Amy Beth

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tidying Up: Kids’ Clothes

Ugh.

tidying up kids' clothes

After coming off my high from tidying and basically emptying my closet, this category was not so magical. I didn’t uncover new empty areas of my home or feel a great weight lifted from my shoulders. But it’s done and I think I have a few thoughts and tips to help anyone else out there trying to tidy up their home with little kids in tow.

First off, the KonMari method says that you should only tidy your own things. If you live with other family members you have to let them decide for themselves what sparks joy, and you can’t very well force someone to think about that. This is why I am basically ignoring my husband’s office. But I consider tiny children to be an exception to that rule. After all, the person who is most often dealing with their stuff is me. So I think that means I get to decide what to do with it.

Second, the KonMari method doesn’t really address the issue of practicality or future planning or little people who basically need a new wardrobe every season because they grow and change so fast. Going through their clothes and asking what sparks joy sounds like an awful lot of work for clothes that are all going to be outgrown in a few months anyway. So here’s how I addressed the whole issue of kid’s clothes.

Ask “What can he/she wear now.

These are the only things you need to have out taking up space in your drawers. I found many things sitting in drawers and closets that were either too small or too big. These things need to find another home.

Use the KonMari folding method as much as possible.

The KonMari folding method really does save space and make it easier to see the clothes you have to choose from. But kid’s clothes can be tiny and are not always worth folding into rectangles. So fold the shirts and pants and PJs. But skip the underwear and socks. It’s impossible.

Have a plan for what to do with outgrown clothes.

This is a the kicker that can really trip people up when it comes to kid’s clothes. Your plan could be to just load them up and take them to a thrift store because you know you are done. If you know you won’t be having future kiddos and are feeling particularly sentimental about certain items I recommend putting them aside in a box or bin to deal with when you get to the sentimental items category. Right now is just about clearing the clutter, not necessarily going through a whirlwind of emotions. Just make sure you don’t feel sentimental about everything.

Another good plan could be to hand down clothes to a family member or friend. While Mari Kondo advises against passing your belongings on to another person only to clutter up their life, I think kid’s clothes are a good exception. Hand-me-downs are legitimately useful to many people. As you’re preparing clothes for handing off, it would be kind to sort according to size, gender, and possibly season if you have that many items. It’s time consuming, but your friends will thank you. This is a good time to discard anything that has really seen better days. If there are items with impossible to remove stains, tears, or are otherwise not in immediately wearable condition, just toss them. Nobody wants hand me downs that they have to spend a lot of time trying to fix.

And another plan could be to keep them for future use. If this is your plan you definitely want to make sure you have good storage containers and a place to keep said storage containers. This is what has caused me problems in the past. I may have known I needed to clear out a bunch of outgrown clothes, but I had no boxes to put them in. When that happens you either end up with overcrowded drawers or piles of kid’s clothes in other areas of your house. To remedy this I bought several extra of the type of container I like to use so I will have one readily available the next time one of my kids grows a size. Sorting by size and gender again is a given. Be kind to your future self.

Our plan for outgrown clothes is actually a combination of the last two. We figure we may have another kid eventually, but in the meantime, a family member who is expecting a baby soon is taking the bins of the sizes she needs right now. When her kid outgrows them, she’ll pass them back to us.

These boxes of outgrown clothes may not spark a lot of joy right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be very joyful when the next baby comes along and all I have to do to dress him is pull a box out of the garage.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Gettin’ my KonMari On: Clothes

So, as I’ve mentioned, I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up several months ago. At the time I thought it sounded like a great idea, but I have small kids, and a husband who wasn’t really thrilled with the idea, and plenty of other things going on. Making it a reality just didn’t feel like something I could do.

But our house is small and our stuff is plentiful and I kept finding myself frustrated at the situation. Anytime we got something new it felt like a monumental feat to make space for it. Finding infrequently used items was becoming more difficult. The garage was becoming unusable. It was time to KonMari this house.

Now the author, Marie Kondo, has a very specific method and order to do the tidying. While skeptical of some of the specifics, I figured if I don’t do it the way she says I’ll never know for sure if it works or not.

So I started with the first category: clothes. This is my closet before:

closet before

Compared to many closets, mine is pretty pared down. Since discovering the concept of the capsule wardrobe I’ve really tried to embrace the idea of fewer clothes and this past summer I was able to slim down my wardrobe pretty significantly. But I knew there were still some things that didn’t need to be in there.

And here is everything out of the closet and on the bed.

everything out

Marie Kondo says you have to put everything out on the floor (or bed, in this case) and touch each item to decide if it’s something that “sparks joy.” If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you get rid of it. I was a little skeptical of Marie Kondo’s insistence that I ask “Does this spark joy” for everything in my closet. I don’t often think that hard about how I feel about my clothes. But it turned out to be a pretty helpful question.

Old ratty t-shirts that I kept around in case I needed them (For what? Painting? Repairing the car? Some other activity that I never do?), socks with holes, a random assortment of tank tops that I kept for layering even though they didn’t fit that well. None of these things sparked joy.

Surprisingly, I also discovered that there were several other perfectly nice things that didn’t spark joy either. Shirts that were pretty, but always full of static, or that felt scratchy, or that I just never had occasion to wear. If I don’t feel like I can crawl around on the floor in it, I don’t want to wear it.

So I did what Marie Kondo said and went though every item. I ended up with two garbage bags of things to donate.

The next step was to put everything away. Marie Kondo spends a lot of time describing how clothes should be folded and stored. Another thing I rolled my eyes at a little while reading the book. But she says that a large percentage of people’s storage problems would be solved if they would only learn to fold properly. I decided if I’m going to do this method I might as well do it right.

So here are my drawers:

clothes folded the KonMari way

Just as I expected, folding all those clothes is a pain.

But …

closet after the KonMari method

What!? What?! Look at that empty closet! I have a handful of hanging clothes on the one side, but most of it is just empty space. I am envisioning craft storage, my own little work space, maybe even a drop down desk! I haven’t had a good space for my crafts and projects since my children were born. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!

Who knows. Maybe this really is life changing.


Linking up with Tina and the other ladies at Tuesday Talk.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

An Intro to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Are you read for some extreme tidying? No wait, wrong question. Are you ready to CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

Yeah, I don’t know if I am either, but had to start this whole endeavor off with a bang. Let’s get excited! About decluttering!

If you’re lost, let me back up. This past summer I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Even then I was a little late to the game. EVERYONE was talking about it. I was skeptical that it could really be life changing, but I was intrigued at what made this book such a hit. And I was also sick of all the clutter in my house.

So I read it. For a book about decluttering, it’s a pretty enjoyable read. The author has just enough quirkiness to keep things amusing, while still doling out some practical advice. Now, I’ve read many a blog post and magazine article about how to clear the clutter, organize your house in 15 minutes a day, and become a minimalist in 100 easy steps. I was surprised to find that the KonMari method (the name given to the method outlined in the book) actually has some unique specifications and tips. If you’re really serious about decluttering, then I suggest you read the book, but here’s a quick recap of those things that make this book a bit different than what you may have read before.

  1. It’s better to declutter all at once than just a little bit at a time. So many other decluttering gurus say to break it down in to manageable chunks and do a little each day. Marie Kondo says to just go for it. All the way. She says that when you make it a BIG EVENT you get to enjoy the benefits much sooner. This gives you more motivation to stay decluttered. Forever.
  2. Declutter by category, not location. This makes a lot of sense. You can’t accurately get a handle on all your stuff if some of it is hidden away. For example, you can’t tell how many writing utensils you have if you have pens scattered between the bedroom, kitchen, office, your purse, and at the bottom of the junk drawer. You have to gather them all together before you can decide what to keep and what to discard. in a similar vein…
  3. Store things according to category rather than frequency of use. For example, I have a small collection of cords in my desk drawer. My husband has other cords in a box in his closet. Some cords are kept in camera or laptop bags. However, any time I need a cord I can never remember where I keep that particular cord and I end up looking in several different places. But if I kept all the cords together I would know there was only one place to look. Every time.
  4. Keep only those items that “spark joy.” This is really the central rule to her whole system. You are supposed to physically handle every item you own during the decluttering process and sort it into “keep” or “discard” based on how it makes you feel. She claims that you will be happier if you are only surrounded by things that give you joy. It’s a rule that sounds lovely, but probably the one I have the most trouble implementing. It feels a little impractical to me.

This book also has it’s quirks though. There were a few things while reading it that I thought were either a little strange or just unhelpful.

  1. Along with the whole “spark joy” rule, Marie Kondo is a little out there about the things in our homes. She talks a lot of “waking up” your belongings so you can see them more clearly. She encourages thanking the things you decide to discard so you can release them to the world without guilt. She talks of a certain way to fold socks so they are “at rest” in your drawer. It can be a little odd.
  2. This book is written from the perspective of a single woman living alone in a small Japanese apartment. She doesn’t really address some of the big issues that many American families have like garages full of stuff, or baby gear that you feel like you should keep for future children. I guess she would say that you should still ask “Does this spark joy?” But I kind of wish she had spent more time addressing things like the craft closet rather than cosmetic samples and spare buttons.

Despite it’s oddities, I still found the book to be pretty inspiring and motivating. I also feel like it gave me some very clear steps to follow. So, although it took me about 6 months to get going, I’ve officially started Tidying My Home. Updates forthcoming.