Getting Rid of Clutter II

Busy Mom’s Survival Guide Podcast Episode 007.
A couple of years ago, Jim and some of the boys went to a home in Louisville.  The family was living amongst garbage and debris that literally was piled everywhere.  The mom was single and had been injured and suffered from diabetes.  The boys should have been old enough to do something about it, but without guidance, they didn’t.  And so the stuff was left to accumulate.  And it did.  While they were cleaning out and loading the garbage trucks, Jim uncovered a cat litter pan and cat food.  He inquired about the cat only to discover it had died a few years previously.

Cleaning out clutter

This is an extreme example, but as you can imagine it made a HUGE impact on the boys.  They got to see first hand how bad clutter can get if we don’t regularly battle against it.

People let clutter accumulate for many reasons.  But eventually, there comes a time when it must be dealt with.  You may hear (or speak yourself) some of these reasons why people hang on to clutter and allow it to accumulate:

  • I might need it later
  • I could get money for that
  • I’m going to finish that
  • I spent a lot of money on that
  • Somebody gave it to me
  • That’s an important memory
  • I don’t have time

During this podcast episode, I’ll address these excuses and give you some solid encouragement on how to counter these fears.  Because the last thing you want is for people to have to some day bring dumpsters and garbage trucks to your home to empty it.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of this episode and where your home stands when it comes to clutter.  You can also call the feedback line at 240-230-SOAP and leave me a question that I will answer on the final episode on clutter.

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Thanks for listening! Join me next week as we continue the discussion of getting rid of clutter.


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  • Kelly B

    I currently live with my Mother in a large, old farmhouse. I moved in right before my Dad died. My Dad was a packrat and my Mom is a bit of a horder. Needless to say the house is full of junk. There is at least 5 generations of stuff in the house and not much room for me or my children. My children and I are all sleeping in one bedroom (1 queen bed and 2 cribs) and there is stuff everywhere. I am out of room for our most basic stuff and I just don’t have the time or help to work on it. I must say it is very frustrating as I do like order and organization, but in this situation I am stressed, frustrated, angry and distraught. I am trying to find some place to living, but as a single mom it is hard to find something I can afford. I have been purging things that I can and taking the clothes & toys that my kids have outgrown to consignment. There is just so much to go through and my Mom is not interested in doing it. My Dad has been gone 2 years now and she is still depressed and grieving. This is affecting the rest of us. Any ideas on how to tackle some of the clutter?

    • Hi Kelly,

      I’m so sorry that you’re in such a difficult place. It’s not easy, especially as a single mom.

      Jim suggests that one reason your mom may still be grieving is because she is surrounded by that “oppressive load of stuff” (his words, although I cleaned that last word up) and that getting rid of it might be just what she needs.

      I would go on the assumption that you are staying there for a while, and not go on the assumption that you will be moving out (although you may).

      The way I see it is that you have two options. The first is to simply remove 1 garbage bag of stuff a day. Every single day. You can do that in 5 minutes or less. It is amazing how fast you can fill up a garbage bag. If you’ve got 10-15 minutes, go for 5 bags a day. I don’t know what the dynamic is between you and your mom, but if it were me, I wouldn’t ask, I would just do it. But you have to make that decision based on your relationship. I know as a single mom, money is tight, but I really would recommend just donating it. Start with one room at a time – the ones that would make the biggest difference to your peace of mind.

      The second option is to call in a bunch of favors, get a group of people, get a dumpster (or multiple dumpsters), and purge it all. When Jim’s grandmother died they filled up multiple dumpsters of stuff, removing everything that had been kept.

      Do you belong to a church that you can ask for help? If not, is there a local church that you can go and talk to the pastor and ask him for help? That’s how Jim and the boys helped at that house they went to. They didn’t know the people, but our home church asked for help to do it. And they went and made a huge difference.

      Hopefully your mom may not have any interest in doing it, but she won’t be at all angry with you doing it.

      Let me know if there is anything we can do to help – what state are you in?

      • Simplykaptured

        Thanks for the podcast on de-cluttering, however; I felt sorry for your husband being put on the spot like that (especially in front of all these listeners!)! Perhaps his more relaxed approach to decluttering is a gift that may enrich his wife’s journey into a more godly life–to become all that God has intended you to be…that’s what marriage is all about, right? Sometimes our spouses struggles are exactly what point us face-to-face to our own struggles. Have you read the Power of a Praying Wife? I have found that praying for my husband regularly in the things he struggles with or areas where change is needed is the best way to see evidence of him becoming a more godly man. Will him decluttering his life make him a more godly man? God knows the answer to this and will help your husband see this and bring him to a realization that he must deal with the clutter (if that’s what God feels is an area he needs to deal with). Surrender, submit, release all the annoyances and concerns about cleanliness. You are only accountable for what you have learned and have heard from the Lord. Others are accountable for what they have learned from the Lord…we are all on a journey. Pray this simply prayer: I pray for God’s very best plan for my husband & I with regard to clutter in our home. I choose to submit all my worries and concerns in this regard.

        I trust that you are a woman who shows much grace to your husband. And I’m sure vise versa as well.

        May God bless your marriage and your podcasts!

        Thank you so much! 🙂

        • goatmilkstuff

          Thanks for the concern, but Jim was not put on the spot at all about anything.  He knew exactly what I was going to ask him and he’s man enough to tell me when he thinks I’m wrong or if he doesn’t want to discuss something.  

          I have read the Power of a Praying Wife and pray regularly for Jim, but I don’t spend my time praying about clutter. It’s not a point of contention.  After 17 years of marriage Jim and I understand each other and our quirks quite well.  I know he likes to keep everything and he knows I like to get rid of everything.


  • Jonie M.

    I’ve been enjoying the clutter podcasts, PJ. It’s refreshing to hear your tips on organization.

    We’ve (my husband & I) been doing a bit of Spring Cleaning and de-cluttering here lately. Can you believe that I’ve lived in the same house for almost 38 years, and my husband has lived in nearly 10 different places. lol They say opposites attract! 🙂

    Thankfully I’ve had a bit of balance when it comes to clutter. I’ve kept things I didn’t need and ended up getting rid of later, and I’ve also eagerly gave some things away without hesitation. Now, I am trying to be more frugal when choosing things to buy. (That’s one good things about buying your soap, we use it and then there’s nothing left to lay around and collect dust! lol)

    I enjoyed Jim’s segment on the podcast this time. I was probably raised more like Jim, with family (my parents) who saved many things (the pickle jars, rubberbands, the aluminum pie pans, etc, etc.). My Mom passed away in 2001, and my Dad in 2008. Our family has given many pieces of their clothing away to others who can get some use from them. I know that my parents would want us to share the things that others can find use for, and in a way, this keeps a bit of them alive, rather than seeing their things just lay around and get dusty. As sad and hard as it is to accept, holding onto their material things will not bring them back. (The best part is knowing they were christians and trusted Jesus, and we have a hope and a future!)

    I would say for those who just can’t yet let go of departed loved ones’ goods, just limit yourself to keeping one plastic bin of their things for starters, and a few years or more down the road, you may be more apt to part with those things. As time passes, God has a way of healing.

    PJ, I strive to have more of your attitude in life. You are a strong inspiration to me. 🙂

    (BTW, when I heard Jim on the podcast it reminded me a lot (in his enunciation & voice) of Emery’s podcast!)

    • Thank you so much for those kind words, Jonie. Sharing that you feel that I inspire you has truly blessed me.

      I told Jim that he reminded you of Emery, he thought about it and said, “yep, I can see that.” LOL

      I think your attitude on your parents things is beautiful. About the only thing I still have that belonged to my grandmother is her big, huge stainless steel strainer that she used for pasta. I use that thing all the time and it often reminds me of her and the dinners she used to make for us. If people could find things like that, I think they’d be so much happier than keeping things lying around.


  • Melissa P.

    Thank you for the encouragement and practical ideas!

    • You are so very welcome! 🙂 I’m glad they help!


  • Ammie Barbee

    Clutter really does build up and become overwhelming. I have lots of closets were we live currently and plently of places to “hide” my clutter. We are preparing to move to a new house with less closet space (more living space but less hiding space, lol) and have to really go through things. I need to start taking pictures of the kids’ papers but that is really hard. Clutter really does have a life of its own. Still a work in progress.

    • Hey Ammie,

      As long as you are aware of the problem and working toward it, that’s half the battle. Just keep making daily progress and you’ll eventually get to where you need to be! 🙂


  • Sherry

    I have to say: “Ouch.” You zinged me good! I was just shopping for organizational stuff to contain my basement clutter. I realize I hold onto clutter for many emotional reasons including the fear of not having what I need. I regularly use a good number of the excuses you listed, and I realize again that this is an area where I need to turn my fears over and release them to God.

    • Sherry – you made me laugh. I think you nailed it though in that fear is a really big issue for many of us and why we hold on to so much. We say that we believe God will meet all of our needs and yet we still hold on to things “just in case”. I said a prayer for you that God would strengthen you in this area. 🙂 PJ