A few weeks ago I started reading a book called, I kid you not, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo. You have probably either read it or at least heard of it but it was a new one on me.
Thus far I’m about two thirds of the way through and about a third of the way through tackling the tidying…so the life-changing magic hasn’t quite hit the Mums’ Days household yet. But I am fully bought into the philosophy.
With quotes like this, who wouldn’t?
“When you’ve finished putting your house in order, your life will change dramatically. Once you have experienced what it’s like to have a truly ordered house, you’ll feel your whole world brighten. Never again will you revert to clutter. This is what I call the magic of tidying.”
Where do I sign up?!
Marie Kondo is a Japanese woman who has built her career around helping people declutter and tidy their houses. This book is littered with lovely anecdotes from working with clients, and her passion for order is infectious. Her care and attention to every item leaves you feeling like they must have a heartbeat and you start to treat the items around you with much more respect.
Beating the Clutter Cycle
Marie has one main approach to tidying and that is to discard. Any and every item that does not “spark joy” should be given to charity or thrown away if it’s beyond repair.
Her belief is that the reason we tidy but then within a few days the house is cluttered again is because we have too much stuff and we are only dealing with the surface items. So discarding is the first step to beating the vicious circle.
This book is less about tidying to begin with and more about learning how to get rid of anything in your house that you don’t love.
Let’s face it, it’s difficult!
The gifts that you keep out of guilt, the plates that are practical (but you hate), the dress you’ve kept in case you fit into it again one day…away you go!
And she fully believes that in doing so you will begin to unleash your true potential. Instead of living in the past (those letters from old boy friends anyone?!) you have the opportunity to be what you should be now, today.
It’s really quite philosophical in places and down right hippy in others. Perhaps that’s why I love it?! She believes that disorder is often a distraction technique, that cluttering is a way of diverting attention away from what is really bothering us…
How to discard
She has a very specific order that she uses to sort out every item of the home and you have to run through each category in order and in one go (which is where I’ve failed as I’ve taken a bit too long).
- Miscellaneous (CDs, make up, house hold iteams, etc)
- Sentimental Items
Her reasoning for addressing our belongings in a particular order is that you are teaching your brain to make decisions. Clothes are the easiest to discard, so you train yourself there. Then by the time you get to the hardest bits, sentimental items, you’ll be much more able to cope (I have a whole post just dedicated to this most difficult section!).
“Tidy by category not by place”
It’s pretty brutal because you have to get EVERYTHING in that category in one place (anything that gets forgotten goes into the charity bag because you obviously didn’t love it!!).
This serves, firstly, as a demonstration of the sheer volume of stuff we have and, secondly, it’s easier to deal with everything in a category all at the same time.
Then, one by one you pick up an item and ask yourself:
“Does this Spark Joy?”
This question is basically genius! It’s not asking, “are you still useable?” Or, “were you a gift?” Or anything else. Only if you love it.
And when you read Marie’s book she really helps you to come to terms with the process of getting rid things that you’ve held onto for the wrong reasons.
Why would you want to be surrounded by things you don’t like but hold on to for reasons of guilt?
We all have far too much stuff, so let someone else enjoy it! And then we can live in a home full (or not so full!) of the things that we truly love.
I like that! If you need convincing on the need for less stuff, this brilliant talk by the writers of theminimalist.com might help…
Everything has a place
The second step in Marie’s tidying process is that once you have discarded everything that doesn’t bring you joy, you then need to find a permanent home for what is left.
Clutter forms when thing don’t get put back where they belong…and it’s even worse if the ‘stuff’ doesn’t actually have a home!
We are definitely guilty of that. With no real home for them, after the summer we seem to have about 10 bottles of sun cream diligently scattered around the house. Should you ever need some, wherever you are, it’s within arms reach…Apparently this is a recipe for failure and I can see why.
Marie Kondo has whole chapters dedicated to tidying by category and storage solutions but here are a few tidbits I’m still working through:
1) Store items that are the same in one place.
So all books in one place, etc…I have to say I’m still struggling with this one. Particularly books as we have shelves with books all over the place, so this is a work in progress! But I can see how this works, you are able to always keep an eye on how much of an item you have (do we need 10 bottles of sun cream?) and you always know where an item lives so it can be put back.
2) Give everyone his or her own storage space.
We’re guilty of having a place for toys in practically every room!
Firstly, this is hardly fair for Gabriella if she comes home at the weekend and Reuben’s toys are everywhere and hers aren’t. Not welcoming.
Secondly, it is really hard to keep on top of the toy clutter when it’s in every room! So, I’m working on reorganising Reuben’s room, downsizing the number of toys he has (he’s still got teething toys for goodness sake!) and ensuring his room is where his stuff is stored.
That’s it so far!
Tomorrow I will be sharing my progress thus far tackling Clothes, Books and Papers!
Have you ever succeeded in tackling the clutter in your house? Have you read the Life-changing magic of tidying?!
I’d love to hear how you got on with it. Or do you agree with this mum over on the Mums’ Days Facebook wall?
“Trying to keep the house tidy whilst living with a toddler is like trying to brush your teeth whilst eating a hobnob. I’ve now embraced the mess!”