The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo (a review)

 
This book was highly recommended, but when I picked it up from the library I didn’t expect to learn much—when we moved a couple months ago, we gave away, sold, or discarded probably half our possessions, easily. So our house of course was decluttered. Oh I was wrong! Kondo’s method of decluttering left me getting rid of 4 bags of trash and 2 bags of donations. That seems like a lot but it is really nothing compared to most of her clients, who get rid of 30 or 40 or more bags of trash.

Through reading her book, I realized that while in most areas I was pretty economical, I had some soft spots where I was holding on to far more than we needed or that “sparked joy” (her criteria for what you keep: whatever brings you joy). I got rid of a lot of my clothes, much of which were hand-me-downs from sisters or friends that I’d been wearing because they fit and were useful, not because I loved them. I got rid of a lot of photographs that meant nothing to me (tossed 3 entire photo albums worth). Paperwork was a big area where I needed to downsize—I kept things way past necessity (do I need paperwork from 2008? No.). I went through the girls toys (yet again) to see what they actually play with and what is just taking up space.

Everyday bryan came home from work to find a bag of trash waiting by the door and trashcans stuffed full. Yet I know there is still more I could do—two areas where she recommends discarding things but I disagree:

  1. books
    she recommends keeping only what you truly love and what sparks joy and what you’ll read again. I agree with that to some extent, except that I plan to homeschool, and I want my kids to have access to classics that I may not read again (except to read aloud to them) but that they should have easy access to (the Narnia series, Treasure Island, Heidi, Leaves of Grass).
  2. Clothes for other seasons / sizes.
    since I have 3 girls, I do keep tubs of old clothes to hand down from one girl to the next. I try to be picky about what I save—the girls tend to have more than they need—but I think, counting all the many sizes from newborn to 4T, I have about four or five Rubbermaid containers full. I did also have a small tub for maternity clothes, though I think that most of my clothes are so threadbare now (3rd time around!) that I’ll keep very few items.

I also disagree with her idea that things should not necessarily be kept where they are most convenient but should have a place elsewhere in the home, all in one place rather than scattered about (for example, keeping a stack of notebooks in your room and on the porch—she’d say pick one place). with little kids and a newborn on the way, I’ve set up a “newborn station” in our bedroom (a drawer with diapers, clothes, wipes; a rocking chair with burp clothes nearby and a lamp to read by; a pack in play and rock-n-play for her to sleep in), though I do plan to move her to her own room eventually.

Overall I highly recommend this book—I think anyone can benefit from her ideas on decluttering and organization, and her tone and voice is so charming and funny that it’s a pleasure to read.

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