From Our Mailbox: A Reader Stands Up Against “Guilt” Clutter - From Our Mailbox

 I LOVED this message I received from one of you (who asked to remain nameless) recently!


I just wanted to drop you a note to say thank you. I recently read your article about “guilt” clutter, and it hit home with me.

I have a very well intentioned friend who constantly drops over bags of “stuff” that she finds around her house or at the op-shop (thrift store I think you guys call it?).

Anyway, I have always politely taken the bags, and said “please, the gift is seeing you, you don’t need to bring gifts”. Yet, the next day she shows up with another bag (and looks around the house to see where I’ve put the other items she’s gifted).

Earlier this week, she said she was on her way over with a complete cane outdoor setting. I had to be very firm. I explained that I’m struggling to keep the house under control with 2 kids & working full time, and I’d decided to have a clean out. Every surface will be cleared of nick knacks, kids toys sold or donated except for what fits on their shelving, and I didn’t have room for a cane setting (because I already have an outdoor setting that she has sat at on numerous occasions), but if she wanted me to sell it for her, I could do that & give her the money.

I thought I’d gotten through to her, but when I got home from work, I found an old, yellowed quilt sitting at my front door. So I donated it to an animal shelter.

She asked me where the quilt was, and I told her I had re-gifted it. I was met with a stoney silence & a pair of raised eyebrows, but I haven’t had any mystery parcels dropped of since, and she is still talking to me, so maybe, just maybe, she finally heard me?


Love it! Have you seen my Clutter Guilt videos?? And Clutter Avoidance ones? If you’re not a video watcher, there are scripts you can use!

From Our Mailbox: A Reader Who Finds the Courage to Have “The Conversation” - From Our Mailbox

Today’s Reader Story: A reader tells exactly how she mentally worked through her potentially overwhelming clutter scenario and shares her victory in managing a well-meaning friend and her hand-me-downs.

Dear Dana,

You don’t know me, but I just listened to all your 30 minute podcast episodes and have now started on your blogcasts – which are a dream come true – being able to “read” a blog while decluttering my house! Anyways, I couldn’t resist telling you about the conversation I had today.

A friend gave me a bag of workout clothes that are too small for her because I’d said I could use them. And I do need workout clothes – for the last couple months, I’ve been attending workouts 3 times a week and only own 1 pair of workout shorts . . . However, I also knew there was a good chance not everything she was giving me would fit me. I started to just take the bag, but then heard you (cause you’re totally in my head now) reminding me that I needed to have “the conversation,” so I said: “Thank you! I’ll try them on and then should I just go ahead and donate whatever doesn’t fit?” She was going on about how cute some of the tops are and that everything was in great condition, so I was a little nervous, but said it anyway. She said “yeah, you can just pass them on to someone else.” I replied “ok, or if I don’t have anyone to give them to I’ll probably give them to my son’s preschool because they have an ongoing fundraiser that takes clothes, but only clothes that are in really good condition for resale, so these would be good.” And do you know what? Not only did she say she was fine with that, she happily said that she had a bag of clothes she’d gathered too late for our school’s Goodwill drive, so she’d go through it and give me whatever was good enough to send to the preschool!
I then came home and – in spite of my inclination to put it off – tried on the clothes. I’m a little nervous that she’ll be upset next time I see her when I admit I didn’t keep much, but keep reminding myself that we already talked about it. I found a shirt and pants I like, 2 shirts that I’m going to try for one workout and then either keep or donate, and the rest is sitting by my door waiting to get dropped off when I pick up my son. Although it just occurred to me as I’m typing this that I don’t really NEED 3 more workout shirts when I’ve been managing just fine with the 2 I already home.  Hmph. Okay, as soon as I’ve given the new shirts each a trial run, I’ll pick my 3 favorites of the 5 I now own and get rid of the other 2. I wrote it to you, so now I have to actually do it, right?
. . . I’ve gained hope for the massive decluttering facing me, and I love listening to you while I work.
{from a girl who has new workout clothes and no clutter guilt!}
 And in her follow-up message she writes:
Here’s the end of the story: I saw her that afternoon and told her I’d tried on the clothes . . . I told her I was going to try them for a workout, then get rid of them if they didn’t feel right and she thought that was a great plan. To sum up: she was not only fine with my choosing to donate most of what she gave me, she completely supported my decisions. So now I have a new workout outfit and no new clutter or guilt. Thank you Dana for teaching me to have the conversation that made this a completely positive experience!
P.S. I finished reading Drowning in Clutter – loved it! I also bought Teaching Kids to Clean – going to try to read it in the month I have left before they get out of school so I can start getting my act together before trying to bring them in. I’m making my oldest pick a laundry day (she does the kid laundry) and thinking maybe I’ll try to make her laundry day my bathroom day ;).

So proud of her for having the courage to step out of her comfort zone ‘have the conversation’ with her friend. It’s so simple, but makes a huge difference for those of us who struggle with oh-so-many reasons to hesitate when decluttering! What decluttering successes have you had recently?

You might also want to check out 28 Days to Hope for Your Home!

The Wonder of 5 Minute Pick Ups – a Guest Post

the Wonder of 5 Minute Pick Ups A Guest Post - A Slob Comes Clean

This is a guest post from Angela at Setting My Intention.

As I scrolled through the “before” pictures of my future decluttering projects on my phone, my oldest son was looking over my shoulder and asked, “What are you doing with all those photos Mom?” I told him that I was planning on decluttering our house this year and he replied, “Why? That’s our family way.”  Hmmm…

My son owning clutter as a family trait was humorous but also alarming. Someday when I ask my children what they remember about their childhood – I hope that clutter and mess is not at the top of the list. I want my children to feel peaceful, loved, and calm in our home. I want to feel peaceful, loved, and calm in our home.

That is one of the main reasons that I began 2015 with an intention to slowly and systematically get rid of clutter in our home. For the past several months I have been reading minimalist blogs, binge listening to simplifying and decluttering podcasts, and putting into action small changes in my daily habits. Nony’s “A Slob Comes Clean” podcast has been my most recent find – and I’m so glad to have found it! I can really relate to her term “Slob Vision” and “Time Passage Awareness Disorder” – both of which I have!

I started blogging in February 2015 to document my progress and keep myself accountable – but like Nony, did not initially let anyone know. I didn’t want my friends or acquaintances to see the “real” state of my house. Listening to A Slob Comes Clean has reassured me that there are others who struggle with keeping their homes clean and tidy. One of the things that I first implemented was a clutter free zone” in my kitchen. It’s a small part of the countertop but it’s easy to keep clear and clean on a daily basis.

Another habit that we have recently started implementing as a family is a “5 minute pick up” which Nony has written and talked about on her podcasts. My family has done this before in the past but not on a regular schedule. As I have decluttered the children’s toys and books, it’s become SO much easier to pick up and clean. I used to tidy the living room by myself while the kids were in school, but I’ve realized that it’s quicker when we do it together and I want them to develop this habit as a life skill.

Our living room is the gathering spot for the family. My sons don’t do homework on the kitchen table or at a desk – they like to sprawl across the living room floor and do it there. That translates to backpacks, folders and papers left on the floor along with socks and sweatshirts strewn about as everyone gets comfortable. This is generally what our living room looks like at the end of the week:


This was taken after we had done a 5 minute pick up the previous Friday, so a good deal of things that didn’t belong in the living room had been put in their places the week before. The state of the room isn’t so bad…but it’s not peaceful.

I’ve decided that Friday evenings will be the time when we do a 5 minute pick up. It starts our weekend off in a really positive way. Backpacks are put away in our storage bench, socks and clothes are brought downstairs to the laundry area, and toys and books are brought back to the kids’ rooms. We set a timer for 5 minutes and each of us takes an area of the room or a specific task (picking up socks and clothes).

This is what it looks like after a 5 minute pick up:


There are many ways I’m not happy with my furniture, or the layout of my living room, but a clear uncluttered floor makes such a difference in how I feel about the room. When I walk down the stairs on a Saturday morning to a picked up living room, it helps me to enter the weekend feeling peaceful and calm – and when mom is peaceful and calm, the whole family reaps the benefits!

Does your family do 5 minute pick ups?

Angela recently started blogging at Setting My Intention while she tries to overcome her slob vision and actually confront her piles. She is a wife and mom to three boys. She works part time outside the home, and full time inside the home. She loves to hear and see how others are decluttering and simplifying, so please drop by her blog and say hello!


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