Family, Home

For the Love of Simple – Clean Up

In my previous blog post I wrote about how my somewhat chaotic but always rewarding life nudged me on a journey to explore my need to simplify my surroundings and how that led me to try out the KonMari method of tidying up.

Today I wanted to share what Marie Kondoeing my apartment looked like. Before diving into details I do have to say that it was an experience nothing like I expected. I was excited to get everything cleared out and I expected it to be easy or hard depending on the category we would be attacking. I was pretty comfortable with clearing out my clothes (I actually had a pretty good idea what would probably go) but I was sure the kids’ toys would be a problem. I was also a bit worried about how my housekeeper (yes, as a single mom living on a different continent than my family, I need one) would handle this as I thought maybe me sitting down with the kids to hold everything in our hands wondering whether the item sparked joy would seem weird to her. Not that I mind what she thinks but I felt this wouldn’t work without her support, she does live with us most of the week and is the person in charge of maintaining everything in order after the clean up.

How I prepared

In addition to the very important part of the post clean up life visualization that I described last week, I looked for a fairly comprehensive list of categories to attack. Marie lists 5 categories and although many of them are pretty easy to cover I was especially worried about the biggest category Komono a.k.a. Miscellaneous. I was sure I would not be able to figure out everything to go through without a good list of sub-categories. I would end up doing it by room and well, that just wouldn’t work. I found a nice list from Neat Little Nest that really helped us to work through all the subcategories in our home. Luckily our home is not huge, we’ve lived here only a year and I’ve done a few discarding events already. In addition to the list I only got myself three rolls of heavy duty garbage bags and we were good to go!

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Our living room mid clean up – kids taking advantage of the confusion and building an pillow fortress!

The Process – My Clothes  I piled all my things on my bed, I had more than I expected. Just like everyone. I had thought I had few things. I had a lot of things. So I started to sort things out, holding each in my hand. Nothing went as I had imagined. The items that I was sure that would go, mainly did go. But then I got into the items I use on a regular basis. There was a shirt I really liked and used, but I realized it was worn out from the elbows – had been for a long time and it was time to let it go. There was a bag that I used regularly, it was nice, it went well together with a pair of shoes that I really liked but I realized I actually didn’t love the bag. I actually didn’t like the material, how it made me feel and what kind of a person in my opinion would use a bag like that. Out the door! It was so empowering to find a piece of myself through evaluating my likes and dislikes.

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Half of my closet, not too bad but can’t really see everything properly. 

Going through my own clothes took way longer than I had thought. It was fun though, to think who do I really want to be, what kind of clothing does that girl wear and what fits that image of my best self. The only things that I didn’t get rid of yet that didn’t spark joy were my luggage. One big check-in bag from Benetton that my ex-husband got us a long time ago. It was cute at the time and had a pair. The other has broken months ago and this remaining lonely one isn’t in great condition anymore. The zippers as loose and frankly the whole thing reminds me of a life that is in the past. My other piece is a carry-on that my friend borrowed me, it’s a great piece of luggage but it’s not mine and not particularly pretty. So I decided that I will treat myself to new set of luggage, which I btw am getting from Mark & Graham. Once these beauties arrive I promise not only to write a review and a travel organization post but I also promise to get rid of my old luggage.

The Process – Everything Else: The other categories in Marie’s method are Books, Papers, Komono (miscellaneous) and Memorabilia.

Banging through these categories was pretty easy, most books would stay – I only got rid of few that I had gotten from my therapist post divorce (no joy sparking here!). Kids books would mainly stay, we love all of these and having them in my bookshelf brings me a ton of joy. My mom used to own a library (not really but thousands of books) and I feel they are needed to make a house feel home.

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My bookshelf and random stuff everywhere

Papers were very easy, this category was already done few months back. I had, with the help of the great housekeeper, organized our must keep papers such as birth certificates, into a little document suitcase. I really didn’t have to do anything here!

Komono, this one I was excited about. I figured this would be the quickest category as I am definitely not attached to electronics or kitchen utensils. I was thankful about how Marie had tackled this area in her book. Her, oh so practical examples, were really helpful, for example her explaining how there was no point in storing old boxes for electronics in case you would want to sell them later on. I had about 10 different small electronic boxes lying around. All out the door. There was a lot to go through but working through everything on the list I could see we were making quick progress. Finally we came to the point in the list that I dreaded: Kids Toys.

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Kids’ room – kitchen corner

I was so sure this would be the worst part of it all. My kids are not good in getting rid of things. They have stuff they have not touched in months, things that are missing pieces, are dirty because someone smart thought it was a great idea to take them outside to play but nothing can be thrown out. We had gone through this many times and always the result was the same, if I could convince them to get rid of 5 small toys from Happy Meal boxes I could consider it a success. This time, however, was different. My son flat out told me that he would trust me to choose, as long as I didn’t touch his video games. Fair enough, I said and didn’t discuss further. My daughter somehow didn’t seem to care too much either. I told her I would not get rid of her play kitchen, dolls and their things, Barbies and their things or her costumes (she has about 10 different princess, witch, Disney character outfits that she really likes). After hearing that, she told me I had free hands on her stuff too. I didn’t believe what I was hearing. Maybe it was them seeing do this in other categories or maybe I just had my timing right but I quickly got to business before they’d change their minds.

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Kids room – general mess

Wrapping up

In the end, we got rid of more or less 10 garbage bags of stuff. My house keeper took the good items to sell in the flea market but some of the things just went into the garbage. I am happy with the results but I won’t be sharing the after pics until I’ve finished organizing the things we kept. I am still missing some boxes to finish our project.

Everything has it’s place now and I feel much calmer in my own home. It feels more me. As Marie predicts, tidying up your home has usually life changing effects, we had some too and I want to share those with you in my next post when I share our after pics.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!

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