What you believe directly correlates with what you do. Sometimes our false beliefs hold us back from living the clutter-free life and being the person God created us to be.
Today we talk about a few of those misconceptions and how we can replace them with the truth.
Clutter Misconception #1
So-and-so gave it to me.
As a twenty-something, I visited my family in my home state. It took two days to drive with two little girls in the back seat. We had a wonderful visit, but as I was packing my car, an aunt insisted that I take two giant stuffed toys — a bunny and crow dressed as a scarecrow.
I said no. She ignored my request, instead buckling them into the seatbelts as if they were passengers. My twenty-something self simply shrugged and drove away. (My forty-something self would…respond differently.) I got quite a few second looks as I drove home two days through three states with a bunny and a crow riding shotgun.
A year later, after the girls were tired of keeping the oversized toys, we put them into our garage sale and sold them to good homes.
Again I made the trip back home to see family. When the topic of the bunny and crow came up with my aunt, I told her I’d sold them. She then had the audacity to scold me for getting rid of them.
And then…I died.
I didn’t die. I survived the awkwardness and (mostly) enjoyed my visit with family.
We’re afraid of other people’s reactions sometimes and that’s why we keep stuff we don’t love or use. But my experience with my aunt’s reaction only took a few minutes as opposed to looking at stuff we neither want nor need indefinitely.
Clutter Misconception #2
We might need it again someday.
I’ll never forget the day I pulled my beautiful rose-shaped candles out of storage. Instead of delicate pink petals and perfect, unburned wicks, I found a melted glob of cloying pink wax all over photo frames and other keepsakes. I’d never had a specific purpose for them, but I thought surely I’d use them someday.
This is the worst reason to keep an item you’re not using right now. If you don’t know for sure whether it will come in handy, wouldn’t it be best for your space (and the item) if it were being used by someone who does need it now?
To be clear, I’m not talking about a treasured, irreplaceable heirloom you have to put in storage because you don’t have room in your living space in this season of life. If you can say yes to “Do I love it?” then keep it. But if you don’t use it, love it, and wouldn’t buy it again, give someone else the pleasure of using it now.
Clutter Misconception #3
I spent money on it, so now I need to keep it even though I don’t use it.
We visited our friends in Oregon City, OR a couple of years ago. Their adult son, his wife, and four children were home on furlough from their mission in Indonesia. They gave us a special gift: nutmeg still in its shell, grown on the island where they were serving. (They looked almost like pecans.)
I kept them in a special bowl on my dresser, where they served as a pretty fall decoration. I came across the perfect kitchen tool one day in the store — a spice grater. How perfect! I would save it all for Christmas and then make my family wonderful holiday drinks with freshly grated nutmeg on top. It would make Christmas even more magical!
Well, Christmas came and went in a flurry of present buying and wrapping, post office trips, grocery store runs and aaaalllll the cooking. We had a great time but I never got around to making special hot drinks or grating my own nutmeg. The little grater sat in a drawer for months and my cat scattered the nutmeg seeds all over the house. (She thinks my dresser is her personal toy store.)
I knew where those paws had been, so there’s no way I was going to consume anything she’d batted around the floor. Every time I looked into the kitchen drawer, I saw the grater taking up space. You might say it grated on me, but that might be getting a little cheesy.
Still, I couldn’t get rid of it. I’d spent good money on it but never used it.
The next Christmas, my brother smoked some ribs for us all to have for Christmas dinner. In the process of making iced tea, I flooded my counter and all the water drained into that drawer. As I was emptying the drawer to dry everything out, my brother made fun of all my obscure kitchen tools, especially the grater, in the way only siblings can do. (Don’t you love siblings? They’re ruthless and some of your favorite people ever all rolled into one.)
That Christmas, I chose to put the grater (and some other tools) into the giveaway bin. Guess what? I haven’t felt guilty for spending money on it since then, because I don’t have anything around to remind me. By giving it to someone who would use it, I got out of the guilt cycle and blessed someone else. (Who knows? I may have enabled the next winner of Top Chef by providing the one tool needed to get to the next level!)
Before you get rid of the clutter, you have to get rid of the misconceptions that make you believe you need to keep it.
Kathi’s three questions help us base every decision on the truth:
Do I love it?
Do I use it?
Would I buy it again?
Speaking of misconceptions, clutter isn’t the only thing we get confused about. That’s why Amanda Haley wrote Mary Magdalene Never Wore Blue Eyeshadow — to help us sort out our misconceptions about the Bible.
Thanks to the generosity of Harvest House Publishers, we have a few of these to give away to our readers!
One Grand Prize Winner will receive one copy of the book, along with some lovely things to provide a cozy reading atmosphere. Curl up with some slippers, tea, a journal, and pens to enjoy this book and dig into truths from the Bible.
Leave a comment below to be entered to win.
What clutter misconceptions are holding you back from a clutter-free life?
I started off as a young bride with a complicated Christmas. Both my parents and my husband’s parents traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve. Every year schedules were difficult to juggle. As a young twenty-something, I didn’t have the wisdom to say, “Hey, we’re trading off every year…” and instead disappointed everyone, all the time.
After my divorce, and remarriage, let’s just say the complication leveled up, by like 100.
Now my kids were not only splitting their time between their grandparents, but their parents as well.
And now we were dealing with my new husband’s family and his traditions. Oh, and his ex-wife.
Throw in a new son-in-law, and his side of the family, and let’s just say, it’s still complicated.
And let me guess? Your family is not feeling the same stress that you are. Somehow, the entire Christmas burden has been dropped squarely at your feet.
Do you ever feel that way? You love the idea of Christmas, but thinking of actually doing all the things starts to give you hives? Does the thought of jam-packed malls, maxed-out credit cards, overcrowded supermarkets, and endless to-do lists give you the feeling that maybe Scrooge was on to something?
Ready or Not, Christmas Is Coming
Christmas — whether you really love it, secretly dread it, or fall somewhere in between — shows up the same time every year, as unavoidable as your aunt’s fruitcake.
And here’s the thing: I really wanted to love Christmas again. But I think that requires a new approach to the holiday.
Stop doing Christmas alone. When it comes to Christmas, it can feel like the loneliest time of the year. While the emphasis is on friends and family, often it can end up that you are putting on a show for everyone who gathers instead. But what if you spent the run-up to Christmas with others who are working toward not only a great gathering, but also a peaceful season?
Have a plan, and then have fun. Yes, if you are trying to pull off Christmas there are a lot of to-dos. But amidst all those plans, I want you to plan for a little something extra – fun. Put in your calendar some time with friends to either get things done or just watch a Christmas movie. Have a few things to look forward to before the big day so that not all your Christmas spirit is dependent on one day of the month.
Don’t push out the peace. You don’t have to do all the things – in fact, I don’t think you should. If you love Christmas cooking, but hate sending out Christmas cards, skip the cards and double down on making Christmas meals for everyone you love.
In my new book, The Christmas Project Planner, I’m going to provide you with easy-to-follow steps to reduce the stress of the holiday season, including tactics for how to
put together a holiday “command center” you’ll use year after year
determine a budget that won’t break the bank
gather your elf supplies
get your gift list together (including ideas for various ages and relationships)
collect your recipes and prep your kitchen
By putting into practice the tricks and tips that I’ve used over the years (and have learned from many of you!) you’ll finally be able to fully enjoy this most wonderful time of the year. Learn more about The Christmas Project Planner.
The early bird gets the worm, so they say. But who wants a worm, anyway? A slimy ground dweller is the last thing you want to deal with first thing, especially if the baby kept you up half the night and you have an important interview this afternoon.
You know what I want in the morning? Fifteen minutes of silence with a big, steamy mug of coffee. My favorite mug with the big-looped handle that fits just right in my hand, filled with just the right amount of cream and piping-hot coffee brewed from fresh-ground coffee beans. No interruptions, no messes, no requests. Just a few minutes of peace and quiet.
Yes, I’ve been that person who arrived late to work with spit-up on my blouse and a can of Coke instead of coffee because I didn’t have time to brew it or stop through the Starbucks drive-thru. On a regular basis.
I’ve been that mom chasing the school bus because we couldn’t find any matching shoes.
I’ve been that person caught in traffic, hungry for breakfast and late for an important meeting because I couldn’t get out the door on time.
But what if I told you that chaotic mornings could be the rare exception?
Last month, we talked about how important it is to have a morning routine. Today, I’m going to share with you another secret to having a good morning: planning and prepping the night before. Fifteen to thirty minutes in the evening of being kind to your tomorrow-morning self can save you a whole morning of chaos.
How are you doing with your morning routine habits?
I hope you’ve refined them and made them work for you. Now it’s time to write down your evening routine. It may take some tweaking, but in no time at all, you’ll be handling your mornings like a boss. (Or at least not crying over spilled coffee.)
Here are some items I suggest you include on your list:
If you’ve started the habit of starting a load of laundry every morning, you’ll want to pull the clothes out of the dryer and fold them in the evening so you can have empty machines in the morning. (And clean clothes to wear!)
Clothes for tomorrow
Speaking of having clothes to wear, think ahead about what you want to wear the next day and lay it out. If you exercise in the mornings, it’s a good idea to lay those out too. It’s a lot easier to get motivated to go to the gym if you know where your tennis shoes are.
Load the dishwasher and start it. That way, you’ll have lots of clean dishes for the morning. (And a dishwasher to unload, if you have that on your morning routine.)
While you’re cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, figure out what everyone is having for lunch the next day and pack it. Leftovers make great lunches! If your kids are old enough, supervise them packing their own lunches; they’re more likely to eat them if they have a vested interest. That way, all you have to do is grab them and go in the morning.
Whether you like to grab a cup of coffee and a granola bar or you’re a bacon and eggs kind of family, have a plan in mind and make sure you have the ingredients on hand. And for that fickle toddler who loved bananas yesterday but loathes them like creamed spinach today—maybe even have a backup plan.
Your one-stop drop
Locate everything you need to take in the morning—bags, backpacks, homework, car keys, sports equipment, piano books—whatever you want to walk out the door with, and stash it in one handy place near the door. There’s nothing worse than looking for that one item while everyone else is busy losing everything else and getting their clean clothes dirty. Save yourself some sanity and gather it all up the night before.
Time for you
An ideal evening routine entails more than just teeth brushing and face washing. Think of something restorative and add it to your evening routine. It can be anything from a facial or a bubble bath to finally having some time to sink into that novel you’ve been wanting to read.
Once you have your morning and evening routines perfected, a new planner is a great place to write them down. Ruth Chou Simons has created a beautiful planner for 2020. It’s called Gracelaced 2020 12-Month Planner, and we have a few of these to give away to our readers!
One Grand Prize Winner will receive three books by talented author and artist Ruth Chou Simons.
If you need to declutter your to-do list, you are in good company! In this week’s podcast, Kathi continues her conversation with Tonya Kubo, grand poohbah of all things Clutter Free Academy online, about how to declutter your to-do list.
In Part One of this episode, Kathi and Tonya shared their own proven tips for managing an overwhelming to-do list and resetting when things feel out-of-hand. Today, they discuss how to use your calendar instead of a to-do list to bring wisdom and peace into your days.
Psalm 90:12 (KJV) says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” This powerful shift helps us to follow those words. You’ll discover how using a calendar to declutter your to-do list:
Helps you prioritize
Teaches you to guard your time
Can bring peace to others around you
Allows for relaxation in the midst of busy seasons
This week, Kathi is joined by Tonya Kubo, fearless leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, to discuss strategies for dealing with an overwhelming to-do list. They share their own proven tips for making an overwhelming to-do list manageable and resetting when things feel out-of-hand.
In this episode, you’ll learn how to declutter an overwhelming to-do list through:
Developing realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in the time you have
Prioritizing the most important tasks
Breaking larger items down into doable steps
Make sure you listen in next week to hear Part Two of “Declutter Your To-Do List”, where Kathi shares how to use your calendar as your to-do list and find some sanity in your schedule. Better yet, subscribe below and have each Clutter Free Academy episode delivered to you!
Check out Kathi’s book with Cheri Gregory, Overwhelmed, to learn more about how to quiet the chaos and restore your sanity.
To stay connected with others like Kathi and Tonya do, check out the Voxer app.
Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.
Meet Our Guest
Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter-Free Academy Facebook group. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com and www.GreatMoms.org
There are school papers and toys and permission slips and awards and backpacks and treasures and art projects and…the list goes on and on.
Having to manage their stuff while they’re living under your roof is to be expected, but what about when they’re NOT living under your roof anymore? You now have an empty nest and a full house. What do you do with your adult child’s stuff that they haven’t taken with them?
We have five young adult children. Three are married, but they all live out on their own. At one point our nest was empty, but our attic was not! It was full of our adult kids’ memorabilia, awards, sports equipment, and even some furniture.
As you walk towards the clutter-free life, what do you do about the stuff that belongs to your adult kids? Here are nine strategies we’ve found helpful:
Identify their status: are they in transition or settled in?
When you have an adult child that’s in transition, you might choose to give a little grace until they are in a more settled place. Our second oldest daughter’s husband was in the Army for four years. She moved home twice during each of his year-long deployments, so we gave some grace on keeping some of their items in our home until he left the Army and settled down. One of our sons is currently living abroad. He has two small pieces of furniture he couldn’t take with him but he didn’t want to get rid of that he asked us to keep in the attic. We were okay saying yes to that.
Give a warning.
You’ve likely been thinking about this for a while, but your kids probably have not—out of sight, out of mind—right? Every child is different, but especially if you have a “saver,” it’s important to give them a heads up that you’re going to need them to deal with their stuff in the near future.
Set a realistic deadline.
Let them know that you’re renovating the bedroom/cleaning out the attic or garage/having a yard sale on a certain date. Ask them to come get what they want to keep or sell themselves by that date. Let them know that anything that’s theirs in your house after that date will be sold, donated, or disposed of on that date. (And you’ll be keeping the proceeds from any sales!) Then do exactly what you communicated you would do.
Be prepared for your own emotional responses.
It may be hard for you, but you have to keep your eye on the target—to live light, free, and not weighed down with stuff. Getting rid of things doesn’t get rid of the memories. You always have those with you, and you don’t need their things to remember.
Adjust your expectations.
The items you thought were important to save may not be important at all to your child. That has to be okay. You have to allow your child to have differing priorities than you do. They have to have the freedom to assign a different meaning to stuff than you do. Resist the urge to try to convince your child of why something should be important to them. He or she is different than you and that has to be okay.
Understand today’s young adults.
In general, millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and GenZ (born 1997 to today) are disposable generations. They are a generation or two away from a direct influence of the Great Depression where you learned to save everything and use it in some way. Many of today’s young adults are minimalists and not very attached to their stuff. One of our daughters and her husband have sold everything and traveled full time not once, but twice! They are not attached to things at all. While I treasure some of my great-grandmother’s antiques in my own home, I may be the last generation in our family to do so, and that’s got to be okay. We have to resist the urge to pressure our kids to value something because we value it.
Use your phone.
As you are decluttering, take photos of questionable items and text them to your kids for quick decisions. Accept their answers. Remember, however, there may be special items (NOT EVERYTHING!) none of the kids want (such as their Dad’s train set) that you might choose to keep because your adult kids may not be at the age or stage of life where they might use or appreciate them. You could wait on those few things until they are further down the road of life with children of their own.
Have a plan for sentimental baby items.
Maybe you brought each of your children home in the same outfit and you’re not sure what to do with something like that. Could you frame it and put it in a wall photo collage with each child’s baby pictures? Things in boxes aren’t enjoyed. Is there a way you can enjoy the things that mean the most to you?
Think about future generations.
We’ve gotten rid of many toys over the years, but I kept my kids’ Rescue Heroes, Little People, and Legos as well as some books and other small toys they all enjoyed. Now our grandchildren are enjoying those classic toys when they visit, and they are vastly different than the toys they have at home.
One of the best parts of the empty nest is being able to reclaim the use of your house in a way that fits your passions and interests. With a little bit of communication and effort, you can make sure you’re not tripping over the past on your way to the future you’re creating.
Jill Savage is the author of fourteen books including her newest book Empty Nest Full Life: God’s Best For Your Next. You can find out more information about Jill and her resources for empty nest or close-to-empty-nest moms at www.EmptyNestBook.com.