QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How do I declutter my environment with a spouse who refuses to get rid of anything and a son who leaves stuff everywhere? It’s so frustrating!

Ahhh … I’ve found that anyone who dislikes clutter and shares his or her living space with those who accumulate clutter will usually have frustration and irritation.

Starts with respect

The first step is to recognize and respect that no one else in your household sees things as you do. You may see “clutter,” while they may see “stuff ” that is “no big deal.” If you can keep reminding yourself that they are looking through a different lens, that they are not you, and have different values (neither right nor wrong — just different), it will help.


Sometimes it also helps to see that you also do things in other areas that may affect, irritate or frustrate them, and that while their clutter may be a source of your stress, that you are likely also a source of their stress as well. By thinking about this, it will help to neutralize some of the accumulated negative charge you have about their mess and clutter.

Go with their flow

In the case of daily messes, look for creative ways to go with — versus against — your son’s flow. For example, if he always throws stuff on a particular table, provide a basket. If he throws dirty clothes on the floor all over, place a hamper in a more convenient location.

If he won’t change his ways, no matter what you say, look to see how you can creatively make things work better so that it’s more convenient for him and visually better for you.

Establish clutter-free zones

Without being accusatory, tell your husband and son how clutter makes you feel. Tell them that you understand that they don’t feel the same way, but perhaps you all can agree to at least keep certain areas of the house fully clutter-free at all times.


If you are unable to get your husband to let go of things, maybe he will compromise with you to move it to a different area so that you at least have one area that is free and clear of clutter.

It’s not easy

I know it’s not easy, and it doesn’t seem fair, but if you need things to change, you’ll have to initially put in the effort to communicate, create and then implement these changes.

If after reading this it seems like more trouble than it’s worth, then accept the environment as it is, accept your husband and son for who they are, and focus on the things about them that you do love, appreciate and enjoy.

Do you have a question for


Alice? If so, send it to alice@ Alice Inoue owns Happiness U, a lifestyle studio located at SALT Kakaako where anyone can find positive inspiration and high-level guidance to minimize stress and optimize modern day life! Visit