A Simple Approach to Living With Less

The Reclutter Monster Wore Pink

The Reclutter Monster is sneaky. He likes to give you a false sense of security after a massive cleaning out project. He knows he may have lost the battle, but he’ll be back to try and win the war! He just lays low for awhile and bides his time. “Say hi to the folks at Goodwill for me. Don’t worry. . .I know where you live.”

The Reclutter Monster goes into hibernation throughout the year, but he always comes out of hiding when holidays and birthdays roll around. “Did you miss me?” he asks. “You didn’t think I was gone for good, did you?” Stay strong, dear Minimalist! The Reclutter Monster is here to test you, but if you know his tricks you can beat him!

Battling the Reclutter Monster

I did battle with the Reclutter Monster this weekend. He had taken siege in my daughter’s room. He had surrounded himself with colored blocks, naked baby dolls, and a stuffed animal fortress. He was hanging tough with outgrown clothes, a broken robot, and some old princess costumes. It was going to be a tough battle for sure!

I gathered my weapons: a large black trash bag and a stubborn streak a mile long. I was not going down without a fight! I left my emotions at the door and didn’t let the cuteness factor undermine my efforts. Fueling me on was the knowledge that another birthday will be arriving in two weeks and I knew the Reclutter Monster would be sending his reinforcements.

I am proud to say that I claimed victory that day! I did not give in. Two trash bags later and not a single tear shed. . . I emerged triumphantly!

Know Your Opponent Well

It’s easy to get frustrated when you’ve worked hard at decluttering your home and you turn around only to find it recluttered again. Unless you live alone, your home can become recluttered faster than you realize what’s happening. But if you remain aware of this issue, you’re half-way there to winning to battle.

Knowledge is Power. Don’t let clutter overwhelm you. Accept it as reality and develop your battle plan now.

Kids are clutter magnets. Period. End of story. Be aware of broken, unplayed with, and outgrown toys. My kids have this odd habit of keeping broken toys because they used to love them. Break the habit now.

Clean out before every gift occasion. I always plan a clutter purge before Christmas and before birthdays. I do more in between but since I know those times will be clutter intensive, I do battle beforehand.

Plan seasonal declutter touch-ups. When you cycle out clothing for seasons, it’s a good time to go through other elements of room clutter. For kids that means toys. For adults that means paperwork, gadgets never used, and items we had to have but somehow live without just fine.

Don’t give in to the discouragement. Being discouraged and tired are two of the Reclutter Monster’s biggest weapons. Don’t give in. Come here for encouragement, find me on Twitter, or write for advice in the particular area you’re struggling with. There is strength in numbers. Find a fellow minimalist and share your battle plans.

If you have struggles or insights on fighting the Reclutter Monster, please share with us in the comments.


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Article originally published on 01/17/2011

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  1. Jill Foley says

    Love this! It’s so true that kids are clutter magnets…this is our biggest area of clutter and the hardest battle to fight.

    • Faith Janes says

      It’s definitely the toughest area here too. I need to attack the boys room next but I’m really dreading it. I just did their room 3 months ago and you can’t even tell. There are too many rooms in this house that feel that way. I feel like I keep saying to myself, “Didn’t I just clean that out?!”

      I guess it’s true…a mother’s work is never done. Maybe it should be “A minimalist’s work is never done.” I don’t know if that’s encouraging or a tad depressing. 🙂

  2. My son had a friend over this weekend. Sunday evening I was amazed how much stuff was scattered around my house. Nerf bullets stuck to every flat surface, lego men on every shelf, star wars figures on the coffee table and stuffed animals arranged on my sofa. I grabbed a plastic bin from his game room and just dropped everything into it. Its quick, fast and my son doesn’t seem to mind grabbing toys out of the bins. I have a shelf system in the game room that holds 6 of the bins.

  3. I really love the title. I have to admit, that is one cute clutter monster you got there!

  4. We’re planning the World’s Greatest Garage Sale for this Spring. I planted the seed in their brains about the potential cash they could make by deciding what they could part with. We have bins in the garage full of stuff for the sale.

    It’s a slow process, but we’re turning it into a school project, as well. They’ll do the pricing, and run the sale.

    I don’t care how much we make, so long as we get rid of a lot. 🙂

    • Faith Janes says

      That’s great when the kids can get on board and get excited about it. Excellent homeschool project. I really can’t stand garage sales but I think I’m just not tough enough for it. I’ve suffered through several but I feel like I wasted my day and didn’t make very much. But I have friends who make a killing. Maybe next time I’ll just pay them a percentage to sell my junk for me. Good luck with yours! Please report back how it goes.

      • I’d rather die than spend a gorgeous Saturday waiting for people to buy my junk. It’s been 20 years since my last, and I swore I’d never do it again.

        That being said, it has been a great motivator.

      • The best way to have a thrift sale is to not have a thrift sale – have a gathering with a few family or friends sitting around chatting, playing cards, a board game, etc., with a thrift sale that happens to be going on at the same time.

        Let the kids have a lemonade stand. Charge people a dime or a quarter for a little styro cup of lemonade, and let the kids keep the profits from it.

        It doesn’t have to be hell. 😀

  5. What a great article, and I SO Needed to read this today! I can totally relate to Marc from Minimalist Freak and all the legos, nerf bullets and star wars stuff too!

  6. We have two boys and live in a three-bedroom house. They share a bedroom and the third bedroom has been the bane of my existence for 8 years now! It’s the catch-all room, from old toys to old clothes to my husband’s workout gear and shoes. I have just closed the door on it because it was so overwhelming to deal with. This year it will be different! I announced at dinner the other night that by the end of 2011, that room will be cleaned out, decluttered, organized, and painted. My older son doesn’t yet want his own room (he’s 14) so I don’t know what this room will become, but whatever that is, it will be an improvement.

    I don’t know what will happen to the outgrown trucks they used to play with; maybe they’ll stay in their bin and take the whole thing to the thrift shop. Or take it to the ebay consignment shop around the corner. Either way, IT MUST GO! So I’ll be tackling the Clutter Monster in 2011, and probably fighting the Reclutter Monster in 2012.

  7. Been checking in here to help simplify our life. With four girls in our tiny house… it’s time for us to let go of the unnecessary stuff and grab onto each other instead! Thanks for the inspiration…


  8. Hi Faith,
    Kids give us a lot of mess, but they also give us the purest joy. Having a child in the house requires a lot of management. But this is the work that you will feel happy no matter how hard it is. I like to observe kid’s little adventure to us, but big for them.

  9. Thank you for this thought/perspective. Sometimes we need to be kinder about our “to do” lists.

  10. Clutter magnets! Love that term. Toys seem to breed like magic in our house too. I tend to do my toy purges after gift-giving occasions, that way they are too busy with the new toys to notice the old ones sneaking out.

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