Decluttering & Hoarding

Updates: I began working a month ago at an amazing nonprofit organization in Austin. Im moving into my own apartment on Sunday. I’ve found a new daycare in a span of a day, yikes.

Life is looking up, the part that is of particular interest to me is the phase I’m going through in relation to my stuff.

I am decluttering. I am finally able to throw things away unapologetically. I use to feel guilty throwing things away and this would cause me to HOARD junk.

The shifts came in waves for me beginning 6 months ago. I left to Austin from Houston with one suitcase, one travel bag and my sons car seat to go stay with a friend.

In the span of 3 months and two trips we compiled a small apartment in our tiny 8×8 room. Infiltrating their garage, toy boxes, bathroom and pantry.

After 3 weeks at work I had a HUGE event for work (2-day Night Market focusing on Asian Foods) with estimates of 15,000 people in attendance. 8am Friday morning, the first night of the event, we get kicked out. Didn’t have time to mull over that, planned to be out Sunday after the event.

When all my items were packed I was shocked at how much FOOD I had. It was a huge box of dry goods then a FULL cooler of refrigerated items. – My ex-suegra was the one to say ‘well, yeah you’re a food hoarder’. (We lived with her for 6 weeks before the Austin move)

That was the beginning of this phase.

We arrived at another family friend, this time someone that has known my sister for 30+ years. They still hang out and we’re actually doing a girls night the week before.

We stayed there for 12 days and through multiple interactions and conversations, I had a boot camp with the most amazing woman. She was strong-willed, focused, particular, neat and had no sentimental value to any of her items and it was so empowering to witness her relationship with her belongings. Aside from her actual success professionally and rising through personal adversity – we focused on recalibrating my brain so that I could be saved from the hoarding bug that the rest of my family has.

Marie Kondo had nothing on her.

Our first week there we established I had enough food to eat, because I threw bags of food away upon arrival (a lot of it given to me by my parents on a visit two weeks before).

After 3 days, I found my apartment. The clincher was the washer and dryer, ILL TAKE IT. It was on the higher end of my budget, but aesthetically SO pleasing and the appliances were all generally new. Carpet was clean, had a shady patio with plenty of storage space and a random novel fireplace.

I started a goodwill bag in our bedroom BUT I had clothes all over the second bed in our room. It was a tornado 8/10 times.

At 5 days, I came to Houston with the intentions that I would be cleaning our storage out and taking what we need be and throwing everything else. That evening after picking my son up 5 mins late, my daycare terminated me. Another Friday, another piece of bullshit, another lesson.

The next day I was so worn out from the past week. I got my friend to come over to go to the storage with me, HOWEVER it ended up just being a coffee and roll around chill for a couple hours kind of day for me.

I had an event the following Wednesday that I had been putting off sending an email. She sat with me for those last 30 mins and, ploop, in less than 5 minutes I sent all the registered attendees the email I should have sent the day before.

She also gave me an invaluable piece of event planning advice: if it takes less than two minutes, do it now — that has saved me so much grief the past week.

7 days, I was recharged and I tackled the storage with my bro and cuñado.



Two hours of work later

We threw away a bunch of random broken furniture. I gave one of my best friends who’s expecting a box with ~20lbs of baby clothes. I have 4 boxes that need to go to goodwill and 2 to half priced books. I threw away a whole trash bag of stuff and recycled another box full of items.

(Many of the items I never got rid of because they were given to me by my parents- notice a pattern?)

It. Was. Liberating.

Never in my entire 26 years of life could I go through my items and detach myself from them or the circumstances under which I received them. I had an emotional connection to EVERYTHING. My goals after that session were:

  1. Throw things away faster
  2. Commit to the items I am keeping

At 8 days, Monday, I was tasked with finding a daycare after my boss let me take the day off. I went and fixed my linen closet. I felt better getting rid of some items in my car. Went to visit two daycares after calling 6 and chose the second one for my son to start the next day.

At 10 days, I had my first small scale event, it was well attended with less than 20 people. The topic: declutter & transform. Jenny Brown was leading this workshop in the Konmari method.

The most important lesson taught was to live life gratefully. In respect to our items, if they have served their purpose and cease to spark joy then we thank them and let them go back into the world. I needed that.

Around the same time my family friend was having panic attacks seeing my room so she went and cleaned it and sorted it. #adultingfail

She emphasized that I liked the cleanliness and so did my son. It feels so much better to be tidier and sorted and have everything in its place.

By the 12th day, yesterday, all of my items were packed and ready to go. A friend and I packed the entire cabin of my car up and he held a basket in his lap as we moved. It took us 10 minutes to unload. I thought it would be to much stuff but after putting everything in the area of where it should be. It fits.

Main takeaways from my declutter boot camp:

  • When you have less stuff, you clean less stuff.
  • When you know all the items you have, you won’t duplicate them by buying more. Applicable to leggings as much as cheese.
  • You can’t have open space with STUFF.
  • Babies like cleanliness and open spaces.
  • It doesn’t take very long to tidy up, it’s about discipline.
  • Clean everything at once, so you’re not always almost done.
  • Your home should alway be guest ready in 7 minutes.
  • Be decisive and be fast about throwing stuff, if you have to debate about it – toss it.
  • Not everything that your loved ones gives you is a collectors item.
  • This is Texas, you will get bugs leaving food out. Keep your kitchen clean.

*wipes brow*

Any organizational tips as I round out this declutter phase?

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