If there’s one thing you should know about me is that, when it comes to household chores, cleaning, organizing, and decorating, I suck out loud at all things related to keeping a tidy home. Of course, it doesn’t help that we live in a small apartment and that my “bedroom” is a multipurpose room that functions as an office, dining area, TV room, reading space, play area and bedroom. And then, there are projects and Legos… But it hasn’t been all that bad—my son’s room has always been the more organized space in the apartment. I’m giving you all this unsolicited information so you’re not judgy of what I’m about to share with you. In my defense, I blame the many goodie bags and crappy toys that overstay their visit by at least 5 years. Also, a death in the family can claim at least an entire closet for a loved one’s belongings.
Enter KonMari (Cue Angelic Chorus)
It’s hard to make changes in life if you don’t envision what you want and where you want to go. I had a difficult time decluttering for many years, but this fall I listened to Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I was very inspired to rethink my living space and help my seven year old do the same. Moreover, I wanted to share with him the simple wisdom of asking if the objects in his life sparked joy and discarding what didn’t. Getting rid of clutter is emotional. I decided that my motivation, my vision and theme was going to be reclaim.
Reclaim is a loaded concept for me, and I’d start by physically reclaiming my bedroom space so it would have one less purpose, a play area, which took up about a third of the entire multipurpose room. Then, holidays were in the Horizon: “You’ll be getting new toys for the holidays, you have no place to put them. Wouldn’t be nice if there was room for them? Wouldn’t you like to have a more organized space? Do you play with any of these?”, I asked my kid.
Honing First Skills: Clothes, then Books
There was no way for me to start discarding all four main categories:
3) papers and
4) komono (miscellany)
...Unless we did them side by side because we live in a small space and it just made sense. I started discarding MY clothes and then MY books. When I turned to my kid for clothes, we piled them all in the middle of the room (per KonMari) but he didn’t want to take each piece of clothing in his hands and instead, he cooperated by answering what he wanted to keep or donate. Baby steps… like me, he was learning to part with objects. That said, getting rid of unwanted books was another story. He took his books one by one in his hands, all 500 (!!!), and decided to keep 400. I know that’s a crazy number, but they sparked joy for him. We sold and donated a total of 100 books. Still mind-blowing, I know. Stay with me.
Next: Papers and Komono (miscellany)
I’m still working on MY papers and next will tackle MY komono (miscellany). My son doesn’t really have papers (except for his school work which is generally seen, then discarded) and I consider his toys komono. For me, the key to turning him into an ally in this massive declutter project was to discuss with him all the functions that his room would now have (like all his toys would now be in his room, for example), and also showing him some ideas I collected on Pinterest to inspire him to live in a space that he would love to be in every day. We also perused some furniture websites and he got very excited about a camouflage tent loft bed. He envisioned his room as an army base.
Thank You for What You Taught MeI gave him four garbage bags and tasked him with filling them up: broken toys, anything that didn’t spark joy, toys to be donated or to be sold online. I usually don’t bribe (mainly because it’s an external reward, plus he always loses interest after a while) but that morning I was competing with the TV for my son’s attention so I offered him a science toy from the Science Center as an incentive. Even then, when he would get tired and wanted to stop, I kept cheering him on and reminding him how much more room he’d have for the new holiday toys. Then another long weekend came and I gave him another four bags. To my surprise, I heard him quietly disposing of an item while saying: “thank you for what you’ve taught me”. One more weekend, and he completed one more totaling nine garbage bags of trash.
A Work in Progress
Together so far, we got rid of about 50 bags of trash and recycling, donated or sold countless toys and books, and disposed of very large or poorly made furniture. I stopped counting the trash bags because I am now simply rejoicing in taking my living space back. I was able to bring in a full-size bed to replace my single bed, and the energy in the multipurpose bedroom is much different and frGet the posts straight into your inbox!
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I'm a single mom, graphic designer, crunchy mama, trekkie geek, life warrior. It's embarrassing how excited I get about food. I'm an expert in barefoot Lego fire walk.
Note: If you arrived here via a broken link, please note I had to rebuild this site due to my previous hosting company crashing. Not all blog posts were salvaged.