Letting go of clutter is not hard to do. It’s determining what is really clutter that’s the difficult part.
I mean, of course that piece of paper with five scribbles on it that you’ve kept under the guise that one day you’ll put it in your child’s memory book as one of his first attempts at coloring should be tossed once that piece has been sprayed with flecks of coffee and the corners are torn after the dog got a hold of it, but memories!
This past Christmas, instead of my brother’s typical gift of Britney Spears perfume and a loofah, he gifted me a guide on how to change my life: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. (He’s getting a how-to guide on subtlety this birthday.)
I decided to declutter our family home to start the New Year with a clean, fresh start and get my annoying, organized bro off my back.
Organizing and decluttering by category as instructed by the KonMari method made me want to shoot myself, so I went off the book’s path and took it room by room.
The first step was to take a hard look at everything I owned and decide what “sparks joy.” If it didn’t bring on the warm fuzzies or a dorky smile, it was chucked or stored with its counterparts (i.e. placed in the closest drawer or closet). Sorry, the whole folding and storing items in specified boxes and areas was a lot of work.
Here’s what stayed and what went:
Office/dining room: Post-its with my chicken scribble, old brainstorming notes, ancient printer instructions that resided in my “office” were tossed; the computer – which is the gateway to TMZ and pictures of Ryan Gosling (so much joy) was kept, along with my kids’ smartphones. I considered “adding an ornamental plant” to my work space for about 5 seconds, but that whole “sparking joy” aspect of this exercise led me to a “nope!” Extra work? No, thanks.
Master bedroom: KonMari directs readers to “make your bedroom a space to recharge your batteries and refresh yourself for another day” by playing relaxing music, displaying items that bring you happiness and “scents” that do the same. My necklaces and jewelry remained on the dresser ‘cause they help to remind me that I can be fancy when needed; however, the hubby’s pile of receipts, Axe body spray, and shaving kit were tossed. Just like that.
Going off of the whole “keep only what brings you happiness” wave made picking valuables from useless shit 100 times easier. Decluttering is so simple! “Wash sheets and pillowcases frequently.” Does that “spark joy?” Nope! Toss out the sheets and comforter! Eff it, throw out the mattress, too; it’s full of pee from all my daughter’s accidents. A large empty bedroom with only my necklaces on display and the stench that is Axe body spray gone for good? Yes, please!
The girls’ room: This one was super simple to declutter. Does the singing Elsa doll bring me joy? Hell no. Do I love the Dora microphone or the half-naked Barbie dolls laying spread eagle on the toddler bed? Not really. Do I really need to touch that larger-than-the-average-adult-sized bear to know how my body will react? Nah, I know my foot will instinctively kick it in its bear-sized balls. Trashed. The bed and crib were almost out the door, but I reminded myself that the book also asks readers to keep items that, although may not spark sufficient joy, are truly necessary.
The kitchen: Cooking is hell. Nothing in the kitchen that has to do with cooking brings me actual joy. But out of necessity, pots and pans, spatulas, and wooden spoons remain. The coffee pot, chips, and star cookies from Trader Joe’s would have been enough for me.
The living room: This one was the heavy hitter. Sticking close to the “if you don’t love it, don’t keep it rule,” I really had to weigh the pros with the cons when deciding to keep or toss the items in this room. Did the husband sitting in the recliner “spark joy”? Sometimes, like when he picks up paper towels and El Pollo Loco on the way home from work. But in keeping with the rules of the bathroom to make sure it has “a fresh, natural aroma,” he had to go. Sorry, babe. Those days of dropping off the kids at the pool and then covering it up with that damn body spray are gone.
What about the 3-year-old jumping on the couch? She says the most adorable things, loves to compliment me, and can get me out of so many parties and networking events that would require hiring a babysitter to attend. But she’s kind of a monster. Sorry, baby girl, but your threenager attitude, the time spent threatening timeout, and all the constant pretending to be Ursula to your Ariel spark no joy, only bitchiness. Buh-bye.
And lastly, the barely-walking 1-year-old throwing the DVDs off the corner table? So much love is stirred up in me by this little girl. The baby talk, the instant smile when I walk through the door, and the little kisses. Then again, she is kind of a whiner. And she doesn’t sleep unless her mouth is attached to my boob. I did want a baby for sooooo may years. But according to the book, “don’t keep gifts out of guilt.” Sorry, sweetie.
Now, as I’m writing this on my crumb-free couch with only sounds of the latest episode of reality TV playing in the background, I’ve never felt so relaxed and free in my entire life.
Thank you, KonMari, for helping me find the joy again.
About the Author
Ambrosia Brody is a working journalist, editor, and mother to two under the age of three. Connect with her on her blog or on Twitter @AVBrody.
Get Weekly Updates!
Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new posts just once per week.