Help I'm drowning in other peoples junk.
How to declutter other peoples stuff.
You don’t. That’s my general rule. But there are some caveats to this rule. I have listed some of them below.
When they are small children. Children are generally attracted to the nice shiny object for a short time, then the next shiny object comes along. But they don’t pick up the last shiny object and deal with it. That’s when it's up to the adult to make the decision. Some kids are incredibly sentimental, some kids couldn’t care less, but you as the parent need to help them make decisions on what to keep and what to let go of, and sometimes you have to make the decision all on your own. Remember it's not cruel to get rid of excess, it's actually teaching them how to live with less, how to enjoy what they have, and how to live with intention and respect of others around them.
Items that belong to people who no longer live in the home. Roommate moved out, ex left their stuff in the drawers, friends left their stuff after a visit last year? This is all fair game, IF you have reached out to them, let them know it's at your home and it's in the way. Don’t be shy thought, tell them exactly what you're trying to say. Send them a message, or give them a call, and say “Hey, I’m doing a huge clean out of my house and came a cross XYZ that belongs to you, I’m doing two big loads to the tip and donation centre NEXT WEEK. Do you want these things back or are your happy for me to move them on?” If they want to keep them, ask them to arrange pick up, or postage details. If you’re not in contact with your ex- get ahold of someone that is a middle man and ask them to contact them. It depends on your space and how much of it you're willing to give up for this person, as to how strict you are with it. As long as you have informed them of your intentions, and you know they have received the message I think it's ok to move it on.
When it's you who continually is the one cleaning up around it, picking it up or in general dealing with it. This does not mean you have the right to toss everything without consultation, but it definitely gives you the right to some decision making power with the owner about what is going to happen to it. But before you start trying to make decisions about someone else’s stuff make sure you have decluttered every last thing of yours that you can. You will have more power if you can say, come on, I have decluttered to the best of my ability to make life easier for myself and our family, but this one item is killing me can we do something about it?
When the item has been given as a “gift”. You know the ones I’m talking bout the “gifts” with clauses attached to them. Crystal bowls, art, vases, clothing, anything really. We all have them in our homes, we all hold on to them because we feel we can’t let go of them, because we know deep down that even though they were given to us, the gift giver still feels attachment to them. These are probably the hardest to get rid of, because as humans we tend to make decisions that avoid hurting peoples feelings. However, stick to your goals, your WHYS, and let then know what’s going on. Most times people won’t care, that’s why they gifted it to you in the first place, sometimes they will care. But it's your home, if they are truly so attached to it, they can have it back. I’m pretty sure their hurt feelings will dissipate over time!
Family heirlooms. These items hold great amounts of guilt. Let me just say, if you get rid of the item it will not diminish your family history, it will not remove the previous owner from existence! The best way to go about this is to send a family text, ask them if they want it, if they want it great! If they don’t well they can’t make you feel guilty for not wanting it either! I would however do it in stages- so closest relatives, then the next level down etc. Move it on. If you are attached to the item but don’t want to keep it, take a photo, write a blurb on the back and pop it in the photo album.
How does that feel? Have you given yourself some permission to release some of the extra in your home? These items should be dealt with last, not only because they aren’t yours, but because you will have power in the belief of what decluttering your possessions have done for you. You will have much more convincing power when trying to get other peoples stuff out of your house, and off your to-do list!
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