Throughout life, especially as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I’m much happier with less than I am with more. As an adult, less means less to clean, less to tidy, less to pay for, and less work for me. While it seems like it should be easy to have less, it’s actually a lot of work if you don’t start out already aware of that concept. That’s why sometimes you just need to Declutter like a Mother to get your life back on track.
Recently, I was contacted by FrontGate Media to review the new book Declutter Like a Mother by Allie Casazza. Easiest decision ever, since I love to read and often share book reviews with readers. When the book arrived, I dove right in. I related so much to Allie’s intro. Her life was my life, especially about 5 years ago when my babies were still babies.
But soon after I started reading, I put the book down.
You see, this is not a book you sit down to read, start to finish, with a cup of tea. This is a book that makes you want to get up and go. It makes you want to dig into drawers and empty closets. So that’s exactly what I did, and it was great — but it took me longer than usual to finish the book!
About Allie Casazza, Author
Allie Casazza (aka @allie_thatsme on the ‘gram) does it all. She’s a mom, an author, a coach, a podcast host, and an inspiration for hundreds of thousands of women (maybe some men, too, but mostly women). After becoming a mom and experiencing what pretty much every mom experiences… exhaustion, depression, and feeling like she wasn’t quite getting it right… she made some changes in her life. And she started with decluttering.
Allie found that when she had less stuff, she had more time, more energy, and more patience with her kids. Since that lightbulb moment, she’s become a coach and cheerleader for women everywhere as she encourages them to have less stuff so they can have more life.
By getting rid of the excess in what she calls intentional simplicity or “simplicitism” and helping others do the same, she’s found her passion, which shines through on every page of her book Declutter like a Mother.
Declutter like a Mother’s Big Ideas
Guys. There’s so much good stuff in this book. I don’t even know what to share because I’ll basically just be rewriting it all, but I’ll do my best. Here are a few of my big takeaways.
Take the Phrase “Minimalism” with a Grain of Salt.
In the beginning of the book, Allie credits “minimalism” with saving her sanity. She also warns not to get too caught up with the term minimalism. It’s just an appropriate term to use because it’s well-known and descriptive, but it can sound strict and scary if you think about only having two pairs of shoes and one plate per person in your family.
The type of minimalism Allie means is the type that makes your life easier, keeps your home cleaner, and gives you more energy. It’s not a lot of work. It’s the kind of minimalism that works for you and makes your life easier.
Following strict minimalism “rules” will not make your life easier, it will stress you out in another way. Don’t feel the need to stick to a rigid set of standards. The only “right” approach to minimalism is the one that fits within your lifestyle and interests.
What takes up your space takes up your time (and money).
It’s not just about the physical stuff, it’s about the time and energy (and money) the stuff takes from you.
Allie shares the example of a simple as a toaster and shares how it can be a time and energy suck. You’ve got to move it, clean it, wipe it… it doesn’t take a ton of time each day, but when you multiply those seconds by the days in a year, you’re spending a lot of time cleaning and maintaining your innocuous toaster.
Now multiply that by every item you own. It’s no wonder we’re all exhausted.
How about your money? It’s likely that most of your income goes towards your living space, whether it’s mortgage or rent. What exactly are you getting for that money? You’re getting square footage. Are you using yours wisely? Is your home serving you and your family or stressing you out?
Set the Intent for Your Space.
One key to decluttering like a mother is to stop and think — before you even touch a thing.
Allie encourages readers to take a few moments and set the intent of their space before decluttering. Doing this will provide clarity for your task and provide you with a wonderful guide to whether an item should stay or go.
What is your vision for your space? How do you want to use it? What do you want the room to feel like? How can it serve you and your family? How do you want people to feel when they’re in that room?
Having an obvious goal will help you tackle even the most cluttered space in your home.
Declutter Like a Mother with Kids.
Kids can definitely make decluttering more difficult, but they also make it even more necessary.
Going back to setting the intent, not only are you setting the intent for your kids’ spaces, you’re setting the intent for your kids’ childhoods. Whoa, right? That’s kind of big. But when you think about how you’d like your children to experience childhood, I’m pretty sure you’re not thinking about a playroom full of toys or a closet full of designer clothes.
Allie has a lot of advice for decluttering with kids — namely, decluttering WITH kids rather than doing it behind their back. But decluttering with kids can be hard, especially when you’ve got one of those kids that loves EVERYTHING they have. To help, Allie shares info on five different types of kids and strategies for helping each type declutter.
Five Types of Kids
- Empathetic and Generous: Aware of others and great at sharing.
- Competitive: Always up for a challenge and compares themselves to others.
- Motivated by Money and Things: Loves things and always wants more.
- Emotional and Attached: Loves what they have and has a hard time letting go.
- Motivated by Quality Time: Time with you is more important than their belongings.
After identifying the characteristics of your own kids, you can apply strategies for helping them purge. For instance, it might motivate some kids to make room for new toys while it might motivate others to help those who have less.
Organizing Doesn’t Work.
While I’m not sure anyone actually dislikes organization, Allie makes a strong point several times that simply organizing your belongings isn’t enough to bring peace and calm into your life. Yes, things might be neater for a while, but your belongings will still suck your time and energy, even if they’re organized.
Genuine change happens when you declutter and have less. Organization is much less essential when there’s less to keep track of.
As a professional organizer, I 100% agree with these sentiments. When I organize a client’s space but NOTHING leaves, I know the organization will not be sustainable. When clients purge what they don’t need or love and invest time and energy into organizing the rest, that’s when genuine change happens.
My Declutter Like a Mother Experience
I’ve been on the path to minimalism for a few years now, but this book made me get up and declutter even more.
In Declutter Like a Mother, Allie recommends starting with the bathroom, so that’s exactly what I did. Somehow, I filled (overfilled) a box with items I no longer needed, including bath toys, shampoo that left all our hair icky, and humidifiers I hadn’t used since I had babies.
Next I moved onto a few closets. So far, I’ve tackled the coat closet (lots of mismatched gloves and unloved hats on their way out) and my son’s closet (bye, bye, size 7s). I have more closets to tackle, but if I did them all, it would be weeks before I’d have time to sit down and share my thoughts on the book.
Then I hit the kitchen. I scraped together a very unimpressive pile comprising a few gadgets I didn’t need, coffee I didn’t like, and cups my kids were ready to pass on to little cousins. It was not entertaining for my Instagram followers (you know I had to share) but it was satisfying for me, since I wasn’t hanging on to a lot of extraneous items.
There’s more to do, and there always will be. Decluttering isn’t something you do once and then walk away. As long as there are birthdays, holidays, and growing kids, there will always be more to do. But maintaining less is simpler than dealing with more every single time.
The job might never be done, but it gets simpler every time I do it.
Declutter Like a Mother: Closing Thoughts
There’s a lot more to this book that I didn’t even get to here — Allie talks about wardrobes, sentimental items, hand-me-downs, kitchen gear, gifts you don’t want… she covers all the bases (and spaces). She even addresses the dreaded clutter crutch — that hidden spot we all have where we put items we aren’t sure what to do with.
I highly recommend this book to any parent (not just mom) who is sick and tired of being tired and cranky. Pick it up, put it down, declutter, then pick it right back up and keep going. You won’t be sorry.
Ready to Start? Grab your copy of the book and head right to the bathroom — that’s where Allie suggests you start.
Have you read it? I’d love to know your thoughts! Leave a comment below and let me know if we’re on the same page and how this read impacted you!