BOOK REVIEW: Declutter Like a Mother by Allie Casazza

childrens rooms with wood panels

Declutter Like a Mother is the most recent book by stay-at-home mom, turned blogger, turned entrepreneur, Allie Casazza. She found many benefits in decluttering/minimizing. This book explores the steps she’s given her consulting clients to go through their belongings.

Before I get too deep into the review, I got this book off NetGalley. So I didn’t pay for this book (thanks). But most importantly, I’m not the intended demographic for this book: I’m not a mother. Casazza does mention early on that this book can be read by anyone. But I got called Mama enough times, that I’m not convinced that this is true.

My largest gripe about this book and something that makes it feel less evergreen, despite it being a new release (Sept 2021) is the number of references to her programs and website. Very early in the book you discover that this book is basically a promotion tool for her online program for decluttering your home (priced at $397 USD at the time of writing). The chapter on tackling children’s bedrooms seems sparse, and Casazza happens to offers a program on her website specifically for decluttering children rooms ($349 USD).

couple carrying cardboard boxes in living room
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

You can definitely read the book and follow the steps and likely get a declutter. But the majority of the steps are really light on details. Which is a mixed bag. I dislike books that are too repetitive when it comes to the declutter process (The Minimalist Home was slightly guilty of this). But this swung the other direction.

For example, the Chapter about clothing. Which is big enough of a topic that there are many books just tackling that, was really really vague. She mentioned keeping what fits and you enjoy having. Then goes on a multi-paragraph discussion of how her favorite underwear are the high-rise Spanx, and why it’s her favorite. I didn’t find that helpful to my own closet pair down process.

But that is jumping ahead…

The closet isn’t the first area she recommends you declutter. Which is very refreshing for this style of book. That fresh feeling was short lived though. Because the title of the chapter starting the declutter method dang near killed me:

Chapter Five - Begin Here: Where the Poop Happens
Blinking Meme

Some people may find that chapter title funny. Maybe people will appreciate random Fergie reference from a song that came out in 2003, that was used in another chapter title. But I just find the writing style very dated. I would have completed believed you if you had told me this book came out in, like, 2014-2017 during the high of the Chevron, mint green, maxi dress era of life.

The book is a very easy read.

Despite me thinking the writing style was dated, it was straightforward, and easy to follow. I wish the book was more detailed, and didn’t reference her website as much. After the chapters about the declutter, she did have a FAQ and testimonial section that was an interesting addition. I would have liked it expanded as well. She mentions having clients, I would loved to know more about of their common road blocks and how to get past them. But I guess that’s something only people in the paid course get to know.

white candles on brown wooden crate
Photo by Brandy on Pexels.com
But what did she suggest to do to declutter like a mother?

In general, you are asked to visualize the intention you have for the space and keep items that serve that purpose. She was really clear at multiple times in the book, that the program isn’t about minimalism, but “it’s about having less of what doesn’t matter in order to make room for what does”

I actually did a bunch of research to confirm that sentence wasn’t plagiarized from one of the minimalism girlies. I was that convinced that I had read that before somewhere else. But that’s a me problem, not the books.

She calls her lifestyle “simplicitism”, which feels impossible to pronounce and harder to explain. But it’s minimalism: the movement, not the aesthetic or art style. There was a whole chapter about how to keep going and not let the idea of minimalism (dudes that only own three shirts and can fit everything they own in a backpack) distract you from how you want your space to be used.

Sidebar: I’m kinda annoyed that the aesthetic of a minimalist lifestyle is so ingrained in the movement. Like it feels like anyone that doesn’t only wear black has to over explain or dissociate with the philosophy. Which feels silly in a time where we really should be stopping our overconsumption as society. For a bunch of reasons that I don’t need to get into right now. Like, I guess I’m guilty of that too. This whole blog is about how I’m not a minimalism, but enjoy reading about it. I’ve read enough books trying to dispel the myths of minimalism to see this is a trope of the genre. I think this book was the one that continued about it the longest.

The minimalist starring into your soul
I’m not saying these two are the reason everyone feels they have to justify their minimalism exitance, but I’m not not saying that either. /EndSidebarRant
I have a few other notes that I want to include here. As I didn’t know where else to put it:
  • There is talk of god and religion. It’s only in the introduction and afterword if that’s something you would want to skip over.
  • Really encourages buying containers or tray for each room. This feels like something you should wait until your declutter more spaces before doing. Mostly to confirm you don’t already have something that would do the job.
  • She wants you to get rid of all your glasses and mugs and only use mason jars.
  • “Life is too short to drink out of a fugly mug” – Page 93.
  • I haven’t read Girl Wash Your Face or other books by Rachel Hollis. So I might be out of line, but I find there are a fair amount of similarities. Both talk about poop in there books, both are small business owner turn book/internet empire, and both quote Maya Angelou. Allie, unlike Racheal, attributes the quote. So that’s a plus to this book for sure!
  • I briefly checked out the Goodreads reviews after writing my first draft of this post. Despite Allie really not wanting this book to be about minimalism, most positive reviews mentioned that’s what they got from it.

Would I recommend this book?

I’m learning more towards No than Yes. I do think that Allie does fill a niche in the ‘owning less crap’ space, even if it’s not really for me. But I don’t think the book provides enough info to its reader. Additionally, I don’t think its effective enough at it’s main goal: funneling people into joining her course. Like people are already paid for a product and it didn’t provide that much value. How can we be sure the next product won’t be the same…

This book is going into the “Marge Simpson going Mmmm” level of my tier list of book reviews (Link here to the whole list). You can also go there for more reviews of book I’ve read for the blog. The book isn’t terrible, and I’m pretty sure I’ll remember it. At the same time, it’s not really a value add.

That’s pretty much all I had for this book. Allie does have podcast. I’ve listened to one episode, and I have some thoughts. I will listen to a few more, and probably make a separate post about that in the future.

Update 2022-05-08:

So I was minding my own business, scrolling Pinterest and an old blog post of Casazza’s popped up on my feed. A Beginner’s Guide to a Minimalist Home and the introduction of this book are the same. The first seven paragraphs about walking around your home are basically verbatim. This explains why I thought the book had such intense mint green chevron vibes, they literally do.

Parts of the blog post were edited, but the majority was the same. I did a really quick scan of some of her other posts and didn’t see any moments this obvious of self-plagiarism, but many of the blog titles got reused.

This cements my feeling that this book was a lazy project to push her courses. I don’t think that she needs to write 100% new content for the book, but also think it’s weird to keep so much of it the same.

I personally don’t like a lot stuff I wrote 5 years ago and would likely rework it a lot if it was going to a publisher. I guess I assumed others would have a similar feeling.

If you have any thoughts about that, I would love to know.