Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Have you heard of this book? The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? They call it the KonMari method, which is a mashup of the authors name, Marie Kondo. It's a book written by a Japanese woman who is a organization specialist in Japan. She has all kinds of ideas about how to organize your house, and she wrote a great book that everyone is going nuts about, including me.

We have lived in our house for 11 years. It's 4,000sf, six bedrooms, three stories, four full bathrooms. When we moved here I thought living in a big house was going to be the greatest thing ever. And then I tried to clean this beast, lol. I'll be honest and say that a lot of times I kind of hate the size of my house. Everywhere you turn, there is more house, lol. And when you have lots of house it becomes really easy to have lots of stuff. I can go a long time without organizing things because there are gigantic closets and extra rooms all over the place in this house where I can just stick things in a corner and decide to worry about them later. And unfortunely, that's what I do a lot. And then eventually I go on a cleaning binge and decide to clean things out and it's just a nightmare of stuff I forgot I even had and don't know what to do with. So that becomes overwhelming and I end up just shoving things back in closets and corners and decide to save the project for another day.

And then I discovered the KonMari book and it really opened my eyes. Her whole thing is about surrounding yourself with things you love. Don't focus on what you need to get rid of, focus on only keeping things you love. She lives in Japan and the book was originally written in Japanese, so some of her book has some little cultural things that seem a little out there. (Apparently your items have feelings and you should thank your clothes when you get rid of them? Japanese people are adorable. And I mean that sincerely. Japan just seems like a whimsical place, doesn't it? They're always doing something cute.) And also I got the feeling that when she was writing the book, she was thinking of small Japanese houses, not American monstrosities. So I didn't feel like everything in the book applied exactly to my situation, but I was able to adapt it, and the concepts are the same.

So Shawn and I both read the book and we've been working on her methods. The first thing you're supposed to do is go through your clothes. Her idea is that you should organize in categories, not by room. Often I will decide to organize one persons bedroom and go through their clothes, but then I run out of time or lose interest before I get to the next persons room. And then by the time I get to the next person, the first persons needs to be done again. It's never ending. Her idea is to organize in categories for the whole house. Don't just do one persons clothes, organize every single piece of clothing in the entire house at once and then that category is done for the house.

So last Saturday we did that. We have had a clothing crisis going on here lately. We have too many clothes that haven't been gone through in far too long. Laundry is a disaster, no one can ever find anything and it's always chaos. Ideally I like to go through everyone's wardrobes every summer before school starts and get rid of things they have grown out of and figure out what they need replaced. But the last few years I haven't done a thorough job of it. We like to hand down Josh's clothes to Matthew, so when josh grows out of something I tell him to stick it in his closet until Matthew grows into it. Josh has a huge walk in closet in his bedroom, so he just piles grown out stuff in a corner and in theory we go through it and give it to Matthew. In theory. In reality, that pile has gotten awfully large lately.

So on Saturday we started with the boys and I told both of them to clean out their closets, their drawers, their nooks and their crannies, and bring me every single piece of clothing they own and pile it in a big pile in the middle of my bedroom floor. And the pile was embarrassingly gigantic. But we sat down and one by one, piece by piece, we went through each and every item of clothing and discussed its merits. Do they love it? Does it make them happy? Does it fit? Is it in good shape? If they loved it and it was in great shape, it stayed. If not, it was discarded. Between the two boys we discarded six gigantic bags of clothes that we sat aside to be donated. And what was left was organized the KonMari way. She has a genius way of folding clothes that is going to work so great for my kids. My kids used to just stack clothes on top of each other in their drawers the normal way, and what ended up happening was that things would get scrunched up in the back of the drawer and forgotten and they would wear the same three shirts off the top. The new way is to line everything up next to each other so you can see everything in the drawer when you open it. It takes up less space, it looks neater and you can see everything you have so nothing gets crammed in the back and forgotten. They kids are loving it.

So then we did the same with Clarissa's clothes, and then we tacked our master closet. I'm not going to lie, our master closet was in sad shape! It looked like a Gap store had exploded in there. I owned more jeans and t-shirts than anyone reasonably should. And even though we have a walk in closet with plenty of shelves, we had more clothes than space. There were stacks of jeans and piles of sweaters and rows of shirts crammed in there wherever I could find a space. I can never find anything in there, and there was no organization. So we emptied the entire closet out like we were moving and piled it all on the floor and again went through it piece by piece. It took forever. I found things I didn't even know I owned. I let go of piles and piles of clothes that I don't wear. I had a whole box full of jeans that don't fit that I keep around just in case I ever lose enough weight to fit into them again. Nope, those are gone now. We didn't keep anything that doesn't fit, we got rid of anything that doesn't make us feel good when we wear it, and basically just kept the clothes that we really love. I got rid of three quarters of my wardrobe. When we out everything back in the closet, all organized and in order, I was amazed! Our closet looks AWESOME! I went from having so many clothes they were crammed in corners, to having so few that I have two empty shelves in there. And I love it! I love having a smaller wardrobe, because it's all clothes I love. What the book is teaching us is that it's better to have fewer things that you really love than to have a bunch of stuff you just tolerate.

So the project continues. Yesterday I did the master bathroom. I emptied out the entire bathroom like we were moving and piled every single thing out of the cupboards and drawers into a big pile in my bedroom and I spent the day going through every piece of makeup, every hair accessory, every brush and comb and curler and tweezer. I threw away so much makeup. I used to have a whole drawer full of it, plus a big makeup case. Now I have one small plastic box of it in a drawer, and that's it. And it's only makeup that I actually wear and love.

The author of the books says that when you finish doing this for your whole house, what you're left with is only things that you love, that you're happy to take care of, that are easy to put away because everything has a home, and then you don't have to tidy all your stuff daily, because everything is already where it goes.

This seems like common sense, and I suppose it should be. We used to have a fairly organized house, but it has really gotten away from us over the years. I want that back. I am so excited to wake up now and get ready in my organized bathroom and get dressed in my organized closet. I finished up the bathroom project by buying new towels and bath rugs, which desperately needed replacing. Everything feels new and fresh and happy.

So now that the kids are out of the house all day and I have a few weeks before I start school, I'm continuing the project throughout the house. One category at a time I'm going to be organizing and discarding and making our space fresh and happy and organized. It's not something that will happen overnight, but it's been fun to wake up every morning and decide what to organize next. Once you get started its kind of addicting!

So that's how I'm spending my first kid free days now that everyone is in school. It's a lot easier to do this project when no one is here. I can crank up the music and get to work! :) And now that I've finished my blog post, it's time to do just that. Another day, another category!

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