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How to Declutter and Organize When Your Spouse Isn't on Board

Today, I'm answering one of the most frequent questions I get asked. (You thought you were the only one, didn't you?) Speaking from personal experience, I know how hard it can be when you are ready to tidy up your home or downsize and your spouse is just not on board.

Having a tidy and organized home is possible! Here are my best tips and advice for decluttering and organizing your home without the immediate support of a spouse or partner:

1. Communicate your goal of decluttering and organizing to your spouse. If all of a sudden, you are throwing things out and rearranging I can assure you things won't go very well. Have an honest conversation and let them know what your goals are. Maybe the clutter is causing you anxiety and this is affecting your mood when you come home? Maybe you can't find what you need when you need it? Explaining this to your spouse will help them understand why this is important to you as well as prepare them for a bit of change.

2. Start small. If you're new to this, the best places to start decluttering and organizing are drawers, small closets, or a single shelving unit. Once you see how great it feels to get rid of the stuff you don't need and organize what you do, it will inspire you to keep going and tackle the larger spaces in your home. Leave sentimental items for last.

3. As difficult as it may be, focus on your items only. If your home feels cluttered and unorganized, I guarantee you your spouse is not the only culprit. It's so easy to put blame on others in your household but I think you'll be surprised how much of that stuff is yours and what you can control. Focusing on your clutter first will also inspire others in your home to do the same. You will begin to set the standards for your home and show them how a tidy and organized space looks and feels.

Other spaces you can control are your children's spaces and spaces your family shares. Before getting rid of anything that is shared, involve your household. I would suggest putting items up for a vote or discussing the pros and cons of keeping or donating them.

4. Establish clutter-free zones. Remind your spouse of the reasons you'd like to have less clutter and let them know which areas are non-negotiables when it comes to clutter. These are areas where clutter should not accumulate. Some of mine are the entryway and our dining room table.

5. Allow your spouse to have one messy junk drawer or shelf. Yup. But make sure this space is contained and in a place where you don't have to look at it. This is a bit of a compromise- which marriage is all about, right? If something of theirs is in a clutter-free zone, let them know that you will put it in their designated messy space so they know where to look for it. Once this area of theirs becomes too packed, they will know that they need to find homes for these items or get rid of some.

6. If they allow you to, help your spouse organize all of their "junk". Haha. Remember that this is their home too and you wouldn't appreciate it if they were telling you what you should keep or get rid of. Try combining like with like items and using all of the same containers so they stack neatly.

True story: My husband was storing about five pairs of shoes in our entryway closet that were, he explained for specific scenarios. Since I hadn't seen him wear any of them for the four years we had been together, I asked if we could donate them. I continued to get a no but every 6 months or so, I would continue to check-in, "Hey I'm going through the closet and I have a donate pile, can I add these to the donate pile? I haven't seen you wear them in years." A few months ago, after two years of asking, he finally said yes. If your spouse isn't ready to get rid of an item now, it doesn't mean that they never will. Be patient and try asking multiple times throughout each season. Chances are, they just need a reminder that they don't use certain items.

7. Assess what gets left out in your home and create systems and homes for these items that make sense. I noticed that my husband and I needed a place to set things down when we came in the door. My purse and our keys and mail would end up on the dining table and shoes were scattered throughout our apartment. By adding cube storage in our entryway, I created shoe storage as well as a tabletop to set our daily things down and in turn, our dining room table stays tidier.

If your spouse is still struggling to let go of a large amount of stuff, discuss the idea of having a garage sale. All of that stuff used to be money and you could potentially make some portion of that back.

Lastly, please be patient with your less organized spouse. It may take some time for them to come around but I guarantee that if you lead by example they will make improvements. Show them how happy a tidy home makes you and how easy it can be when you can find what you need in just a few seconds.

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