Other peoples stuff.

I think it’s time to discuss this one important thing, before we all get too carried away.

Most of you likely live in a home that is also home to other people. Other adult people who have their own stuff and the right to keep or discard it at their discretion. Meaning…in no way do I recommend tossing out your spouses stuff. Period. You can encourage them to do so (encouraging and nagging are not the same thing, I have to remind myself of this often!), but you can’t make them.

However, I think there is a gray area here. Preschoolers. As in, people who are old enough to have an opinion (a very loud one), but not necessarily the decision making skills needed to discard excess stuff (Okay, maybe this age goes way beyond preschool).

Case in point…my four year old daughter.

My sweet girl forms an attachment to anything that is or what she thinks once was hers. I was recently going through an embarrassingly huge pile of baby girl stuff while she was home. Thinking it would be no big deal, because it was just storage stuff, I let her play along with me while I worked. What I didn’t realize was that seeing clothes that she wore and toys she used as a baby go away really didn’t sit well. I did my best to explain to her that there are other sweet baby girls out there who really needed her old stuff. I do think she understood, but there were still a few things she had a hard time saying bye too.

Sharing this process with my kids has been an incredible opportunity to teach them about what we need, don’t need, and how we can help others. (Even better if they get to see the people their stuff goes too!). The act of giving excess things away is a real-world memorable action that will stick with them longer than just talking to them about how “blessed” they are. I’m glad I get to share these moments and tough conversations with her while she is young and hope that she learns something from all of this.

But…at the end of the day, she is a human with choices.

Cue, the pumpkin bucket.


This is old, it’s broken, it was likely a free thing from McDonalds or something like that, but for some reason it is sooooooo important. I found it in a storage box and without hesitation tossed it in the junk pile.

One persons trash is obviously another persons treasure. So, despite my desire to get rid of EVERYTHING in this house we don’t need…I may have to flex a little on what I define as a need.

I need to flex a little here because the whole reason I’m doing this is to create some free space in my life to better enjoy the people in it…and I’m pretty sure creating division by throwing away their treasures is not going to help!

So, as I work to teach my kids about what they really need, how to manage their stuff and create order…I’ll also work to make sure they have healthy freedom of choice regarding the things they want to surround themselves with. Even if it’s an old, broken pumpkin bucket.

Any tips for encouraging kids to donate unused toys? That’s up next…

First things first…

I grew up in a big family.

I am the second born of six kids. When you grow up in a family this size, you don’t have much thats just yours. Everything is shared and handed down and shared again. I never particularly cared about toys, but one thing I did dream of having once I was old enough to make my own money was new clothes. Not hand-me-downs or thrift store stuff…new stuff that I chose. My love for clothes goes back as far as I can remember.

My love for clothes is why I started the process of decluttering with my wardrobe.

Piles of clothes

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the term “capsule wardrobe” right? It’s pretty hip right now. I can hardly scroll through Instagram without someone showing off a new, expensive purchase for their “hashtag capsule wardrobe” or seeing an ad from a clothing company suggesting items to add to your own capsule wardrobe. But incase you live under a social media rock, basically the idea is having a wardrobe comprised of few, high quality pieces that can be mixed and matched and used for a long time, saving you money and closet space. Phew…got it?

Good concept. I love the idea, but part of my goal here was to save money, not to immediately go out and spend on new, nice clothes when my closet doors were literally vomiting out junk from cheap clothing boutiques (and Target sale racks, oh how I love to hate thee). I needed to purge out the junk first to see if I really, truly needed anything to add to my already enormous wardrobe. (Though I really wanted the excuse to buy something expensive and tell myself “no worries, it’s for my #capsulewardrobe”).

So to the closet and dresser I went. The clothes had to meet at least one of the following criteria: I love it, wear it often, or feel great in it. If not toss it. (And by toss it I mean donate it. The people at Goodwill and I are now on a first-name basis). This included things I spent a lot of money on, cheap stuff, gifts (guilt), stuff from my old life (aka career wear, really and truly if I ever go back to a formal office…I’m not going to wear suits from 2011 no matter how frugal I’d like to think I am, ok?).

When I got though all of my clothes, I did it again and got rid of more. The whole process took about two hours, but when I was done, I was left with clothes hanging nicely on hangers that have space between them like a fancy store. Clothes that when I touch them I feel fabric that is soft and appealing to me, colors and prints that energize me and look good on me. No longer are there messy piles of sweatshirts from 2003 on the top shelf threatening to topple over. And you know what, I still remember playing tennis for NPHS in 2003 without the ratty sweatshirt reminding me that I did.

But you know what else I saw in my closet and dresser that I didn’t expect? Clothes I want to wear. Stuff to wear to church, to weddings, on date night, around the house, out with the girls, to the gym. I started to think about the countless hours of my life I’ve spent staring at my huge collection of perfectly acceptable clothes and exclaiming to my poor innocent husband “I have nothing to wear!” Then promptly scrolling through my favorite clothing stores online and ordering a few new things to add some momentary spark to my pile.

By keeping only the things I love, I wear only the things I love. I wash only the things I love, and fold only the things I love, and put away only the things I love. When they wear out, I’ll replace them with an even better version (now here is where I can really justify the nice stuff!). For those of you out there like me who feel like you’re drowning in piles of laundry, you get my excitement here.


This whole process took place about a month ago now and I can honestly say without hesitation that I don’t miss one thing I donated. I’ve gone through my clothes again and gotten rid of even more. Sure, there may be a time in the future where I wish I had something I tossed, but you know what? The lightness I’ve experienced in the actual physical weight of the stuff and the work related to maintaining those clothes is totally worth the risk. When in doubt. Toss it.


Why I started.



I’m a mom of two preschoolers. And while I realize that is not particularly unique nor does it mean I am an expert on home organization, it does mean I am perhaps…like you. Maybe you, like me often find yourself motivated to change only to end up frustrated, exhausted and sad.

Life with little kids has huge perks. Like snack time and naps, oh yeah, and the sweet love. But it also has its challenges. So many parents I have talked to laugh at the question: “What do you do for fun?” Because, isn’t something we like to do supposed to be something we do often? In this phase of life many of us find ourselves spending every second of our time focused on our kids and homes. So much that we’ve forgotten what it was that we did like to do, you know before kids.

Where is this elusive time for anything we enjoy? I know I didn’t see it. Anywhere. And if I made a well-intended goal to squeeze some “me” time in, something inevitably would come up and ruin it…and my attitude along with it. (Just tell me “you can’t pour from an empty cup” one.more.time. I dare you!).

Defeated time after time, I just gave up.

I’ll start on those projects, read that book, run that marathon, cook that meal, host that party…when the kids are older. Until then I’ll just sulk about the life I wish I had, but don’t. Even though other people seem to be able to do it, there just must be something wrong with me. I must be naturally lazy or disorganized or unmotivated. That’s it. I’ll get a book on motivation, that I won’t read, because I don’t have time. Meanwhile I’ll sit on my couch holding my fussy toddler, scrolling through Instagram while eating brownies and feel sorry for myself. 

No matter what, there are limitations to life with littles. Some dreams that will just have to wait a little while. But certainly not all of them. I wanted to enjoy my life with them, not in spite of them. I knew my thinking had to change first, then the behavior would follow.

So I made a list, (like all good SAHM’s do). I listed everything that frustrated me in my current situation.

It went something like this:

  • I’m tired at the end of the day, and feel like I have accomplished nothing.
  • By bedtime I’m so wired that I can’t relax.
  • I’ve tried for years to lose 25lbs and have never been able to lose more than 10.
  • I don’t have any time for myself (and if I did, I honestly wouldn’t know how to use it in a way that would really count – so I won’t even try to find it).
  • Despite my best efforts, my house is a cluttered mess most of the time.
  • I want to spend quality time with my kids, but I often find myself just scrolling through social media and brushing them off instead of giving them my undivided attention.
  • I want to have quality friendships, but feel like I am a bad friend because I go so long without talking to, let alone visiting, some of my dearest friends.
  • I would like to spend more time in prayer and reading my Bible, but can’t seem to stick to a regular quiet time.
  • The pile of books I’d like to read is depressing.
  • I feel like I haven’t learned, or accomplished anything that was intellectually or creatively challenging in ages and my brain is slowly dying (dramatic? maybe.)

You get the idea…any of that resonate?

But I didn’t want to stop there. Stopping there would just be whining, playing the martyr and that’s not who I want to be (because that’s who I’ve been). I could justify each and every one of those frustrations, and I’ll bet you can too, but that won’t change a thing. So, along with identifying my frustrations, I decided to identify some solutions to try. I figured if I was able to eliminate even one of those from my list…it would be worth it.

Welcome to my journey. This should be fun!