111. Decluttering decisions and guilt [Q+A]

Making decisions on what to declutter can be exhausting and often bring up emotions like guilt. I am offering my life coaching and decluttering advice on these topics as well as organizing and cleaning kid’s toys. 

Listen to the previous Q+A here

Questions I am answering on decluttering:

  1. How to know what to get rid of? With each thing I’m asking why I am I keeping this? what should I consider getting rid of and will I regret getting rid of it (mementoes from kids school days, some of their special clothing items, my dressy clothes from over the years, kids trophies, certificates, extra furniture in the basement …)
  2. What are good ways to handle kid stuff so that it’s easy to get into when we need it but keeps things neat when we don’t?
  3. How to handle the cleaning routine and storage of kid’s toys? My kids don’t have *much* stuff in total but they love little toys that spread far and wide
    • Toy tidy up strategies we use in our home
  4. The emotions around decluttering— my constant struggle! Feeling overwhelmed, feeling wasteful by trashing stuff that’s still “good”, feeling guilty about getting rid of a gift, an inherited item, and so on…
    • How to handle decluttering and not wanting to be wasteful
    • The guilt of getting rid of something 
    • Honouring the relationship vs keeping the items
    • The guilt of decluttering gifts

If you are interested in life coaching contact Shawna at shawna@simpleonpurpose.ca


Full Transcript (unedited)

Hey friends I’m Shawna, your nerdy girlfriend and life coach from simple on purpose.ca. Welcome to the simple on purpose podcast. This is part two of the decluttering q&a, but you don’t have to listen to the other one. First. It’s fine. If you are showing up here. I’m glad you’re here. I hope that this q&a answers some questions that you might have in your own life around what to get rid of, and how to deal with the emotions that come up. In the previous q&a, we talked more about really just liking stuff like liking stuff and wanting to create a home that feels like us, while still clearing out our home on just getting started knowing where to get started, and we wrapped it up with the age old question of no one else is putting things away like they should. And that is such a relatable question. So I hope you also go check that out. Let’s continue on with the questions. And the first one that I’ll be sharing today is how to know what to get rid of. And she has some examples of I’m asking myself with each thing, why am I keeping this? What should I consider getting rid of will I regret getting rid of it mementos from the kids school days, my dressy clothes from the years kids trophies, all of these things? So what I’m hearing you ask for is a framework, a framework you want for decision making. And I think this is incredibly powerful. When we have a framework on what we’re going to keep almost like a flowchart. Imagine that, like imagine a flowchart that you could just refer to, in the moment when you are looking at an item, and you start going through all these questions in your mind, should I let this go? Do I use it? How often do I use it? Do I like it? Should I keep it for the kids? What if I don’t want to keep it? Can you feel how many decisions you’ve just had to make in your brain? And what happens is we get decision fatigue our brain expending all that energy making these decisions will get fatigued it takes a lot of mental energy. And then eventually, we just don’t want to make any decisions, right? We get decision paralysis. And we’re just like, I can’t even like now someone wants to know what’s for dinner, I have no idea. Please don’t ask me anything. So decision fatigue is a real thing. That’s why it is so helpful to have a framework, a framework of what you’re going to decide decided ahead of time. So you’re not in the moment, using all this emotional and mental energy. I would recommend sitting down and writing this out ahead of time. And I can give you ideas of framework. But really, it’s best if it comes from you. And you start to ask yourself, okay, I’m going to do the kitchen. Let’s say, what do I want to keep? Like what decisions do I know I already want to make? What is my vision for the space? I think that’s a very powerful question you can ask yourself is what do I want the space to be used for? How do I want it to feel? Because if you’re decluttering, say a living room, and you know, you want it to be kind of like, this is a space we use for family games, and it’s really cozy and it’s laid back, then you already know that there’s some items that are not going to stay there and there’s some items that you know are definitely going to stay. Another great question is what things are important to me at this point in my life right now, what’s important to me in my kitchen, maybe the bread maker is not so important because I’ve gone gluten free, maybe all those extra dishes aren’t as important because we don’t host as much. So just starting to write that down. Write down some framework for yourself on what decisions I already know, I want to make. Marie Kondo offers the question does it spark joy? And of all my years decluttering and making these different frameworks for myself and asking different questions. I think that one is really underrated. It’s really powerful. Like if I hold an item, and I’m like, Yeah, I do feel great around this item. It is something I want to keep like just that heart reaction right away can be really powerful. But you know, a lot of us are very logical, we want to logic our way through it. We want to have a good logical reason on what we keep and what goes. And I think the framework can help you with that setting yourself up a framework, the question of what if I regret getting rid of it. So regret is going to be something you’re feeling? It’s going to be an emotion that you’re feeling. And our emotions come from our thoughts, our thoughts trigger our emotions. So if you are thinking this was a mistake to get rid of, I should have kept that. That’s going to generate regret, right? So my advice is to just decide ahead of time, I’m not going to entertain regret, I’m not going to entertain the idea that I’m making mistakes. And you can just decide going into it. That sure I might find myself in a place where I could use it. But I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I’m not going to tell myself it was a mistake, because the decision I’m making right now is the decision for a clearer space for less distractions, and really owning that and committing to it like no, this is no mistake, I made the right choice. And maybe if I need that item one day. I’m going to Figure out what to do about it. And there’s Episode 90 that really digs into this question of what if I need it one day? Here’s a question on kids stuff, good ways to store things so that it’s easy to get into when we need it, but keeps things neat when we don’t. And this is more of an organizing question than decluttering. But I think organization is really the second part of decluttering. I, I know, in my experience, I decluttered my whole house, and then I was like, Well, why doesn’t it feel good? Because I didn’t really get into the organization part. So I think I’ve gotten rid of all of this stuff. Now, how do I manage what I do have, and there can be some mistakes, I know, I made a lot of mistakes, when I was organizing, like, choosing the wrong system. Too many uses in one space, even the wrong containers. And that’s what I hear you may be saying, even here, is trying to find the container in that is easy to get into because you know those like cute little jars with the lids and you put something in it, but then you’re like, how often do I want to unscrew a lid to just pull I don’t know, like this isn’t the right container. For me, I need just an open bowl.

This is just an example I have in my mind of putting salt in a little bowl in the kitchen. So I would recommend you listen to Episode 36 on that about the mistakes we can make when it comes to home organization. And there’s also a cheat sheet with that, I’m going to put that in the show notes about the top 10 organization mistakes that we make. And if you have something that you want to know some storage ideas, come and share it in the Facebook group. And I’m sure we will crowdsource some solutions for you another question on kids stuff. So my kids don’t have much stuff in total. But they have a lot of little toys, and they spread far and wide. And this made me smile because I think of the days that I started to realize like those radius of toys, dispersal is getting bigger and bigger. I mean, they use babies and toddlers, they used to just sit on the carpet on the living room and with their little toys. But now there’s like Legos in the backyard and a fake snake on my nightstand. And this trail of craft supplies from my office to the kitchen. The bigger they get, the wider the radius gets, I’m sure they even have toys at friend’s houses too. So what we do in our place often is have a catch all bucket are often three buckets that I’ll keep in the living room. And as I’m going along, I just throw each kid’s stuff in it. That’s that’s one strategy. Another strategy that we do as well, if I don’t have the buckets out is I say, keep time to clean up guys, whatever’s left out, like look through the house, whatever is left goes in the garbage. And I don’t know if they know if I’m serious or not. So they just do it, we turn on some fun music. And we spent about three minutes right before dinner doing a quick tidy up. This final question is the emotions around decluttering. It feels like a constant struggle, feeling overwhelmed feeling wasteful by throwing stuff that’s still quote, good. feeling guilty about getting rid of a gift and an inherited item. With the waste, I think all we can do is try to do our best. Try to recycle it try to give it a good home, I know this is something that I go through as well. And sometimes I just can’t have a really resourceful solution for it. And I do need to chalk it up to a hard lesson that I learned. And I will tell you that it works, it works to see something being thrown out. Because it makes sense. Like I don’t want to do that. It’s like throwing out half your dinner. Like next time, I’m going to take less dinner because I don’t like how that felt. It just makes you so much more mindful of what you’re going to bring in because you because we don’t like how that feels. So sometimes we just need to chalk that up to the lesson learned. Let’s talk about the guilt. And as I mentioned earlier, your emotions come from what you’re thinking. So feeling guilty comes from thinking like, it’s wrong to get rid of this, I’d be doing something wrong. People would be upset if I got rid of it, I should really keep this it’s not okay. People expect me to get rid of this. And it’s interesting because now what we’ve done is we’ve tied our relationship with other people, to us keeping an item or not keeping an item. And I think that gives the item too much power and maybe even weakens what the relationship is or could be. So it could be time to explore what a relationship looks like, with this person that isn’t marked or defined by stuff. And I look at these items in my own home and I start to ask myself some questions like what am I actually doing with this item? What am I doing with it? Is it proudly displayed? Is it used? Do I have a plan to display it? Or am I just keeping it? For the sake of keeping it? Do I honor my relationship with that person by how I keep this item? Like why am I holding on to it? And does anyone else want it? Like if I think that I need to be the gatekeeper of memories? How else can I share this load? Maybe these aren’t memories other people want? So why do I feel like I need to keep it for them? These are just questions you can ask yourself and what I want you to pay attention to here is do you like your reasons? Do you like your reasons for keeping it if you do make us space for that item, honor it. But if you feel like this item doesn’t serve you, and the only reason you keep it is from guilt, which is caused by the thoughts you’re thinking, then you can let go of that. And I’m not saying we just suddenly feel guilt free about everything. But we can start to loosen up this guilt, we can start to remind ourselves about other things that are also true. Like, I love this person. And I love that they thought of me and gave me this gift. And we can still have a great relationship. Even if I don’t keep all these things. You can think about gifts as an expression of someone caring. So this person gave me a gift to express their care not to force me into an obligation of keeping it or using it. And I just think of my own kids who grow out of gifts all the time. Like why can die. Other thoughts you could be entertaining is I can honor this person in other ways than keeping this item. And maybe even acknowledging that I’m not honoring this person by storing this item in the attic. Another one that helps me is this item can bless other people that I can pass it on, and there’s someone who’s going to appreciate it and use it. And just like the spirit of what that item is about, can live on through that. And I think it all comes back to coming back to yourself, like my house is my space. It’s a reflection of me and my family at this point in time. And it just makes sense that we’re going to edit items out that no longer serve us anymore. Overall, what we need to see is that this relationship can exist outside of stuff, and your relationship with you in your home and how you use it. And it’s your space and nobody else’s space. But yours and you get to be in charge of that. And you’re the curator of it. What do you want your space to be.

And also, I like to think long term, and I’m thinking about this more often. Now that I’m watching my dad who is facing a major decluttering of his home, my mom is in long term care. Now she has dementia, and they’ve always had stuff in their home. And now it’s just so much stuff. And I know that I’m going to be going and helping them declutter this stuff. And I just think like, they’ve always had stuff, but they never stopped getting stuff, it seemed not that they’re frivolous or anything, it just things accumulate, and you inherit your parents stuff, all of the steps involved in there. And I think it’s kind of like that whole analogy of, we gain one to two pounds per year after a certain age or something like that. And same with our home we accumulate year after year. So even just thinking about this logically, if this is my baseline what I have now and I’m gonna accumulate more and more over the years, how sustainable is this is for me, and what do I want to do about it? Now, you can see this is all pointing back to really owning what you want. Really owning what you want, and liking your reasons why and I think that can be the hurdle is it’s hard to own what we want, when we feel like we need to own what others want as well. So there is going to be some work of acknowledging that and working out what you want to do with that information along the way. Alright, guys, it’s been a pleasure to share this q&a with you as always, I love doing them. I do them often in the Facebook group. If you’re not part of that, come on over and join us. Make sure to answer the entry questions and bring your questions there. I would love to hear from you here. I’ll simple on purpose is going for you there. I’ll talk to you later. Have a great week.


1 thought on “111. Decluttering decisions and guilt [Q+A]”

  1. Shawna, you have some great suggestions and insights into the feelings I struggle with. Is has been a year and a half since I was discovered to be a hoarder. I’d been a collector all my adult life, but at some point it turned excessive. I continue to change, but struggle with some the same things you talk about. Thank for your perspective.


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