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Decluttering your family home WITHOUT Marie Kondo - a fast realistic guide

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This helps keep this website running.

decluttered living room interior of family home

Are you overwhelmed with a busy family life and never enough time to declutter? I can relate. I had success with a big declutter of our family home, but all too often, decluttering guides assume you don't have kids or a busy family life. So what are the steps to declutter your house if you're busy and have young children? Fortunately there is a clear and easy method I followed. I want to take a look first at what didn't work for us a busy family, and then what did work.

Why the KonMari method didn't work for me and my family

A lot of people's first thoughts are to go for the KonMari method by Marie Kondo, and that was the first thing I tried too - I got her first eBook in her series of 3 at Amazon, The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up and started reading it, but it didn't work for me. The problem is that if something doesn't spark joy we should get rid of it. OK, what about tax paperwork? It doesn't spark any joy for me, but I know I need to keep the most recent years of those. So what's her method for dealing with those boring-but-necessary things? Make exceptions for each of those? In that case, where should you draw the line? Are we all then at risk of making an exception for everything?

Also, if you're anything like me, you simply don't have time to read 3 books before tackling clutter!

It is true though that decluttering is life-changing. So it's still important to do it, but with a method that works for your family home.

Why it's important to have clear steps to declutter your home

It's important to follow some sort of method, and it needn't be a course or anything complicated. Just knowing where to start decluttering and exactly how to declutter a family home (one that your family lives in while doing it, I might add) lets you reap all the benefits of the extra space and extra peace of mind you'll have.

But without using a step by step method it's easy to sink back into old ways and put off the decluttering until later, which you don't want! Here is exactly what worked for me and my family.

How to declutter your home using the "Decluttering At The Speed of Life" method.

I went for the book Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White at Amazon.com. This was one of the best decisions I made! It comes in Kindle, audiobook and paperback. (You don't have an excuse not to declutter now!)

This book is perfect for any busy parent who wants to know how to purge clutter fast. Dana White explains her method simply and sensibly, but with plenty of thought and intelligence. The book is written just like it's a friend talking, so it's super-easy and fun. You don't need to ask yourself complicated questions. It's very simple, and in the book she helps drill it into you in a nice way.

Her method suited me down to the ground, and I think you'll like it too. It really helped. And it's a decluttering book, which encourages you to get rid of things you don't use. It's not a home organization book.

I didn't want to add storage containers into to my home, I wanted to get rid of stuff!

The bonus to getting rid of stuff, as Dana White points out, is then it's not there anymore! Even if a bit of clutter comes back, it'll be much faster to clean up next time, because you don't have those items you gave away.

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Dana White has a family of her own, so she completely relates to how it is with young kids and the way it's so easy to get clutter from outgrown clothes and toys. In fact, she even devotes a chapter to decluttering children's areas and suggests a few different (but easy) strategies for you and your child to get their bedroom or play area decluttered.

The good:

  • Her method is simple and straightforward. You don't have to do much thinking, and there's no agonizing over things. If you're a busy parent, this is absolutely a key point. You'll find it surprisingly easy when you follow the questions she poses.
  • It didn't take as long as I thought. This is something she said to expect, but it was nice to see it come true!
  • I didn't have as much clutter as I thought I did.
  • I threw out an entire large trash sack of trash (broken items, old bits of paper, etc).
  • On my first day, I took an entire trunk-load-and-a-half of gently used items to donate to charity - and that was just the start!

The bad:

  • I didn't complete the declutter project all in one weekend since I didn't get to every area. In retrospect I don't know why I decided to try to declutter an entire house in a weekend! So this issue was not a big deal, and I felt happy knowing subsequent times will be easier because there's not much clutter coming back in the meantime, since those original items are now gone.

Tips for decluttering at the speed of life

Dana White recommends putting unneeded items to donate in a Donate Box, and always having the Donate Box available. I would change that slightly. If, miraculously, besides getting rid of your own things, you have managed to get your kids and spouse to identify things they no longer want, bag up those items immediately. Then close or tie the bags then and there, and immediately put the bags in the trunk and take them to the charity place to donate. (Or if the charity place is closed, then leave them in the trunk and take the items tomorrow when it's open).

The reason you should never leave things in an open Donate Box in your home is that then, yes you guessed it, your kids will get into the Donate Box and pull items out and then you're back to where you started. At least, that is what would happen with my kids.

Also, she is correct when she says any amount of time is good for decluttering, whether it's 5 minutes or 30 minutes. You don't have to wait for the "perfect time" when there's nothing else going on - who even has that anyway?! I was surprised and impressed at how much I could do without putting all day into it. If I can do it, you can too!

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