Re-Decluttering Is a Real Thing

Re-Decluttering is a Real Thing at

In case you’re new around here, let me explain something. I truly believe the #1 thing I have to give to my kindred slob spirits is permission to keep going.

Photo-proof that “after” photos turn back into before photos, and it’s okay to tackle that same space again instead of throwing my hands up in the air and declaring there’s no point in even trying.

And honestly, I have grown to love the wonders of Re-Decluttering as an actual decluttering strategy. As a thing. A real thing that works for my Slob Brain.

Once upon a time, I believed that once-and-for-all could actually happen. That there was a totally-not-mythical time in the future where my house was going to be decluttered.

Completely. Forever. And always.

But perhaps you’ve read other posts where I decluttered my daughter’s room and celebrated the after pics and marveled at the happiness she experienced, playing on her clear floor.

And yet those boxes in the picture above are full of things we pulled out of her room last week.

Those boxes are full of things she once believed she couldn’t live without. The brown woven (bottom right) purse was a prized possession purchased with her own quarter at a garage sale. The pink-fuzzy dog carrier was totally and completely and justifiably useful the last time we considered donating it.

Most of the books that made it onto the “Like-It” shelf last time were purged with zero angst this time around. The pinwheels that were full of possibilities and way-too-cute-to-not-keep a year ago had shown themselves to be awkward, hard-to-find-a-place-for topplers. Nobody likes a toppler.

These examples demonstrate what I’ve personally found to be true over and over (and over) again through my own deslobification process. When I stress and agonize and fret over something and therefore decide I can’t possibly declutter it, the next time I come across it in a decluttering project, my decision is generally angst-free.

One of two things happens. Either I decided to keep it and I put it to use! Now, it’s OBVIOUSLY not clutter.

Or I never thought about it again, never used it, and now it obviously IS clutter. When that happens, my stomach doesn’t hurt at all and I don’t even groan a little bit. In fact, I generally get this delicious heartless feeling as I pitch it into the Donate Box. I might even laugh scornfully at Me From A Year Ago Who Was Sure My Life Would Be Ruined if I Didn’t Keep It.

(Yes. I have issues.)

Now, we’re enjoying my daughter’s clean, spacious, play-in-able, invite-a-friendable room. And since I know (from way too much experience) that each time we purge her room, it stays clean a little longer than the time before, I look forward to enjoying it for quite a while.

What is your experience with re-decluttering? Isn’t it so much easier the second time you tackle a space?


More decluttering posts:

My Two (ONLY Two!) Decluttering Questions

How to Declutter Without Making a Bigger Mess

Decluttering a Child’s Room



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Using Timers with Kids – Reader Story - From Our Mailbox

I love hearing how this mama is using what she’s learning to help her daughter:

Hi, Dana:

I love your blog, but who doesn’t? The idea of decluttering one box at a time was just what I needed to attack (and defeat) my closet last month. I’m the one who posted on Facebook that I got my little girl to do “one in one out” by using a paper bag to measure volume. I wanted to tell you how I used ideas from your blog to help my daughter fight messy, overcrowded room syndrome.
Here is what I do. As part of her chores each day, she tidies her room for ten to fifteen minutes, without my oversight. I just set the oven timer, she goes back to listen to kid’s CDs, and clean up. Ten to fifteen minutes is NOT “go clean your room,” like I used to say. It’s “go clean up part of your room,” which is much less intimidating. Afterward, she has free time, and she knows this is not going to take her whole evening, because all I am looking for is some progress. I’ve noticed that she’s willing to do this without drama, because it has a time limit. When the oven timer goes off, I tell her that time is up, and go compliment her on her progress. I generally include the words “fabulous”, “glorious”, or “awesome” in my description of what she’s done.
Your idea of breaking jobs down into manageable pieces is what started this, so thanks a bunch for inspiring me. Your concepts can be handed down to kids to make their lives less stressful, too. BTW, I think I’m going to go down to five minutes soon. I just walked in her room to retrieve her laundry basket, and it’s pretty spiffy in there. (Yeah, I’m bragging on my kid!)
With much admiration,
Stephanie Lowman

Play Room: Play Space or Storage Space?

What Works? A Play Room or a Play Space at

I spoke to a lovely group of mothers last fall. One of the questions that came up really made me think.

It was about playrooms. And storing toys in them. (I can’t remember the question exactly.)

PLAYROOM! was at the top of my list when we were searching for a house.

We had three kids ages four and under, and I thought it was a Must Have.

I got my playroom, but I now realize I didn’t use it correctly in those first years.

I had big dreams. I set up a reading corner with a comfy cushion, blocked off by a bookshelf. I bought a handy-dandy IKEA unit that seemed perfect for keeping (lots and lots of) toys tidy.

I put an art easel and craft papers and all sorts of things in there to encourage creativity.

Day One was great. But at some point between Day Two and Day Umpteen, it turned into a toy storage room.

Or a toy ocean.

Or a toy abyss.

Every stray toy was (literally) thrown in there. Soon, we couldn’t find the reading corner because the whole room was knee-deep (literally) in stuff.


And it was no longer a play room. Because no one played in it.

Because they couldn’t.

I answered the question by saying that since I stopped storing toys in the playroom, it has stayed clean. And play-in-able.

Seriously. Since this post (written over three years ago) when I completely purged the playroom of piddly stuff and only left the big stuff like a play kitchen, table and chairs, and baby bed . . . it has stayed under control.

Because now . . . it is a play space.

A stage for pretending.

We do keep toys in the bedrooms, and we struggle to keep those rooms from becoming an abyss. But I know that the fewer toys we have, the easier it is.

And the more they play.




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