With Spring just around the corner, I’ve been having a major clear out at home, and those of you who follow my Reading and Watching Lately posts might recall me extolling the virtues of Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying back in January. I’ve been using Ms Kondo’s decluttering methodology – known as the ‘KonMari method’ – for the last few weeks to help detox my overflowing household, and it’s fair to say I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’ve managed to rid ourselves of as much clutter in one Spring cleaning episode as I have in the last three or four combined, with over 10 bin bags of stuff either dispersed around our local charity shops, donated to well-timed bring and buy sales, disposed of (the stuff that no one else would want anyway), or quite simply given away. The whole exercise has left our home feeling much lighter and brighter, and has even given us the inspiration to revamp some of our newly streamlined spaces into much more inviting rooms. For those of you wondering why anyone would need a book to help them tidy, though, here’s a summary of my experience of using the KonMari method to help kick clutter to the kerb.
If you’ve ever found yourself clearing out a cupboard one week only to find yourself needing to do exactly the same thing just a few weeks later, then like me, you might find the KonMari method useful. The approach relies on decluttering by category, – for example clothes, books etc., – in one fell swoop regardless of where they are found within your home. The system advocates taking out each item within that category, laying them on the floor, the bed or whatever, and handling them to assess whether or not they ‘spark joy’ – a criteria Ms Kondo sets for the decision making process on whether or not to discard a certain item. The idea of items ‘sparking joy’ could mean different things to different people and I once saw Marie Kondo illustrating the concept on television by doing a sort of jiggle when she handled something she definitely didn’t want to throw away. Personally, I had to give this idea a bit of extra thought, though – my cellotape dispenser, for example, doesn’t fill me with a flutter of emotion, but come Christmas present wrapping time, I know I would miss it if it was gone. I decided that for me, ‘sparking joy’, meant anything that was either useful, beautiful or precious, and continued on that basis – basically to avoid ridding myself of the many joyless but essentially necessary items dotted around our house.
Once you’ve assessed every item in a given category, the next step is to discard the items that don’t spark your definition of joy – and Ms Kondo is very strict about not starting the process of thinking about how to store things until the whole handling/assessing/discarding process is complete. For categories that are too big to handle in one session, like all the clothes you own for example, you can break things down into subcategories (like coats, t-shirts, jeans and so on). I decided to tackle all the clothes I owned in a oner, and over the period of a wet weekend in February managed to discard over 100 items including dresses that hadn’t been worn for years, a myriad of accessories, and no less than 10 pairs of jeans I had barely ever worn (having finally acquiesced the chances of wearing longer length jeans when you are a 5’4 and a half inch tall Mum who hardly ever wears heels as zero).
When I put the remaining items back into my wardrobe I realised how little of my clothes I had actually been actually wearing – ladies, it turns out that the old line about having a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear is actually 100 per cent true. I’d had plenty of going out clothes and and office wear from my pre-children days, but very little suited to a 40-year old wellie-wearing Mum of two who’d like to feel a little more stylish on the school run. I had basically been rotating the same few outfits from a very small selection for several years and it’s fair to say my wardrobe was now looking fairly empty. On the plus side, this did help me identify a few staple items I could do with (like the pair of black boots I treated myself to on a resulting shopping trip -see, this minimalism stuff’s not all bad). And I came across a few long-forgotten items that actually fitted quite well into my newly streamlined wardrobe – a lovely Whistles skirt handed down from a friend and a versatile black swing jacket I’d forgotten about were just two examples. Most importantly, I realised I didn’t need to purchase any more of those cleverly marketed ‘storage solutions’ I had been thinking about – in the end, all I needed to do was get rid of the stuff I really didn’t need.
Going through the same process with the kids’ toys and all the books we own also yielded good results and for the first time in a long time I feel like I can tentatively say I think I know where most things are within our household. We still have a few categories to get through – the kids’ crafts supplies and pictures, toiletries, household items, sheets, towels etc., – and there’s still that cupboard full of CDs we haven’t listened to in years. But for the most part I’m feeling Spring-ready, and keen to get on with outside-the-house matters at the onset of British Summer Time. Our newly decluttered living space has made me feel happier, brighter and more than ever, determined not to let ourselves get overloaded with clutter in the future. With two little boys’ birthdays on the horizon soon, though, that may of course be wishful thinking……
What about you, have you been busy doing Spring-ready decluttering? How difficult do you find it to keep on top of storing all the things within your home? Or maybe having lots of stuff around just doesn’t bother you? I’d love to know your thoughts!
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