Five Tips to Make the Most of Your Spring Cleaning
Spring Cleaning Konmari Style
The snow is finally melting and warmer months are in sight. It’s the perfect time to plant your garden, open your windows and freshen up your home. While spring cleaning certainly isn’t a new phenomenon (some suggest its origin dates back to the Exodus), this year a relatively new method for cleaning is sweeping (pun intended) the nation. If you haven’t yet read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” use these five tips to get started in your quest to put your home in order.
The purpose of the “KonMari” method (a hybrid of Ms. Kondo’s first and last names), is to declutter your life and surround yourself with things that only “spark joy.” In order to do so, she recommends you handle each item in your home and ask yourself if it brings you happiness. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. Kondo underscores the importance of discarding throughout her book. If we only rearrange clutter, we will have to do it repeatedly. If we discard, we’re able to truly tidy our lives.
2. Organize by category, not by room
This one was a game changer for me. Kondo points out our tendencies to clean one room at a time. The fatal flaw in doing so, is that it’s possible you unnecessarily store similar items in multiple locations. When I simultaneously cleaned out the craft cupboard in our family room, the “office” drawer in the kitchen, and our home office, I found seven pairs of scissors. Seven. I donated six. In organizing by category, you’re able to assess exactly what you have so that you can declutter effectively.
3. Start with clothes
With the KonMari method, you should start your decluttering journey (and it is a journey) in your wardrobe. Take every item out of your dresser, every piece from your closet, any loose clothing that may be hanging on a chair, in your car, anywhere, and put it on a pile. She knows that this will be overwhelming. It’s supposed to be. The sheer volume of your clothing is meant to inspire you to cut back. Handle each item and determine if it sparks joy.
Those pants that are four sizes too small but you know you’ll wear someday? Donate. Someone that needs them could wear them right now. That super baggy sweatshirt that you haven’t worn since your mom told you it made you look pregnant? Donate. Somebody who is pregnant will love it. The t-shirt riddled with holes? Trash. The dress you wore to your first military ball that you swear your daughter will wear one day? Keep it. Go through every item and only save the items that really make you happy.
4. Do your spaces on your own
Kondo specifically cautions against allowing family members to help you declutter, particularly your parents. I witnessed this first hand when I told my mother I’d sold a set of mugs on a yard sale. She was mortified I was getting rid of anything from my kitchen, especially 8 of the 12 mugs from our everyday dishes (which compliment the several Starbucks mugs from around the globe). When I heard myself justifying that I’d never had more than 10 people over for coffee, I understood Kondo’s caution. Tidy on your own, before someone “helps you” change your mind.
5. Get buy-in from your family
While it’s important to clean your spaces on your own, cleaning common areas (or a room of another member of your family) requires help. Any mother who has ever tried to clean out a playroom knows that having “help” from your little ones is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos.
If your children are old enough, ask for their help. I explained to my three and five-year-old the importance of giving away their toys when there were children with none, and that we should keep only the things that are really special. Toy by toy, they threw away the broken ones, placed ones they didn’t play within a bag for the children’s hospital thrift store and only kept what was important to them.
By enlisting their help to both purge and to organize, they’re more accountable in putting their toys away.
Whether you start small with these five tips or borrow the book from your base library and go full “KonMari,” take the time this spring to declutter, de-stress and design the space you’ve always wanted: one full of joy.
T.T. Robinson is a proud Navy wife, writer, and crisis management consultant- a skill that proves useful every day as the mother of two young children.