Day 264 Other peoples stuff

For those of you who don’t read the comments on my blog I thought I would share this one with you. Back on Day 232 I received this comment from Eve…

I’m loving your blog and look forward to checking it each day (I only found it yesterday). Something about your posts makes me want to dig in and de-clutter stuff. Already I’ve de-cluttered dozens of little things: kitchen gadgets, fabric trimmings I thought I’d use but clearly haven’t, school applications for my son that are no longer necessary to keep, IKEA Allen wrenches, etc. Each item I throw away or put into the Goodwill bag makes me feel like I’m losing weight! I have one question: what is your attitude about secretly decluttering other family members’ junk?

My response was this…

Hi Eve,
I don’t secretly declutter anything for other members of my family. My children are old enough to make their own decisions so all I can do is encourage them or help them but outside of that it’s their stuff and I just have to live with that. My husband is totally on board with the decluttering so I just leave him to take care of his own stuff so no problem there. If I find something that belongs to someone else while I am decluttering I always ask the owner if they want it or not.
You are doing so well with your own stuff by the sounds of it and maybe if your family see the benefit of that they might just start to participate of their own free will.

Just to elaborate on this topic. I don’t think it is a good idea ever to give away something of someone else. Once a person is at an age where they are aware of what is theirs it is their choice whether to keep it or not. I have always encouraged my children to declutter their toys and things once they had grown out of them. It made it easier if we had a garage sale because then they have the bonus of making a little money that they can spend on something else. Then I would even gave them the choice to keep it or give it to charity if it didn’t sell and I think they were always happy to give it to someone who would appreciate it.

I know it is difficult if the other adult member of’ the family isn’t willing to part with their clutter but aside from trying to encourage them there really is nothing else you can do.

My daughter actually read the Eva’s comment and this was her response…

It would be quite difficult for her to declutter our things secretly. Both my brother and I have way too much stuff in our possession but you can bet your bottom dollar that we’d notice if something (even a small something) were to go missing and she’d be hearing about it!! Haha, she does do a pretty good job getting us to declutter though. Whenever I visit I usually get thrown a pile of things while watching TV and am told to go through it. It always seems like such a chore but some of the old things I find in my cluttered mess is quite amusing and it ends up being a fun little activity (but shhh, don’t tell the declutter queen that I said that!).

She’s a cheeky little rat, I can’t imagine where she gets it from.


I attempted to sell this on ebay without success

Rubber Stamp Set 2

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I know some people ruthlessly throw out their family’s stuff – I just can’t do that. My husband is a borderline packrat (though he seems to like MY decluttering) and I just feel like it would be disrespectful to him as a person to do that to him, or anyone. People aren’t all alike, not everyone wants less stuff, or to be a minimalist. If they do, they’ll end up being inspired by what you do with your stuff, which isn’t going to happen if you trash their stuff!

  2. i’m interested in your rubber stamps! what size are they and how much??

    i never throw away my family’s stuff w/o asking, but they almost always seem to let it go when i ask; they just don’t want to go to the trouble of it?

    • Hi Loreejo,
      welcome to the comments section of 365lessthings. It is always good to add a new voice to the mix as we all have some thing to offer. I have certainly learned in this process that it is best not to assume that someone is keeping something because they want it ,usually it is just because they don’t know what else to do with it ( or in some cases too lazy to do something with it) so I have no problems asking anymore.
      As for the rubber stamps I will have to let you know about that when I get home. (If I forget send me a reminder I will be home on Sunday)

  3. My mother was HORRIBLE about getting rid of my stuff, and not only did she do it a lot, but she got rid of my favorites AND gave them to my close cousins who I saw daily! So I would end up sneaking most of *my* stuff home which caused drama with my cousins, too.

    I will declutter my son’s stuff, but he’s 2. When he’s a little older and understands the concept (he already knows how nice it is to play with a few favorite toys as opposed to a bunch that break the first time), he’ll have a say. Then when he’s even older than that, he’ll get to declutter his own stuff.

    We may have *rules* about clutter…certain number of toys or whatever, but I think that is different than essentially taking someone’s property from them.

  4. In full agreement with this viewpoint. We can show, we can ask, we can help – but we can’t do it for someone else. Not if we want to show and be shown respect.

  5. Fully agreed. You could even end up raising a packrat if you throw your kids’ stuff away without asking them, as they will grow afraid of losing stuff as it has felt so bad, and wanting to hold on to everything. My DD is not even 2 yet so I do go through her stuff and have put away some baby toys she no longer plays with, but she will get a say when she is a bit older, and hopefully learn to de-clutter with me. She already has favorites though and I’d never dream of disposing those!

  6. Hey, I feel famous today! Thanks for making my query into a post. I do think it’s disrespectful to take away people’s stuff without asking. I’m limiting myself to tossing actual garbage — empty envelopes, broken pieces of lost toys, candywrappers/packaging that someone never threw out . . .
    And my daughter even suggested that I make a pile of stuff and clothes for her to consider tossing, and she’ll make the final decision. So I think it’s right to make everyone part of the process. And my son even voluntarily gave up some toys (gifts) he’d never opened or used. So we are making progress. Thanks for your thoughts!


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