How to live with a hoarder

How to survive decluttering with a hoarder.

Decluttering is something that has taken the world by storm. Everyone has been charmed by the idea of living a fuller life with less, but for some people that just isn’t a sentiment they can get around.

Do you have a child or partner that religiously holds on to everything, be it old school books, toys or scratched CDs? Perhaps they have piles of books that seem to grow by the day, or a cupboard full of junk that you ‘might need one day’? If you’re living with a hoarder, professional organizer Jo Carmichael has some advice on how to declutter in a way that leaves you both satisfied.  

“Everybody’s view and perception on tidiness and organisation is unique. Many people are ‘clutter blind’ and they just don’t see piles of papers, dirty dishes and clothing strewn around the rooms as clutter.  They just see it as things. We can store these things in the family home, fairly neatly, without encroaching on our family’s boundaries too painfully.”

child in box
(Credit: Getty)

Team work makes the dream work

“Instead of being the enemy, be the helping hand. Rather than yelling or getting frustrated with your partner or child, work together as a team to sort through their things together. Provide encouragement and reassurance, and this will make the decluttering process a positive one.”

“Once you have made progress in one room, help them organise and make a place for their things in other rooms.  I often find children are happy to let go of things, while the parent is wanting to hang onto it as it was an expensive purchase, or the parent believes the child will need it later in the year. Learn to strike a happy medium.”

A place for everything…

Help your partner or child narrow things down by keeping their things in areas delegated to them. Having a space limitation will not only help them understand what they can and cannot fit, it will also help them from over populating ‘off limit’ areas of the home with their stuff.”

“Having delegated areas will also help both you and them feel better by knowing they have an area that’s all for their things. For example, both partners need a set area to keep their bag, wallet, keys, phone which is used when entering and exiting the house.”

man in messy attic
(Credit: Getty)

Allocate time to think

“Give your partner or child a ‘think about it’ pile and start with baby steps so you don’t overwhelm them with decisions.  Place items that they are unsure about into an area – say a box or on a shelf, and leave there for a set time – such as two weeks.”

“If they use these things or can make a decision on them, such as ‘let’s store these cups and chairs for when we go camping or on picnics’, or realise these are sentimental items and could be put aside on a high shelf to keep, that is a positive outcome.  Make a place for these used or sentimental items.”

“Make an agreement that after the set time of two weeks, if the items are still unused or no longer needed, they can then be disposed of happily.”

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How to declutter your digital devices 

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