I recently found myself in my girls’ playroom late one evening, armed with two bags and an unwavering purpose: donate or throw away every item I deemed outdated, unloved, or unnecessary.

I’m not a clean freak by nature, but thanks to a highly sensitive nervous system, an excess of clutter can quickly send me into a full-blown anxiety attack. Needless to say, I tend to be a bit (ahem) energetic in my decluttering efforts.

But on this particular evening, I couldn’t shake a growing sense of guilt. I became acutely aware of the fact that my daughters were just on the other side of the playroom wall, sleeping peacefully in their beds, with no idea that their mother was ruthlessly weeding out their childish treasures.

How would I feel if somebody rummaged through my things without my knowledge? I began to wonder. And the answer immediately became clear:

I would feel painfully disrespected.


I put back each item I had relegated to the trash that evening, but I continued to begrudge our household clutter. Our home looked so nice before toys filled its walls, I silently mourned. I’m sick of sweeping Barbie shoes out of every corner!

Yet when my husband and I enjoyed a rare, kid-free weekend at home a few weeks later, the stillness afforded me the opportunity to view our living room with fresh perspective. And suddenly the markers, glue sticks, books, dolls, glitter, and dresses that littered the room were no longer the bane of my existence—they were tangible reminders of the big, boisterous, messy blessings of family life.

You prayed for this, the Holy Spirit gently whispered to my heart. And someday you’ll miss it…

The tears rolled freely down my cheeks as I realized that my constant desire to purge my children’s belongings was not just a disrespect to their feelings—it was a disrespect to the beautiful chaos of this season.


Since that weekend, the Lord has gradually led me to a place of greater balance in homemaking—for although clutter invariably accompanies the territory of family life, teaching our children to manage their possessions is a vital part of intentional parenting. So when our beautiful chaos begins to lean toward excess, my husband and I now invite our girls to join us in the process of decluttering. As we sort through our possessions, we pray for the Lord’s help and guidance in the following areas:

Generous Hearts—We want to share our excess with joy, not with reluctant or begrudging attitudes.

Responsible Giving—Which organizations will do the most good with our donations? Do we personally know someone who would be blessed by a particular item?

Contentment—Just because we’re removing items doesn’t mean they need to be replaced. We want hearts of contentment and peace—not striving and greed.

Respect for Our Seasons—Some seasons require extra “stuff” (new babies, extracurriculars, etc.) and some are naturally leaner. We seek to honor God with responsibility and gratitude through every season He ordains.