Shortly after I had my third baby a few months ago, I felt that my life felt like it was out of control. I looked around my house and literally felt like I was being swallowed by the amount of ‘stuff’ I saw everywhere. Not only did we have everything that comes along with a baby (a crib, a swing, a bouncer, a Boppy pillow, a dresser full of clothes, a stroller, a car seat…). We also had all of the stuff that we had accumulated over 12 ½ years of marriage and by having two other kids. We live in a 2200 square foot home, which isn’t huge by today’s standards, but should be plenty of space for five people.
I also knew that we would be moving in nine months. That wasn’t much time to figure out how to go through my entire house. A feat I’ve been attempting for the last four and a half years since our last move! I had tried and failed over and over. I simply didn’t know what to keep and what to get rid of. I had never learned how to let go of things, even though I thought I was pretty good at it. But on Facebook, several women recommended I read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I had never heard of it, but figured it was worth a shot. For me, this book was a game changer.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a simple read. I read the entire book in three hours. This is exactly what I needed.
Not only did Marie address the issue of having too much stuff, she helped me figure out why I had so much stuff. Why I was holding onto things I hadn’t looked at or worn in years. For me, it was simply because I either paid money for it, or because it had sentimental value. In the book, Marie explains how to sort through every single item in your house and how to determine whether you should keep it or let it go by asking yourself one simple question “does it spark joy?” It’s amazing how I was able to pick things up and one side of me would say, “You spent $20 on this!” The other part would quickly say “You haven’t worn it in years, thank you for serving your purpose, it’s time to let you go”, and off the item would go into the donation pile. It sounds silly talking to your items in your head like this, but for me, it worked.
I designated one thirty-minute chunk each day (during nap time) to going through our stuff. I would round up items by type. For example, one day I gathered every shirt my son owned and put them in a pile on the floor. I was shocked by the amount of shirts he had! I’m the type of person who will hit a sale and buy 15 shirts simply because they’re cheap. This habit had created a massive surplus in our house that caused a lot of chaos and confusion. No wonder I would tell my son to get dressed and he would have no idea what to put on. There were so many clothes to sort through, he probably felt completely overwhelmed just looking in his closet! Today he owns a total of 13 shirts (5 short sleeve, 5 long sleeve) and 3 dress shirts. He can quickly and easily choose a shirt each day now. There isn’t a magic number of things to keep. That is personal for each person. You simply have to decide what you absolutely need and what sparks joy. My son had shirts that to be honest, were really ugly. I probably paid $2 for them, but held onto them simply because I had paid money for them and because he might need a shirt to get dirty in. Once I realized the reasons I was holding onto them, it was really easy to let them go.
I still have a long way to go, but so far, I have been able to donate over fifty garbage-sized bags to friends and Goodwill. That is a ridiculous amount of stuff. I was terrified that my kids would start noticing that I was getting rid of a bunch of their clothes and toys. The miraculous part was that not only did they not notice, they began playing with toys they hadn’t played with in a really long time. Why? They could easily find them. Such a simple concept, but one I hadn’t figured out. Don’t be horrified by thinking that I got rid of all of my kids’ toys without asking.
I started out by explaining to them that all of our stuff would not fit in a moving truck and that we needed to give away some things. I asked them what they wanted to get rid of and they couldn’t think of anything. I quickly realized that wouldn’t work, so I had them show me which toys were their very favorite and went from there.
There was no way I could get rid of things while my kids were home, so I made sure to do it while they were at school. I would place all of the things that were going to Goodwill in black garbage bags and try to take them the same day. If I wasn’t able to go that day, I would put them in the garage and try to take them as soon as possible. By placing them in black bags, I wasn’t able to see what I was getting rid of, so I could avoid having second thoughts.
This method worked for me, you have to find what works for you. I thoroughly enjoyed The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up. I haven’t put every method of Marie’s into practice, however, I was able to find the ones that worked well with my life and am sure that you will be able to do the same.