Decluttering Q&A

Every time I talk about minimalism, I get questions from people, so I reached out on Instagram and invited people to ask questions.  Here are some of the questions that were asked, along with a couple of the ones I regularly get.  I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I hope my personal experiences and studying this topic will benefit others.  As always, if you want more info feel free to reach out to me, and/or check out Allie Casazza at alliecasazza.com.  She is a minimalist for mom's, and I love her stuff.  She has courses you can pay for, or you can go the free route like me, and form your journey from all of the free content she has to offer.

Where do I start with decluttering?
I have two different suggestions on where to start with your decluttering.  My first suggestion is to start in the area that is going to have the biggest impact on your life.  Maybe this is your kitchen.  Or maybe your coats and shoes are always spilling out of the closet.  Take a minute to think about it.  The area that will help you the most might not be immediately obvious.  I didn’t realize so much of my time spent cleaning was picking up toys until after I had decluttered them, but toys had been a big frustration for me.  Work in the area that frustrates you the most.  
If you are worried about being able to make decisions on what stays and what goes, then start in an area that will be easy to make decisions.  The bathroom is often recommended as a good place to start because there aren’t usually things you are emotionally attached to. Expired sunscreen and hotel lotion from 3 years ago is usually pretty easy to throw away.  I also think kids clothes is a good place to start because some of the clothes are too small or they refuse to wear them for some reason or it has holes or stains.  
Most importantly, just start somewhere!  Just pick one area and focus on that.  Don’t worry about everything else that needs to be done because that can be super overwhelming.  Pick one area and start.

Is there a difference between decluttering and organizing?
Yes!!!  Organization can help your situation, but you still have all of that stuff to manage.  Plus I find that things get disorganized very quickly.  Declutter first and then organize what you have kept.

I’ve started decluttering, and it’s hard?  Is it really worth it?  Will it be hard to keep my home decluttered?
That first declutter is a big task, and it can be hard!  I took a couple of months to declutter when I started, but it is so worth it!  Managing my home became so much more doable once I had decluttered.  As for keeping it up, stuff comes into our homes quickly even if you aren’t buying a lot, especially with kids.  To keep our home decluttered, I’m training myself to think about whether or not I want to buy or bring an item into our home.  I’m also working on recognizing when an item’s usefulness for our family has come to a close.  I’d rather do a little bit regularly than have to do a massive declutter again.  It’s not hard to do it little by little.

How do you get your husband to get rid of stuff?
First, just focus on you.  Focus on the areas that are really important to you.  Let him have a say on the things that matter to him and some spaces and things that are just his.  I think once he sees the positive effect it has on you then he’ll start to come around.  My husband was not against me decluttering, but he wasn’t excited about it either.  He was pretty neutral, and he didn’t declutter any of his spaces.  Over time he saw the effect it had on me and on our house, came to see the light, and started decluttering his spaces too.   Although full disclosure, he still has spaces to do ;)
If he is against your decluttering, doesn’t want you to get rid of anything, or just doesn’t understand, talk to him.  Let him know why it is important and why it helps you to have a decluttered space. Maybe find a middle ground and choose an area that he is ok with you starting at and go from there.      

How do you get your kids to get rid of things?
My kids don’t like to watch me get rid of things, but they don’t notice when I do it without them around.  I know what their favorite things are, so I feel pretty confident with the things I do donate or throw away without their knowledge.  We’ve been in this minimalism journey for several months now, and they’ve naturally been curious about my decluttering of my things.  I have regular conversations with them about things that I am keeping, things I am throwing away, and things I am donating.  Because they see me living this way with my things, I’ve noticed them starting to do the same and follow my example.  I have started talking to them about letting our things we don’t use help other people.  They have both brought toys to me and said they are ready to let another little girl have it.  They’ve also both insisted on keeping crumpled pieces of paper for months at a time.  I let them keep those things they care about even if I don’t see why they care about it.  Leading by example is key.

How do you store things that you only use a few times a year?  Or should I get rid of these things?
First you need to decide if it is something you really want.  How important is it to you to have that item on the few times you use it?  Could you manage without it?  I have a stand mixer that I really only use once a year.  That’s it.  But I’m keeping it because I have to have a stand mixer for one recipe, and that’s important to me.  Instead of storing it in prime cupboard space though, I have tucked it back into a corner cupboard that is harder to get to.  This way I have my good cupboard space available for dishes and appliances that I regularly use.  I don’t mind having to dig a little when I do need the mixer because I don’t need it often.  On the other hand, if you know you don’t use it very often, it’s not important for you to have, and you can manage without, then let it go confidently.  I’m trying to keep the items I keep but only use a couple of times a year to a minimum.

What about sentimental items?  Did you get rid of all of those?
During my big declutter, I put anything sentimental in boxes together and didn’t worry about decluttering them.  That way I was able to keep up my momentum.  I think I am ready now to sort and organize those items, and recognize if it is time to let go of anything.  I have a fair amount of things from my life or that have been handed down to me that are special to me.  They are worth the space that they take up in my home, my time, and my life.   I don’t believe in decluttering just to say you have less items.  I believe in decluttering the things that are excess, unused, or unimportant.  I do also believe in being selective about the things I allow to be sentimental.

Do you ever wish you hadn’t gotten rid of something?
That fear is why I held onto most things before I started this decluttering journey.  I realized though that some of the things I held onto I had kept for multiple years without ever having needed, and even if I had needed them, I likely would not have remembered I had them even though I’m a pretty organized person.  This realization made it easier to let go of these items.  I haven’t regretted any items we’ve gotten rid of.


Bethany Allen is a mom, a minimalist, and a photographer.  She lives in Cedar City, Utah with her family and loves viewing people and their love for each other through her lens.