If someone else’s trash is another person’s treasure…

Why is it that someone else’s stuff is cluttered but yours is not?

Why is it so much easier to declutter other people’s stuff rather than our own? Perhaps you’ve heard yourself complaining about “my husband’s stuff, my wife’s stuff, or my kids’ stuff.”

While it might be easier to declutter someone else’s stuff, it’s definitely not smarter if you want to avert arguments, maintain healthy relationships, and get the job done.

No one likes to be told what to do or forced into doing something they either don’t want to do or have no interest in doing. It’s far more effective to find a collaborative approach to solve clutter chaos.

Clutter is a fact of life. It happens. Face it, it’s ongoing and it never really ends. 

If you want to get everyone in your family on board, this touchy subject needs to be handled in such a way that they’re willing to cooperate. It needs to be discussed with everyone in the household:

  • Spouses, partners, roommates
  • Kids living at home
  • Kids not living at home

And yes, even yourself! Sometimes the most difficult type of clutter to get rid of is your own clutter. If you are struggling with household clutter, perhaps hoping that one day it will go away including the arguments that surround it.

But they won’t. In fact, they will likely continue to escalate until you meet this problem head-on and find a more collaborative approach to dealing with “other people’s clutter” in your home.

Deal With Your Own Clutter First

This might sound contradictory because you want to know how to deal with “other people’s clutter,” but one of the most powerful things you can do is lead by example by dealing with your own clutter first.

If the clutter in your home is out of control to the extent that it’s making you angry, upset, and anxious, control what you can control first… And that’s your own clutter.

Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel about your own situation, and how empowered you are because you’ve regained control of your own clutter first.

And likely, your family has noticed, and they probably feel the difference in you and your more organized spaces. You likely have inspired them to follow your example and they will certainly be more willing to listen to you about family clutter.

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The Heart-To-Heart Family Conversation About Clutter

Before you can make any progress, you will need to address the elephant in the room by having a heartfelt conversation about the impact clutter is having inside your household.

No yelling, no arguing, no judging. Just a thoughtful, respectful conversation that allows each person to contribute to the conversation so that you can learn from each other and so that each person is heard.

Start by setting a quiet time and place for your entire family together with no phones, TV, tablets, or other distractions.

Open the conversation by letting them know that you love them and need their help and support with the amount of clutter in your home and discuss how it’s impacting each and every one of them. 

Let them contribute to the conversation. You might hear some of the following:

  • I can’t find my clothes to get ready for school.
  • The house is so messy I don’t bring my friends over anymore.
  • I am tired of hearing arguments between mom and dad about clutter.
  • Mom is always upset and yelling at us about clutter.
  • We don’t want to spend time together anymore; we’d rather be in our rooms or with our friends.

3 Creative Ways to Deal With “Other People’s Clutter”

1.   One on One Approach

Listen closely to what each person is saying.

Ask how they can help with keeping their own spaces decluttered and organized.

I.e., Their room, their toys, their clothes, their office, their desk, etc.

Ask them to create a specific plan and time they will work on this and what they are willing to commit to daily to help keep their area neat and organized.

I.e., Their clothes, toys, dresser, drawers, closet.

2.   The All-Hands-On Deck Approach

Ask your family if they will commit to a fun family cleanup each day for 15 to 20 minutes. Set the timer and finish in that timeframe.

This will make a fun challenge that involves team and teamwork rather than being a chore.

3.   Divide And Conquer Approach

In addition to their individual space, ask if they will volunteer to “own” one of the common spaces in your home, one that they will take responsibility for keeping it organized and clutter-free.

  • I.e., their bathroom, the mudroom, the playroom, the kitchen counters

Ask them to commit to 10 to 15 minutes daily to help maintain their area.

These 3 creative approaches are collaborative and enrolling. The conversation is a heartfelt request, “we need your help as a family working together and we can do this!”

Let them know that you know everyone is busy and that you’re not asking for perfection. You’re just asking them to try to help keep their family home decluttered and organized.

Remember… Don’t let clutter get between you and a happy relationship with your spouse and your family.

If you find yourself being agitated by “other people’s clutter,” deal with your own clutter first then try these 3 creative ways to engage your family in dealing with clutter.

As always, I’d love to hear back from you. Let me know how this approach works for you and your family.

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