The Southern Nest Blog

The Marie Kondo Method for the Real Family: How I found my way through a sea of broken toys, preschool papers, and sippy cups to find sanity. Step 1: My Clothing

The Marie Kondo Method for the Real Family: How I found my way through a sea of broken toys, preschool papers, and sippy cups to find sanity. Step 1: My Clothing

I talked about how I discovered the Marie Kondo method in this post.  After reading Kondo’s book, I have spent the last several months going through the exact steps she suggests to “tidy” one’s home.  I am almost finished (for those who have read it, I am in the “komono” phase) and the changes have been so drastic, I want to write about every step.

I read some articles that scoffed at her method, pointing out that this book is written from the perspective of  a single woman living in a small flat and that her method would not likely apply for an average American family with kids, pets, and a large home.  I am telling you-it does apply and it is possible.  I have two dogs, two kids (ages five and two-and another on the way) and spend every bit of my spare time running my business…yet I found a way to incorporate this into my life.  Like many mothers of young kids, I felt so incredibly frustrated at the general state of my house.  I would clean something up and find it messy moments later.  Drawers full of “stuff” would randomly jam when I tried to open them and something would get caught.  I felt like we were bursting out of our seams with THINGS and I literally didn’t know where to start. Mystery plastic objects (that we just had to keep because they had to belong to some toy), preschool artwork, junk mail…you name it, we had it.  I’d close the drawer or closet, thinking to myself “I have GOT to get this house in order” and go about my busy day pushing it to the back of my mind.  Occasionally I’d get ambitious and go buy some storage bins and dedicate an entire nap time (let’s be real, that’s the only time things get done) to organizing a spot/room/etc in my house.  And somehow, the cycle continued and I never felt any better.  After reading Marie Kondo’s book, I now understand why.

I was keeping things I should have gotten rid of.  Everyone has different reasons they keep things (she covers that in her book.)  For me, I kept a lot of things because they “were in perfectly good shape” (even though I didn’t need them) or because it might come in handy one day.  The last reason really hit home with me.  I had random things that were just there in case I could find a use for them.  When you stop and think about it, how silly is that?  I was taking up very valuable space in my home on the off-chance that I might happen to use that random jar of cream again.  And that is where clutter comes in.

If you are interested in this method, here is what I strongly suggest.  Don’t just google it or listen to some blog (like this, ha) without getting the book.  Get the book and read it.  From start to finish.  Even if you don’t “have time” (none of us do)….get the book.  I started the book last summer.  About two chapters in, I decided to treat this book like a program.  I decided to pretend Marie Kondo was in the house with me, going over it step by step with me and making sure I stuck to the rules.  I knew if I was going to commit to this, I wanted to do it right.  I would not let myself start until I finished the book.  And the craziest thing happened.  While I read the book, I felt myself getting calm.  I felt in control of things.  I was having moments of realization as to how my house got the way it did and knowing how I could get my sanity back made me feel amazing.  I found myself sneaking out to lay in the hammock out back and read the book, designating that as my “special down time.”  By the time I finished the book, I was ready.  Her entire philosophy is based on sorting by category, not by room.  So, I went with Category One: Personal Clothing.  (It is very important to follow her recommended order.)

Deciding to follow all of her rules, I knew I couldn’t just clean my closet.  It’s not about the location (a habit I had always used previously when organizing.)  It’s about the category.    I had to massively gather every item I could possibly wear (for every season) and pile it in one spot.  I picked a random Friday and began taking every single outfit out of my closet.  Then, I dumped out every drawer of socks, t-shirts, underwear-you name it.  I went downstairs and gathered every coat from the coat closet that belonged to me.  Every scarf, every hat-if I could wear it, I dumped it in the pile in my room.

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The kids watched me curiously.  (You’re going to see lots of grainy iPhone pics…when I’m on a mission, I’m not very patient with my photo documentation.)

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I emptied only my stuff (Kondo recommends doing ONLY your things and letting family members follow suit as they wish…more on that in another post) completely and thoroughly.
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My room looked like a bomb hit and I felt sick on my stomach.  I had so much STUFF.
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Then I remembered I had to get a whole additional season’s worth of clothing from the spare closet.  I went back and forth emptying the contents into my room.  Gigi was in the spare room watching her favorite show.  On a trip to unload another armful of clothes in my room, I saw B go running by.  Fast.  I got that “mom-sick -feeling” and I just knew it wasn’t going to end well and I chased after him.  I was too late.  He ran down the hall and smack into little Gigi who was standing near the door watching her show.  She tumbled right over and into a stool that was in the room.  I picked her up to comfort her and I knew right away that her cry was different-that she was really hurt.  I looked at her face and sure enough, her eyebrow was split open.  We headed straight to the ER.  I was cursing myself…no more than two minutes before it happened I had looked at that stool and thought to myself “I need to throw that out.”  If only I had just done it right then.  We spent the evening in the ER and headed home.

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I got the kids down for sleep and walked into our room, absolutely exhausted, to this:

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I had completely forgotten about it.

I wanted to cry.  I sat for a moment, staring in shock, then decided to press on.  I was determined to do this and do it right.  So, I finished emptying that last closet and got to work.  I was so tired I knew I couldn’t start the purging, so I separated everything into piles: tops, bottoms, undergarments, socks, etc.

I made a checklist of the order she says to purge each item.  Just a simple one I jotted down so I could remember her order.  You can find tons of fancy to-do lists all over Pinterest.  Here’s my opinion.  Her method works BECAUSE it is so incredibly simple…why over complicate it?  I knew to start with clothing and that I just needed to apply her method by the type of clothing in the order she suggests.  I moved through each category quickly.   Kondo says to feel if the item “sparks joy.”  It sounds silly at first, but when you are in the process, you get it.  I picked up a shirt and looked at it.  While holding it, I paid attention to how I felt.  It didn’t matter if I “needed it” for practical purposes…how did it make me feel?  Did I get that spark?  If I didn’t get that spark, it went into a black trash bag.  I zipped through each category like that.  It was hard and it took me the entire weekend.  At the end, I had about 10 bags of clothing to get rid of.  One tip-get the bags out of the house right away.  Don’t hold onto them.  (I sold what I could at a consignment sale and donated everything else to charity.)

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I looked at what I had left.  I felt lighter.  I felt in control of my surroundings.  I wanted so badly to go in and completely give my closet a gorgeous design redo. But I needed to hold back.  I needed to get my entire house empty of anything that did not bring me joy before I could attempt to get it looking how I wanted it.  Stay disciplined in this.  It’s hard-you want so bad to jump to the fun part.  But it’s important to wait until completion to do that.

I purged any mismatched hangers.  I hung only items that could not be folded (like very lightweight fabrics.)  Every single thing went into my closet-even my winter coats.  Nothing was separated by season; it was all together.  And guess what?  It all fit.  All of it.  With complete ease.

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Socks and undergarments were folded neatly into drawers.

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Many people have said to me “I don’t LOVE my work shirts, but I have to wear them…how do you do things like that?”  That’s when I tell them they really have to just read the book.  You need to understand what “Sparking Joy” really means.  And once you are going through the process, you will understand it completely.  Category Two of the Kondo Method is coming up in the next post. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Carol Giomuso says:

    That is a brave task! I applaud you!

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