I believe most people can use a little help when it comes to keeping their homes clean and organized. Yes, there are some folks who prefer to live a sort of Spartan existence and while I marvel at their ability to do so, in America for the most part, people tend to be keepers. Just look at the number of storage units across the country.
I also believe that if you hear the same comment or question from three or more people in a short period of time, you need to address what it is you’re being told. For me, it was this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
I’m pretty organized about my business, but my house sometimes needs a touch-up. Doing one more really good sweep of my house has been on my mind for a few years. About six years ago, i completely painted the interior of the house as well as the garage, so every single item in my house got moved. That was a great time to do some major purging.
Purging and organizing are like peeling layers off an onion. Every time you peel off one layer, it becomes evident that you can part with even more. However, my peeling was put on hold.
Just when i was down to a few boxes of stuff to eBay and a couple of boxes of paperwork, my life changed.
Mom moved in.
I spent six weeks cleaning her house, a house she and my Dad and all of my siblings and I had lived in over a period of 60 years. When Kondo says we aren’t taught to tidy and organize as children, that was evident to me during the massive undertaking of moving my Mom.
Both of my parents were raised during the Depression, so rather than toss, their inclination was to save – EVERYTHING. From rubber bands to broken toys, once in the house it never left. So, we weren’t taught to discard either.
It was also during this moving process that I realized that when it’s my turn to move or pass on, I don’t want anyone to have to go through my stuff. It may be easier because there’s no emotional attachment as there is for me, but it truly should be much easier for me to clean through my things rather than have any other person do so.
The moving adventure reminded me how important and life-supporting it is to live in a clean and organized house. Nothing beats being surrounded by the things you love and always knowing where to find what you need.
While I lovingly cleaned my Mom’s house because I was super thrilled to have her moving in with me, it was a monumental task. It wasn’t a matter of her living in the same town, either. She was 1700 miles away and I had a limited timeframe to accomplish my work.
Some people say, “Oh, the kids will have such a good time cleaning the house after I’m gone. It will be like a treasure hunt.” To them, I say, pick a spot and start cleaning! Unless you are physically or mentally unable to do so, it’s much better to live in a clean and organized environment. Plus, believe me, it’s not a treasure hunt.
Needless to say, I couldn’t get absolutely everything sorted during that short six-week period, but I got 95 percent done. The other five percent I shipped for me to deal with back home.
While I cleaned through quite a bit upon our return, I just got sick of going through stuff. I’d spent hours upon hours on it at Mom’s house, and i needed a break.
Now, four years since Mom moved in, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the mess. However, this little book made its way into my life. I had to read it!
While I had accomplished the huge tidying prior to Mom’s arrival, and kept clean and organized those areas that were well-purged, items would flash into my mind while I read the book. There were definitely still things I could part with and probably never miss.
Kondo makes you approach your purging and organizing in a different way. Some people may find it a bit odd, but it seems to resonate with me. I’m reading the book for a second time – at least key points – and I will probably go through sections again and again as I make my way through the house.
I’m not sure how stringently I can abide by everything Kondo suggests, and there are areas that she doesn’t fully address, but I’m going to take a stab at things and see what happens.
She estimates it will take six months of one’s life to fully tidy up a household. As today is my birthday, I couldn’t think of a better present to give myself than the gift of a fully organized and happy life. God willing, I can get it done.
I’ll do all my stuff first, then clean through some Mom things that still need to be addressed – as long as she’ll let me.
I’ll post updates from time to time with photos when appropriate. I’ll share my insights and lessons learned along the way. We’ll see what my place looks like in six months.
Wish me luck!