Marie Kondo is changing the world with her ‘KonMari’ decluttering method. That woman was born to tidy. The principle underlying everything is…’if it doesn’t spark joy, then get rid of it’ – something I agree with completely. Why would we want to live in a home surrounded by things that don’t make us joyful? But like most things (I feel), this is easier said than done. Marie to decluttering, is like Gina Ford to parenting. They are both extreme, but taken with balance and a pinch of reality – they work wonders.
My sister (the same one that introduced me to Gina Ford) leant me her copy of Marie’s book a couple of months ago, and since then I have started going through absolutely everything. As someone who tries very hard to keep on top of clutter, and a (mostly) careful purchaser – I have been shocked by the amount of things we own, plus items hiding in the bathroom drawers, others in our bedside tables, under our bed, or shoved in a basket. It is completely ridiculous!
Before owning a home I was totally naive to how much is involved in its upkeep, and that’s without the decorating side of things. It makes sense to only have exactly what we need, what makes us happy, and what we use in our homes. This means that we are not stuck in a constant cycle of moving things from one place to another, something I am found guilty of every single day.
I wouldn’t call myself a ‘KonMari’ convert (I am a mere seedling), and I wouldn’t say she has changed my life (perhaps there is time for that), but there are some really amazing principles that she shares in her book, and I love how ruthless she is. That in itself is inspiring – there is no mercy.
Here is what I gleaned from reading her book:
- Tackle categories, not rooms – I love the idea of getting every single piece of clothing out of hiding, including the loft, then getting every book out, then every miscellaneous item, then every piece of paper, but the realist in me knows this isn’t going to happen. I can’t bear the thought of upheaving several rooms at once with our busy family life. It would be a nightmare! We’d have to send the boys away to their grandparents. I have got round this by completely emptying a room at a time – that, I can cope with.
- Discard anything that does not bring you joy – I love this, because it really makes decisions easy. Look at something – does it bring you instant joy? If yes, then keep it, if no, find a new home for it. Children complicate this slightly as some clothes that bring my boys joy, really do not bring me joy. I show mercy. Do all those silly bits on my bedside table really bring me joy? A big fat yes.
- You can keep practical things – Does the hoodie I wear to the gym bring me instant joy? No…but it’s perfect for the job, I can’t justify buying another and there is nothing not to like about it.
- You cannot get attached to anything – “But so-and-so gave me this when I did this”, “I got this for my 20th birthday”, “But I’ve had it for years”. All of these become your enemy. If the item brings you joy, then yes, keep it, but if you’re just keeping it for sentimental reasons, then it’s time to part with it. She really gives a good argument for this in the book, and I have to say I agree with her wholeheartedly. Why keep things just for the sake of it?
- Respect your belongings by giving them a place – This is something I am really working on. It makes sense, but it is so hard to do. Marie says in her book that she empties her bag every single day when she returns home. She then places her bag back on her shelf and thanks it for the work it has done. Total respect for her belongings. My starting point is finding a place for everything, I’m not sure we will reach respect.
- Folding – This is the revolutionary part of ‘KonMari’ that really gets people excited. She suggests folding vertically, rather than horizontally. This means that you can see everything in your drawer. I started adopting this method for the boys’ drawers almost straight away, and I have to say – I love it. Mainly because their clothes are so small, and get lost easily. It also means that their clothes take up about a third of the room that they used to.
- Use drawer separators – I have started using these – only for the boys, not me. I don’t use them for all of their clothes, but I am really feeling the benefits of them. Shoe boxes are perfect, or head to IKEA as they have a fantastic range of shapes and sizes.
- People giving you things – You have probably guessed where this one is going. If people are passing things on to you, but you really don’t need them, it’s ok to say no. With practice this gets easier.
Marie suggests tackling your home over a 6 month period, which I think is realistic (as long as you don’t have any major building works going on). The initial clear out will feel very daunting, but it will definitely get easier once you become focused on what brings you joy. Cleaning becomes easier, your home feels fresher and will be far easier to manage. There are charity shops that need good quality clothes, bric-a-brac and toys, and places to sell your unwanted items. Soon you will become far more careful about what you bring into your home, and your home will make you happier.
Now…look around the room you are sitting in…”Does everything in it spark joy?”
What are you waiting for?