10 lessons learned in removing clutter

10 Lessons learned in Removing Clutter

“You have to let go, Shirin.” This is the message that kept me going while sorting out the things in the house for more than a month. I am the type of person who reasons out:

“ I might need this in the future.”

“ This dress might still fit me when I lose weight.”

“ I could still use it so I am keeping it.”  ( Never bothered to open the box for more than a year though.)

So many reasons, so many excuses. It took one show on Netflix TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo to motivate me to declutter seriously. My husband took the free Netflix for a month offer. That decision is so worth it.

Here are the 10 lessons I learned in removing clutter

  1. You have to learn new ways of doing things.

I highly recommend the way Marie Kondo fold the clothes in the drawers. In one look, I could see all my shirts and shorts. My folding may not be perfect compared to her way of doing it but it gave me the opportunity to learn another way.  It made my life easier.

Before, I just get the first 7 shirts on top of the pile. Now, I could wear all of them. No shirt hiding somewhere in the drawer for me to forget.



  1. Better decide to remove your clutter when it is a holiday break.

The free one month Netflix we availed started in December during the school break. No school responsibilities to attend to. The boys were available to help me. It is a time-consuming process that will test your limits.

You cannot do it in one day. Days will turn into weeks. Weeks will turn into months. The moment you finally open a box or container, it will suddenly expose you to the reality – YOU HAVE BEEN KEEPING A LOT OF STUFF YOU DON’T NEED ANYMORE.

As of this moment, I am writing about decluttering and I am not done yet. I still have the books to think about. I have to stop for now and continue it another weekend because as a mother, the first week of school is a week of adjustment again for everybody!

  1. Body aches and muscle pains are parts of the process.

Reaching out to that container inside a pantry and see that the flour was already expired will start a muscle pain.

Trying to get items from hard to reach areas like cupboards, top areas of walk-in wardrobes and removing bags and bags of items to give or throw in the dump will take a toll on your muscles.

Physically fit people will not have an issue. If you are the opposite, chances are, back pains and leg pains will be your dilemma. There will be a bonus of a headache when you start to feel overwhelmed with everything.

  1. You cannot do it alone.

I am pleased I decided to remove clutter on a school break. Yes, I received a number of complaints and groans from my family when I began decluttering. After I survived that phase and they saw the results of what I was doing, they started appreciating it.

I remembered my youngest son saying when we got home. “ Mum, the house looks light and bright!”

The reason why you cannot do it alone is that you need the family members’ decision when it comes to sorting out their belongings.

The challenge was asking them the following:

  1. keeping the item
  2. donating the item
  3. throwing the item in the bin.

Another reason you cannot do it alone is that you need all the family members’ cooperation and help when throwing huge items in the dump site. Good thing I have three sons. The first two helped their father moved out the huge sofa and placed it in the trailer. Their combined muscle power in the dump site made it easier for my husband. My youngest assisted by bringing out the light items like throw pillows that really need to retire.

father and sons lifting a sofa in the trailer
Sons helping their father lift the heavy sofa


  1. Gratitude – You have too much stuff to be thankful for.

I like Marie Kondo’s way of saying THANK YOU to the things you are donating or throwing out. Moreover, I like her teaching of keeping things that SPARK JOY. It is an excellent idea.

When I sorted out my house t-shirts, I lost count on the number of thank-yous I whispered to my shirts I decided not to keep.

Most were just kept because of the memories associated with it. T-shirts were already thrown out before but there were still other shirts left.  I decided to finally let them go. I took a photo of the precious shirts ( which I could no longer fit) and saved those digital photos in my hard drive.

Now, I have more space in the drawers for better items in the future.

  1. You get an inventory of what you really need.

When you are serious in putting things in order, you will notice the things you truly need. Based on my experience, I realized I have too many t-shirts. I have to buy more blouses. The boys require more socks and fewer t-shirts.

My husband wanted medium-sized boxes so he can organize his things in the garage. I labeled the boxes so he now knows where are the extension cords etc. He can easily access what he needs because we worked it out together the clutter.

  1. There is joy and inner peace after you finally cleared everything out.

When they interviewed the people Marie Kondo helped in each episode, I noticed the smiles on their faces. They mentioned joy. I felt it too. I may not be done yet (according to my standards) but it sure feels good.

Related blog post: 10 Advantages of Decluttering

  1. Your patience and persistence will go up to the next level.

When I opened the wardrobe of the boys and placed all their clothes on the bed, the first thing that came to my mind was “What was I thinking?”

However, I held firm with my decision to remove their clutter. I noticed that when we go out as a family, they were wearing the same t-shirts over and over as if I don’t buy them new ones.

After lunch, I told them you have to do your chores – decluttering.

Comments like:

“ the pain…”

“ seriously?..”

“really, now?”

A teenager, a tween ( no longer a cute child but not a teenager yet) and a primary schooler will really test your will-power. However, I am THE MOTHER of the house.

After the clearing out of the clothes they didn’t want to keep, I could already see them wearing the other t-shirts they already forgot about or hidden for ages. The wardrobe is more organized than before.

My sons learned to let go of the toys they were not playing. Most of the time, they are busy with online games anyway.

  1. Your creative imagination will awaken.

 Most of the time, you will try to answer this question: How can I make this place more organized and clean?

Therefore, your imagination will get access to all the parts of your brain on how you can make the house a better place to live in.

I already decluttered before but my standards have improved. I have changed so the house organization will be different from the past.

  1. You have to learn to let go.

This is the statement I wrote in the first part of this blog. I have to emphasize this. If you will not have this thought in mind, you will end up collecting so much stuff for many years to come.

I decluttered in the previous years but not the way I did from what I learned from the show. I realized what I did was superficial clearing out. You have to handle a mixture of overwhelming emotions especially if you are the hoarder type of person.

Organizational skills at home went slack due to other commitments. As a parent, you juggle multiple areas of responsibilities too many to mention for you to maintain a super clean house. Nobody is perfect.

However, learning life’s lessons one day at a time is the theme of my blog. As long as you are improving and becoming a better person whatever timeline you are now is way better than the person who is not.

My dear reader, wherever you are, may you have a house filled with joy and laughter. A messy house from time to time will always be a part of our lives as parents. We have children you know.

The thing I am making a point of is to remove the clutter that brings you the emotional burden that prevents you from having the inner peace and joy you deserve.

You can do it. I started last year. Begin your own momentum.