Have you considered using the Kon-Mari decluttering system, but unsure if it works well for modern-day moms? Jessica reviewed this system and is sharing her thoughts!
By Jessica, Contributing Writer
Recently I went to the library to check out the crazy-famous, Japanese decluttering book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Only I couldn’t. Because I was #67 in line, and it would actually be about, oh, two years, before it was my turn.
Clearly, this book is popular.
I took this as a positive sign and purchased a little copy for myself. So, after reading it, I can definitely see why it’s a hit. I decluttered. I simplified. My space can definitely breathe.
But would I recommend it for moms? I would say it has pros and cons for the mom.
Here are some things I felt super-helpful:
- The notion of an item sparking “joy” to you. This concept of identifying how much joy an object brings me was a new way to look at decluttering. I think it is definitely a helpful tool for anyone decluttering, moms included.
- The concept of sorting by category, not by location. In other words, instead of fumbling through all the books room by room as you organize, you make a massive pile of ALL the books in the home. Then sort. This was a novel concept to me, and I definitely saw the merits. I thought her process made sense. You follow this process for all of the categories she outlines.
- The order of items she suggests decluttering. Although she leaves out a few categories, the general order for how you should declutter the home is helpful. For example, she says to start with books, which I thought was odd. But then I did it, and I immediately felt so much better after all my books were sorted. I was so motivated to keep going!
- Storing all of one item together. In other words, all the games in the house in the same spot. All the jackets for everyone, same spot. All the luggage, same spot. This totally makes my brain happy!
Things that don’t make sense:
- She leaves out a lot of “categories” for the modern family. In my post, 5 Things You Absolutely Must Know Before You Kon-Mari Declutter Your House, I list the missing categories and the order that I suggest you should do these categories.
- Kondo says you can that you can declutter completely if it’s all you do for a few straight days. Not happening, says the mom! Everything takes 1000 times longer when you are a mom, and decluttering is no exception. You sort one dresser of knick-knacks, stop to make trail mix, wipe a bottom, and brown beef for dinner. And then start again tomorrow. It’s just a way of life for a mother!
- Once you’re done decluttering, you’re done. This is Kondo’s claim…That once you go through the process of decluttering, you will never have to do it again. I wish. But alas, children are always growing, always out-growing. My home’s needs are constantly changing. Every year, every birthday, we receive new gifts and new STUFF to sort through. I will need to declutter kids’ stuff until they are grown!
- Designating a “spot” for every member of the family’s things, and storing all their things in one specific spot. Nope. This doesn’t make sense for family logistics. We keep the family’s shoes downstairs. All of the family’s jackets go downstairs. We keep games and toys all together, no matter who’s special item it is. And if you have a two-story home, as we do, it just makes sense to keep some things upstairs.
- Greeting your house and thanking your possessions. I chalked this up to the Buddhist influence in the book and sort of skimmed over that part. I am grateful for my possessions, sure. But not to them.
- I don’t find her folding method to be the best for kids’ clothing. My kids are frequently rummaging through their clothing baskets. I think it would be an exercise in futility to demand the items be folded so specifically. I did find her tips for clothing storage immensely helpful for my own clothing, though.
In a nutshell, would I recommend that moms read this book?
Absolutely. The book is not only helpful, but also inspirational. The picture she paints of a decluttered life was motivation to finally tackle the attic-full of junk I’d been avoiding for years! Moms reading it will likely have lots of questions. But there are plenty of resources. In addition to my own blog post on what you should know before doing Kon-Mari, extra resources abound.
I read the book and came away with the same thoughts as you. I would definitely recommend reading it – it had some great tips and was motivating to get started on decluttering. A heads up – the last two links in the post lead to a “Page not found” error message.
Hi Mary, Thanks for pointing that out. The link is now fixed. 🙂
I wrote yesterday about how my theme for the year is “Organize my Life” and that is starting with a whole house purge. I recently finished the KonMari book and while I like a lot of her ideas (sparking joy for one) things like getting it all done in a few days in completely unrealistic in my world of three children. But, I definitely think the book is motivational for moms. We will see how far I get with this whole house purge thing 🙂
Good luck, Heather! It is definitely harder with three kids. 😉
Oh, and the thanking of different objects in my home for a job well done most likely will not be happening either…
Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving
Thank you for this! I bought the book over Christmas since I was so far down on my library waiting list, too! That said, we’re expecting another baby next month, so I think my time to try the Kon Mari method will be this summer! 🙂 Love these pointers, and completely agree!
I have only recently heard about the book. I appreciate your review. I’m really good at keeping the clutter down in my home and declutter every ouple of weeks. I’m not sure it is worth my time to read the book or use her systems since I have my own.
Keelie, that makes sense. I really did not have decluttering systems in place, so I totally appreciated the tips. 🙂
I absolutely agree that there is no “one and done” for decluttering when you have children. I think that if we realize some of her advice is situational–designed for single people or couples in most of the cases in her book, and for people who live in Japan and therefore have a much smaller space than most Americans–then we can take the good and leave behind the rest.
Kaitlin @ The Mom on Purpose
I agree with everything you shared in this post! As a mom, this is a book that you have to read with a grain of salt. Not everything is applicable for everyday life! But what is applicable, is awesome! 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
Gina @ Holding the Distaff
I just finished the book and I have been taking the approach of setting aside 2-3 hours each weekend and tackling a little category (my clothes one week, my daughter’s the next, my boys’ the next, etc). So far I’m really happy with the results (and will probably write about it on my blog!). That’s really the only way I can wrap my head around thoroughly decluttering.
I read the article you linked to with more tips and subscribed! Looking forward to learning more 🙂
I love your summary and intake on this system of organization, but I can’t help but smile at the comment “I will have to continue to declutter kid’s stuff until they are grown.” At 70+ years my husband and I both struggle with decluttering our stuff. We’re both artists using different media…paints, paper, canvases, and fabrics, notions, tons of stuff! I think decluttering has to become a continuous process in our lives, unless we live spartan lifestyles like Bhuddist monks. ;-D Not very conducive for creativity…
We have to remember that relationships are more important than stuff, organized or messy!
Keep up the good work!
Love that – relationships are more important than stuff, organized or messy! I might use that! 🙂
For the “thanking of the thing,” I turned that into “thank God for the thing.” I believe that this sort of mindfulness gets one closer to praying without ceasing, but also maintains a sense of gratitude and understanding that all we have is a gift from God. I especially think that idea of being grateful for the joy an item has brought is good for people who are sentimental. It allows us to keep the meaning while being able to part with the stuff. The scribble my 4-yr-old hands me – I can thank God for the joy she felt in coloring it and giving it to me, and I can be grateful for a creative, generous 4-yr-old….and then I can release it into the recycling bin without guilt (and hope she doesn’t discover it).
My mom borders on being a hoarder and I live in dread of the day we need to clean out their house (and attic and crawl space and storage facility). The next time I help her declutter, I hope to introduce this idea that we can thank God for our VHS tapes – for the joy they have given us in years of viewing and of decorating our home without being viewed. And then we can release them, not just because of Netflix, but because they have served a purpose and we are grateful
I absolutely love your perspective, Melissa!
One thing I remember reading in the book is that the whole process can take up to approximately 6 months. And when I read that I felt such a relief. Because, with 4 little kids and a crazy schedule, there was no way I could get it done in a few days. The other thing that I would like to mention is that she just released a sequel called “Spark Joy” that touches on so many of the questions and categories that I felt were missing in the first book. I absolutely loved that book! But you do have to read the first book before, otherwise it does not make sense.
Oh, Heidi, thank you for that insight! I didn’t know about the second book! I’ll have to check it out.
The book has useful info, but I found the folding system doesn’t work for my family. I would spend the extra time making it look nice, but it would get messed up shortly after. Guests don’t come over looking inside my drawers so I stopped stressing and wasting time folding clothes. I just pile it nearly in the drawers it belongs and be done with that process much quicker. It made putting laundry away less daunting.
I loved reading her book last year and am still slowly working on decluttering my house using her method. Her second book, Spark Joy, definitely expands on the categories you mentioned that were missing from her first book.
Also, just as an FYI, the Buddhist influence in her ideas as you mentioned, are in fact, not Buddhist, but based on the Shinto religion, which is very prevalent in Japan. In her first book, she mentioned that she was an attendant maiden in a Shinto shrine.
Yes, I pretty much agree with you here and your blog link. However, I love her method for folding kids clothes. The only clothes I hang for my daughter are her church clothes. By folding and standing her daily clothes in her drawers, she’s able to see everything and pick out exactly what she wants to wear. This mainly started working whenever I told her if she messes her drawers then I get to pick out her clothes. My four year old hates that idea so she keeps her drawers neat and tidy, with the occasional straightening up from me. 😉