Urban Earth Mom
Eliminating chaos since 1989


Decluttering won't get you a tidy home

When you want to lose weight, if you don’t throw out all the food or change the habits that made you put on the weight, then no diet in the world is going to keep you thin. You’ll lose the weight and then rebound right back to where you were before and possibly gain a few pounds each time. How many perpetual dieters can claim to have lost hundreds and hundreds of pounds without ever getting any thinner? And how many people do you know have read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, done the work and now have messy houses again claiming the method doesn't work.

Going through your home like a tornado and decluttering will get it tidy for a short while but without changing the way you relate to stuff you are just putting your house on a diet. To stay tidy your thoughts, your habits, and how you fill your time must change.

Your thoughts

Stop thinking you must keep up with the Jones. Is the real reason you want a new sofa because someone else has a new sofa? Often the reason we buy stuff is to keep up. I have countless friends who have an instant pot that has never been used to cook a meal. Why? Because they were THE item to have in your kitchen earlier this year and so they bought one without thinking about whether it would make their lives easier. It’s tough to resist I know. There was a while I thought I should get one as so many people raved about theirs. So I asked them all what they used it for. I don’t eat any of the things they were all using their instant pots for, so I didn’t buy one. But I had major FOMO for a month or so as a result of not having one!! Fast forward six months and most people I know who bought one went back to cooking the way they always had and the instant pot ended up on top of the fridge!

Stop valuing yourself and others by the possessions they own. We are all guilty of doing this. But one thing I learned from “The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley is that the people with real money don’t flash it around. Those that do either don’t keep their money for long (hello big lottery winners) or are buying it all on credit (hello most of your neighbors).

stop justifying poor choices because of your life circumstances. Buying a few more things when the house is already cluttered because who’s going to notice…Using YOLO (you only live once) as justification for unhealthy choices means you are choosing chaos and unhappiness for a very long time. Discipline doesn’t bring unhappiness, lack of discipline does. Making the choice not to have the clutter in the house frees up your time and money and brings peace. You are not a victim of circumstance most of the time (OK sometimes you are but not often). Most of the time you decided to buy something (or a lot of somethings) and now you are living with the clutter. You can learn why you make those decisions and change the decisions going forward. Which brings up to habits.


Every time there is something you struggle to achieve and fail you will find a habit or two holding you back. If you don’t flush them out and then change them, you’ll keep getting the same old results no matter how hard you try. This is the reason some people are lifetime members of Weight Watchers. They never found the habits that were making them overweight.

Make a list of things you realize are keeping your house cluttered and then commit to changing them one at a time using the steps below. Pick one at a time and go slowly or you will find yourself and your family revolting.

What are your habits? Are you using shopping as a couples or family activity? find other activities to do that don’t involve buying stuff

What are you getting out of the habit? Do you feel connected to your grandmother through your frog collection? Having 357 frogs won’t bring her back or hold her any closer than one or 2 will.

Choose to do something different. Instead of walking around the mall with your family as an outing go to a museum instead or go for a hike. You’ll spend less and you’ll have experiences to talk about.

Commit to only going to the mall if there is something specific you need to buy. Same with Target. Or Costco; if you know you’re going to come out of there with a ton of stuff you don’t need, consider buying online or go in with a list. Go straight to the items you need, find them, buy them, leave. No wandering around the store. Make hiking or a stroll in nature your default way to get exercise and connect with each other.

Take baby steps and change one habit at a time. Accept that you will sometimes find yourself aimlessly wandering around the mall with multiple bags in your hand. You are not perfect and habits don’t change overnight. You can break the habits that made the house decluttered if you want to.

How you fill your time

Like I said above. If your favorite couple time or family time activity is going to the mall then it's time to find a new activity. Maybe walking outside in nature and looking for birds and flowers instead of "bargains" would be a better use of your time that will not result in a ton of extra clutter in the house. Or visit museums. Many libraries have museum passes that you can check out for the day and visit museums for free. Just steer clear of the gift shop!!

Using shopping as a way to kill time has become the norm so it may feel like you are breaking free of the shackles of over-consumption as you try to make these changes. Take baby steps because you are making these changes for a lifetime, not simply putting your home on a diet!

As a bonus, I added a habit changing worksheet to the free resource library. Snag it here: Habits Worksheet

Sarah MooreComment