Decluttering| My family won’t help me declutter

happy family consists of mom, dad and 2 kids sharing a pizza while sitting in a decluttered living room

My family won’t help me declutter and I want to get rid of all the old junk no-one uses. This is a common refrain I hear often.

So you want to declutter your cluttered home and possibly make some lifestyle changes and your spouse and kids have no idea why you are calling their prized possessions ‘clutter’. “But honey I have had this T-shirt since high school graduation 150 years ago.”

Decluttering a home is a task that often requires a united effort from all family members. However, it’s not uncommon for family members to have different perspectives on what constitutes a cluttered space.

Enlist family members to help declutter

When family members aren’t on board with the decluttering process, it can lead to stress and anxiety. Some cluttered spaces can be hazardous- tripping over clutter and falling is possible as clutter is a potential fire hazard.

Know you and your family are not alone in these situations where family members resist the process of decluttering. One thing for sure is patience is required.

A graphic image showing a lady with flowing hair climbing & conquering the mountain, and plants a pink flag atop.

Understanding the challenge

Cluttered spaces and fire hazards

Cluttered spaces carry the increased risk of creating fire hazards. Accumulated items, especially in common areas, can obstruct exits and pose a threat to the safety of the home and occupants.

Decluttering 101

graphic image of 2 figures communcating the old fashioned way with tin cans. Any port in a storm!

Communicate with your family members

We all know open and honest communication is the foundation for any successful negotiations, including a decluttering project. Initiate a conversation with your family members about the importance of creating a safe and pleasant living environment.

You have to let them know you are going bonkers and need their help. Be honest about your feelings and concerns regarding the clutter, emphasizing the need for a collective effort.

Emotional attachments to clutter

People feel differently about material possessions. I don’t like a bunch of stuff around. I find it to be loud and distracting. Some folks find great comfort in having their things piled around them.

When encountering items perceived to have sentimental value some folks really dig in because one little item can bring them large fond memories.

I have things I have formed emotional attachments to. These things are few and very small and do not detract from my preferred minimalist lifestyle. It is when the excessive clutter stands in the way of realistic decluttering goals and the safety of family members that it becomes a real issue.

The big question is how do folks with opposing views live comfortably together and in harmony. Communication and compromise are the answer.

fencing dividing and setting a boundary in a sand dune

Setting clear boundaries

If the clutter is making you nutty at the very least you have to set some clear and concise boundaries for the common areas in the home. Discuss and agree on what stays and what goes. Common areas need to be organized and maintained.

Setting boundaries helps create a shared understanding of what is acceptable and ensures that everyone has a stake and a say in maintaining a clutter-free environment.

Unless a housemate has a hoarding disorder maybe they can be persuaded to respect the common areas in your living space and surround themselves with any number of physical objects they may want in their room.

Hoarding disorders 

A note about Hoarding disorders– a hoarding disorder is a serious malady and often requires cognitive behavioral therapy and participation in support groups. A hoarding disorder is usually not what is going on in your own home.

Hoarding is a mental health problem and is treated as such. There is a national organization International IOCD and they have a hoarding task force and many other resources available to people. This would be a good place to start when looking for help for a loved one.

3 black trash bags labeled with red text - donate- sell- discard


Before you begin decluttering get yourself some heavy-duty trash bags. I prefer the big black sturdy bags contractors use because they don’t tear and hold a lot. Label these bags trash, donate, and sell.

Encourage your family members to join you in a shared space such as the living room. With everyone gathered pick up an item make quick group decisions and put the object in the appropriate bag.

At the end of each decluttering session get the 3 bags off the premises so no one can change their minds and retrieve objects from the bags.

I paid a lot for this

I often hear people don’t want to part with household items because they paid a lot for them.

The best strategy for this excuse is to suggest selling the physical item. In many instances, due to inflation, the valuable thing in good condition will sell for close to what you paid for it if not more. It is very easy to sell used goods today online. 

Facebook Marketplace and Facebook local yard sale groups are a good place to sell stuff. Try to stay local and avoid the hassle of shipping. Ebay is another popular resource.

baskets on shelves holding goods

Storage solutions

Storage solutions are great after you get rid of the clutter. A big mistake people make is to buy a bunch of storage totes before they get rid of stuff. This is not decluttering, this is shifting around and hiding clutter in totes.

When you have rid yourself of all the things that are no longer useful or aesthetically pleasing to you then it may be a good idea to invest in storage solutions to help organize and maximize space.

You would look for shelves, bins, and organizers to group similar items, like books or towels, maybe kid’s toys. In this sense storage solutions can be valuable tools in creating a more organized space in your beautiful new decluttered home, especially if you are short on closet space. 

These solutions not only enhance the aesthetics of the space but also make it easier for family members to locate and access their belongings. No more lost keys and scissors!

Donate decluttered items

Donating gently used goods is a win-win! Your home gets decluttered, others will appreciate and enjoy these goods you no longer use, and this can offer a tax incentive as well.

Encourage family members to donate items that are in good condition and can benefit others. Help yourself to my 17 page free Resource Guide I made for my cluttered friends. 

For items that are no longer useful, discuss eco-friendly disposal methods, such as recycling or upcycling. I always look to repurposed things when a particular need arises for several reasons. I detest waste and would rather not contribute to the already overflowing landfill problems.

My style is to go without until I can find a great quality item to fill my needs. In today’s marketplace, there are a lot of mediocre items to get by before quality appears often with a significant price attached – which is worth it to me. Thrift shops are great places to find good quality things at reduced prices.

graphic image of a leader leading family

Lead by example

The most important thing is to lead by example. 

Let your family members see the practical steps you have taken to pare down your stuff. Begin with your belongings, showcasing the benefits of a streamlined and organized living space. This can inspire other family members to follow suit and take an active role in decluttering. 

If there is too much stuff in the living room or whatever physical space you routinely gather in as a family you can try to demonstrate the positive effects of getting rid of, for example, too much stuff in what I am calling the living room. This gathering space in your home may be called a den, great room, or media room.

Sustaining a Clutter-Free Home

Establishing routine maintenance

The first and most important thing to do once the initial decluttering process is complete, is to establish a routine for maintaining the newly organized space. Regularly revisit common areas to ensure items are put back in their designated places.

Reinforce the idea that maintaining a clutter-free home is an ongoing effort to live a more organized life and that this requires everyone’s participation. Done correctly you may never again need to undertake a big decluttering effort.

fireworks in a monochromatic color scheme

Celebrating small wins

Acknowledge and celebrate small victories in your decluttering journey. When family members contribute to the organization and cleanliness of shared spaces, express gratitude and recognition. Positive reinforcement can motivate continued efforts and create a sense of accomplishment.

Stress these positive changes must be a family affair.

wood figures on wood blocks bridging the gap toward compromise

Flexibility and compromise

Recognize that everyone may have different perspectives on what items are essential. Be flexible and willing to compromise, allowing each family member to have input into the organization of personal and shared spaces.

Finding a balance between individual preferences and collective goals is an important step to sustaining a clutter-free home. A good negotiation is often one where both parties walk away with some wins and some compromises they aren’t particularly thrilled with.

Keep in mind there are many lonesome folks without any family and they would love to trade with you, clutter and all! Weighing the clutter against the awesomeness of having a loving family around may be something to look at. 

Encourage a minimalist mindset

Promote a minimalist mindset within the family. Emphasize the benefits of owning fewer possessions, such as reduced stress, increased focus, and a more visually appealing living space,

Living a minimalist lifestyle does not mean being uncomfortable and living with the absence of all material possessions. 

On the contrary, living with fewer things is an intentional way to live. Having fewer items to care for frees up time to do the things you love to do. Have you noticed more and more people are gifting each other with gifts to experience new things rather than material goods?

Encourage family members to prioritize quality over quantity when acquiring new items. This will work especially well with folks interested in environmental issues.

professional healthcare worker meeting with a patient

Seeking professional assistance

In cases where decluttering challenges persist, consider hiring a professional organizer. Ask around and find someone who has helped people you know.

A third-party perspective can provide valuable insights and strategies for overcoming resistance. A professional can work with the family to develop a customized plan that addresses specific concerns and gets you closer to your goal of living comfortably in harmony.

Building a support system

Connect with friends or family members who have successfully navigated similar decluttering challenges. Check out our Facebook group Declutterbuzz. We are a private group and we share experiences, tips, and success stories to inspire and motivate each other.

Getting encouragement during moments of resistance or frustration is the difference between a good or not-so-good day.

2 pairs of hands- younger hands giving a little bouquet of dandelions and daisies to older pair of hands. Sweet supportive gesture

Decluttering a home when family members aren’t on board requires a collective effort and patience. Communication is key to implementing effective decluttering strategies and encouraging shared responsibility for maintaining order and harmony.

With patience and communication, it is possible to get a commitment from resistant loved ones and it’s possible to create a harmonious living environment that benefits everyone.

Whether cluttered or clutter-free be sure to give your people big hugs today!

author pic

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

To see more articles like this, please like and follow me. Thank you!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *