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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The De-Cluttering Survey: Disadvantages

Photo by: Sira Anamwong

Are there any disadvantages to de-cluttering? I asked our participants.
Their response?  Yes—8   No—8   Sometimes—4 

“Our daughter is very creative, and as a small child, she loved to do art projects; often that required spreading out over great areas. It made for great conflict at times! Also, too much emphasis on being de-cluttered can result in a lack of spontaneity, and a sense of being uptight over things out of place.”

“Well . . . the process of me de-cluttering the house is very stressful for our family. I am surrounded by people who hoard! Seriously! My husband's office . . . I have finally learned to just close the door and not go in there. One child collects rocks, and every little scrap of paper with doodles must be saved. Another has just recently joined the ranks of saving rocks, nuts (like acorns found in the park), and papers. My small child is the only one who is not bothered when Mommy ‘cleans’ his room. It's fine to keep things nice and tidy, but it should not involve a Mommy meltdown once a month!"

“After a little time goes by I think, ‘Man, I wish I wouldn't have thrown that away.’ Ha ha.”

“Getting rid of things you might need. I don't understand people who give away their baby clothes after every pregnancy and then have to get more at the next one. Even with yard sale and consignment shopping, that would add up. Even aside from that, I have gotten rid of things that I later on wish I hadn't. Some might see that as too much attachment to ‘things,’ but I see it as careful stewardship of my possessions.”

“As a new missionary, we started collecting stuff because there was no Walmart around the corner, if you needed something. Years later and things are more readily available. I am trying to overcome that mentality. There is also the disadvantage of getting rid of something you should have kept, but I really think the chances are minimal. I can't really think of a significant occasion where that has happened to us.“   

“I bring in more stuff I get in good deals, that we can use. Sometimes, I don't have a home for that . . . so I am a hoarder/de-clutterer . . . ha!”

“You might throw out something that is actually useful, just because you’re tired of seeing it and never using it. You know the Murphy’s Law Corollary: If you throw away something you haven’t used in five years, you will need it two weeks later.”

“Not that I can find. I love de-cluttering. Well, I guess the downside would be getting everybody onboard. Kids and hubby love to hold onto stuff.”

“I don’t see any disadvantage at all. If something is extra, the best thing is to get rid of it. I think the hardest part about getting rid of extras is the attachment we feel to things, even in our imagination and fantasies about what we can really use or do with them—and then we never do.”

“Sometimes the things I pull out to de-clutter make their way back to the shelf or box because it IS something we should save. My husband is my balance in this process, because sometimes I just want to get rid of everything because the clutter gets on my nerves! Sometimes in my de-cluttering, I forget that there are things that are just pretty that add beauty to our lives. If you de-clutter too much or do it without balance, then you can miss out on having lovely things. Sometimes we don't need to be absolutely practical about everything, but we do need to stop and ‘smell the roses.’ Having kids reminds me of this because to them every scribble and every rock collected and every ‘present’ from friends are precious treasures that I would otherwise ‘de-clutter.’ They remind me that some of these things are reminders of special relationships and people in our lives, and we don't just have to de-clutter everything that doesn't serve a practical purpose.”

“The biggest disadvantage is that sometimes you need or miss something you got rid of. But when you weigh the cost of rarely needing to replace something against the peace of mind and beauty and freed-up brain cells, it’s definitely worth it.”

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Quite a few of our survey participants agree that they sometimes later need something they’ve given or thrown away.


I will never say that the disadvantages of de-cluttering outweigh the advantages. But I think it’s at least caution-worthy that we examine the disadvantages:
  • Friction in the home
  • Getting rid of things that have value to our children
  • When de-cluttering actually increases the stress level in the home
  • Stewardship—when over de-cluttering produces real needs later
  • The house looks sterile and not homey.
  • And, the biggie: getting rid of things you need soon after they’re pitched or given away

Stay tuned for one more post about Finding Balance in De-Cluttering. It will include some recommended reading and links. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, please scroll down to enjoy them.

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