What Are the Hidden Reasons for Clutter?

What Are the Hidden Reasons for Clutter?

For some people, a three-step plan for a decluttering system results in a neat and cozy home within a few months. For others, decluttering is an arduous journey. It’s not because of busyness or not having a system in place. Behind stacks of clutter, hidden spiritual and emotional issues lurk. If we’re honest, we admit that sometimes it’s just easier to keep those issues hidden in the piles of clutter.

Here are some hidden reasons for clutter:

  • Low self-worth
  • Pleasing other people
  • Clinging to the past/reliving our mistakes
  • Poverty mindset—fearing the lack
  • Depression/anxiety clutter cycle—If we’re constantly in the emotional part of our brain, we can’t use the logic part (where we make decisions).

Some of these reasons are chronic, while others are situational. In 2014, my eyes were opened to a long-time clutter problem in my own house.

A few months after my dad passed away, my siblings and I traveled from three different states to his house. It took us four days to clean it out, working from early morning until late evening, when we were too tired to move.

I lost track of how many giant, industrial garbage dumpsters we filled. Time and again, a driver would load it onto his truck, empty it at the dump, and bring it back again.

Anything you could think of, we threw away. (We gave a lot away too. A charity came and took what was useable to help needy families.) Stacks of old magazines, mattresses, bank papers from before I was born, and an entire drawer full of keys to who-knows-what. Sixty-seven years’ worth of stuff, and I don’t think Dad ever tossed anything besides old food.

For me, it was like looking into my future.

When I arrived home, I saw everything I had piled around my house. Even some stuff I didn’t want but kept anyway, for fear of offending the relative who gave it to me. If I didn’t do something now, I realized, my kids were going to be saddled with loads of useless stuff to deal with upon my death.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever learned a practical system for being clutter free. One of the books in my many stacks was Kathi’s The Get Yourself Organized Project. I’d read it and even written a review for a newspaper article.

So how did I get from cluttery mess to (mostly) decluttered and organized home business owner?


Here I share five crucial elements on my clutter-free journey.


1)      Awareness.

Here’s the main difference between then and now: Today I really can’t stand clutter and work the systems from Clutter Free daily to keep it out of my house. Before, I didn’t notice it or care that my house was cluttered. I lost time, money and sanity because of my clutter, but I tolerated it because it just seemed normal to me. I didn’t consider there might be a better way to live. This is the simplest—and also hardest—of the steps.

2)      A new safe space.

Since clutter is often accompanied by feelings of low self-worth, we must redefine what feels safe to us. It’s a big mind shift to feel worthy of the time it takes to improve our living spaces. Making change is hard; it’s easier to just stick with what we know. Gradually, I accepted that my new way of living was the actual safe space, and not the unhealthy condition of an overly cluttered house. Instead of making ourselves feel better by buying more things, we can enjoy the calm, peaceful feeling of an uncluttered home.

3)      Treat yourself like the treasure you are.

Once I became aware of my clutter problem, I worked to keep my thoughts about it positive. I changed “I’m such a slob!” to “I’m working through Kathi’s steps to get clutter free; I didn’t get here overnight, and I won’t be rid of it all overnight, either.” If we’re constantly berating ourselves, we’ll stay stuck in our low self-worth mindset. Kathi’s mantra of decluttering being a lifestyle and not a “one and done” became my mainstay. The more kind and gentle you can be with yourself, the more progress you’ll make.

4)      Deal with specific issues you’re hiding.

Among my stacks of books, I had one titled Not Marked that deals with childhood sexual abuse. I had purchased it with several other titles and dumped them into my other piles of books. At that point, I hadn’t told anyone I was suffering from PTSD flashbacks to childhood trauma. Not even my husband knew about the abuse or that I was trying to cope with overwhelming memories. Other places to hide our issues might be ridiculously messy pantries to hide eating too much junk food or crammed-full closets to hide a clothes shopping addiction. It starts with telling one friend you can trust (or a therapist) and getting to the source of whatever’s eating you.

5)      Celebrate your wins by enjoying that decluttered room again.

Once I got all the piles of books out of my living room, we bought some pretty pictures and couch pillows to make it cozy. Since it looks so nice, I’m really hesitant to leave anything that doesn’t belong out in the living room. One by one, as you conquer the specific areas of your home, decorate and personalize them so that they feel complete.

Whether your hidden reasons for clutter are chronic or situational, there is hope. Establishing a system for decluttering and recognizing the hidden reasons behind the clutter is the first step. Remember, give yourself grace for whatever you’re struggling with; even if it takes longer than you hoped, you’ll get to the place where you can live peacefully in your space again.

Enter to win!

Want a chance to win a copy of Lyneta’s memoir, Curtain Call? Comment below and two random winners will be mailed a copy by March 13th. (Winners outside the U.S. will receive a digital copy.)

Parenting: Don’t Try To Do the Most Important Job Alone

Parenting: Don’t Try To Do the Most Important Job Alone


A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

When it comes to moms and clutter, I feel like there are two kinds of women:

  1. Those who used to have beautiful, presentable, comfortable homes before kids.
  2. Those who have always struggled with clutter, but abandoned all hope of being clutter free once kids came along.

I see a couple parallels between learning to be clutter free and raising kids.

1. Both becoming clutter free and raising kids look simple for other people, and feel impossible for us.

Before working the Clutter Free system, I couldn’t figure out how everyone else kept their house so perfect. I now know that a lot of those people, because they are a part of Clutter Free Academy, had closet clutter. While their houses looked perfect, you wouldn’t dare open a closet door.  I had bought all the books and tried to enact a plan, but none of those resources seemed to cover my issues.

It was the same with raising small kids; it seemed like everyone else had the secret manual on how to grow little ones. They had a plan, and apparently I was out of school the day that plan was handed out. Even though I’d read all the books and taken all the classes, it felt like every situation that came up with my kids hadn’t been covered in the books.

2. Both becoming clutter free and raising kids can feel isolating and lonely.

One of the main reasons we created the Clutter Free Academy online community is because clutter can be incredibly isolating. The fear, guilt and shame that go with clutter can keep us secretive and alone.

It is the same with being a parent. When we feel that everyone “gets it” except us, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and “otherness.” I’m so grateful there were groups like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers International) when my kids were little. I needed to sit with other moms who were honest about their struggles — not every day with their kids looked like tidy finger painting and super-fun playdates where lattes and laughter were served.

I think one of the best things we can do in every tough journey—including decluttering and mothering— is normalizing those feelings of just not measuring up. When we read the books, gather with others, and are open and honest about our own experiences, it’s amazing how we can lessen the feelings of fear, guilt and shame that so often accompany hard things.

One of the resources I will be giving the moms in my life is Grit and Grace: Devotions for Warrior Moms. I love that the two authors, Suzanne and Gretta, are as real about the challenges and self-doubt around mothering as they are about the fact that they feel like they may never recover from bringing children into their homes.

Don’t do any of this alone. The mothering, the decluttering or anything else you feel like you just have to “grit” through. Because while you may need to grit those teeth, you don’t have to do it alone.

Hang in There, Mama!

For those moments when you think you’ll never live up to the Supermoms around you—when you’re elbow deep in the grind of diapers and laundry and peanut butter sandwiches—you need a good dose of Grit and Grace.

This refreshing collection of 90 daily devotions comes from two moms who’ve found themselves face-to-the-floor in need of encouragement—and now they’re offering it to you. Through humor and vulnerability, these short messages of truth remove the filters of perfection clouding your vision and bring clarity to your purpose as a mom. As you read the Scripture and prayer that accompany each day’s message, you’ll discover more fully who you are in Christ and how to raise your children to reflect His love to the world.

In receiving grace from the One who is present in your life right now and in every moment, you will find you have ever more grace to give your kids.


Stop by www.suzannegosselin.com to get to know Suzanne, author and stay-at-home mom.


Enter to WIN! We are giving away a Grand Prize one lucky winner PLUS, Harvest House gave us 5 additional copies of Grit and Grace to give away to five more lucky winners! Our Grand Prize winner will get:
• A copy of Grit and Grace, of course!
• A $50 Starbucks card to take you and your mom friends out for coffee on us!!!

Enter to win by leaving a comment about your biggest kid related clutter issue below in the comments section. (We’ll randomly select 6 winners and notify them in the comments section by February 27th.)


Today, look at the woman in your mirror and tell her, “God knew what He was doing when He picked you to be your kids’ mom.” Pray for God to guide you to reach out to a mom who needs to hear this same message: give her a call, drop her an email, or send her a quick text.

Kathi Lipp and Clutter Free thank Harvest House for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

How to Declutter Your Home Fast: 3 Clarifying Questions You Must Ask

How to Declutter Your Home Fast: 3 Clarifying Questions You Must Ask

Standing in front of my closet that is packed like one of those Pillsbury biscuit cans (careful…careful…), yet magically contains nothing to wear, I think to myself, “This is it! I’m going to totally become a minimalist, have a capsule wardrobe and never be stuck in this kind of indecision again.”

You want to know how to declutter your home fast. I get it. So do I. So I start to dig in and declutter. I ready myself with donation bags and an attitude that says, “Get out of my way. I’m DECLUTTERING!” And away I go.

The first shirt is easy. It’s my camo shirt and I wear it anytime it’s clean. (For me, camo is the new floral.) No brainer. It stays.

The next shirt – well, that one’s easy – for all the wrong reasons. It was a promo t-shirt an acquaintance sent me for her book launch. (I’ve noticed one thing about giveaway t-shirts: people order Smalls through Extra Large to send out. If you are bigger than an XL, well, you get an XL—and you’re gonna like it. Friend, next time, save the postage.) Out it goes. This decluttering stuff is so easy!

And then, sometimes the decluttering is not so easy…

Shirt number three. It’s my olive-colored tissue tee I bought at Target. I love the shirt, except it hits me in a funny place, making me wonder if my reflection in the mirror is fourteen months pregnant. I can only wear the shirt with a cardigan or a zip-up sweatshirt. I do have another olive shirt that I like better, but this is a perfectly good shirt. And what if something happened to my favorite olive shirt? I would need a backup. I put it in the maybe pile.

Shirt number four. It’s cute, but I don’t have the right pants for it. But I will find them. Someday. Maybe pile.

And in the next 40 minutes, I’ve got seven shirts in the keep pile, two in the giveaway pile, 24 items in the maybe pile and the rest are still hanging in the closet because it’s all just too much.

You want to know how to declutter your home fast, but the problem…

Because you see, the biggest problem with your stuff isn’t space, or time or money. It’s decision fatigue.

I know you want to declutter your home fast, but I also know that you get to a point in decluttering when you are so tired of making decisions that you just…can’t…do…it… anymore…and it’s too hard.

It helps to remember that we are not supposed to own things for the rest of our lives. Yes, it’s great when we have that throw pillow we use and love for 15 years or that pair of PJs you wear every week for a decade.

But for many of us, we love to change things up, and when we do, it’s important to make way for the new by handing down the old.

Because here’s the thing friend: You don’t get any gold stars for having the most clothes.

And this isn’t just a problem for people with a lot of extra money. I remember when I was unemployed and under-employed as a single mom. I still had friends who would give me their hand-me-downs and instead of buying clothes I loved, I would buy clothes I could afford at cheap discount stores.

As a result,  when I look back at my past attempts at decluttering, I’ve finally come to this conclusion: Clutter is indecision.

So how do we get over the obstacle of holding onto things that are crowding our lives? How do we regain the power to make decisions?

Give yourself these 3 Clear Questions if you want to know how to declutter your home fast:

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Do I use it?
  3. Would I buy it again?


If you answer No to two of those questions, I’m guessing that item is truly clutter and it’s time to get rid of it.

Shirt #3 The Olive Shirt

  1. Do I love it? No. I don’t want to look pregnant.
  2. Do I use it? Occasionally, when I’m desperate.
  3. Would I buy it again? No, it doesn’t look good on me.

It’s clutter. Time to go.

Shirt #4 The Shirt I like but it doesn’t go with anything

  1. Do I love it? Yes.
  2. Do I use it? No.
  3. Would I buy it again? No.

It’s clutter. Time to go.

For me, the closet is the hardest place to make these decisions. If I can do it there, I can do it anywhere.

So, how do you make the 3 questions work for you when you want to figure out how to declutter your home fast?

  1. Write them down on a Post-it note. Having the 3 questions in front of you while you’re decluttering will help you stay focused.
  2. Give yourself a goal. Recently, I was going through my jewelry. I hadn’t gone through it in years and there were a lot of things I no longer wear. I gave myself the goal of getting rid of 30 pieces of jewelry.  Because I had a goal, I got rid of some pieces that I might have been tempted to hold onto, “just in case.” But the best part of getting rid of the 42 (yes, 42 pieces!) was that I actually rediscovered some pieces I really love and have started wearing again. So not only do I love them (question #1), now I use them (question #2).
  3. Think about the next owner. I think about when I was broke and shopping thrift stores. When I found a shirt I loved that actually fit, I was so grateful to find something in my budget I could wear or that my kids wouldn’t be embarrassed wearing to school. If you are having a hard time parting with something you like but don’t use, picture the person who will be wearing it in three weeks—how that jacket you never wear is now one of their favorite pieces of clothing. Or how that blazer made it so they could walk into a job interview with confidence.

I Promise – You Can Learn How to Declutter Your Home Fast

The next time you are ready to declutter, arm yourself with the 3 questions, a couple of plastic bags, and a prayer of determination.

You can declutter. You can make decisions. You can love your stuff again.

Spring Fling #10: Garage Cleaning

Spring Fling #10: Garage Cleaning


Day 10 and it’s time to get out of the house … and get your garage cleaning underway.

For years, my garage has been the dumping ground for everything. My business, my kids’ stuff, tools, craft projects, out of season clothes, out of season decorations, mid-project projects, suitcases, gardening supplies, games, puzzles, and the bike that never, ever gets ridden.

Garage Cleaning  – The Never Ending Journey

I’ll be honest with you: my garage is still a huge work in progress. The good news? There IS progress. When I went to go work on my 20 items today, I knew the corner I had to tackle: the “Camping Corner.”


Roger and I love to go day camping, so we keep a lot of supplies. But this corner has been overrun by one too many “dump and runs.” There were out of season clothes, decorations (apparently, I’m obsessed with giant fall pumpkins), wrapping paper, books, and the results of too many Costco runs. We’re good on toilet paper for the rest of our lives.

So, I gave myself an afternoon to go through the corner, get my 20 items, and make sense of all of the stuff.

I was done in 30 minutes.

Why did it take so little time? Because after all my flings in the past, there really wasn’t that much to declutter—it just needed to be put away properly.

I know that as a clutterer, I tend to be overwhelmed by projects and think they’re going to take more time than they actually do. Starting off with only 15 minutes is going to help you break things down and get them into doable chunks. You can do this!

Garage Cleaning Instructions

– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Pick one area to work on. One shelf. One corner. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start sorting and revel in the space that you are reclaiming!
– Set a timer and go for it. 15 minutes usually can do it, but if you need to put another 15 minutes on the timer, go for it.

Garage Cleaning Bonus

Some bonus things you can do in the basement or garage:

  1. Label storage areas. Make a big sign so everyone in the family knows where things go.
  2. Boy, can my garage get dusty. If there are items you care about, dust them or store them in a storage box.
  3. Speaking of storage boxes, can you get rid of a few now that you’ve flung so much stuff?


Garage Cleaning Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.

Spring Fling Day #9: Tackle the Extra Room That’s Driving You Crazy

Spring Fling Day #9: Tackle the Extra Room That’s Driving You Crazy

extra room

Day 9 and it’s time to earn some bonus points … by dealing with that extra room.

Got a kids’ room, linen closet, or a space under the stairs filled with clutter? If so, today is the day to tackle the room that’s making you crazy and get 20 things out of there, stat!

It Gets Better in the Extra Room

Oh, this can be so overwhelming. Even those tiny spaces, like the coat closet, can have you slamming the door and praying all the things will magically go away.

And if you are decluttering a child’s room? Well, may God have mercy on your soul.

But I promise you, peace is possible, and the only way you are going to get there is by digging in.


– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Pick one area to work on. One shelf. One corner. Don’t get overwhelmed.
– Start sorting and revel in the space you’re reclaiming!

Set a timer and go for it. 10 minutes usually can do it, but if you need to put another 10 minutes on the timer to fling your 20 things, by all means.


Some bonus things you can do in that extra space:

  1. Label storage areas. Make it look like the aisles of Target where everyone knows where everything goes.
  2. Do an inventory. Do you need new Band-Aids in the linen closet? Or vacuum cleaner bags? A fresh supply of allergy meds in the medicine cabinet? Make a list so you can get it next time you’re at the store.
  3. Would bins be helpful in this space? The Dollar Store has some great bins and baskets for only $1, but make sure they work for your space. (Otherwise, those too become clutter.)

extra room

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.