I have been reading this delightful little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She is a professional tidy upper. She has a waiting list of clients that is months long. I agree with almost (almost) everything she says about cleaning out that house.
She talks about the magic and transformation that comes with cleaning out the clutter. Now, I’m going to go on my own little inspirational speech and recommendations for doing such work quickly and easily, but I have gotten a lot of new little ideas from our new friend Marie.
Clutter makes our homes look like shit. We are embarrassed to have people over. Clutter confuses us, it wastes hours to “find” that shirt or that paper. It holds us back and it holds us down. It keeps us in a holding pattern. We are always busy “getting to that pile” or “organizing that room”.
We could be outside playing or taking a long walk listening to the bird’s chatter. We could be pondering a new career and starting the steps to study and learn about that career. But instead we are sitting in a room immobilized by the filth and clutter (I know this may be extreme) and we are trying to motivate to finally tackle it…and we sit and stare. We’ve done this for months.
MAKE A DATE
No more! You set a day aside. Marie Kondo calls it a “special event”. I agree. Don’t drag this silliness out for days, months, a year. We need to see immediate and huge results to get inspired and make lasting changes. We also need to NOT give ourselves time to think. We need to DO! Clear your calendar for a weekend or just a day sister (or brother), we are going in!!!
- Get a friend that is hardcore and will rip that old 80’s sweater from your claws if she needs to. Someone that is a neat freak and will get in there and help load those bags up and keep you moving. Less talk, more action, less sentiment, more detachment.
- Start early, brew a big pot of coffee (you’ll need it), turn up the radio (not too loud, the neighbors are still sleeping).
- Have piles, bags, boxes. There will be the give away pile. This stuff goes to thrift stores, dog shelters and people shelters. The next is garbage, stuff no one will want. Next is stuff that can be salvaged with sewing and such (but only if you are REALLY going to do it. If you have been saying you were going to do it for months…forget it! You had your chance)
- You are only going to keep what you love and brings you a smile, joy, happiness…you get it. Start with big stuff and go down to small. Furniture first, throw pillows, rugs, wall hangings. Then move to books, DVD’s, CD’s. Then clothes, linens, towels.
- Now you go the cabinets and then the drawers in the bathrooms and last the kitchen. Get rid of all expired medicines and old make-up, lotions and such.
- For the kitchen, you get rid of old foods and seasonings, expired stuff, and even foods your family doesn’t eat. The food bank will welcome you.
- Now clean out your desk and computer. File everything. Go to the store and buy files if you need to.
- Last is the sentimental stuff. Photos and mementos. Don’t keep junk and don’t keep photos you don’t like of yourself or that make you sad. Don’t keep photos of the back of someone’s head or 50 pictures of the desert.
When you want to hesitate, think about all the people, children, and dogs out there that really could use this stuff and will be so grateful for all the blankets, clothes, toys, and food that you are just stuffing in closets and drawers.
Make the uncluttering huge and extreme. You won’t go into shock. You will actually sit back and feel like you can breathe for the first time in ages. You will be able to enjoy all the clothes you forgot you had because they were buried with all the junky clothes. You’ll start using new spices because they are no longer hidden behind the old herbs you never used. You’ll read the books you forgot behind the stack of old textbooks from college.
You will also be able to move forward in your life and do things you want to do. Clutter and filth have such a big impact on us. We don’t realize it until we clear it out and do a good scrubbing. It’s therapeutic. The Bible talks about cleanliness. The Bible is all about getting our minds right and righting our lives. When we clean we reset our thoughts. We work through life’s issues as we scrub and take out the garbage.
With our house clean, spacious, and in order we can think clearly and we are motivated to do other things.
I have done huge decluttering. One of the biggest was when my mother past. She was a packrat (not as bad as the Buried Alive people, but bad). If my mother had only allowed the clearing and cleaning out,she would have enjoyed such a great house while she was living. The difference it made to her house was astounding.
People are comforted surrounded by their belongings. I get it. I’m not extreme and I love my things. You can have cozy things and colorful delights filling your home but do away with clutter and messiness. It’s a balance and I believe the biggest advice that I got from Marie Kondo was to keep only what makes you happy. When you are surrounded by what brings you joy in your home, you are more likely to go out and find more of what brings you joy in this world.
I have a new book on the way that goes into all this and more on creating an amazing home and life for the family. Stay tuned!