The Burden of Guilty Clutter

Aug 17, 2012 | Blog, Closets

Over this past week I have had multiple people reach out to me, all with the same issue.  They want to get their home clean and organized, but it is just too overwhelming.  They all say the same thing: “I need more storage” or ” I need a bigger house”.   The truth is all of these people have the exact same issue; Too much stuff for their space.

When you take a good, hard look at your home, how does it make you feel?  Do you feel proud? Relaxed? Happy?  Many people I talk to say their home makes them feel stressed, sad and overwhelmed.  We all have things we wish we could change about our house, but overall it should still feel like a reflection of you.  Your home should feel like your sanctuary, a place you can relax and feel happy in.  From my experience, a cluttered home is not a loved home.  You should love your home, despite it’s faults.  You may not be able to make it bigger or have it look like a magazine, but you can fill it with only the things you use and love, making it clean and beautiful to you.

When talking with a few people this week, they all mentioned the same road block to clearing out their home.  They felt they just “couldn’t” get rid of things.  Those piles of baby blankets, your grandmother’s cherished  cow collection, the dozen knick knacks from your child’s baptism… They were all gifts or were expensive or have “sentimental value”.   But when talking about these items further, it soon became clear that they didn’t actually want them in their home, they felt they should keep them.  They were keeping things out of guilt.

I can’t talk.  I have a pair of red sweaters in my daughters closet that were knitted by my husbands grandmother.  They don’t fit my girls and I have already kept so many other items she knitted, yet still I keep them.  I feel guilty donating them.  I see them in the closet and think “I wish I had a place to put these”.  There they sit, stealing space that could be filled with something I actually want or future treasures to come.  Those red sweaters are not giving me anything by holding onto them, they are taking from me.  Instead of a wonderful homemade gift, they are a burden on my home and my mind.  I know what you are thinking, it’s just two sweaters…what is the big deal? Well, it’s not just the red sweaters.   It’s the ceramic angel collection from my grandmother and the artwork from my kids, my husbands baby clothes and the thousands of photos…It’s all the things I need to find room for because I feel I have to keep them, even though I don’t ever use them or love them.  All of these add up to one, big, guilty burden.  A burden which I will most likely pass to my children to store in their basement…wishing they could get rid of it too.  That is just simply not fair.

Your items are not the memories  that they hold.  They are not the money that they cost you and they are most certainly not a piece of your loved ones.  They are just “stuff”. If you don’t love it then it is just taking from you, and whoever gave it to you wouldn’t want that (or at least they shouldn’t want that).  You are not doing anyone any favours by holding onto unwanted gifts or treasures.  We all need to let go of the guilt and let go of those items. Take a picture, write the memory down in a journal and pass it on to someone else who will really love and cherish it.

As guilty as I feel, the red sweaters are going today.  My family has so many more memories to make and treasures to keep, and I want room for all of those to come.  I have 60 more years (hopefully) of treasures to hold onto and I can’t just keep buying a bigger house. I’m going to have to be selective now and make the hard decisions today.   If I do not love it or use it, then it does not belong in my home.  And unless Joe’s grandmother reads this blog, she’ll never have to know 😉