It’s that time of year again! The snow is gone and the weather is getting warmer, which means it is time to get ready to fling the windows open and start “spring cleaning”. Every year I approach this task the same way: with cautious optimism that I can get my house in order and eliminate the clutter for once and all. And every year, my house is organized and clean for about a week, before it all returns to
hell normal. With a toddler in the house, I have to admit—each year the thought of spring cleaning becomes even more daunting.
This past year I’ve been hearing a lot about the new book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. This book, known as Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon, has some serious rave reviews here in the states, so I thought I’d pick it up and give it a shot. What I learned is that this book, and the KonMari method in particular, were probably NOT written with moms in mind. The author, Marie Kondo, promises that if you follow her steps for decluttering and organizing, you can live a clutter-free life where you won’t have to be continuously picking up. That sounds pretty nice, right?
Unfortunately, Marie Kondo also warns you from the very beginning that the KonMari method is a COMMITMENT. And unless you’re willing to make a full blown commitment, you probably aren’t going to succeed to your full potential. After reading the whole book, I knew I just couldn’t make the full commitment, because some of her philosophies seemed absolutely absurd to me, especially as a mother. But all wasn’t lost. Here are the most useful tips I took away, and the most absolutely ridiculous.
KONMARI METHOD TIPS I AM TAKING
Sort by category, not by location
The KonMari method teaches you to sort by category, NOT by room. I would have never thought to do this, but it makes perfect sense. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least five rooms in my house that have some piece of my clothing in. I’ve stored clothes in multiple closets, boxes, dressers, and those aren’t even counting the clothes in my room. And don’t even get me started on how many rooms of my house have toys, or little makeup samples, or random candles, notebooks, or pens.
So start with a category, bring EVERYTHING YOU OWN in that category into a central place, and start sorting. This is the only way you can truly assess everything at once, so you know what you want to keep and what needs to go.
Keep the things that give you JOY
It’s easy to get rid of things that are no longer functional (broken beyond repair) or outdated/out of style. It’s a lot harder to get rid of things when there is no compelling reason. Say, for instance, you find a brand new shirt in your closet that has been in there with the tags still attached for a year. You’ve never worn it because you got it home and it just never looked great on you, but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of it because you’re SURE you’ll wear it eventually. The KonMari method tells you to think of it as having already served its purpose in your life. Perhaps it taught you what style of shirt you don’t like, or what color doesn’t really suit you. Tell your shirt thank you for teaching you what you don’t like, or for giving you joy when you purchased it, and let it go.
You can use the same concept when it comes to your children’s toys. Are there things your little ones NEVER play with taking up precious space in your house? Yet you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of them because someone special gave it to them or you paid way too much money for it? Instead of shoving it deeper into a closet, think about the joy it gave you or the person who gave the gift, or the joy your child showed when he or she opened it. Then thank the toy for fulfilling its purpose and get rid of it!
KONMARI METHOD TIPS THAT I AM LEAVING
Cherish who you are now
The KonMari method is not just about clothes, or books, or toys. The method literally has you overhaul your entire home and life, and this includes all your sentimental items and photos. She says there is only one way to sort photos, and that is to remove all your photos from their albums and boxes and look at them one by one, discarding all the photos that do not bring you joy. I understand what she’s getting at, and honestly my boxes of photographs are probably full of lots of photos that I could get rid of. But I cannot bring myself to get rid of old high school photos, pictures from college parties, or letters from my grandparents – and sorting through them all sounds like a REALLY BIG TASK. Maybe someday I will take the time to do it, but not this spring.
Keep ONLY the things that give you joy
You may notice this is almost the same as one of the tips that I am taking, but the key difference is the word ONLY. Let’s be honest, my black work pants, the cardigans I wear all winter, and my kitchen blender sure do not give me joy. Using the KonMari method, she’d make me throw them all out. But as much as I’d LOVE to replace everything in my house that doesn’t give me joy, I’m not a millionaire, and therefore, I physically cannot get rid of every last thing in my house that doesn’t give me joy; it is just not practical in my life.
While I know it would be nice to live in a magazine perfect home, where you don’t see piles of toys or fear what might fall on you when you open the front closet, the reality is that my life and my home are far from perfect. I do recommend you read the book for more clutter-controlling tips, and ways to make your spring cleaning more effective. It’s a quick read, but keep in mind it is quite the task if you decide to tackle this method. Overall, though, the message is a good one–surround yourself with the things you love and you will certainly find more JOY if your life.
Have you tried the KonMari method? What are your best spring cleaning tips?
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