The four surprising things that happened when I got rid of our clutter
Updated: 3 days ago
When I began the journey of decluttering our house, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was headed or what I was going to gain – I just knew something had to change. I was overwhelmed with managing our stuff – tidying it, cleaning it, organising it, storing it, rearranging it. Now, several years later, I reflect on how my life (and my family’s) has been transformed - and changed for the better – by letting go of the stuff we don’t need.
1. Cleaning and household tasks are quicker and easier
With less clutter in our house, there is finally a place for everything. Everything has a home and can be put away.
This means we don’t need to spend a lot of time tidying things up before starting to clean. Previously we had to clear the clutter off the kitchen benchtop to be able to wipe it clean, or pick up loads of toys and clothes off the floor to be able to vacuum. This was often a time-consuming, overwhelming task to complete, before even starting the cleaning! Now we usually have a couple of items to put away, but it only takes a moment.
We can also easily find the items we need to do the cleaning or a household task. We’re no longer hunting around for the cloth pad for the steam mop or a particular cleaning product. Previously I dreaded changing bed sheets because I had to face our overloaded linen cupboard to find a set of clean sheets. Now, when I go to do a task, I know that everything I need is at my fingertips, making it so much easier and quicker to do what needs to be done.
2. Departing the house is simpler
With less clutter in our house and everything having a home, leaving the house – and being on schedule – is easier. We’re no longer looking for missing shoes or jackets as we prepare to leave the house.
Having a designated zone near our door for relevant items has helped immensely. Items that are used every day – school bags, shoes, activity bags (e.g. gym, kids’ sport), handbag, jackets – all live in this designated zone, which means we can find them easily.
I’ve learnt that having enough is better than having more. What’s the point of having multiple of something, if the clutter it creates means you can’t find the one thing you need? For a long time we had too much and the sheer quantity of belongings led to piles of stuff and overstuffed cupboards - and not being able to find what we needed, when we needed it.
3. Family finances improved
Pursuing a clutter-free lifestyle has given us a healthier bank account. One of the reasons is that we no longer buy double-ups of things and are saving money. Now, when we need something, we know (a) whether we already have it and (b) where in our house (or shed) it is. Previously, we often found it too difficult to find a particular item so we simply bought another one – and this contributed to more clutter; it was a vicious cycle!
Sorting through and curating our belongings has given us a clearer understanding of what we value and what we need, use and love. In turn, this has made me a more mindful consumer who makes more intentional purchases. I now buy less – and save more.
4. Our stress levels decreased
Having a less cluttered home means we have clear space – space in our rooms, space in our cupboards, space on our tables and benchtops (those horizontal surfaces just seem to attract clutter!) and most importantly, space in our minds. This clear space, or white space, means that our home is more ordered (which the human brain loves) and we are calmer and more relaxed.
With a place for everything and everything in its place, we spend less time looking for things and feeling frustrated and ashamed of the clutter. Our relationships are stronger because we’re not resentful or disagreeing about lost items or money wasted on buying double-ups. And everyone – including our young kids – put things away, because everything now has a place to live and it’s easy to pop it where it belongs when cupboards and drawers aren’t overflowing.
We’re also less stressed because we have more space and time to do activities that we enjoy, and have friends visit our home more regularly and with less notice because we don’t have to clean up the clutter.