Forget Spring Cleaning, I'm "Back to School Cleaning" This Year

can declutteringWith four kids, we have a lot of stuff. Toys, clothes, more toys, Lego minifigs (SO MANY LEGO MINIFIGS) and more clothes. I am pretty handy with the hand-me-downs and somewhat obsessively preserve their clothes so I can pass them down from sibling to sibling and then cousins, friends, etc. or I consign stuff, and I try to keep the toy level down to barely manageable, but we all know it sneaks up on you.

The kid clutter. That glut of sippy cups and toys they won at the amusement park that they won't part from EVER, birthday presents and school papers, artwork and craft projects, coloring books, crayons everywhere, toys that you aren't even sure how they made it into your house. Things that have pieces missing, cards from Candy Land that never made it back into the box, mismatched socks and mismatched flip flops, stuff that is too small but you just haven't decided what to do with it yet. It all adds up. And I want to get rid of it.

Sounds easy, right? Just GET RID OF IT. So you start off, you get on a roll, pull everything out of the closet, but then you hit a snag. "Well, I can't get rid of this shirt! They did (insert favorite childhood memory here) wearing this shirt! I can't give this away!" And that's when it starts. And don't even TRY to do it when the kids are around. They have a sixth sense that lets them know when you are considering thinning down their toy supply. Pick up a doll covered in a light film of dust, free from any child fingerprints for the past two years and hover it near the donation bag and they will snatch it from your hands and cling to it for dear life as if it were the last toy that any child will ever possess for the remainder of human life on planet Earth. "BUT I LOVE THIS!" they will plead with you, immediately launching into an elaborate demonstration of playtime with the toy on the chopping block. Rather than cause some sort of huge time sucking scene you relent, "Fine, but only this one!". Cut to you an hour later and somehow the pile of things has grown larger? How did that happen?!

Over the summer it seems to get worse, too. Goggles and pool shoes and to go cups from restaurants that we for some reason kept as actual cups in our house. A seemingly endless stream of semi-damp beach towels and half empty bottles of sunscreen. Since we try to be outside and active on the sunny days the clutter creeps up and then all of a sudden it's Back to School time and I'm facing down a pile of beach toys that only half actually belong to me. So I'm calling in the big guns this year. Enter The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

22318578This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary "KonMari Method" for simplifying, organizing, and storing. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a best seller in Japan, Germany, and the UK, with more than two million copies sold worldwide, and has been turned into a television drama for Japanese TV. She has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time, featured on more than thirty major Japanese television and radio programs, and profiled in the Sunday Times, Red magazine, You magazine, the New York Times, USA Today, NPR's Here & Now, Slate, Family Circle, and the London Times, who has deemed her “Japan’s preeminent guru of tidiness, a warrior princess in the war on clutter.” She sounds perfect for this mission.

Reviews have called her book "life changing", "a breath of fresh air". She teaches people to respect their items, and to put them in the places where they're supposed to go. How much do I LOVE the idea of teaching the kids how to respect their items?! Kids are the ultimate in unwrapping a gift, playing with it for fifteen seconds and then dumping it onto the floor. This just keeps sounding better.

Kondo offers readers the vision of the uncluttered home as an oasis of calm: "I have time to experience bliss in my quiet space, where even the air feels fresh and clean; time to sit and sip herbal tea while I reflect on my day. ... Although not large, the space I live in is graced with only those things that speak to my heart. My lifestyle brings me joy." Um, YES PLEASE.

Her big tip? Take each item in your hand and ask, "Does this spark joy?" If the answer is no, get rid of the item. I'm doing it, guys. Decluttering now, then starting with a garage sale once the kids are back in school. I'll let you know how it goes...xoxo