So, you picked up this book on KonMari decluttering, that is supposed to change your life. It can apparently turn you into that tidy person who always has her ducks in a row. The kind of person who’s not terrified of the “drop by” unannounced visitor, because of the state your house seems to always find itself in. Surely it must be at least somewhat attainable – people have done it!
You read the book, or form a synopsis of sorts based off of what other people have told you about this decluttering trend. Of course, you can’t help but laugh out loud at some of these (seemingly) unintentionally funny pieces of advice and commentary. I mean really, how often do we hear someone exclaim pity for socks, or be so intensely passionate about the proper way to thank your possessions out loud, each and every time you lay them to rest in their proper homes that you’ve carefully snuggled them into. Sure, you recognize that there is a language and cultural barrier that likely translates to some of these amusing thoughts and phrases, but it’s still somewhat ridiculous. (Just check out this hilarious portion of Ellen where she shares some laughs over KonMari tip quotes from the book.)
You can’t help but think “What mother has time for this?” I’m supposed to gather categories of my belongings, in order, and lay them out on the floor to manhandle with my clumsy little paws until they speak to me? Nope. Not happening.
And sure, if it’s not your bag of tricks, that’s totally okay (not that you would need anybody else’s okay but yours, anyways). If you don’t have any desire to give this whole KonMari method a shot, then, by all means, toss it aside and carry on. No harm done.
But, if you are leaving this commitment to purging and reserving space in your life for only what brings you joy because you think it’s too difficult with little ones around, I’d urge you to reconsider. After all, what mama couldn’t use an increased sense of clarity, freedom, focus and order, in a time of life when everything’s so… full?
Tips for How to KonMari with Kids
Reserve time – Putting all those things on the floor and expecting a toddler to leave them exactly as they lay is not reasonable. You’re not going to be able to properly purge with them around. So, what can you do? Do you have a partner? Give them a chance to have some one-on-one bonding time with the little(s), and take some time to do this. No partner around to share those parenting responsibilities? Use that alone time during naps or after bed to focus on making the home and the life that you want. If this is a priority for you, then you’ll be able to pick yourself up off that couch and sit on the floor to take a look at what jewelry you’ve been hoarding over your life, and choosing what you really like. If your priorities are elsewhere, like getting extra sleep, or packing lunches, or whatever it is you know you need to do more, then do what you need, dude. I certainly won’t judge you for that.
If you’re going to do it, do it. Don’t spend half your time checking in with Facebook or Instagramming your progress every five minutes. Turn your cell phone off. Flick off the TV. The book even recommends keeping music off so you can really focus on keeping your mind concentrating on what you really feel and want to keep in your life.
Little by little
You don’t have to tackle it all at once. It took me a couple of weeks to finish decluttering my wardrobe, and I was pretty focused on making it happen, but it did get done. You just need to pick something small – a subcategory like “socks”, or “necklaces” or “platters”. Choose one or two small categories that won’t take all day, and you know you can finish in the amount of time you have to focus.
Keep reminding yourself what and why
You’re going to want to press through the decluttering process in a timely manner, before your time to finish a particular effort is up. To make it easier to decide what really makes you happy and needs to stay a part of your life, keep imagining what the goal is. What kind of life are you trying to achieve? What do you want to spend your time doing and seeing? Is what you hold in your hand going to fit into that life you’re envisioning? If it’s not, maybe it’s time to say goodbye.
Purge first, organize later
I can easily get sidetracked during a KonMari-ing session by trying to figure out where to put things. I end up spending too much time thinking about the possibilities, and “How will I make that fit? There is no good place for ‘pasta’ to go!” It always turns out that there is far more within each category to get rid of that I saw on my glimpse of what I had. After removing the unnecessary excess, it always happens that there is a perfect place to keep what I’ve chosen to keep. Don’t waste your time counting chickens (or pasta boxes) before they hatch (or before you see that they’re out of date, empty, or unappetizing).
Get. It. Out.
Do not, I repeat, do not tuck things away that you have decided to let go. If you want it out of your life, push it out, or it will sit in the corners still sucking up your happiness and cluttering up your mind’s focus. This is what I struggle with the most. I have to admit, I still have a lot that needs to go that I’m working on. The key for me seems to be putting the “To Go” boxes, bags and items right in my view, by the door where they’re fresh on my mind and have a better chance of being dealt with than if they were hidden. Once something is finally gone, it feels amazingly freeing. The space that is made from having that box or bag of clutter disappear is on par with returning from an endorphin-boosting hike to a splendid view. It’s well worth the effort.