I am embarrassed to say my house was very cluttered. My closet was overflowing — it was a struggle to physically access the clothes that were hanging. I could no longer see the floor in my home office. I had piles of things in every corner; I felt like I lived in a flea market. My shelves and flat surfaces were filled with Legos. I was one step away from being featured on an episode of Hoarders.
Then in spring, my husband purchased “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo for my Kindle. I had not heard of the KonMari method described in the book and was unaware of the popularity and hype around the book. The book was an easy read. I read the book twice but was scared to take action. The method is so extreme but if you follow through and thoroughly tidy your space, Ms. Kondo alleges that you will never relapse and have to do a thorough tidying again.
Her purging process is very simple. She gives you an order for purging — clothes, books, household items and then mementos. You basically go through each item and throw out (or donate) those that do not spark joy. What an easy subjective standard, right? For those items you purge, you are supposed to thank them for the memories and then dispose them guilt free. Gifting your discards is also a “no-no”. You are not supposed to transfer your “burden” to another person.
While the method was really straightforward, I found it very hard to start the purging process. For clothing items, you are supposed to unhang each item, put it in a big pile, touch each item and then listen to how your body reacts. It is supposed to be obvious if the item sparks joy. With a lot of encouragement from my awesome mommy friends, we decided to “group” KonMari. We encouraged each other, shared our before and after photos and my friends even offered to come over to gauge my joy sparks.
So I did it. It took about 12 hours with help from my kids but I managed to clean out my closet and dresser and those of my 3 kids. I even folded the clothes in my dresser so they were visible at a glance (they sit vertically stacked against each other). I untucked my socks and instead put them in a relaxed sushi roll to minimize their stress. I questioned my pants as to whether they were more comfortable being hung or folded. Since I work full time and have 3 kids, the 12 hour task involved working when my kids were asleep and being up an entire night. Once I started it was easy to skip sleep and finish.
The process was exhausting and I can see why her method requires that you unhang all your clothes. It is so much effort to rehang everything. After I thought I was done discarding my clothes, I realized in the hanging process that there was even more to discard. If I am too lazy to hang it, it probably doesn’t meet the joy threshold. In the end, I yielded 5 yard waste bags full of clothing. I am now selling some items on ebay and the rest will be donated.
I have also KonMaried my Lego collection. This took a lot longer. Maybe a week to sort, rebuild and sell. Most recently, I am working on my household supplies and home office. I don’t know if I will relapse, but I do feel happier and much more together when I am home. Many testimonials in her book note that KonMari will change your life — causing one to want to be surrounded only by things that spark joy. As a result of the process, some changed careers, lost weight and even dumped their spouse. I haven’t experienced anything so dramatic but I am happier and am excited finish the purging. I also find that I shop less. I contemplate purchases much more carefully before purchasing. Overall, it was very freeing! Most of us live with too much stuff, anyhow.
I highly recommend the book and the method. If anyone has questions or need moral support or ebay advice, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I found myself stuck at certain times. For example, I found myself repeatedly asking if clothes that no longer fit can spark joy? In the end, I decided yes! It brings hope that one day you may fit and I realized that my favorite pieces were the teeny tiny ones that make me feel so happy to look at.
by Big Bunny
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