The drive to simplify has become a national phenomenon in response to our national consumer excesses. Instead of buying more and needing more, there has been an upswing in the popularity of simplicity. Whether this is overall minimalism or a specific type of decluttering philosophy as characterized by The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
The Konmari method, in a nutshell, is to take what you own, look at each item individually, and decided if it brings you joy.
If the object doesn’t bring you joy, then you should remove it from your home. No, this doesn’t mean that you only Konmari the vegetables, unpaid bills, and half drunk water bottles (which your teenagers are using to flip and toss) from your home, but that you look at all of your belongings and decided if they are important enough to keep.
Before I get too far into this post I want to add a disclaimer. I have read Kondo’s book and when I was going through the decluttering process, I joined some Facebook groups, however, I am by no means a Konmari purist. Like most things in life, I have taken what has worked best for me and my family and left behind some of her ideas that do not fit into our lifestyle. For example, at the end of her book, Kondo suggests taking all the items out of your shower and storing them in a different location and only bringing them into the shower when you use them. This is simply not practical for me, nor would it bring me any joy, so I do not follow this part of the practice. I would suggest, if you read the book, and take on the Konmari method to take what works for you and don’t stress about the rest!
Personally, I started my tidying marathon with my own clothing. I took all my clothing and placed it into one giant pile on my bedroom floor. Yes, everything came out of the closet, off hangers, and out of the drawers. I then picked up each clothing item and thought, “Do I love this?” If the answer was yes then I put it in my keep pile. When doing this process, I really kept this in mind, “Would I wear it right now?” If the answer was no but, I will wear it when I lose that last five pounds… or no, but I would once I get that stain out, or no, but that was the outfit I wore for my bridal shower… or no, but I spent a ton of money on it, or no, but I want to give it to so and so because they would love it, then I put it in the donation pile.
The key to this process is really being honest and brave.
You need to keep only the things that really, truly bring you joy. It is hard work, and you will have a fair amount of doubts during the process, but the outcome is so worth it. Today, the only things I have in my closet are pieces of clothing that bring me joy. Because of this, I don’t waste time trying on a million things that don’t fit, things I don’t really like but want to make myself like, or items that have stains or holes in them. Each day, I wake up, put out something that I enjoy to wear, and I am dressed in under five minutes! I swear as the title of the book suggests, the end result really is magic!
After tackling my closet, the next area I tackled in my tidying marathon was my children’s toys. My son is on the autism spectrum and he has in-home therapy five days a week. Yes, this means that my home has to be clean Monday through Friday! Crazy, right? I also work full time and my husband travels on a regular basis for his job, so I needed an organizing solution that worked for all of us. Before I used the Konmari method, I would spend about an hour picking up my kids’ toys after they went to bed each night. After I timed myself last night and I spent two minutes and thirty-six seconds picking up after the day.
The key to Konmari really is just having less stuff.
The less stuff you have, the less stuff you need to pick up. Alright, back to my kid’s toys, instead of keeping what brought me joy (which would be very little) I went with what toys do they play with? Any toys that weren’t being used or loved were put into the donation pile. At first, I was worried that my kids would struggle with having fewer toys, but they haven’t seemed to notice or care. Now, the only toys that we have in our house are things that my children use. I enjoy knowing the objects that are in our home bring my children true joy.
After tidying up my clothes and the kid’s toys, I decided to take on the challenge of my children’s keepsakes.
Both of my children bring home cute art projects, have class photos, certificates, and other invaluable mementos from their childhood. I found myself getting bogged down with all the paperwork swirling around my home and no great place to put it. It would come home, I would put it on my kitchen island, make it into a pile and then shift the pile to different places over and over again. I knew I didn’t have the desire to make all this paperwork into scrapbooks (I haven’t even filled out my daughter’s baby book for Pete’s sake) so keeping the Konmari method in mind, I took to Pinterest to find a solution. I found a great idea: using a filing box. Both of my children have a filing box in their bedrooms. The files are labeled PreK-12th grade. Each certificate, photo, class project etc. that bring me joy, or I think would bring them joy later in life, is put into the filing box. I child loves this system because it is easy to maintain, all the papers have a home, and if either of my children ever wants to make a scrapbook or do something more fancy with these items they can!