Although I usually prefer to stay clear of dealing with family member's clutter issues, yesterday I made an exception when I went to visit my mother-in-law. For months, she has dropped little hints that she wanted to start eliminating stuff from her home but didn't know where to begin. She is not a hoarder by all means. Her home is very comfortable and lived in. In fact, there is no clutter to be found in the main areas of her home including her couches and kitchen table.
During our conversation, she told me how she had eliminated a bunch of old comedy VHS tapes to the senior center as well as some cassette tapes to the local library. Although she had made some progress on her own, she informed that she was having a hard time making decisions on what to do with the many knick-knacks that adorn her home. That was my cue put on my "organizer" cap to discover just how serious she was in her quest to declutter her home.
I looked around the room and noticed a decorative angel sitting on the corner of the mantel that I knew had no monetary or sentimental value to it. I nonchalantly asked her about it and after a few long moments of silence, she said 'oh that's just something I bought years ago that I thought would look nice on the mantle to go with theme of the room.' She then proceeded to start pointing out the various angels that were given to her as gifts when she become president of her local Emblem Club over 10 years ago. Since her theme was angels, it was only appropriate that the club members would shower her with these angels. She told me that even though they were given as gifts that she was ready to let them go.
I told her I was planning to have a yard sale and asked how she would feel if we eliminated a few of them from her home. She immediately got off the couch, found a box and placed a total of six angels in the box for me to take home.I have to admit I was a bit surprised but very encouraged to continue.
As she was making coffee in the kitchen, I asked if I could peek into one of her top kitchen cabinets (which I know is a common hot spot for items that have been long forgotten about.) She agreed and we found seven glass vases that she rarely uses. Without hesitation, she picked out two, tossed out one that was chipped and gave me the other four to bring home. I thought, wow, she is turning out to be my dream client.
Next, we proceeded to weed through some wine glasses. When I took down a special wine glass from the Emblem Club she immediately said, "Oh, that is staying, that is a special glass from one of my conventions!" I thought to myself, Ok I have finally found some treasure within her clutter. In the end, she only saved a handful of her favorite wine glasses as well as a few from the emblem club.
Once we finished with that cabinet, she said that was all she could handle for the day. Oh, and did I forget to mention that all of this took place within less than an hours' time? This quick burst of decluttering led her to eliminate 25 items from her home. While she admitted that it felt great to purge these items, she also confessed that if she knew in advance that we were going to be doing this, that she might have had a harder time letting go of these items.
During our quick impromptu decluttering session together, there were five teachable moments that can help you take the first steps towards reclaiming your home as well. Can you guess what these were?
Join me as a reveal these key lessons in my special four-part blog post series this week.
In the meantime, I challenge you to fill a box with 25 items that you can eliminate or donate from your home by the end of this week. Can you do it? If you agree to this challenge and email a photo of your results, you will be entered to win a copy of my soon to be released e-book "An Organized World", featuring organizing tips, tools and strategies from 11 leading organizational experts from across the globe. So what are you waiting for, I dare you to join in on my decluttering challenge today.