Decluttering and Avoiding Burn Out

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Dear Friends,

Are any of you feeling burned out? As a homeschool mom, you have a lot of things you do in a day. When you start decluttering, do you keep it quick and easy?

In reading some of your emails and seeing posts on Facebook, I have noticed that many of you feel like you are accomplishing your decluttering only if you make a bigger mess and spend hours doing it.
There is a better way to declutter. You can declutter in small, consistent steps and be successful. Your perfectionism wants you to dump everything and sort through it at one time. This leads you to burn out.

During the late summer and early fall, I have tackled large home projects, and I work on them in small steps. I cannot spend 8 hours making a huge mess to clean up again. If you find out you have to move and downsize in a short amount of time, you would need to declutter deeply and quickly. Most of you are not in this situation, so don’t make your decluttering projects a huge event.

Yesterday, I dropped off this week’s donations from my decluttering. It was not a huge amount of stuff, but it was nice to get it dropped off. You do not have to fill your vehicle to go to the donation center. A small box of donations a week will make a difference, too.

If your children need to declutter in their rooms, you need to help them break it down and assist them. You need to give them a specific goal for decluttering, such as clear off a dresser or get everything up from the floor. If they need to declutter the closet, keep it short and sweet. Divide it into reasonable sections. Only have them work on one area at a time per day. Do not pile it on them either.

Decluttering can be quick and painless! Use your timer and set limits. If you set the timer and keep resetting it, you are spending too much time on decluttering at one time.

You can do it! Keep it short, sweet, and simple!

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter under the bathroom sink.

Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

My menu plan for Tuesday is leftovers.
Have a blessed day!

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About Tami

Tami Fox is a homeschool mom of 6, who in age from 26 to 11. She and her husband have homeschooled for 17 years and have graduated three of their children from their homeschool. They are currently homeschooling 3 boys who are in grades 11, 9, and 6. They use hands-on learning and unit studies to ignite the fire of learning in their children. Tami is a homeschool author and conference speaker. You can contact her by email at Buy her book, Giving Your Children Wings at


Decluttering and Avoiding Burn Out — 4 Comments

    • Hello! I give my teens a list of their routines, and they have to do them daily. If they don’t, I collect electronics and power cords. I also control their ability to go places. This seems to help them stay motivated to do their work timely and with a good attitude.

      Blessings! Tami

  1. Hi Tami,
    Thank you so much for these daily posts! I’ve been fluttering for a few years, and many of Flylady’s sayings echo in my brain. Many of the emails now I see the title and realize I’ve read that one before and don’t even open it. But I signed up for your emails about 6 months ago and I really appreciate the integration you have from homeschooling and cleaning. And your testimony that you CAN homeschool and have a clean house.

    But this step of decluttering has been extremely difficult for me. For several reasons. One is that my kids are now 11, 9, & 6 and their growth is starting to slow down. But their constant growth in the early years (coupled with very poor health after #3 was born), it was hard to keep up on getting the clothes exchanged properly. I’ve been learning, though — it’s getting better!

    Another factor is that I’ve NEVER done a good job at breaking a job into smaller parts. It’s been all or nothing for me — from essays to dancing to decluttering. It’s almost like I can quickly grasp that there are a ton of steps, but I shut down because I just don’t even know where to begin. Or, conversely, I DO know where to begin, but not how to finish. Every year when I would pack up my dorm room I would move very quickly — until I got to the last hour’s worth of stuff and I would freeze & not know what to do, where to put it, how to categorize it. And I’ve seen that same tendency in my life today as well.

    Finally, the last month or so I’ve been watching several vlogs and getting inspired that way, too. One, The Messy Minimalist, has one called “The Avalanche Effect” and it is spot on and speaks to what you described today. You get into a room and there is something that needs to go, but it is like the classic, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. That one thing turns into a day long project and you still haven’t cleaned the room you intended to. I have seen that in my life many times. I know part of it, like Flylady says, is perfectionism/ADHD. Stay focused on the task at hand.

    But really it’s a big issue. If all the stuff I’m using is out of storage spaces and on surfaces — I must clean out storage spaces. But if I clean out a storage space, now I have all THAT stuff out until I have time again to figure out where IT now goes. So yes, perfectionism is part of it, but a place for everything and everything in it’s place is just not a reality — there IS NOT a place for everything. Trying to figure out how to make space is creating an avalanche.

    I’ve NEVER really understood the concept of decluttering — even with Flylady — until I watched Cassandra at Clutterbug and have been participating in her 30 day challenge. I don’t know if it is because I am more visual, but all Flylady has said over the years is finally beginning to click. What I have been missing is the concept of purging — and purging hard. Watching someone else look at their things and evaluate WHY I am picking to get rid of this or that. Not just watching a sped up video of people cleaning. Today was purses and totes. “I have 3 purses. This one I hate — it’s going. Two left. I think I’ll treat myself later to a purse I really like and get rid of this pink one for now. I love pink, but I hate this purse. So it’s going.” To follow that thought process has been transformational for me. I don’t know why.

    All that to say, I’m one of those many people who have just struggled. And telling me to clean for 15 min a day just hasn’t cut it for me. I know if I start, I’ll be opening a can of worms. Making a bigger mess. I’ve learned to make a dent by picking up trash. I’ve learned to declutter if I have multiples of something or something is falling apart. But to go drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf is daunting to me. Until now. Now I finally have heard the thought process and am discovering how to be ruthless with things — even if they are good and I can (and sometimes do) use them. But do I NEED to use that? Can something else do double duty? Does my son need 15 pairs of underware or can we get by with less?

    Well, that’s plenty for now. :) I just thought I’d chime in as one of those many people you spoke of (though I wasn’t actually on Facebook). For me, it is not only perfectionism that wants me to do it all at once. Yes, it IS a big part of the problem…I readily admit that. But I thought it might be helpful for you to hear from one of us. Really, I guess it boils down to I did not know HOW to declutter. Or, maybe I’m just ready to take that plunge and my mindset has shifted now. That could be part of it. Maybe I’m ready to purge. I’m fed up enough.

    Anyway, I’m super thankful for you and your wisdom. I love your fresh way of putting things. I have shared with my husband a number of things I’ve gleaned from you in the past few months. I even had us take a full summer break and then soft start our school year — neither of which we’ve done before. We loved it!

    Thanks so much!

    • Thank you for sharing this, Natalie. It helps to me to see things from your viewpoint. I can see where it is daunting to finish a task or a list. It might be a sub-conscious way to not deal with starting something new when you get to the bottom of the list. There is something comforting about having a list of things to do. Figuring out what things to purge is different for everyone. Sometimes you do make a mess when you are decluttering, but if you either throw things out or donate them, you will see progress. The harder part is in deciding what to keep or what to toss. Deciding on what to keep for me comes down to its usefulness or meaning to me. If I have not used it in a year, usually, I can let it go. If it has special meaning to me, I work on finding a place for it. Consistency is the key along with getting things out of your home.

      I appreciate your note today!

      Blessings! Tami

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