I have typed out my whole panic attack and life story a few times but I think I can summarize it like this -
I grew up homeless and my husband grew up low-income and then went to the Army. My daughter is from a previous marriage (age 9) and has the material goods to show all of the compensating and competition between her father and step-father. I have NO idea what a household NEEDS. I've spent years just buying everything that I didn't have as a kid and my husband could care less (he doesn't have an attachment to things.) My daughter also has an emotional attachment to inanimate objects (aspergers) so getting rid of things is very emotionally draining. If I focus on the negative (what I don't need) I feel overwhelmed. I'd like to focus on the positive (what I DO need) and have a sort of treasure hunt to dig these things out and toss the things that are in the way.
One step at a time, one day a time.
I would first sit down and figure out what is important to you and your family and what type of home you would like to have. For me, I didn't want to spend hours cleaning and primping and sorting and moving, etc. I wanted to spend quality time with my son and even take some for myself. We like to do mini travel weekends and visit local dives and have fun outdoors. Our money is spent on experiences not things- going to the beach, travelling, movies. I have decorate our home in our own pictures and artwork and a few pieces of pottery we made a local place. Most everything I have is white, except for some furniture and a dash of turquoise blue and some red.
It took me a good month of purging before I even started to clean and put back. I emptied out each room, painted, decluttered HEAVILY, organized what was left and put back only what I loved. I decided the function of each room and the feel I wanted it to evoke. A room a weekend took me 5 weeks, total. The hardest part was the deciding what to part with and the sorting and organizing.
I would suggest enlisting your family to help, small bits at a time. I started with 15 minutes a day and it grew as I had more energy or time. Life is busy enough to have to worry about trying to overhaul one's life. Take breaks, take a walk, read, write or just dance silly. Make sure you decompress.
My biggest suggestion is as you find things to get rid of, take them to your car and dispose of them on your weekly grocery shopping trip. Out of sight, out of mind, peace of mind.
To maintain, we clean sweep once a week as we clean the entire house. I have gotten better at not bringing things in and what I do, I immediatly take care of things.
Good luck and don't stress too much!!!