One of the main reasons people don’t declutter their home is guilt.
I believe guilt is something everyone goes through when they declutter. And not just with sentimental items.
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In this article, you will learn some reasons you may be feeling guilty when you declutter, and how to overcome them.
So let’s get started. You can use the table of contents to jump to a topic you want to know more about, or you can just keep scrolling and read until you reach the end.
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How To Declutter Without Guilt
Why You Should NOT Feel Guilty
Decluttering without guilt is best achieved when you understand what you are going to get out of decluttering your home.
1// More money in your pocket
You are not buying two of things because you know what you have and you can find it easily.
2// More time doing things you like
You will spend less time looking for things in your home and more time doing what you want to do.
3// Less things to trip over
You will no longer have fear of injury from walking around your house. Whether it is safer for you or your kids, having less “tripping hazards” is a good thing.
4// Feeling of Release
You will let go of the weight that the clutter in your home brings…things like guilt over the mess in your home.
5// Less Stress
So much stress is related to seeing a mess every single day in your home. Removing clutter without guilt will allow your home to become your sanctuary.
6// Give you the space to store things
You will be able to store the things that you actually use, and the things that matter to you.
7// Cleaner Home
Not just because you have figured out how to declutter without guilt, but because without the clutter, you can clean your floors and counter tops.
8// The space to move freely in your home
Dance with your kids or set up an obstacle course in the living room when you are not tripping over the clutter
Reasons You May Feel Decluttering Guilt And How To Overcome It
I am going to keep this as short and sweet as I can, but believe it or not, there are a lot of different reasons that you may be feeling guilt when decluttering.
Here are the top 9 reasons you may be feeling guilty:
#1 You Spent The Money
Money is one of the hardest things in our lives to earn and also to part with. So knowing that you spent your hard earned money on something that you are now thinking about getting rid of, is hard.
But believing that when you get rid of something, it is not just going to the trash, but to someone who can use it and love it can help you declutter without guilt.
There are so many people in need. Know that the hard earned money you spent on that item is getting a new life with someone who truly needs it more than you.
If you decide not to donate, you can possibly sell it on ebay or at a consignment shop and get some of your money back.
#2 The Item Means Something To You
Sentimental items are one of the hardest items to declutter without guilt.
Maybe you have an old teapot from your grandmother or a locket from an ex-boyfriend. Whether or not you know it, you are connecting those items to the people in your past, when in reality, you don’t actually need the item, just the memory of it.
Did you know that memories are inside you, not inside an object? Well, it is true.
I have a few items of my grandmothers that I was holding onto over the years. One day I looked at this old Santa Claus I was putting out and thought…you know, I don’t even remember this Santa being at my grandma’s house.
I would always think about my grandma when I looked at it, but in reality, the memories I had that were the actual great ones, had nothing to do with that Santa. So I took a picture of it and got rid of it. I still love my grandma and all the memories we had together, but I don’t need that Santa figure to help me remember it.
Ways To Declutter Without Guilt For Sentimental Items:
- Do you need that item to remember what you want to remember? Or can you take a picture of it to get the same feeling when you look at it?
- If you decide to take pictures of your sentimental items, keep them all together in a photobook (I love this photobook the best) or scrapbook and store them somewhere that you can look at them regularly.
- If you decide to keep some items, keep only the most important items. Then store them where you can see them everyday, or place them all in a keepsake box together and mark it “sentimental”.
#3 You Are Worried About What Others Think
You may actually not be worried as much about the decluttering itself, but how others perceive you because you are decluttering. Will others think you are wasteful? Maybe they think you should be selling it all instead of trashing it. Or possibly others think you should keep everything.
Here is the kicker…you absolutely cannot worry about what others are thinking. They do what is right for them, and you do what is right for you.
If decluttering is what you want, then use these tips to learn how to declutter without guilt and get on with your life.
Related Post: How To Declutter Shoes When You Are Hesitant To Start
#4 Maybe You Should Not Have Bought It In The First Place – a.k.a – Buyer’s Remorse
Have you ever spent the money on an item, and then gotten it home and realized you probably didn’t really need it?
I do that all the time. And so does everyone else. This is not uncommon, so do not beat yourself up over it.
Maybe you spent the money on an item and then you never used that item. Or possibly, you had so much clutter, that you realize you have more than one of something and feel guilty about buying extras.
Let me tell you what decluttering can do for you… it removes all the extras so you know exactly what you need in your house and where to find it.
So you will not buy things you do not need.
So you do not have to feel guilty about decluttering. Because decluttering is a means to save you money in the end.
And if you donate those extra items you have to people in need, I see that as a win!
#5 You Could Be Spending Time With Family
Are you possibly not guilty at all about getting rid of your things, but instead feeling guilty about not spending time with your family?
Aww yes, mom guilt is a hard thing to deal with. Whenever we have time to ourselves and want to get something done, we immediately feel guilty for not spending that time with our family.
And I am not going to lie to you, decluttering takes time.
But guess what, being a mom comes with more jobs than JUST being a mom. I am sure you already know this, but you have tons of other jobs. And one of them, is to keep the clutter to a minimum in your home.
You should never feel guilty about doing your job. I give you permission to take the time to get the job done. Even if that means turning on the TV for the kids for 15 minutes a day so you can work.
And in the end, decluttering gives you so much in return!
Read my related post, The Cost Of Clutter And Disorganization
#6 Feel guilt for having so much stuff
Yes, this is a real thing. So many people just feel plain guilty about having too much stuff. But the fact that you are here, reading this post, tells me you are ready to get rid of it.
Which means you are taking the first step to taking your life back from the clutter.
I feel like this means you are conquering your guilt, so GREAT JOB!
#7 Guilt Over Getting Rid Of Your Kid’s Things
Getting rid of your kids things is incredibly difficult. Why? Well, let’s see…you spent money on it, they cry when you tell them you are getting rid of it, and you have memories from it.
Wow~ this one is going to be tough to figure out how to declutter without guilt. You literally have 3 things up against you making you feel this guilt.
But I promise you, it is not as bad as it seems.
Every child outgrows things. Outfits, toys, books. And every child will eventually need new things in order to keep up with their growth whether mentally or physically.
So first off, know that you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT hold on to EVERYTHING of your child’s!…you just don’t have the space.
But also know that you ABSOLUTELY CAN hold on to SOME of your child’s things!
I love ARTKIVE to help me hold on to some of my children’s favorite things, without cluttering up my home. You can learn more about ARTKIVE here.
So here are a few quick tips to deal with getting rid of your child’s things.
- If they are clothes, and your child does not want to get rid of it, then the next time you wash it, do not put it back in their drawer. Have a spot where they cannot find it, wait until they forget about it, and then remove it from the house.
- If it is clothing you do not want to get rid of, you have two options. 1) Take a picture of your child wearing the clothes and then create a photobook. 2) Keep that outfit…but you should only keep the very most important outfits that trigger strong vivid memories for you.
- If it is a toy or book, I like to put it out of sight for about a month. If my child does not ask for it, then I move it to the basement. It usually stays there for about 6 months to a year before I get rid of it. But if it is not asked for, then I remove it from my house without my child knowing.
#8 Future use?
Keeping things for future use was a huge deal a long time ago…like during the depression. My grandparents did it. I remember finding 15 broken toilet seats in their basement when we helped them move. Why? “Because they may need them one day”.
But most people in modern times don’t worry about keeping things for the future because they know they can get another one if they need to.
Rule of thumb, if you have not used it in the last two years, get rid of it. You do not use it enough to have it taking up space in your home.
And if it is something large and expensive, like a rototiller for your “may have one day garden” or a steam cleaner for your carpet that never gets used, consider renting instead of buying in the future.
#9 It Was A Gift
There are so many gifts in my house. And here is the thing. Some of them are fine…I like them, use them, and am happy with them.
But then there are other gifts too. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones your mother in law gave you. Or a cousin, or aunt, or somebody that just doesn’t know you at all. Their taste is completely different from yours.
But you know they meant well, which is why you feel guilty about getting rid of it!
The thing is, you never use the things they buy you. You have an entire section in your basement filled with their gifts.
You are actually keeping them not out of guilt, but out out of fear of future guilt.
You know you probably don’t care if you throw them out or give them away. But you are fearful that one day will come that they will ask you where that one gift they gave you is.
And that is when the guilt will come.
But let me ask you a few questions. Did you ask for that gift? Did they ask you what you want or need? How about what you like? Do you have the space in your home to keep things you don’t like or use? If not, there is no reason to feel guilty about giving those gift items away.
There is no reason why you should be expected to store things in your home that others gift you if they are not useful for you.
You know it was kindness on their part, and you are grateful for that kindness, but if they really cared, they would ask you what you want.
So here is my tough love for the day…just toss it, donate it, or sell it and get something you actually need.
Here are some things I use to help me declutter:
- Display Shelves For The Few Things I Keep
- Donate to donation centers
- Hand – me – downs to family members
- Re-purpose items that were expensive
- Sorting Baskets to help me sort everyday instead of all at once
- Sturdy Garbage Bags for everything I move out of my house (garbage and donations)
In the end, nobody can truly declutter without regrets of some sort. I have time and again gotten rid of clothing that comes back into fashion.
And I think,…if only I hadn’t thrown that out!
But when I really think about it, even though the style was close, it wasn’t really the style that came back in. Plus, it never would have fit me.
The truth is, we all have to declutter at some point in our lives or we will become pack-rats and hoarders. So hopefully these tips are going to help you to know exactly how to declutter without guilt.
Good luck! And Happy Decluttering!
As a stay at home mom myself, I have found ways to keep myself sane and organized while loving what I do …be home with my kids! After 14 years of being home, I realized other moms may benefit from some of the tips and tricks I have learned over the years. Join me to learn ways to manage your home and life as a stay at home mom so you can make time to enjoy the best part…family. Things I love…feeling motivated, Harry Potter, being outside, and digging deeper into my life and my family’s life in order to make it better. I have a Degree in Biology and am also a freelance writer.