How to Make Home Your Happy Place - A Blog Series (Section 2)
**Part 1, Section 2: Declutter and Donate**
One of my biggest nerve-grating peeves is things being unorganized. My husband will be the first to tell you that I am definitely a Type-A person who likes organization and control. Now, since I am a mom of small children, I’ve had to ease up on my nagging about toys being on the floor and random spills of milk at the dinner table. And if I am being honest, as ironic and non-type A as it sounds, as soon as I started to be a stay at home mom, I became a little more lax about picking up after the kiddos. I allowed the toys to stay on the floor scattered throughout the house (seriously, the toys were EVERYWHERE!) and often didn’t clean the high chair for a week. Part of me thought “Why clean all of this up? It’s only going to get messy five minutes later!” My husband (bless his heart) would come home after a long day’s work and not say anything about the disarray of our home. The mess would keep adding up - toys everywhere (so no vacuuming); high chair with several coats of mac and cheese leftovers on it; laundry baskets of clean clothes stacked against a wall of our bedroom (hey! At least they were clean!). And then eventually I would have a weekend where Matt would take the kids out of the house and I would have a marathon day of cleaning every single room in the house. By the end of the day the house would be spic and span and I would be exhausted.
But, no matter whether the house was clean or messy, I never truly felt happy about being home. Don’t get me wrong, I was (and still am) grateful for the gift of being able to stay home with my kids. But something about being home was completely off.
One day, I complained to Matt saying “I don’t like this house anymore. When we bought it I liked it, but now I don’t. It’s dark and the setup is weird and the carpet makes my itchy and I just don’t like it anymore!” We had only been living in the house for less than a year at this point, so, needless to say, Matt was not happy with my complaint. I, of course, knew that we would not be moving anytime soon and definitely not because I “just didn’t like the house anymore.” So I either had to deal with being unhappy or I had to change something to make it better. Because change starts with me. But how?
One random Saturday I convinced my family into having a marathon cleaning day (once Lylah realized what that meant she was NOT excited!). We worked together to put the toys away, hang the clean laundry that was overflowing in their baskets, vacuum, sweep, mop, dust, clean the kitchen and bathrooms, and make the beds. This all basically took the entire day (bribing was involved to keep Lylah going - I’m not proud of it, but it happened). We all went to bed that night completely worn out.
The next day I woke to an immaculate, sparkling house. I climbed down the stairs, took in the cleanliness, and I realized something. I realized that the clean made me happy. Even so, I felt that this clean was fake. Certainly the clean would not last, mainly because of all of the toys and kid gizmos everywhere. They were off the floor, but they were really just stuffed away in random nooks and crannies until the next time Lylah or Ben decided to take them out again. We had entirely too many kid toys. Big toys and tiny toys like knickknacks from Happy Meals. As I looked around the playroom, I realized that many of these toys did not even get touched anymore. Why did we still have these? It was time for them to go! It was time to declutter and donate!
The two most helpful methods you can use for decluttering are: 1. usefulness and, most recently, 2. the KonMari Method of Tidying Up. For the playroom, I specifically used the usefulness method. For the rest of my house, I used either the KonMari Method or a combination of both.
1. Usefulness Method
This one is pretty self-explanatory. For the playroom, I went through every single toy (seriously Every. Single. One) and decided if I thought the kids still played with it. If it was so tucked away that I knew for sure they hadn't played with it or wouldn't miss playing with it, it went into the donate pile. If I wasn't sure and it was a big deal toy (like puzzles or a train set), I put it in the "ask Lylah" pile. For the toys that I had seen Lylah or Ben play with in the last month, I put it in the keep pile.
((Serious Sidenote::The kids did NOT help me go through the toys although some "experts" might say that you should have them help. I had bagged the ones I was sure weren't played with before Lylah and I went through the "ask Lylah" pile. My reason for not having them help was because then we would be using the KonMari method and so everything would "spark joy" for them. Kids love toys! Someday in the future I do plan on having them help me declutter and donate the playroom again, but for now it was just easier and more efficient for me to do it.))
2. The KonMari Method of Tidying Up (credit to Marie Kondo)
For the rest of the house, I used the KonMari method and/or a combination of the two methods. In case you haven't heard about the KonMari Method here it is in a nutshell:
Step 1. Hold an item in your hands.
Step 2. Ask yourself "does this bring me joy?" (According to Ms. Kondo, it can take some time to really hone the skill of knowing what truly sparks joy for you. She says you may have to come back to some items after you've honed this skill.)
Step 3. If it sparks joy, keep it. If it doesn't, say 'thank you' and put it in the donate/trash pile.
Step 4. Organize the things you keep (we will get to this step later in an upcoming post)
Kitchen: I used a combination. If we did not use the item and it did not bring me joy (like a wedding gift) then it was tossed or donated. For the kept items, they would eventually be organized in the cabinet shelves, drawers, refrigerator, or pantry more efficiently.
Great Room: I strictly used the KonMari Method. This was hard because I had A LOT of framed pictures and musical things that were hard to make decisions about, but they truly didn't bring me joy anymore. However, they are still sitting in the garage... ;-)
Our Bedroom: I strictly used the KonMari Method.
Kids Bedrooms: I used a combination and I had Lylah help me with her bedroom/bookshelf. Much to my surprise, she did a good job and wanted to donate some items. (We did this after I did the playroom by myself - which I still do not regret).
Closets: I used a combination for my clothes closet and I used the KonMari method only for the linen closet and downstairs closet.
Decluttering and donating items that were no longer useful to our home has been a really cleansing thing for me. It has helped me to appreciate the things we do have and to be more open to minimalistic living.
Next on my list is to organize all of the kept items! Stay tuned for the next blog in the series: Organization for a Happy Home (One of my FAVORITE things to do and give tips for!!)
To read my previous post in this series: "What is Home?" click here.