So last Friday I bought a book. And by last Saturday afternoon I had read said book cover to cover. I had swallowed it whole, only pausing to quote inspirational passages to my bemused husband. When I had completed my read-athon, I looked around my living room, hugged the book to my chest and new my life was going to change FOREVER.
If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo and her Life-Changing Magic Tidying I will briefly explain the concepts to you. You de-clutter your house according to categories (clothes, books etc.), you only keep the things you love and then you …er… never need to tidy up again.
If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will now that I love a good ole-fashioned clear-out. I appreciate there is more to life than tidying but sometimes it feels like I can spend an entire weekend putting things resentfully back in their rightful place.
There are several reasons why this book appeals to me:
- It is a simple theory and pretty easy to carry out*.
- Sometimes I feel like I am on a perpetual cycle of consuming, cluttering and clearing.
- By nature I am organised but I am also lazy.
- I am addicted to buying storage. One of the claims in this book is that because you’ll have
noless stuff you won’t need loads of ways to store it. (Genius!)
- I love all things Japanese; their teeny tiny homes, their natural neatness, the way they can see beauty in the order of things.
- I want to experience an exhilaration I have never known before and gain confidence in my life. (As promised in page 145 of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying).
However, I like stuff, I don’t really want to live in a minimalist home with one book on the shelf and a vase of neatly arranged flowers. I feel uncomfortable with the way Marie Kondo is so eager to ‘throw it away’. I don’t want to contribute to landfill sites with my uncontrollable ability to pass up a bargain and my need to surround myself with the detritus of my life.
Oh, and I also have two three-year old tornadoes hell-bent on scuppering my spick-and-span strategies. Bummer!
It is clear from this book that Marie Kondo lives alone in her ship-shape apartment. With no husband that seems to shed receipts as soon as he enters the house and certainly no children with their bi-jillions of toys, not to mention underwear, artwork and other accoutrements littering the lounge floor.
She is also quite clear that you can not de-clutter other people’s stuff. Kids surely are exempt from this? Three year olds are not the greatest at clearing up after themselves or known for their love of tidiness. (As I type this the tornadoes are hurling cushions from the sofa and spilling juice on the rug – simultaneously!)
The book doesn’t really have any rules on how to deal with children’s stuff. Kondo does briefly touch on visiting a client with a three-year old daughter whose things were stored in three different places (?), then she goes a bit vague and ends by saying “Even a three-year old can tidy!” Hmmm.
Still, I felt I could write my own rules and armed with the prerequisite bin bags I entered the playroom full of optimism (I was about to experience an exhilaration I had never known before). I should state that at this point I had sorted my clothes, books, the paperwork, and my craft/sewing stuff, so I was feeling pretty high! Using the rules I had kinda gleaned from the very short passage on children I got to work.
This is how I tackled it:
- I forgot about storage solutions. Kondo is very strict about de-cluttering first and then thinking about storage.
- I thought about what my children played with and how they played with them.
- I sectioned the playroom: Games and jigsaws, Fred’s stuff, Martha’s stuff, art table, cooker and toy food.
- I only threw away (car booted) things that I was certain they would never play with again, or were broken, or had never been played with in the first place.
- I did not touch everything and decide if it bought me joy – which is one of the founding principles of KonMari.
- I did it surreptiously and did not enlist the children’s help.
The amount of toys (post-Christmas and birthdays) my children had was overwhelming. They have their favourite toys that come out agin and again. I think by whittling down what they own they can see more clearly what they have.
Zoning the room really helped. I didn’t have to buy any more storage and it’s so much faster to tidy.
I would recommend the KonMari technique in a heart beat. My house as a whole is much lighter and feels far less shambolic. I’m not saying it’s not messy (it always is!) but I can see order in the chaos. And I know that because tidying up at the end of the day takes far less time, I’ll be sitting with my feet up, watching Murder She Wrote and sipping a glass of Sauvignon all the sooner.
And that my friend is exhilarating!
- Actually KonMari-ing your house with pre-schoolers present is nigh-on impossible, but that is a whole other story.