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Decluttering | Kids/Families

Is it Okay to Declutter Other Peoples Stuff?

About Laura

I  am a Southern California turned small town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls.

Back when I first started my organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD.

I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am,  and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

I help women and moms with ADHD, but I also help those who struggle with clutter without having ADHD.  Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.

I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.

I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life. 

always have

something

beautiful 

in your space…

…but let it be

as simple

as a daisy

in a vase.

 

Why it is important to use caution when letting go of other people’s stuff.

During organizing and decluttering projects, it is tempting to want to donate or toss out other people’s stuff, especially if they have not been used in a while. But the following is a personal narrative of why you should never let go of other people’s stuff without their permission. 

A cautionary tale about the risk of letting go of other people’s stuff:

The dramatic rescue of Las ​Vegas Monkey

One day, years ago, Las Vegas Monkey managed to narrowly escape being hauled away with the trash. Today, my daughter still has the monkey in her bedroom, although she has long gone off to college.

Most of the other plush toys she grew up with have been either donated or tossed. Some toys are not even that lucky, they have been passed on to the dog to be slobbered on and slowly torn into bits. But Las Vegas Monkey has a different story.

I didn’t think that my 4-year-old would even notice that the toy was missing.

Years before I started my organizing career, Las Vegas Monkey arrived in the arms of my two-year-old Emily. My husband and I took a business trip to Las Vegas and brought back two little plush monkeys as souvenirs for both of our girls.

They loved them for a while, but eventually, they were seemingly lost and forgotten among the other multitudes of toys. One day, I was home alone and decided to do a bit of toy decluttering in the girl’s bedroom. At that time, combined, the girls must have had about 100 stuffed animals. As I rifled through the pile of trinkets and other debris, I came across Las Vegas Monkey.

Emily mostly ignored this monkey (or so I thought) and I noticed that its arm was broken, it had been pushed into her body making her look like she had only three limbs and I couldn’t pull it back out. I confirmed the toy to be officially broken.

So I ask you, why keep a broken stuffed animal when you have 99, not broken ones to play with? I made an executive decision and tossed it into the trash. “Emily won’t even notice that it’s missing,” I told myself. But, I was wrong…DEAD WRONG.

Exactly one day later…

While I was cooking supper, my sweet 4-year-old came barreling out of her room with a look of terror on her face. “MOMMY!!!” she hollered, ‘Where is my pink monkey??? I can’t find her anywhere; You didn’t throw her away did you?” She asked this question in a “You wouldn’t do a terrible thing as that would you?” voice. 

other peoples stuff

With a guilty stare, I nodded sheepishly. Then I quickly tried to redeem myself by explaining logically to her that the monkey was broken and she had 99 other stuffed animals to play with.

That excuse did not work even 1 percent. For one thing, it does not work to explain things logically to a hysterical 4-year-old. She fell to the ground, seemingly heartbroken. Then she ran to her room to cry a river of tears.

At that point, I was pretty sure she was never going to talk to me again. So what did I do? Well, I did what any guilty mamma with a heartbroken child would do…

So… I went dumpster diving.

Fortunately for me, the trash had not yet been picked up. Unfortunately, I had to search through every trash bag in the dumpster before I found Las Vegas Monkey. I finally found her at the bottom of a trash bag, at the bottom of the dumpster. She was wet and dirty and stinky, and so was I, but I felt victorious just the same. She went into the washing machine, Emily’s heart was mended, and I was forgiven…mostly.

Over the years, Emily has grown very fond of her little monkey, perhaps because she came so close to losing her. I like to muse that is because her mommy braved rotten food to rescue her.

To this day though, it is not the dramatic rescue or the fact that the monkey was at the bottom of everything that Emily recalls. Nor does she remember how dirty and stinky I got. No, she only reminds me of how horribly wrong it was to toss her monkey into the trash in the first place. 

Other peoples stuff

It took her a long time to trust me again, and just to make me feel even worse, my husband, who is much handier than me at fixing things, managed to fix the monkey’s arm after all. Las Vegas Monkey isn’t even handicapped anymore. 

How to properly let go of other people’s stuff. 

What might not mean much to you may be a treasure to another person, and you do not want to jeopardize your loved one’s trust. Many of my clients have heard me tell this amusing story, and they know that I never recommend letting go of other people’s stuff without their permission.

Let other people let go of their own stuff.

Instead, I recommend that you put any items in question into a box for your family members to inspect and approve of before sending them off to a charity or…ahem, tossing them into the trash.

With exception to all that toy debris left over when you organize or clean your child’s bedroom, (broken parts, cheap trinkets and other tiny bits of junk), children need to make their own decisions as well.  Most especially, 4-year-old little girls.

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