Decluttering and Organizing When Your Family Is Not On Board (7 photos)

3. Find Out Why Your Family Is Hesitant

Do you know what it is about decluttering and organizing that your family members oppose? One possibility is that they just don’t feel they have the time or energy to devote to making decisions about what to keep and what to pass along.

If decision-making is your family member’s hang-up, perhaps you can help by providing encouragement that makes the process a little less overwhelming. I’ve found that my clients often get stuck considering whether an item will be useful in the future, and whether they should keep sentimental items and those they dislike but feel guilt about getting rid of. Decision-making can indeed be mentally exhausting. Sometimes just having another person validate a decision makes it easier to let things go.

To help support family members willing to tackle their excess items, I recommend starting with belongings that don’t mean much to the individual. For example, you might toss socks with irreparable holes or get rid of Post-it notes that have lost their stickiness. Work in very small batches and chip away at decluttering in short amounts of time, such as a single 30-minute session each week. It’s important to avoid making judgmental comments as family members decide what to keep or toss. The final decision needs to be theirs so that they don’t resent you in the future.

If your family members are struggling with sentimental items that never get used, you might help them decide to pack up and store these items in a less accessible location, such as a high shelf. This can help clear space in prime spots while removing pressure on your family members to toss items before they are ready.

Another possible reason your family member may not be interested in organizing is that the person is not bothered by disorganization and doesn’t see a need for decluttering. My daughter falls into this category. She is involved in every kind of craft you can think of: sewing, painting, jewelry-making, knitting, paper crafts and more. As a result, she has a million necessary small parts and supplies throughout her room, available as needed when artistic inspiration strikes.

I was able to help her organize her supplies by type of craft and eliminate unusable items like dried markers and paints, wrinkled papers and unfinished projects. This probably satisfied me more than her, and I did feel better looking into an organized room even though I didn’t get rid of that much. She was glad to have dedicated storage spots for each craft so that finding tools and materials is now quicker.

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