This month’s question:
Spring is in the air! I need motivation to get my family to clear out the clutter, but I can’t get anyone to part with anything, from my husband’s broken, old tools to my daughter’s basket of miscellaneous doll parts to my own stash of projects that I’ve left unfinished. How can I help my family to avoid becoming hoarders and to finish what we start?
Kevin Tutty, LCSW:
Spring is always a great time of year to clean house. I like the idea of going through belongings annually and see what things have not been touched in a year. If something has not been used for a year, how important is it, really?
As a warehouse manager, I learned that physical space actually can cost money after a product sits on the shelf for a period of time. Much in the same way, unused objects prevent other items from being placed where we can locate them in our home. A disorganized, cluttered space causes stress and anxiety.
One option for someone who has trouble getting rid of anything is to negotiate a number of items that each person will part with. Then, donate these to a worthwhile charity so someone can use them, and you get the tax deduction as well. A win-win!
Kevin Tutty, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. Contact him at 405-431-6225.
Valerie Riley, Professional Organizer:
We always advise our clients to take things room by room—otherwise it’s too overwhelming. Focus on one area at a time and don’t leave it until you’ve accomplished clearing the clutter. Only then is it wise to move on to the next area or room needing attention.
To get the family involved, we like to have our clients make it a game. Time yourselves and see who can get through their designated clutter first—the winner gets to pick the restaurant where the family dines out as a reward. Or, have everyone help each other in their personal area and when one area is complete, the family enjoys a new activity to do together or a reward (such as going out for ice cream or having a family movie night). It’s also helpful to set a time limit on how long you work on a particular area. If you leave yourself too much time you will most likely get overwhelmed and quit early. Set a timer and stick to that. If the whole idea of clearing clutter is daunting, start with a small time limit—set the timer for 10 minutes and see how much you can accomplish. The small victories will make you feel good and help you to be motivated to continue on! Good luck!
Valerie Riley is the founder of the Riley Group, offering concierge and lifestyle management services. Contact them at 405-242-2267 or www.therileygroup.info.
Devonne Carter, LCSW:
I would encourage you to start this project by modeling. You model the behavior you want everyone else in the family to follow. Start with one closet and clean it out and talk about how good it feels to donate things. Then state that you want everyone to clean out their closet or their room. Give them a deadline and a place to which you want them to bring their donations. If your children are young, ask them to choose 5 items for your donation sack. Have your children help you with the donation and then on the way home talk about how nice it will be for children who don't have many clothes or toys and how much they will enjoy their new treasures.
Devonne Carter, LCSW, is a Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Edmond. Contact her at 405-326-3923 or www.carterscounseling.com.
Donnie Van Curen M.A., LMFT:
Pick a Saturday where each person helps fill a family box, or has their own box to fill, which can then be taken to an organization like The Salvation Army. This makes for a great family activity, and the opportunity to help each person in your family generate a lot of positive feelings and emotions from their actions. It is also a wonderful way to help your kids see the value, responsibility and fun that helping others provides, all while cleaning up clutter. Make it a tradition; it may be one that carries on for generations to come.
Donnie Van Curen M.A., LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Theapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. Contact him at 405-823-4302 or www.counseling1820.com.