dealing with mom guilt

How to Handle Guilt from Decluttering

Guilt From Decluttering

One of the biggest hurdles to making a start on getting clutter out of your home is guilt.  No matter what kind of clutter you are aiming to get rid of, for some reason guilt always comes up.  The reality is, guilt has no place in your life, and it especially has no place when we are talking about getting rid of STUFF.

Giving in to guilt or even giving in to feelings over THINGS is not a healthy use of your emotions.  It’s stuff, things, inanimate objects.  I want you to remember, things are replaceable.  People and experiences are not.  

In this post, we are going to specifically discuss the guilt mothers have when purging, decluttering, and getting rid of items that “belong” to their children.  Toys, clothing, shoes, memorabilia, or anything else that might be emotionally connected to your children.

Decluttering Paralysis 

Guilt from decluttering can show up before you even attempt to get started!  You may be well aware of the problems that are being caused by the overwhelming clutter in your home but are paralyzed from taking any steps to resolve it.

Guilt creeps in and you begin to question yourself.

My kids will be mad if I take their things away.

It will be so wasteful to get rid of things I’ve already spent money on.

This person will be upset if I get rid of an item they gifted to us.

I might need this again and have to spend money a second time.

While these are all valid concerns and questions you should not allow them to paralyze you from taking a step that will, in the end, provide tangible benefits to your family.  

I discuss numerous benefits of having far fewer toys in your home in my course Toy Taming Taskforce.  Everything from cognitive development, better relationships, and decreased stress and anxiety are a few of the reasons you SHOULD take steps to reduce the toy clutter in your home.

Let’s unpack a few of the reasons that guilt should never be allowed to paralyze you from making a positive change.

You are in charge, not your kids.  You know what is best, not your kids.

I’m going to get the most controversial statement out of the way first so give me a chance to explain before jumping ship!  

Parents today seem to have forgotten what it means to be parents.  We are not supposed to be friends with our kids and while yes, it would be a bonus if they liked us, that’s not the purpose of parenting either.

The goal of raising these little humans should be to eventually have capable, mature, self-guided adults who can go into the world and prosper.  

How are our children supposed to grow into these adults, who can function appropriately in a modern society if we aren’t teaching them?

As an adult, you are in charge.  When you put a child, whose brain is not fully developed, in the driver’s seat and ask them to make decisions for themselves you are doing them a great disservice.  

If you never teach a child how to take care of things, be respectful and appreciative, they will not develop those skills.  These are learned behaviors.  Your child will not wake up one day and have learned how to be a respectful individual.  It’s your job to instill those values.

So be the boss. 

Be in charge. 

If you have decided that minimal toys better aligns with the values, morals, and ideals that you are trying to instill in your children then own that choice and do what you must to make it happen.

Your children do not have to agree with, or like your decisions, because you are the parent and you are in control.  You know what the best way to raise your child is.  

Guilt from decluttering often arises when we feel we are depriving our children of something.  

The idea that our children are missing out is usually what gets us into the overabundance arena in the first place though.

What exactly is it you think your kids are missing out on? 

Is it even a valid thing to concern yourself with?

“All his friends play video games together and I think he might be missing out on bonding with other kids his age.”

We all know video games, and digital media are not great for our kids so why do we then feel guilty about not letting them have access to them because other kids have access to them?

Do we really want to cause harm to our children just because other parents are maybe causing harm to theirs?


“My daughter really wants a new doll even though she already has several and we really can’t afford another.”

Just because our kids want something doesn’t mean we are obligated to give it to them.  Especially if it’s going to cause problems in other areas of your life.  

Even bigger guilt seems to come when we think about taking away an item our children already have access to.

But perhaps we need to stop thinking we are taking things away from them and consider it from another angle.

We are giving them a chance to be ________ instead of “taking away”.

You are giving your son the chance to be a role model instead of “taking away” his ability to conform to his friend’s idea of companionship.

You are giving your daughter a chance to be more creative in her play by using her existing dolls in new ways instead of depriving her of a new doll.

When we removed barbies from our home a few years ago I viewed it as giving our children the opportunity to not engage with false ideas of what a woman’s body should look like.  I gave them the opportunity to make their own decisions instead of pre-programming someone else ideals.

Some guilt may come simply from letting go

No other reason than the ability to get rid of something your child no longer wants, needs, or uses.  

Here’s the thing though, the usefulness of the item is gone.  What is the point of allowing something to take up space when it no longer has any benefit in your life?

Would you keep a used tissue?  Gross.  It was used, it served its purpose and now it needs to go.

Would you keep a dead battery?  No.  It no longer works, why would you feel guilty for getting rid of it?

A HUGE hurdle for many comes from money.  

You are either bothered because someone else spent the money and might be offended that you got rid of the item OR you are upset over money that you yourself spent.

Lets unpack both of these ideas.

Feeling guilty about getting rid of an item that someone gave you counteracts the idea of gift-giving.  A gifter gives you a gift and it serves a dual purpose, they feel good in the gifting and you feel good in the receiving.  If the gift then becomes a burden to you, the joy has gone and it is no longer serving a purpose for you or the gifter.

Secondly, if a gifter knows the gift is causing mental or even physical issues for you and your family and still expects you to keep the gift, is that really a person who cares about you?

Whether your kids already have too much or you are working towards minimalism it is difficult to talk to familiy about not buying more toys for your children. The fear of hurting someones feeling versus your wishes not being accepted is a tough road to walk. Check out these ideas to make this difficult conversation so much easier!

Now, if the guilt is coming internally because it was hard-earned money you yourself spent…. Spoiler alert….. You ain’t getting that money back.  It’s gone.  

If you hold on to the guilt over spending the money you now have two negative strikes against you.  A smaller bank account and a less than desirable emotional state.

Don’t hold yourself hostage over something you cannot change.

The money is gone but you can at least regain a more productive emotional state.

So let’s let it go, okay?

Be the parent your child needs them to be.  Lead them and teach them.  Do not let your child raise themselves because you are afraid they might get mad at you.  Your job is not to be liked, it is to raise respectful, functional members of society.

You are not depriving your children of anything, you are making room for other, more positive things in their life.

Sometimes items outgrow their usefulness and that’s okay.  We should never burden ourselves or our children because of an inability to let go.

Lastly, any money that has been spent is gone.  It will never be recovered no matter how much we wish it could.  Just let it go.

Ready to start letting go of toys that are causing emotional, physical, and relational issues in your home?  Still unsure where to start?  Grab the Toy Decluttering Guide, a checklist to help you decide which items to keep and which to toss.

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About Zhade

About Zhade

Hi Mama

I’m wife to my high school sweetheart, and mama to three little girls: Everleigh, Magnolia & Juniper. I LOVE motherhood, holidays and hot chocolate. I crave efficiency and NEED to figure out the easiest and best way to do EVERYTHING. Life is short & I refuse to waste it on being boring.


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