No is not a naughty word!
One of the things about being known as someone that has a lot of stuff is that other people can use the opportunity to palm off their unwanted items on to you!
They feel that they’re ‘helping you out’ by donating their unwanted things on to you, and in the process they remove their own guilt at getting rid of things too. For them it’s easier to pass things on to someone they know as emotionally it’s a halfway house from taking them all the way to charity.
If you have grown up children you might also find that your home becomes a storage facility for years after they have moved out. Obviously as a professional organiser I cannot remove any items that aren’t directly my clients, so how do you get your home back?
First of all let it be known that you’re decluttering. This makes your decision to say no less personal to anyone you have to turn down. Do not be afraid to say NO! You don’t need to justify your reasons, but if you feel awkward saying you just can’t accept any more things into your house, then maybe state you’re sorting a room out which is where the stuff would usually go. Don’t be tempted to take them with the aim of then taking them straight to a charity shop – that’s not your job to do and you’re just creating work for yourself. I know this all sounds very hard, but if anyone is upset by you declining their unwanted things, use the feel, felt found method.
Use something along the lines of “I understand you must FEEL a bit upset that I’m saying no to your kind gift, I know I have FELT bad when someone has not taken my things too, but I’ve FOUND that I just have too many things and I just can’t accept any more things when I’m trying to reduce what’s already in my home”. This way you are sympathising with them, and you empathise with how they may feel rejected.
Secondly remove items from the home that aren’t yours. This can take some tough love! It is hard but your children have to realise that you’re not a storage facility and they need to deal with their own things. The easiest way to do this is to be quite harsh I’m afraid. Explain you’re sorting things out, you need to feel on top of everything in your home, and can you pick a date (and write it down!) when they can come and remove their things, or at the very least go through them to decide what can be taken to charity, what needs to be kept (and taken away to their home) or what needs to be taken to a storage facility (which they pay for). Most grown children will more than likely say they didn’t realise they had anything at yours and that you can just throw it all away. This then puts you in the awkward position of sorting through sentimental things that aren’t yours. Be firm in that THEY need to be the ones to remove it and sort through it, not you.
Hope this all helps you! Remember NO is not a naughty word.