One of my clients, who is a wife and mother of three, was thinking of implementing the following rule for the family. While I applauded her initiative and desire to keep her house from getting overwhelmed with stuff, I was hesitant...
Rule: "One-In, One-Out; When you buy something, get rid of something else."
WHY THIS IS BAD ADVICE: While I agree with this in theory, I don't like the idea of forcing yourself (or others) into getting rid of something when you (they) may not be ready. If you are getting rid of something just for the sake of it, you increase your chance of making a decision in time you may regret, which can cause you to hold onto things even more. As for the children, it may come across like a punishment which can give them negative feelings towards getting rid of things which is setting yourself and them, up for disaster.
GOOD ADVICE: I suggested the family do a large edit around the time of year when a lot of new things are coming into the house; birthday time, holiday time, start of school year. Eventually it will become routine and it's not about getting rid of a certain number of things (which the above rule is about), but about clearing out the unloved and unused. Having the children go through their own things is very important; first it relieves mom from having to do it, it gives the children a sense of ownership and responsibility, and it teaches the children the importance of clearing things out on a routine basis.