But does it spark joy…?

July 1, 2021
Life Hacks
By Andie Scibilia
boxes-recyle-keep-trash.jpeg

Sometimes too much stuff can overwhelm and overtake you and your family. Everybody has stuff lying around that they don’t need, McDonald’s toys, kitchen appliances, clothes that don’t fit anymore, books that aren’t read and old school work/paperwork overflowing in boxes or drawers.

I love a good purge. I find it so cathartic to get rid of things that aren’t being used and taking up unnecessary space. My friends call me over to help them go through their house and tidy up and clear stuff out.

Every three months, I tend to go through our house and determine what should stay and what should go.

I have challenges to deal with, though, when trying to declutter or reorganise rooms in the house. My son is Autistic with OCD, and he remembers every single item he has ever owned (from toys and clothes to old drawings) and exactly where it is/was kept. My daughter has severe anxiety and is very attached to her things – “no mum, I’m still using that” (even when said items have been sitting in the back of the wardrobe for a good two years) or “that took a long time to collect, we cant get rid of those”.

So even though I’m not a fan of clutter, I have to be highly mindful of their thoughts and feelings and what may happen if I get rid of the wrong item and consider that when cleaning and reorganising. To me, it may seem like old junk, but to them, it’s part of their whole world.

Getting Started

  • Talk to your family about a clean-up. Explain why it is necessary and allow them to participate.
  • Go into your children’s rooms and ask if there are things they no longer use or play with that they may want to sell or donate. If they choose to sell, you might want to think about giving them all or a percentage of the sale as a financial lesson (or a bribe!)
  • Visuals such as social stories may help show children what you will be doing and where their items will end up.

Make a Plan

  • I always find making a plan before I start is helpful. A clear picture of your end goal will keep you on track.
  • It might be you want to reorganise your whole house, a specific room or even just a drawer. No matter how overwhelming the job seems, making a plan and outlining the small steps you need to take to achieve the final outcome makes the task a little less daunting.
  • Gather your cleaning items together – you are going to need them! Consider making a little caddy that includes garbage bags, spray and wipe, textas, labels, and postures to carry from area to area.
  • Decide on what you will do with unwanted items. Bin, sell, donate are great piles to make while you are decluttering.
  • You will need storage boxes – although it may be you decide on these once you have cleared out unwanted items, so you know the correct sizes to buy.

Start Small

  • I can’t emphasise this point enough! Sometimes thinking about the house or even a room as a whole can be overwhelming and daunting.
  • Pick a starting room; within that room, pick a starting point. It may be a box, a cupboard or a drawer.
  • When you start small, you will be able to finish that project, which is a win! And will keep you motivated to continue.

Keep Like-Things together

  • My children like toys to be grouped together. They instantly know that all their Lego is in one box, for example. Or their board games are all in one cupboard. It helps us create a sense of routine and ease of finding items.
  • You could use pictures on the outside of storage boxes to show what is in each box or write on the box with texta.
  • Once you start designating spots for specific items, it will become easier to put things back where they belong.

Spend no longer than 5 mins on each item

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Why do I own this?
  • How is this adding value to my life?
  • Why should I keep this?

If you still can’t decide, perhaps sleep on it and look with fresh eyes in the morning.

Tackle fears head-on

You or your children may have fears/worries like:

  • What if I need this again later? What if it’s worth something? What if my children want this someday? Loss of happy memories by letting go of sentimental items.
  • Think about the worst-case scenario. What WILL happen if you need it again someday? How will you (or someone else) react?
  • For me, the absolute worst-case scenario is that my children will ask for something I have gotten rid of, and major meltdowns will ensue.

What are some possible solutions?

  • I tend to put items of my children’s I want to get rid of into storage boxes in the shed for at least six months. If they don’t ask for it in 6 months, I feel confident that I can get rid of them. If they do, the items are accessible to retrieve for them.
  • Consider taking photos of items of sentimental value that you no longer have use for, like old schoolwork or knick-knacks that may no longer go with your aesthetics. This is a way to keep the memories while also freeing up space!
  • Perhaps having one storage box for special items, like baby memorabilia or special awards for children, will reduce the clutter while still allowing you to keep a small amount of those items.

You may find yourself looking at items and thinking about how much you paid for them. The price you paid for the item is a “sunk cost”—you’ve already paid the price for it, and keeping it around won’t necessarily add more value to your life.

Ask for help

Even if you’re doing it efficiently, decluttering can be a big job for one person.

  • Ask family members or friends to help you with tasks you just don’t feel up to doing yourself—even if it’s just to pick up and put away everything that’s out so that you have space to declutter. Plus, the opinions of a trusted friend can often help you get rid of old items you’ve been hesitant to discard.

Odds are once you have decluttered your home, it will lead to an easier to clean home and less stress in finding items.

Just remember, how much or how little you declutter is a personal choice. What works for one person may not work for you.

About the author:

Andie Scibilia is the Project Coordinator at Reframing Disability and utilises her extraordinary planning skills to keep the team organised!

Andie comes from a varied background combining creative endeavours and management skills. She thrives on organising and scheduling so everything runs seamlessly. She adopts a ‘think outside the box’ mindset to come up with creative solutions to any issues that arise.

Andie is a mum to two and her youngest is Autistic. She has navigated the challenges of school and advocating for her child’s rights and is eager to pass on her knowledge to help and support other families.

Andie Scibilia

By Andie Scibilia

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