It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!Read More about this safari issue.
Spring came late to Arkansas this year. In March, when we should have been throwing open the windows and enjoying the sunshine, we were all still bundled up in winter coats. That meant that I didn’t get the urge to start my spring cleaning and purging until April.
Thankfully, last fall, I read a book by Marie Kondo called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It was indeed life changing.
Kondo’s premise is simple: tidy once, the right way, and you’ll never have to tidy again. Her method is also simple: touch each item and ask yourself “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is no, or if there is even a moment of hesitation, out it goes – either into the trash or into a donate pile. Start with your clothes, move to books, then papers, then what she calls miscellany and finish with things having sentimental value.
Kondo writes, “If you reduce what you own in this order, your work will proceed with surprising ease … so arm yourself with garbage bags and prepare to have fun.”
Fun? Cleaning? Yes, it actually is. I went through this process with my own clothes, books and papers last November. It was very liberating and I ended up sending eight bags of clothes to GoodWill. The end product was a cleaner – albeit sparser – closet than ever before. I love opening my closet doors and knowing that everything hanging or folded is something I love that fits me well. It makes getting dressed in the morning easier. The air in my bedroom feels fresher and more abundant, as if getting rid of the things that didn’t bring joy brought peace to the room.
Having already found a place for everything and having kept everything in its place for six months, my closet really didn’t need much spring cleaning or purging. I can’t say the same for my daughter’s closet, however, which is in a constant state of wreckage that only a 12-year-old girl can create.
I finally got up the nerve to tackle her room using Kondo’s techniques last weekend. Here’s what her closet looked like before:
To begin, I pulled everything out of her closet and put it in piles on the floor. Kondo recommends these subcategories: tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events (i.e. swim suits, uniforms) and shoes. Here’s what that looked like in Emily’s room:
I explained the rules to her: If you haven’t worn it in a year, if it doesn’t fit and if it doesn’t bring you joy to see it or wear it … we give it away. She agreed.
Piece by piece, we went through her clothes. I sensed some anxiety as the donate pile grew larger than the keep pile. She was worried she wouldn’t have enough clothes left. Or that she would donate something and decide two weeks from now she wanted it back. I assured her that I have not missed a single piece of clothing I donated last fall. She seemed reassured, so we pressed on.
Once the clothes were sorted into “keep” and “donate” piles, we set about putting them back in the closet. Kondo has a very specific way to fold clothes. She advocates folding each piece into a small rectangle and standing it on its end so that the drawers end up looking a bit like a filing cabinet. It’s a brilliant method because instead of having clothes piled on top of each other, you can now see every item you own. It looks like this:
You can learn the folding method here.
After folding all her shirts, shorts, pants and pajamas, we hung up the things that, as Kondo puts it, “are happier hanging.” It’s a matter of opinion, but I hang jeans, long sleeve t-shirts, blouses, sweaters, skirts, dresses and jackets. Here’s the finished closet, after purging and tidying:
Emily wouldn’t let me declutter her stuffed animals – and really those are sentimental items that can be left alone for now. But we did find a place for everything and put everything in its place. She promises to try to remember where everything goes!
Sign up for our weekly e-news.
Get stories sent straight to your inbox!