The Scariest Stuff

At #Halloween time, people love to have a little fun with the phobias that scare them. Houses get bedecked with #spectres and #spiderwebs, and children dress up in #ghoulish, #gory costumes to roam the neighborhoods’ front porches in search of free candy.

But the really #scary stuff may be INSIDE THE HOUSE. Overstuffed closets that don’t shut. Heaping toy bins. Stacks of books and papers that list under their own weight. Shelves jammed with boxes of rejects and extras. That’s right: Your house is #haunted by #clutter.

Many of the things creating the clutter may be uncomfortable to look at — clothing that no longer fits or has gone out of style, for example. It’s embarrassing to look at, so you shove it to the back of the closet and try to forget about it.

Or those extra knickknacks that didn’t find a place in your new home (and never will). Isn’t it best, you might think, to just box them up and put them on a shelf in hopes that someday they will fit in to your decor?

No! Get rid of them now, and you’ll say goodbye to those embarrassments while creating new space in your home for the things you use and love. Along the way, you’ll reduce the anxiety that having a cramped, disorganized and cluttered home can produce.

Scary Mommy says that clutter produces an ominous dread in her that’s worse than any installment of the Friday the 13th franchise. “Cleaning up clutter is not just another thing on the to-do list like packing my kids’ lunches. It’s a full-on ragey kind of panic.

“It’s the feeling that I literally can’t breathe with all the clutter that’s filling our house,” she says. “It’s a feeling that the world is a chaotic place that I can’t control, and all of that chaos is represented by the loud, unruly, angsty wreck that is my living room.”

Chaos is scary. But the #decluttering process is also scary, because it demands that you go through all of that broken, disused and extra stuff and make snap decisions about what can stay and what should go.

In the spirit of the season, resolve to face those fears. Pick a disorganized, overstuffed shelf, closet or room and begin. It may be uncomfortable, embarrassing or frightening at first, but as your space slowly gets more organized, you’ll feel the anxiety lift.

If you find anything that may still be useful to other people as you declutter, bag it up and contact ClothingDonations.org for a donation pickup. Like giving out candy, you’ll be cheered to donate something knowing that it will assist veterans year-round.

And that may just make decluttering feel like a trick and a treat. Happy Halloween!

Out With the Old in the New School Year

Back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity to get rid of all sorts of extra stuff that kids have brought into the home in years past, says #decluttering expert Tracy McCubbin. Toys that the kids no longer use, books they’ve read and won’t pick up again, clothing they’ve outgrown, equipment for sports they no longer play, and last year’s backpacks and bags are good targets for your seasonal purge. Bag or box these items and get them out of your house by scheduling a free #donation pickup from ClothingDonations.org. “Next year, think about doing this decluttering while the kids are at sleepaway camp,” the dClutterfly ounder adds.

Get the Kids to Declutter on Their Summer Vacation

School’s out (for the summer)! And if you have kids, that means you’ll be looking for something to keep them busy for six or eight hours on most weekdays. Summer camp, a family vacation and other diversions are great options, but they can’t fill every one of those hours fast enough. This summer, get your kids involved in a good #decluttering.

You can already hear the collective groan you might hear as you suggest such a chore. But if you organize and incentivize the task, you might find that it gets done faster and more completely — and then everyone can really enjoy the summer fun.

Set a goal; the Making Lemonade blog suggests a summertime target of reducing stuff by one-third. Kids tend to accumulate lots of toys, clothing and other junk that they outgrow quickly, leading to overstuffed closets and drawers, so extra stuff should be easy to weed out. Put each of them in in charge of choosing what to keep.

Find a rainy day or quiet weekend to have everyone pitch in and declutter their personal spaces, or simply set a deadline. As an incentive, put a garage or yard sale on the calendar; anything that the kids are able to declutter and sell will mean extra money in their pockets — money they can spend on whatever they wish.

Toys can present an especially challenging decluttering task, says Simply Well Balanced. Sort them into categories — building toys, stuffed animals, craft supplies, etc. — and ask your child to keep only a limited number of favorites. Those few items will go back to the closets and shelves, and the rest will be bagged and boxed for sale or #donation. Anything broken or unusable can go directly into the trash.

After you hold your sale and distribute the proceeds, you can box up the leftover clothing, toys and other household items and schedule a ClothingDonations.org pickup. A driver will stop by on the appointed day, load up your stuff and leave a donation receipt for tax purposes. That lightly used merchandise will then be resold to fund veterans’ programs.

This, in itself, can be a lesson in personal responsibility for younger children, decluttering coach Gari Julius Weilbacher told WHYY. “It’s wonderful to teach kids from a young age about making meaningful donations. Involving kids in packing up the books, toys and clothes that they are no longer using can engage them in the process.”

Purge, Organize and Store Extra Stuff

If your space is stuffed to the gills with junk, a ruthless purge is the first step to a new, more #organized you, says Living Well Spending Less. “If you don’t love something, if it’s broken, if it doesn’t fit, or if you don’t use it, get rid of it!” Then, make an assessment of your storage space: Does it have room for a new set of storage shelves, hooks or bins? Deep-clean the area and invest in a uniform set of bins or boxes; then, reassemble the space, grouping all like items together. “Once you’ve organized your storage space, commit to keeping it intact,” the story says, and you’ll be able to find things when you need them while keeping #clutter to a minimum.

Declutter to Increase Storage Space

The curse of having too much stuff is common among Americans. And if you don’t keep that stuff organized, it becomes #clutter — and clutter can cloud the mind. That’s why the first step in any plan to get yourself, your storage space and your home organized should be to #declutter. Go room by room, the Spruce says, “and if rooms are large or complicated, you should start by breaking them up into zones. Work quickly and decide which items to toss and which to keep.” As you eliminate junk and free up space, donate any castoffs that may still be useful to someone else to ClothingDonations.org.