What I’ve Been Up To: Tidying Up / KonMari

I thought since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, that I might make a series of posts to keep you up to speed on all the things I’m doing to keep the winter doldrums at bay and basically blast my way through the months of January and February. Mission: Almost Complete!

First up? Throwing all my stuff away. 

Kidding! I’m totally kidding! Sort of. Andy and I (mostly “I” a.k.a. “the one with all the free time” though..) have been making our way through this book:

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It’s basically about keeping the stuff you love and letting the other things go. Seems like we should all have houses full of the stuff we love already right? But not really. Go through your closet. I guarantee there are clothes in there that make you absolutely loathe the way you feel when you wear them. At least that was true for me. So I went through, removed everything except the things I feel incredible in, and donated the rest so that they can find homes with people who appreciate them a little more. :)

Then Andy did it. And I did it with the kids’ clothes too. It’s a pretty incredible effect.

Here’s an example. We keep bins of hand-me-downs for Reid – stuff that Graham has grown out of. To date, I have kept everything that is still in good condition after Graham grows out of it, and then I throw it in a labeled bin. That bin gets added-to periodically when I find random pieces of clothing in Graham’s closet that I missed before or when we get a shipment from Reid’s cousin Charlie. When I eventually pull a bin out it is very much overflowing to the point of not being able to be closed. The contents inside look much like the bin on the right (except the overflowing-ness is not accurately captured.)

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The bin on the left is after I Konmari it. I take every item of clothing and decide if I’d be excited about seeing Reid in it. The rest is donated to a resale shop to be loved by another family. I love this side-by-side photo because it captures how different I feel after doing all this decluttering.

The bin on the right sort of overwhelms me. Makes me feel like work is ahead. Bin on the left makes me feel energized and excited to get these clothes into Reid’s drawers. To start fresh. Work done.

Last thing about the picture above: The bin on the left is very much what our drawers look like now. We fold up pretty much everything. That’s a big difference about storage with this method. We hang only stuff that would be a complete pain to fold up. For the boys (both the big and little boys) only collared shirts, vests, robes, and hooded sweatshirts are hung in the closet. For me, it was jackets, formal dresses, robes and silky shirts.

The end result is a closet that is pretty much always photo ready. Pretty stinkin’ incredible, because I would have easily died before letting anyone see the contents of my closet before. I love going in it now. I also find it easier to remember what I own on those rare occasions when I do shop for clothes – which isn’t often.

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There was a similar effect for Andy. All his hanging clothes now fit into his tiny little closet, where he’d used to take up space in mine.

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The rest are folded and put in drawers like you see above.

Here’s an example of one of my drawers. Sweaters on the left (bulkier sweaters are in boxes in my closet), summer dresses on the right. Long-sleeved cotton tees down the center – apparently I’ve been wearing those a lot this week. :)

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And here’s an example of what Andy’s tees (short and long-sleeved) look like. (Yes, we share a dresser.)

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You’d think folding everything would make it wrinkly or hard to see, but that hasn’t been the case so far. The clothes aren’t folded and stacked like pancakes – everything is folded and stood on its end so instead of lifting up a shirt to see what’s underneath, you more flip through like albums in a music store. Andy and I were both worried about all this folding taking way too long because – quite frankly – laundry time is taking up about all the time we’re willing to give it, but it really hasn’t been bad at all. The author of this book sort of saccharinely said that folding is fun, and I instantly gagged but I begrudgingly admit that I find it sort of satisfying.

Even works for the boys.

Reid’s closet has a single bar that used to be smashed with clothes. To the point where you could remove hangers from shirts and the shirts would stay put. I know you know what I’m talking about. The shirts used to march back into the depths of the closet where you couldn’t see them and there they’d sit until he grew out of them – often never wearing most of what he owned. Now, it’s just his collared shirts and hooded sweatshirts. The dresser is now emptied of everything except extra bedsheets, which I’ll soon move out into our upstairs hallway linen closet. This means we’ll be getting rid of this dresser soon – or finding another use for it elsewhere and probably adding some toy and/or book storage to his closet instead.

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The dresser that stands in Reid’s bedroom keeps all his shirts, pants and jammies, etc. For cold and warm weather. Which we’ve never been able to do before.

Shirts:

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Shorts/Pants:

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Jammies/Socks/Underwear:

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Graham’s is a similar story – here’s what one of his drawers look like:

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Yes, they get a little disheveled now and again, but for the most part, the boys do keep their stuff in order. They also love having their shirts in drawers because it makes it easy for them to pick out their own clothes. Especially true for Reid, whose shirts used to hang way over his head before. Now? It’s that damn orange snowplow shirt every chance he gets.

I’ve made my way through all the clothes in the house, which has meant manymanymany donations to our local thrift store.

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This is a small trip. Every time I get at decluttering, I make sure that once I’ve decided something has to go, that I bag it up and take it to recycle or goodwill. I make it a point to get it out of the house. This not only helps us see the impact of the work, but it also limits temptation to bring stuff back in.

We’ve also been through all our books, our movies and our music. Now I’m in the process of decluttering all our paper, which has me in our unfinished basement, because obviously that’s where our filing cabinet is (? I have no idea why it’s there.)

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I’ll be honest – the clothes made MUCH more of an instant impact in how orderly the house feels than the books/movies/music/paper categories. The non-clothes stuff took up less space and much of it was squirreled away before.

But now that I’m writing this, I realize that the places we housed all these above items can now probably go. I no longer need the dresser in Reid’s closet. I no longer need a massive 5-shelf bookshelf in the basement. I don’t need a DVD/CD cabinet anymore. And I for sure don’t need a 4-drawer filing cabinet. So I guess if I’ve felt like progress since decluttering our clothes has been slow it’s because I haven’t been moving out these large pieces of furniture when we no longer need them.

The book I referenced above is very prescriptive about the order in which you declutter. Once I’ve graduated from organizing my paper, I can move onto things like kitchen items or decorative items – and there again I think palpable changes will be made to how our living space feels.

Final thought: This process has made me keenly aware of how much stuff we have, how much stuff we don’t use and how much stuff that we only really need to get by. We are storing, oh man, so many things that others could make better use of than we are. I’ve felt compelled to get the good, usable stuff into the hands of those very people. Or responsibly dispose of items that can’t be used. The idea of hauling truckloads of our stuff to the landfill doesn’t feel good, so Andy and I have been working hard to really figure out where in the community recycles or reuses the oddball items that no longer function for the purpose which they were created. I promise – that’s not a call to action for you or an attempt to be preachy or holier-than-thou. Merely an introspection that surprised me. :)

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