, here we are a few weeks or months down the line, and all it’s doing is collecting dust. Still, you can’t bring yourself to get rid it. You only used it once and it’s still in great condition. I get it, you work hard for your money, and the things you buy become a physical manifestation of that hard work, but at the end of the day, it’s still just crap.
Suggestion: if you know it’s not being used. Let. It. Go. Donate what you can to someone in need. Use this opportunity to teach your kids about giving. Find ways to make what you had useful again by giving it a new home. I’m not talking tomorrow or next week either. I’m talking right now. You can easily schedule a donation pickup online. You can sell it in the Facebook market place and put the money towards your bucket list. Start easy. Toss things with missing or broken pieces. You’re not going to find that piece. You’re not going to fix that part, and even if you did, will it actually be used?? Free yourself from picking up 50 million toys they’re going to take out, touch for two seconds, and then move on from. Only keep things your child is truly interested in, and don’t keep multiple variations. No kid needs five types of blocks. Don’t let the stuff you own own you. Furthermore, be mindful with future purchases. Do you really need it, or do you just want it?
2. Sentimental Value: you just can’t let go.
I fell into the sentimental value trap once. Ok, that’s bullshit, way more than once, but as a mom I’ve let go of the idea of perfection. Last year I had an entire Rubbermaid container filled to the brim of my son’s artwork, awards, you name it, it was there. I hadn’t realized I had collected so much. A few pictures here, a few awards there, multiply that by six years of school and I had hundreds of papers in this bucket. Sentimental items are extremely hard to let go of, especially if you were especially close to the person and they passed, it’s your kid and they’re amazing (aren’t they all?), or maybe it’s the opposite and it’s from an ex partner you haven’t quite let go of yet. Whatever the reason, the value of the relationship doesn’t increase from the amount of stuff you save from them.
Suggestion: for my situation, I picked my favorite pieces of art and his most exciting school work (why my mom is my hero? Uh, hell yeah, that stayed), I scanned it, and then threw it away (gasp!). I set a limit of five pieces of artwork to frame so I’d at least have a few originals, but everything else got uploaded into a photo album I can browse every once in a while. For items that are from people that have passed, I suggest really thinking hard about whether or not it reminds you of your relationship. I have a beaded necklace I wear as a bracelet from someone I sincerely loved who passed. It’s a small way to carry her with me everyday. My partner carries a picture in his wallet. I know it’s hard. Keep things that hold true value to you and the relationship you shared, don’t keep everything just because it was theirs.
As far as the ex stuff goes? Burn it. Actually don’t, I don’t want to be liable, but seriously throw that shit away.
3. Obligation: so and so bought it…
I hear this one a lot. Well, my mother/grandmother/brother/whoever bought it for me/the kids, so suddenly you feel obligated to keep something you don’t find value in, or doesn’t fit your lifestyle. You are worried they’ll be upset, or ask about it the next time they visit.
Suggestion: say it with me “I am under no obligation to keep things I do not want or need. I am a grown ass person and I have every right to get rid of things I don’t want in my home”. Now keep saying it till you believe it, because it’s true. I have a rule against toys that make noise, need excessive batteries, any clothing with characters, and most plastic toys. I tell my family this every year they ask what to get the kids. I make gift list. I’m not forcing anyone’s hand. They’re grown folk and they have the right to get them whatever they would like, and I have the right to get rid of. It’s the same thing every year, and yet somehow they keep getting them crap. Guess how long it lasts in my house? “But Danielle, what if they ask about it?” And? If you set a standard people can either respect your wishes, or set themselves up for failure. I understand how buying your 1yo granddaughter training underwear, or your 11yo grandson a book can feel like a shitty gift, but remember, you know your family. You know what you/they need/want. If they can’t understand that, that’s their problem, not yours.
4. Permission: You’re not sure if you can get rid of it.
I know it sounds weird, but it’s really common. Sometimes it can feel like it’s not your place to get rid of something. You’re not sure if you can throw away your taxes, or that old checkbook. Maybe it was a hand me down, or you borrowed it…ten years ago. Maybe you just need a reminder that you’re an adult and it’s ok. Whatever the reason, a lack of explicit permission is holding you back.
Suggestion: this goes back to number three and your new mantra. Hand me downs are yours, family heirlooms can be given to a family member that will appreciate it, the internet can show you the way to a shredding company, and if you borrowed it ten years ago, well, that’s a dick move, but chances are they’ve long forgotten about it or gave up on getting it back. If you really need permission, I’m giving it to you.
5. Overwhelm: you don’t know where the hell to start
Sometimes, it just feels like too much. The kids. The job. Coming home to cook and clean, maybe you’re doing it alone. You turn around and it’s a mess, and the weight of it all is just too damn much. You want to get it all in order, but by the end of the day you’re too damn tired, and last week you cleaned like three cabinets and it looks just as shitty as it did before.
Suggestion: the only thing I agreed with in the konmarie method was the way she suggested purging. Don’t do it one room at a time, don’t tackle things 30 minutes at a time, tackle them by category. It’s easier to throw things away when you see just how much you have of paper, clothing, or whatever. So go for it, and don’t rush it. Give yourself a month or two. Grab every single piece of paper in your house. Every magazine. Every receipt. Every piece of mail. Toss it on the floor of your living room, and suddenly it’ll become really clear why it’s so easy for your house to become a mess. The next week move on to the next category. If this doesn’t fit, find a method that will, just remember, storage is not organization. Organization does not mean clean.
So tell me, did any of these reasons ring true to you? What other reasons could be holding you back? Do you think you’re ready to move on to the next step?