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The Magic of Tidying

Recently I finally got round to reading Marie Kondo's self-professed life-changing book about tidying, 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying'. It had been waiting patiently on my To-Read list for such a long time and the time had arrived - I was ready and receptive. Subconsciously I had already started; having Kondo-ed many of my clothes drawers with her eponymous 'KonMari' method of folding and vertically stacking my clothes.

Tidy House, Tidy Bowl, Tidy Mind

Even my 6yr old had been converted after staring in rapt wonder at my mesmeric row of near identical Breton tops (think smurf-like adherence to a uniform of white trouser/ shoe onesies and matching hat) and took to carefully folding each little T shirt before arranging them in neat little rows in his drawers. (Not my 8 year old might I add, who could potentially bring Ms Kondo out in hives if she caught sight of her bedroom!)

I am not by any stretch finished with Kondo-ing my possessions and scrutinising each item to within an inch of its life for joy-sparking potential but already I feel the magic! Yes I really do.

Following the installation of new wardrobes in our home last year, I was reluctant to simply re-dump the entire jumbled contents back into a shiny new home. That coupled with the fact that the new version was actually less capacious than its predecessor, forced me to embark on a fairly brutal in my opinion (not anywhere brutal enough in my husband’s opinion) culling of my wardrobe and shoes. I took the opportunity while everything was out, to methodically decide what had a right to return. Still, I was left with too many homeless items that I was unwilling and unable to part with but couldn't squeeze into my allocated space. What gives?

So I did what any self-respecting woman of my disposition (undisputed hoarder) and age (old enough to be the owner of too much by way of sentimental baggage) would do: I started hiding things in boxes in the loft!! And praying my husband wouldn't notice the illicit contraband of useless tat - needless to say, being the eagle eyed, unsentimental, non-hoarding minimalist that he is, he did.

The KonMari method frowns upon taking small steps but rather encourages a swift approach to tidying - before energy and the will to continue wanes. But unfortunately life gets in the way for the average person, whose career and life goal is not centred on orderliness. My mantra is, better some than none.

So I am using the method of dealing with one category at a time (which I agree needs to be finished in one sitting otherwise a heap of unsightly junk is left blocking doorways and causing trip hazards). But as for tackling the whole house in a rapid one-off condensed timeframe, I’m afraid it’s a no-can-do from me. I choose instead to work through the list of categories at a more leisurely pace. It is a slow process but I'm in it for the long haul rather than rushing through and thrusting everything back in the drawers in a state of decision paralysis brought on by urgency and time starvation.

There is still a whole host of categories I am itching to contend with – some days I am too impatient to wait to deal with a whole category and just throw a redundant item away spontaneously.  I doubt this scattergun approach is endorsed by Ms Kondo.

My biggest lesson learnt is that the answer to an orderly domestic situation doesn’t lie in the inexhaustible array of storage solutions available in the local Ikea. If anything, this just adds to the amount of paraphernalia requiring space. Rather, it is simply to minimise the number of items that need to be stored – not exactly revelationary. I do, however, recycle shoe boxes or other cardboard boxes of varying sizes as an economical way to create simple sections on shelves or in cupboards (not hoarding honest).

I realise that many of my possessions I neither need, want or use. Some I don’t even like! But keep merely for the fact that I feel guilty for abandoning them. The idea that it is okay to let these things go, in a non-negative way is freeing. The Freudian thinker might be forgiven for interpreting a subconscious fear of being rejected, unwanted and unloved which I am loathe to inflict on even inanimate objects. I have however discovered a way to bypass this warped way of thinking - by selling things (even for 99p on eBay) or donating them to a charity shop gives the sense that they will be needed, wanted, put to good use and even possibly loved by someone – which is all anyone or anything can ask.

Being set free to risk being loved vs being held prisoner and condemned to an eternity of being ignored at the back of a (albeit very comfortable and secure) cupboard – which is preferable? Am I still talking about old socks now?

I have admittedly drawn a line at verbally expressing my thanks and farewell to each item (crazy lady who spends too many hours alone anyone?). Though I do secretly hope my items can intuit my gratitude for their service – if not, then I seriously risk the wrath of karmic retribution for my heartless abandoning in the next life.  

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year - the perfect time to adopt a Happy New Habit :)