Conclusion Of The Declutter Challenge

Sadly and excitedly (both can be true here), I’ve come to the 2024 declutter challenge end. Did I hit my goal of making it to 100 days? Nope. Am I still winning after removing 1,830 items from our home in a few months? Yes!

Declutter challenge end with a basket holding items to be donated like boots and kids' slippers

I officially completed day 68 of the declutter challenge and was working on day 69 when I just petered out. Technically, if technicalities are as important to you as they are to me, I made it through day 70 thanks to a clean-out of some of the kids’ books. But when I went to donate them, the local thrift shop put a temporary hold on book donations. I’m still waiting for them to accept books again.

So, le sigh, I did not reach my crazy goal of making it to 100 days but 68 days into the challenge is pretty darn good.

Declutter Challenge Rules Recap

Just a quick, Readers Digest recap of the declutter challenge rules for those just joining. The basic idea is to declutter one item on day one, two on day two, three on day three, and so on. Keep going every day until you can’t go on any longer. Items must be physically removed from your home that day (meaning take out the trash and deliver donations to the thrift store).

Decluttering shoes that don't fit and are uncomfortable from closet wardrobe, a pair of faux calf hair slingback pumps going into the donation pile

Decluttering Log

And like in our previous update posts, below is my decluttering log for days 51 through 70. You can find the first 10 days of decluttering on the first declutter challenge post (towards the bottom of the page) and days 11 through 50 on the challenge update post.

  • Day 51: (13) baby onesies 24m, (37) toddler pants, (1) toddler skirt
  • Day 52: (17) toddler dresses, (13) toddler sweaters, (8) toddler swimsuits, (4) posters, (2) toddler shirts, (2) decorative storage boxes, (6) toy cars/trucks
  • Day 53: (45) toddler tees, (7) stuffies, (1) broken toy
  • Day 54: (38) site word books, (14) toy instruments, (2) broken diffusers
  • Day 55: (11) Barbies, (1) bag of Barbie accessories, (8) baby toys, (1) princess crown, (28) baby socks, (4) mismatched baby socks, (1) grout sponge, (1) cleaning glove
  • Day 56: (26) toddler pajamas, (26) toddler pants, (1) broken frame, (1) candle holder, (1) pair of kids jeans, (1) pair of men’s sandals
  • Day 57: (34) toddler shirts, (8) toddler sweaters/sweatshirts, (5) books, (3) balls, (2) small toys, (2) women’s dresses, (1) watch, (1) desk lamp, (1) pair of kids gloves
  • Day 58: (1) picture frame, (1) boppy pillow, (1) infant bath, (3) socks with holes, (2) teethers, (6) Bluey ornaments, (25) samples, (1) set of extra Valentines, (1) old vendor badge, (17) college memorabilia
  • Day 59: (3) expired kids medications, (1) supplement I didn’t like, (3) pairs of boot inserts, 7 pairs of disgusting kids socks, (1) crib bumper, (12) bibs, (11) burp clothes, (2) car seat covers, (1) nursing cover, (1) tub spout cover, (3) toddler sweaters/sweatshirts, (9) pairs of toddler pants, (5) toddler shirts
  • Day 60: (1) Boppy pillow cover, (1) baby nail set, (11) toddler pajamas, (47) old magazines
  • Day 61: (12) old magazines, (16) baby bottles, (4) bottle storage lids, (2) sippy cup handles, (21) nursing and pumping accessories, (1) Willow breast pump, (1) Spectra Gold breast pump, (1) bottle bag, (1) storage container, (2) folders
  • Day 62: (13) gift bags, (2) dishwasher baskets, (1) plastic bag holder, (1) women’s jean jacket, (1) men’s sweatshirt, (3) adult t-shirts, (4) pairs of toddler shoes, (4) pairs of baby mittens, (1) kids sweater, (4) baby sun hats, (16) baby/toddler winter hats, (1) toddler sweater, (1) toddler pajamas, (6) infant hats, (4) mini diffusers
  • Day 63: (35) cloth diapers, (16) diaper covers, (4) pack and play sheets, (1) baby bouncer, (1) baby activity chair, (1) high chair, (1) baby playmat, (1) baby carrier, (1) pack and play, (1) pair of kids slippers, (1) pair of kids boots
  • Day 64: (5) baseball hats, (2) kids coats, (1) women’s puff vest, (1) kid’s jeans, (5) pairs of kids shoes, (3) stuffed animals, (1) kids belt, (1) kids bowl, (10) baby hair bows, (1) baby photo cards, (11) kids gloves and mittens, (2) kids gloves and mittens, (2) kids hats, (8) solo mittens, (2) solo gloves, (3) broken toys, (4) toiletries, (3) broken plant pots, (1) broken watering can
  • Day 65: (2) pantry items, (8) adult winter hats, (1) pair of mitten clips, (7) pairs of women’s dress shoes, (6) women’s dresses, (5) women’s skirts, (1) women’s sweatshirt, (5) women’s sweaters, (4) women’s dress shirts, (6) women’s t-shirts, (4) pairs of women’s jeans, (7) pairs of women’s dress pants, (5) purses
  • Day 66: (6) women’s sleep shorts, (5) women’s athletic shorts, (20) pairs of women’s shorts, (6) pairs of women’s socks, (3) women’s long sleeve t-shirts, (1) pair of toddler boots, (1) car seat cover, (7) diaper covers, (17) pairs of kids tights
  • Day 67: (4) pairs of women’s leggings, (1) package of mylar bags, (1) mylar bag sealer, (9) amber glass spray bottles, (1) folding table cloth, (32) old underwear, (1) bra, (3) pairs of socks, (3) lip balms, (2) old business receipts, (9) essential oil books, (1) box of old business cards
  • Day 68: (38) empty essential oil bottles, (1) old tablecloth, (4) storage boxes, (16) pens and pencils, (2) stuffed animals, (1) coloring set, (1) kids piggybank, (1) doctors kit, (1) set of alphabet cards, (2) kids games, (1) set of Duplo blocks
Book donations packed up in a cardboard box to be taken to the donation center

So…How Did It Go?

Here’s a little play-by-play on how the whole declutter challenge went.

The Beginning: Trepidation Sets In

The first few weeks were a little overwhelming. I didn’t know exactly where to start or what to do. I just floundered along, finding one thing here or one thing there. This was perfectly okay because, in the first few weeks, you’re just trying to get a little momentum going.

The easiest way for me to get started was to find things to throw away that were easy decisions. Like expired medications. Easy win. Plus I didn’t have to think too hard about if I was going to ruin my future life by throwing away this expired bottle of Tylenol PM. Hashtag overthinkers. You should have heard the battle royale in my head when I got rid of half my wardrobe.

Tossing old medicines and supplements that have expired

The Middle: Finding The Groove

I hit my decluttering sweet spot around day 20. Decluttering 20 items a day is doable and I felt like Larry Bird sinking free throw after free throw from the line. I was in the flow and felt like a star. Watch me nail this one Magic Johnson!

At this point, I found a system that worked great for me:

  • Creating a work zone in my craft room
  • Bringing things into the work zone to sort through
  • Boxing up items to donate there
  • Scheduling regular trips to drop off donations

This is when I transitioned from decluttering in fits and spurts throughout our entire home and started focusing on one area at a time. I picked a few of my trouble spots, like the baby clothes and gear in the attic or the laundry room shelves. Or I would go category by category, like decluttering my clothes closet one day and the kids’ bath toys another day.

Even though I started decluttering by category, I never let go of the habit I adopted early on of decluttering throughout my daily life. So for example, when I reached for the basket of tights on the nursery shelf and realized they were all too small, I immediately put those items in the donation pile in my craft room to be boxed up and donated later.

Basket of kids tights in a nursery

The End: Feeling Like A Slog

Just after day 50 of decluttering, I started to feel the pinch. It was getting harder and harder to declutter 50-plus items per day. Decluttering felt like a slog but I kept going.

I was spending half my days sorting through our items, tossing things, packing up others, and trekking to the thrift store to donate items. It’s about an hour round trip to the thrift store to drop off donations and I was starting to go three or more times a week.

For most of the declutter challenge, I worked at least a few days ahead, giving myself a buffer in case I got sick or if we had a snowstorm and I couldn’t make it to the donation center. Well, that buffer disappeared come day 69 and when I had a car full of books that got turned down at the donation center at 4:30 PM on a Friday with nowhere else to take them, I threw in the towel.

I also ran out of boxes and bags to pack the donations in. I had been hoarding all the Amazon boxes or bags from Target to use to pack them up. The day I caught myself opting to use a plastic bag instead of a reusable bag at the grocery store, just so I could pack up another round of clothes that don’t fit me anymore, felt like a good place to stop.

Donation box overflowing with clothes and shoes from a closet decluttering session

How Do I Feel?

While I am relieved that the challenge is over, I didn’t want it to stop. The positive effects of decluttering just a small percentage of our home are egging me on.

I’ve continued to keep up with the daily decluttering but with less pressure. I keep a basket in my craft room to collect donations, which I pack up when we have bags and boxes for weekly trips to donate items. With every trip to drop off donations, I feel lighter and freer.

The cleaned-up spaces are like a breath of fresh air and I find myself using them as originally intended. These are areas like the hallway and desk outside my craft room which used to feel like a dumping ground for things that needed repairs, organizing, or storing. Now I use the desk to write instead of being the home for piles of things that need to go to the attic. Instead of storing things “just in case” I’ve simply let them go.

Working at a small roll top desk

Where Do I Notice The Biggest Change?

I noticed the biggest change in our attic which was my biggest clutter problem area. Scratch that…IS my biggest clutter problem area but it’s getting better.

I’m kicking myself for not getting a good before and after of the progress I’ve made in the attic but how about this? Here’s the side of the attic I haven’t decluttered (oh the shame):

Cluttered attic before sorting through and decluttering the items

I cleaned 0% and even left the stack of baskets and boxes that fell over for extra messy dramatic effect. It’s full of decor from our first house that still hasn’t found a home, holiday decorations, and sentimental things we’ve had a hard time letting go.

And here’s the side of the attic I have decluttered:

Decluttered side of the attic after sorting through all the boxes and storage containers

Everybody now with a collective, “ahhhhhhhh.”

They used to look the same and you could barely walk through this space. So it’s nice to have a quarter of the attic cleared up.

We store out-of-season things in our attic, like seasonal decor, summer toys in the winter, and winter gear in the summer. Just this past weekend, we ran up there to retrieve a softball glove because spring means ball time in our neck of the Vermont woods. I found the summer tote of sports gear in minutes rather than what used to be 30 minutes to an hour of rearranging totes and digging to find the one.

Most Surprising Moment?

I will share two. One WTF moment and the other more of a, “huh, well that was interesting” moment.

The WTF moment. I was cleaning out the cabinet in my craft room and found my hoard of empty essential oil bottles. I never throw them away because they could be useful “someday.” Do you see the bowl of them?!

Organizing journals in a craft cabinet

“Someday” is my arch-nemesis when it comes to decluttering. I’m pretty sure “Someday” and “just in case” are in cahoots with the Joker and are scheming to overthrow me.

I had 38 empty essential oil bottles in a vintage bowl that I never found a use for and just tossed. Now I have a 38-essential-oil-bottle-sized space in my cabinet that could be used for something I do use. Having some breathing room for something more important down the road is nice.

The “huh, that was interesting,” moment came from decluttering my closet. I did two rounds of decluttering my closet.

In the first round, which I did in the first few weeks of decluttering, I let go of maybe a dozen items, if that. I deemed that I didn’t have that many clothes to remove.

In the second round of decluttering, just a few weeks ago, I removed over 100 items and hauled at least 10 bags and boxes of clothes to the thrift store. The lesson learned is that decluttering is a muscle. The more you work it out, the stronger it gets.

Part of the decluttering process is removing clothes too small, which are pilled on the closet floor while sorting through a clothes closet

Most Freeing Things To Let Go

Broken things. Hands down. We saved so many broken things with the intention of repairing them. Like a toy guitar snapped in two, Barbies with heads that kept falling off, Christmas ornaments, and more. I even had a pile of socks, expensive, Darn Tough socks, with holes that I wanted to try repairing.

I tossed them all and I don’t regret it one bit. Not only did I free up the physical space those items were taking up, but I also freed up my time from repairing those things. My invisible to-do list was lightened. You know the one. It’s not an actual written-on-paper to-do list but a mental to-do list of all the things you see around you that require your attention.

Broken items in a cardboard box awaiting repair

Is This The End Of Decluttering?

H-E-double hockey sticks no! I have zero intentions of stopping the decluttering process at our home. And I never intended the declutter challenge to be the caboose of this decluttering train. It was the thing I needed to kick-start my motivation to declutter our home.

But I plan on doing it more slowly, either category by category or room by room. So cheer up if you like the decluttering content because there’s more coming. If you don’t like it…well…um…that’s okay…it’s fine.

The areas of our home I want to tackle include Colby’s office (oh the horrors!), finishing the attic, the sheds, the basement, kids’ toys (trying desperately to get the kids to do this with me), and the kitchen. The kitchen is another house of horrors but for other fun reasons like painting limbo and design dilemmas.

Rustic kitchen island DIY project, built to look like a kitchen island from a Williams Sonoma catalog

Would You Do The Declutter Challenge Again?

Absolutely, I would do a declutter challenge again in a heartbeat. I highly recommend this challenge for anyone who feels overwhelmed with decluttering.

I was a person who felt overwhelmed by our space and didn’t know where to start. This challenge kicked my butt into gear with baby steps. It was a fun challenge and helped me gain confidence and skills in decluttering which have been lacking around here for the last 7 years.

To keep myself motivated to continue, I may need to make a decluttering checklist to keep me accountable and working through every inch of our home.

Pssst…So tell me. Did anyone else do a declutter challenge? If so, how did it go?!

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