When Tim and I were first married, he handed me a large bin of my things and told me to organize it. Having watched several episodes of home organizing shows I separated the items in three piles: To Keep, To Sell, To Throw Away. Then I sat there wondering what to do next. Tim came home to find me fenced in by these piles in a state of panic. Where do I put the things I want to keep? Do I really throw away these items? How do I sell this stuff?
Organizing things has always been difficult for me. I have self-identified as a “messy” for years. When something is “in use” (in my mind), I leave it out. Having children only compounded the problem when the amount of stuff I use on a daily basis tripled overnight.
My messiness has created problems in our marriage as stuff builds up around the house creating a sense of chaos and unrest which my affects my sensitive husband as soon as he walks in the door.
I like to think that I don’t really see the mess. But right now, my office looks like this:
I can’t even use it. There is an unfinished crochet project on the chair, boxes from Christmas packages scattered throughout, misplaced office supplies, random books lying around — Oh yeah, and a streak of blue paint because I want to paint the room, but can’t because messy.
I want things to change, but how?
I once read a review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up which intrigued me (affiliated link here and throughout). There was a lot of talk about simplicity, throwing things away, and joy. Lots and lots of joy. Soon, the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up made best-sellers lists and popped up in magazines I read. It is currently the #1 book on Amazon in Home Improvement and Design with thousands of 5 star reviews.
When we moved from Colorado and had to de-clutter the house, I was struck (and disgusted) by the amount of stuff we had that we never used. Why did we have 3 different types of pizza cutters? Why did I hang onto all of those unused sippy cups? Why did I have bags of stuff to be put away next to the front door – for months?
I realized the messes I managed were created by things I do not need.
Moving into our new home, I told Tim I long for simplicity – that word that summarizes 2016 for me. I want to live with less.
A couple of months ago I grabbed a copy of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” from the library and only read a couple dozen pages before I had to return it. I did not know what to think. The promise Marie Kond made two paragraphs in was laughable:
She doesn’t know me, I thought. The “messy” girl who can’t keep her house in order no matter how hard she tries. I doubt it.
But when I turned to the first chapter, the heading took my breath away:
I don’t know how. I don’t know how to manage this house. It’s the secret I’ve been hiding behind ever since I became the primary house-keeper around here. Sure, I try. But all of my trying only leads to a sense of failure over and over again.
I’m not the only one.
It is assumed that we just know how to tidy, Kondō explains. From the time we are children we are told to clean our rooms without an explanation of what that looks like. So we teach ourselves. But for some of us, that teaching is inadequate.
Enter Marie Kondō.
The KonMari method is pretty simple in nature. You discard the items that don’t bring you joy. You pick a place for the things that do bring you joy and always keep them there.
Here’s the part that freaks me out:
“If you put your house in order in one fell swoop, you will have”
an anxiety attack “tidied up in one fell swoop.” (p. 16)
I can’t imagine going through the entire house all at once. The line brings heart palpitations.
But, the purpose of tidying the entire house all at once?
“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” (p 16) We change the way we think from experiencing the life sparking joy of a tidy place.
After the “fell swoop” event of tidying, all we do each day is put things back. (Enter more smirks and thoughts of self doubt here. After all, this lady doesn’t have children. Anyways…) After experiencing a life filled only with things that bring us joy and a tidy home we will not revert to our previous habits. She promises.
An all at once tidying event for Kondo with her private consultations is about 6 months. Not a weekend as I first assumed. 6 months of my life devoted to tidying up? I might be able to do that.
It’s true, I have my doubts. I have fears. I also have a room that is devoted to me, but I can’t use it because it is a mess. It’s time to simplify by first doing something that isn’t so simple: Tidy.
This week, I’m starting with my office. (ok, I’m breaking the rules of the method here, because you’re supposed to start with clothing, but a girl has to work!) Follow me on instagram or twitter to see how this thing goes down. I’ll also blog as I go.
Have you struggled with keeping your house tidy? Have you heard of the KonMari method? Any interesting blogs or experiences out there? I would love to hear about them!
Oh, and pray for me. I’m going to need it.
A brief update can be found here. God is using Lent and KonMari to change me. More coming soon.